TriBeCa Grill used to be a tough reservation when it opened sixteen years ago. It was Robert DeNiro’s restaurant. Celebrities dined there. My companions last night—none of whom had been before—asked me to alert them if I saw anyone famous. We didn’t. But obviously they’d heard of the TriBeCa Grill’s reputation. The restaurant was full, and it is still doing well.
In more than half-a-dozen visits to TriBeCa Grill, most of them lunches, I’ve never had a bad meal, or even a bad course. Yet, there’s a certain je ne sais quois that’s missing. I would never suggest that anyone go out of their way to visit TriBeCa Grill. It has no unique selling proposition. It’s a very good New American restaurant that is simply solid in its category. Most neighborhoods have one like it, so there’s no reason to make the trip. But if you happen to be in TriBeCa, you won’t go wrong at the Grill.
We were seated last night in a small back dining room that I had never seen before. It has only 5 or 6 tables. The walls are studded with abstract oil paintings and charcoal drawings. There is no exposed brick to reflect the sound. It is a far more refined atmosphere than the raucous main dining room.
To start, I ordered a Charcuterie Plate ($14), which comes with a veal & foie gras ballotine, serrano ham, and chicken liver mousse. It was all excellent. The very smooth chicken liver mousse stood out. It’s essentially your grandmother’s chopped liver, but with the texture of a purée. It comes with toast points for spreading.
Then came the Grilled Long Island Duck Breast ($26) with spinach, a butternut squash & apple purée, and sundried cherry sauce. Actually, that sauce reminded me of a Chinese hoisin sauce. Anyhow, it was another excellent dish. The duck was tender, and it came in ample slices.
A pumpkin cheesecake ($9) was a bit less successful; perhaps it had been in the fridge a bit too long.
It’s no small accomplishment to continue serving such uniformly good food. After 16 years, many restaurants would take their eye off the ball. TriBeCa Grill is still dependable.
TriBeCa Grill (375 Greenwich Street at Franklin Street, TriBeCa)