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Wednesday
Aug192009

Dinner at The Standard Grill




  • Cuisine: New American
  • Atmosphere: spacious, diverse dining rooms, outdoor dining, bistro-chic
  • Attire: smart-casual, trendy
  • Ideal for: people-watching, trendsters/scenesters, bar scene, al-fresco dining
  • Must try: Chocolate mousse, homemade frites
  • Price: Most entrees under $25
  • Reservations: Via phone
  • Phone: (212) 645-4100
  • Website: www.thestandardgrill.com
  • Location: 848 Washington St., (at W. 13th St.)

 

What’s the space like?

Traditional Parisian brasserie meets trendy Manhattan Meatpacking District meets old-fashioned dining car (train); think “casual elegance”: Subway-tiled ceilings, iron rimmed picture-windows, a stunning penny-tiled dining room floor, cherry-red booth seating, and a separate bar area and outdoor-dining space.

How was the service?

Horrifying. Simply horrendous. Had I been paying for dinner (a friend treated me for my birthday), I would have thrown a fit. Biting my tongue on Phil’s behalf was hard enough, and I didn’t want to further embarrass/cause a scene. Before I give you a service snapshot, please note that I have worked in every aspect of a restaurant and consider myself to be a fair guest. However, I have zero-tolerance for being ignored and/or treated like crap. I know what you’re thinking: “Could the service have stunk because The Standard Grill recently opened? Perhaps they’re still working out the kinks.” Nope, bullshit! I’ve said this once, and I’ll say it again: Front-of-house restaurant staff who aren't personable and nurturing should not be in the hospitality industry; rather, they should find work at a telemarketing call center or the DMV ( where everyone else is also bitter and pissed off).

Want a couple of examples? Here goes:

  • We did not receive water for 10-minutes after being seated. (Note that Sunday’s temperature was in the 90-degree range.) The only reason our glasses were finally filled was because I was able to flag down another waiter…Who glared at us before approaching the manager (like a tattle-tailing school boy), “Who has that table over there? I don’t have time to take another one. Ugh!!” Seriously, guy? Why don’t you bitch a little louder?
  • The Standard Grill has a great concept: Divide the restaurant in to sections with a manager overseeing each one. Well, this is a prime example where“actions certainly speak louder than words.” Why? Because all three of the managers I spotted were too busy sucking in their cheeks, checking themselves out, and playing “who has the best catwalk tunnel vision?” Never did I see one of them approach a table or lift a finger to help fill water glasses, refresh bread baskets, etc.
  • Thank God for the bus boys! They were more nurturing and responsive than management and wait staff combined!
  • While our waiter wasn’t a mean fellow, he was aloof and was simply unfit to work front-of-house. The poor dude was so heavily drenched in perspiration, that I was fearful one (or 100) of his sweat beads would roll in to my food/water. Ack!!

Did you drink?

Not alcohol! I was nursing a gnarly hangover from the night before. I did, however, have two Shirley Temple’s.

How was the food?

Actually, my meal was delicious! The menu at The Standard Grill could best be described as “American Brasserie” fare. From charcuterie and a raw bar, to fresh fish, pasta and meat, there is truly something for every palate (both young and old, alike).

Upon being seated, two small dishes arrived: One contained magenta-colored mini radishes, and the other was filled with ample hunks of parmesan cheese. How delightful, unique and sophisticated! A lovely bread basket followed shortly thereafter.

  • Saucisson Sec Basquaise: Having fallen in love with this dry Lyonnaise sausage in France, I was thrilled to see it offered on the restaurant’s charcuterie menu. I ate three of the five generous slices, leaving my date with two (sorry Phil!). The pork sausage was rich, dense, and subtly spicy. Tres delicieux!
  • Iceberg Wedge: I’m not exactly sure when I began to like blue cheese, but I can tell you that it was fairly recently. Perhaps it was the words, “Kentucky bacon,” among the other ingredients, that prompted me to order the iceberg wedge as an appetizer. Floating atop a shallow pool of blue cheese dressing was ½ of a head of iceberg lettuce cut in to four equal parts. Sliced bacon strips, a dusting of minced chives, and a thin drizzle of dressing crowned the pale greens.
  • Standard Ranch Burger: By the time we received our entrees, I was legitimately full…But that’s never stopped me before! A plump, juicy, medium-rare-cooked beef patty came topped with gooey melted white cheddar and strips of salty bacon. A fluffy brioche bun sandwiched the trinity of savory ingredients. Accompaniments included a whole pickle, sliced onion/tomato/lettuce, and a 16-ounce (approximately) cup filled with the crispiest, saltiest, most delicious homemade frites in town. O M F G. Yes, I really did just say that.
  • Chocolate Mousse: In honor of celebrating my (belated) birthday, Phil and I had the perfect excuse to order dessert! (And having been to the restaurant once before, he insisted that we order the chocolate mousse.) We were presented with a large glass bowl nearly filled to the brim with chocolate mousse, a dollop of homemade whipped cream, and crunchy chocolate shavings…In addition to two wooden “Le Creuset” rubber spatulas! “Phil,” I asked, “are we supposed to eat this with the spatulas, or is that just part of the presentation?” After looking at me with raised eyebrows and a devilish grin, he dunked his utensil in to the mousse. We both started laughing, as did our neighboring tables. With spatulas in hand, Phil and I nearly licked the bowl clean. Truly, it was a sweet ending to a bitter beginning.

What’s pricing like?

The Standard Grill’s prices are fair, though most entrée accompaniments are a la carte. Prices can add up quickly, but diners on a budget can easily make do:

  • Saucisson Sec Basquaise: $6
  • Iceberg Wedge: $10
  • Standard Ranch Burger: $16
  • Chocolate Mousse: $12

Will you return to The Standard Grill?

Yes, however, should my second service experience be as miserable as this one was, then I will feel confident about never returning. It’s too soon to judge based on one horrific experience.

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