Back to the Grind
Grindhaus opens, with a new concept, in Red Hook
Erin Norris just wanted to open a sausage-centric restaurant in Red Hook.
Hurricane Sandy had other plans.
Now, years after she began building the restaurant and then rebuilding after the storm, after a successful Kickstarter campaign and a new mortgage on her family's Long Island home, the place is finally a reality--with a twist.
Grindhaus isn't a sausage restaurant anymore. After discovering that the basement was too flood-prone and the kitchen too small to sustain her original idea, Norris decided to scrap the concept. With the help of up-and-coming chefs Aaron Taber and Leon Douglas (both formerly of The Pines), she's settled on an unfussy but offbeat menu evolving daily: Nantucket Bay scallops with pink grapefruit, house-made Greek yogurt and deep green kale juice ($10); maitake mushrooms steamed with brown butter over coconut milk-finished rice and topped with a runny egg ($16).
"I can't believe this is really happening. I hope I don't lose control of my bladder," Norris says, not exactly keeping to PR talking points.
We're excited too. Especially about the springy, yeasty house-made sourdough baked in the restaurant's tiny kitchen. Baskets of the stuff are $5, but, fried in melted bone marrow, it really shines as the base for a dish of fish sauce-spiked smoked veal heart tartare ($14).
About that sausage-y moniker: Despite the new concept, Norris says the name still fits. "After all the years of bureaucratic challenges and basically having to start over from scratch after Sandy, it's been a real grind."
Tasting Table contributor Jasmin Sun dined unannounced at Grindhaus on December 5, spending $74 on dinner for two, not including drinks or tip. There are still a few sausages on the menu: Try the merguez with chickpeas, harissa and artichoke. Also keep in mind that Grindhaus is cash only and that the closest train, the F-G station at Smith and 9th streets, is about a mile away--so plan your travel accordingly.