York Grill: Lo bueno, lo malo y lo feo

Lo bueno:

1) Warmth of service at the door: Maitre d’  projects relaxation and comfort.  He’s happy to see you, but not desperately so, even if, or especially if, you’re  not a regular.

2) Bar space up front: Bar stools and lounge seating are comfortable and sophisticated touches, especially in the gastro-desert around Asphalt Green. 

3) Abbreviated wine list: This is not Veritas, nor does it purport to be.  Ten reds and ten whites allow for a quick and easy selection, just what you want at a neighborhood non-destination dinner.  Of course, one would think the list  would be updated often enough that they wouldn’t be out of the Malbec on the menu. 

4) Easy reservation, full house:  No problem calling for  a table at the last minute, but feels full when you get there.  You’ll sense that you made a good choice.

5) Comforting cuisine: Easy, recognizable dishes generally well prepared. Menu leans towards chops and well sourced poultry.  Good hearty sides are perfect for a restaurant that lives and thrives on regular local business. 

Lo malo y lo feo:

1) Wine service: Bottles opened at room temperature, literally.  Reds are straight off the bar rack and could easily stand to drop 15 degrees.

2) Wine markup: Far better restaurants across Manhattan offer less expensive options and a lower markup.  If you’re going to serve Smoking Loon, Yellowtail with a different bird, then at least don’t mark it up 3 times, and serve it warm.  And if you don’t have my selection, please offer a better wine at the same price.  Better yet, reprint your wine list.  It can’t cost that much to keep it up to date. 

3) Unabbreviated specials list: Offering the same number of specials as regular menu items renders the term “special” meaningless and suggests an inability to make hard choices.  This is not a Tasting Room or Cookshop style market driven menu, so please edit the menu down.    

4) Waiter logorrhea: The servers spend way too much unprompted time explaining dishes.  Elio’s does a similar soliloquy, but at least the heavy accents make for a vague form of cultural tourism.  Here it’s a time warp to mid-50’s Continental restaurants.  And please don’t pronounce four out of five dishes your favorites.  It would be more efficient to tell me what you don’t like, which happened to be what I wanted to order.

5) Skirt steak isn’t your best chop:If it’s your house specialty (not to be confused with the house specials), it should taste special.  Mine was electro-broiled and accompanied by bland potatoes.   With flavorless cauliflower soup, this would have made for a perfect meal to grind up for an infant or infantile picky eater.   I felt like I was eating with a badly congested nose.

Conclusion:  Worth it for the neighborhood diners.  Beats Sharz for quality, but at a price.  Much that’s good, but too-high Zagat ratings reflect typical lowered standards applied to this area.  Restaurants don’t live up to overly glowing reviews.  They live down to them.   

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