Grayz is very much a grown up restaurant, though that Z at the end has always struck me as an ill conceived youthful affectation. It only recently occurred to me that it’s a homophone, tweaking the chef’s surname to play on the on the small plates grazing concept. Ok, I get it, but I’m still not crayzee about the name.
So, Grayz is grown up in that they serve pricey fancies masquerading as bar snacks (and that the average diner’s age prime time Saturday hovered in the 50s). I’m not in the habit of dropping $39 on finger food (rebate check burning a hole in my pocket or not) but I found my cobbled together dinner more enjoyable, or should I say awesome (it was our waitress’s favorite adjective) than expected. Civilized has its place every now and then.
James insisted the room reminded him of some Atlantic City Trump restaurant where we had a middle-of-the-night burger a few Fourth of Julys ago. There were some tame chandeliers, mini-banquettes and recessed lighting peeking out of undulating ceiling cutouts but I wouldn’t call the earth toned townhouse garish. It’s not my taste, but it’s hardly Trumpy.
I’ve been obsessed with crème de violette, mostly because of its intense color. I meant to track some down around Christmas to make an Aviation but never got around to it, so I was happy to see this cocktail on their list. It’s hard to tell from the photo (the dim lighting was murder, as you can see) but the color is a pale ever so slight periwinkle. I was expecting a cherry, but they garnished with orange peel. The flavor was more bitter than sweet, in a quinine way, but my taste could’ve been skewed from sucking so many sugar free cough drops last week.
Bread basket with yogurt dipping sauce. The herbs might’ve been fresh oregano.
Complimentary lamb sausage amuse. The fluff was similar to baba ghanoush.
What I hadn’t anticipated was how Asian many of the ingredients and preparations would be. A special involving the words fish and dumplings caught our attention, but these little patties were straight up tod mun pla. Funny, because fish cake would’ve kept me away—they’re one of the only Thai treats that I’m ho hum on.
Ceviche was composed of kampachi and fluke squiggles rather than chunks or slices. The citrus was meyer lemon, which kept the acid level tame.
Weisswurst was a fun diversion. Why not plump ghostly sausages with sweet mustard? I wisely lost my carb consciousness for a warm pretzel.
Here’s the $39 prize. Well, they were very satisfying short ribs, but yeah, spendy. The sauce was flavored with tarragon and horseradish but I swear garam masala was hiding in the mix. There was a distinct earthy Indian quality to the beef.
We probably didn’t need a dessert, especially since I wasn’t bowled over by what I ordered anyway. I’m old fashioned about sweets and when I hear white chocolate brownie I envision homey and rich. This creation was sharp and crumbly like eating shortbread and pineapple. If I had known that we were going to be gifted with two truffles (coconut and possibly passion fruit) and a tuile at meal’s end, I would’ve skipped this course.
Read my extremely condensed version for nymag.com
Grayz * 13 W. 54th St., New York, NY