This is Eaters' Journal, in which we muse on recent meals. We collectively eat out upwards of 20 times a week in these parts, so we might as well discuss.
China Grill: China Grill's crackling calamari salad is among the very best haute junk food dishes in NY. It and three cocktails make for a 3 PM lunch of champions. Fact. Beyond this simple pleasure -- in which Eater has indulged many many times, we'll admit -- our man Chodorow's flagship has seen much better days. A recent visit found service to be awful. A water spill on the table was completely ignored; a waiter did not use pen and paper, then proceeded to forget every single item we'd ordered, when he tried to repeat it back to us. Behold, friends, the very epitome of excruciating.
Plus, while a two decade-old venue is allowed to be a hair rough around the edges, especially one that's enjoyed the kind of success that China Grill has, what's happening here is far worse. Menus are faded and worn; many of the bathroom fixtures are 10 years into decay; the heavy and dignified chopsticks that were offered as recently as two years ago have been replaced by weightless, pleasureless, pathetic twigs. As for matters of the center ring, careful navigation of the menu still yields some cheap thrills (see above, calamari), but the Chodorowian fusion flavors are nowhere near as vivid as they once were.
The crowd specs: dining room half-full at 8 PM, Sunday; local corporate types mixed with scattered dates and tourists.
The problem with all this is that -- and we're just going to come out and say this -- historically, we're fans of the restaurant. So, if news of China Grill Management upping its Black Rock lease for another 20 years means another 20 years of China Grill, might we kindly suggest, Mr. Chodorowbucks, that it's time to deploy some resources from HQ and get your house in order.