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The Grill’s First Night Was a Celebrity-Packed Madhouse

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And other observations from the first night at the biggest opening of the year

A man in a white tuxedo stands behind the bar at the Grill, in front of a giant arrangement of pink and red flowers Gary He

Major Food Group’s revamp of the historic Four Seasons space launched with midcentury restaurant The Grill on Thursday night, and Eater’s intrepid correspondents reported back that it was just as much of a luxe show as anticipated.

It was flush with celebrities on the first night to the public. Howard Stern, Jerry Seinfeld, George Stephanopoulos, Matthew Broderick (sans Sarah Jessica Parker), and Seth Meyers were all spotted at the restaurant on Thursday. Seinfeld and Stephanopoulus seemed surprised to see each other, and many of them sat in an open private dining room.

Industry folk in attendance included David Chang, Daniel Boulud, restaurateur Drew Nieporent, Bloomberg writer Kate Krader, cocktail bartender Kevin Denton, chef Josh Capon, Ken Friedman of The Spotted Pig, and Thomas Carter of Estela and Cafe Altro Paradiso. All the celebs, along with the massive number of servers milling about performing tableside tricks, made being in the restaurant feel like “sitting in the middle of an ant hive,” according to Eater’s correspondent.

Mario Carbone
Mario Carbone, with the duck a la presse and the true celebrity of the night, his hat
Eater

MFG partners Rich Torrisi, Jeff Zalaznick, and Mario Carbone were also all on hand, as was Aby Rosen, the landlord of the Seagram Building. Torrisi reportedly paced in front of the buffet for a good portion of the night in some very nice looking sneakers, and Carbone loomed over the room with his ridiculously tall chef hat. “If this were the era of shitty fake Twitter accounts, Mario's hat would be an obvious choice for one since he won't remove it,” our correspondent notes.

— Here is a look at the menu with prices, from a photo taken last night. It is indeed on the higher end of a la carte pricing. Sides like grilled asparagus and Carolina pilaf rice mark the lower end of dish costs at $12 each, while a Neptune’s Crown dover sole topped the prices at $72 — at least, not counting the four dishes without an amount attached to them. Of those unlisted dishes, the pheasant Claiborne with black truffle, cost $69, and the lobster a la Newberg cost $95. Desserts cost $15 each, ice cream costs $12, and cocktails, shown below in a photo of the menu, mostly cost $18.

The Grill Eater
The Grill Eater
The Grill cocktail menu Eater

— Early word on the food is that it is “infuriatingly” good. The ridiculous-sounding pasta where the server presses a variety of meats in a Victorian-looking contraption may be a hit. Food Baby Mike Chau says the multi-layered grasshopper dessert was the winner in sweets. Those $10,000 trolleys that brought around prime rib were also a hit.

Although MFG was hired to up the food game at the former Four Seasons space, apparently not all the diners got the memo to trust the chef. One woman could be heard requesting that all her food be made without oil, salt, or butter. It was unclear if she was successful with this request, though it’s the kind of ask that the former Four Seasons restaurant was known for accommodating.

flambe
Flambe at work
Eater

— Chau also notes the servers are “well-trained in witty banter.” But it seemed like they were also trained to not say the word “Four Seasons.” At the Eater correspondent table, the server let the words slip out and then covered his mouth and laughed.

— Here s a photo of those pre-mixed martinis poured in Christofle crystal decanters:

The Grill crystal decanters
swag
Gary He/Eater

— The bathroom boasted a print of a cash sign during friends and family — a work of art that was either a very self-aware joke or an unironic ode to the restaurant’s love of money. On opening night though, it was gone and replaced by this print of what appears to be Lenin:

print at The Grill Eater

— Zalaznick has said that he expects people to spend about $150 per person. Eater’s table of four correspondents ordered two more entrees than they usually would, but they ended up spending about $180 a head before tip. However, one person did not drink. Here’s a full rundown of what they ate. They said everything but the lobster was great:

The Grill receipt Eater

THE GRILL

99 Market Square Southwest, , DC 20024 (202) 916-5996 Visit Website

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