North End Grill Hailed By Zagat, Is Snubbed By Michelin

North End Grill
At North End Grill, cod throats get the fry treatment, resulting in the soft texture of sweetbreads. Danny Meyers' eatery was named New York's best new restaurant by the Zagat Survey. Photographer: Ken Goodman/North End Grill via Bloomberg

Chef Floyd Cardoz, not quite two years removed from the shuttering of Tabla, the only Danny Meyer restaurant ever to have closed, saw his North End Grill named New York’s best new restaurant by the Zagat Survey yesterday.

Meyer continues to partner with Cardoz at North End, an American restaurant in Battery Park known for its clam pizza, cumin-spiced fries and, perhaps most importantly, its wide selection of Scotch whisky.

North End Grill sits around the block from the headquarters of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

The restaurant “gets a 25 for food, 23 for decor, but it gets 26 for service,” Tim Zagat, referring to his guide’s 0-30 scoring system, said in an interview. “That’s typical Danny Meyer. He hires nice people like himself and he trains people for service in a way that virtually nobody else does.”

The Zagat citation came a few hours after North End Grill failed to win a single star from Michelin’s New York 2013 guide.

Eric Ripert’s Le Bernardin won Zagat’s top food ranking for the third year in a row, and continued its dominance of the most popular category over Meyer’s Gramercy Tavern and Will Guidara’s Eleven Madison Park.

Best Service

Thomas Keller’s Per Se, on the Time Warner Center’s fourth floor, was victorious again in the best-service category, while Asiate, its neighbor in the adjacent Mandarin Oriental Hotel, again triumphed in the decor category.

Zagat collected the opinions of 44,306 diners, who ate out an average of three meals a week, the same as last year but down from 3.4 in 2006 and 3.5 in 2002, long before the collapse of Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns.

“The New York dining scene has not fully recovered from the Great Recession,” according to the burgundy guidebook. The average number of meals surveyors cooked at home outpaced the number of meals they ate out or took out.

Zagat, purchased last year by Google, Inc. reported 60 restaurant closings in 2012, the lowest number since before 2002. The count of restaurant openings fell to 119, down from last year’s 135.

The Zagat “2013 New York City Restaurant Survey” is available for $15.95 in stores.

Michelin Guide

The “other red guide” also released its New York results yesterday. Atera, a naturalistic Tribeca restaurant featuring three-hour tastings of edible rocks, organs, shells and coal, sometimes served on beds of moss or hay, was the sole debut entrant to the two-star category in the 2013 Michelin Guide.

Chef Matthew Lightner charges $165 for his 20-plus course tastings at Atera. After wine pairing, tax and tip, dinner for two will cost just under $700.

Blanca was the only new Brooklyn entrant into the starred category. The 12-seat Bushwick venue, which began accepting reservations from the public only in August, sells a $180 tasting that includes caviar, truffles and Wagyu, pretty fancy for a place located inside a converted garage.

The NoMad, run by Eleven Madison Park’s Daniel Humm and Will Guidara, won a star for a menu that includes a $79 truffle and foie-gras stuffed chicken. And Torrisi Italian Specialties, the high-end red sauce joint that went from walks-ins only to reservations-only in the past year, earned its first star today.

$160 Menu

Torrisi charges $160 for a 20-plus course tasting, or $65 for a shorter set menu.

Local food writers have been touting the virtues of Torrisi for years, as well as the pleasures of 15 East, a sushi spot that earned its first star as well today. David Chang’s Momofuku Ssam Bar and Noodle Bar, however, continued their star deficits.

Michelin frequently takes stands at odds with local reviews. The “guide rouge” awarded a star to Hakkasan in the Theater District, a Chinese restaurant that New York Magazine derided as “Ruby Foo’s for rich people.”

“Hakkasan is less about exposing New Yorkers to traditional Chinese luxuries, than using expensive Western ingredients in vaguely Eastern dishes as a DJ plays club music,” I wrote in my review.

The Sichuanese Cafe China and Lan Sheng were also new honorees, giving New York a total of three Michelin stars for Chinese restaurants. Jungsik, the high-end import from Seoul, was awarded a star as well.

Brooklyn Fare

All of New York’s three-starred restaurants maintained their rankings. They are: The Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, Daniel, Eleven Madison Park, Jean Georges, Le Bernardin, Masa and Per Se.

Besides Atera, the two-starred restaurants include Gordon Ramsay at The London, Corton, Gilt, Marea, Momofuku Ko and Soto.

Three stars means exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey; two stars are for excellent cooking, worth a detour; one star denotes a very good restaurant in its category.

Michelin & Cie. is the world’s second-biggest tire maker, after Bridgestone Corp. It produced its first guide in August 1900, distributed free (until 1920) and intended for chauffeurs.

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