“I’ve been a bourbon drinker since before I could drink,” says The Grid’s chef and culinary director Adam Raksin. Set to open this Thursday, October 14, it’s the new restaurant at the recently opened Great Jones Distilling Co. in Noho.
The distillery opened on the second floor of 686 Broadway in August. Up a grand curved staircase, past an elegant bar and behind “explosive-proof” glass, a glittering steampunk daydream churns out three NYC spirits: Great Jones straight bourbon whiskey, four grain bourbon and rye whiskey. Meanwhile, Raksin is tasked with topping tables in the 72-seat first floor Old New York dining room with culinary creations to complement, enhance and incorporate the tipples.
“It really is like Willy Wonka for adults here,” Raksin, a Per Se alum says. “We’ll feature some contemporary American elevated classics, really trying to stay local to the northeast and as much New York State as possible.”
Some of The Grid’s most local ingredients come from right upstairs. Raksin uses spent grains from the distillery to season the butter that accompanies his house-made brioche to an effect he says is reminiscent of toasted cornmeal: “Sweet, savory, malty, salty.”
The grains reappear in a bacon appetizer. Schaller & Weber bacon is braised in New York state maple syrup and applejack from Great Jones’ sister distillery Black Dirt, then topped with a crisp spent grain and jasmine rice tuile.
Boozy touches carry on in a cornish hen with braised rye berries and a hot sauce made from habanero, piquillo pepper, red bell pepper, orange juice, peach, vinegar and Great Jones’ own rye. “[It’s] a little bit spicy, a little bit sweet, a little bit tangy—it all just goes beautifully together,” Raksin says.
The burger, a signature blend of short rib, chuck and dry-aged beef is topped with potato chips, blue or cheddar cheese (Raksin prefers the blue for its funky, creamy notes) and a bourbon bacon jam. The au poivre accompanying the New York strip includes the four grain variety. And the French onion soup is made with a splash of rye.
“I really do think all three of our expressions—the straight bourbon, the four grain bourbon and the rye—just taste amazing,” Raksin says. “So it’s a relief that it's an amazing product that I get to enhance our culinary programs with. It makes it easy. We try to get the best products, we let them shine, we use classic techniques and contemporary styles of platings and don’t fuss too much and let everything speak for itself, just like we do with our whiskeys.”
In addition to the distillery, the second-floor bar and The Grid, Great Jones Distilling Co. plans to open a speakeasy concept in its private club-like lower level in the near future. In the interim, you can pop down for a peek at Alchemy, an immersive installation by the artist Sébastien Léon that evokes spirit-making.
The Grid is located at 686 Broadway and will be open Wednesday-Sunday from 5:30pm-9:30pm.