The Grand Tier Restaurant, NYC

February 13, 2009

Even though we go frequently to the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, we had not dined before at its Grand Tier restaurant which is named after the prime balcony seats on the same level in the building. On February 3, 2009, we went before a stunning production of Lucia di Lammermoor. The turnstiles into the opera house opened at exactly 6:00, but only for those whose names were on the reservation list checked by the ticket taker. Being among the first to arrive upstairs at the restaurant, we were escorted past an impressive line of the dining room staff  welcoming the crowd. We discovered that the restaurant curves back around to the left and is much larger than is evident from the front.

While we looked at the menus and wine list Linda ordered a glass of Taittinger Champagne and I had a glass of Saint Veran. We ordered a bottle of 2006 Etude Carneros Pinot Noir, which was very good. The restaurant gradually filled up with an impressive looking clientele. The standard of dress may be the highest of any restaurant in the US. There was a table for eight next to us with place cards and I could see that I was sitting right behind a well known author.

For the 2008-2009 opera season the restaurant has adopted a theme of “Florentine” cuisine, although it seemed more generically Italian to me. (Well, lump crab cakes are very American and mustard sauce is hardly Italian.)

Linda’s first course was
La Torta di Granchio
Jumbo lump crab cake
whole grain mustard sauce
This was good with the lump crab loosely held together in the cake. It only needed a little of the good mustard sauce.

My starter was
Insalata di pulpo, zucchini e salsa al coriandolo
marinated octopus salad, zucchini, coriander vinaigrette

The citrus marinade of the octopus was almost too much, but the greens calmed things down.

Linda’s main course was
Filetto di branzino su caponata di verdure alla’olio d’olivo extra virgine
Seared branzino with vegetable caponata, extra virgin olive oil

The sea bass was good, but the caponata was more alla’tabasco than alla’olio.

I went on to
Galetto ripieno di prosciutto
Free range chicken chicken stuffed with prosciutto, served with sautéed spinach

This was enjoyable. I think it is typical of the kind of cuisine a restaurant like this has to have. Substantial preparation can be done in advance and then it can be heated up for service.

My dessert was the gelati of the evening.

The flavors were rum raisin, caramel and hazelnut. They were all good, particularly the hazelnut which had tiny nut chunks in it.

I finished with an espresso to help keep me alert through Lucia’s long suffering and Edgardo’s demise, which would come just before midnight.

Obviously The Grand Tier offers a very convenient setting for opera goers. Its ambience is elegant and the noise level low. The cuisine is good, but is not close to the level of the nearby restaurants we usually go to: Picholine, Telepan, Café Luxembourg or the Bar Boulud.

The Grand Tier website.

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