On Thursday, Janna and I shared a lovely lunch at the Bryant Park Grill.  I, of course, filled up on bread and made no apologies.  The parsnip soup starter was delicious.  The Vegan Organic entree was truly awful.  If you’re going to offer a Vegan choice on the menu, you need to provide massive chunks of lots and lots of hearty root vegetables, not a chiffonade of greens with a sprinkling of quinoa and a few, limp, tiny pieces of eggplant; and you certainly don’t put the main dish star — the portobello mushroom — in a side cup chopped up like a disrespected, diced, carrot!

The atmosphere and wait staff at the Grill were phenomenal and friendly and the fact that the great, white, main Fifth Avenue Library is directly behind the Grill — or is the Bryant Park Grill directly behind the library?  — made the day even more memorable.

I didn’t mind the lousy Vegan entree because I ate my fill of bread and then some.  The waiter was happy to bring us more bread and I ate it all.  I even had a flashback to my childhood when I would engorge myself on bread the moment we sat down to eat at a restaurant.  I would be admonished for “filling up on hot rolls” and I would reply, simply, by saying, “Yes, I am…”

All my married life I have hogged the bread basket.  I’m lucky I have a wife who is more into dessert than bread.  Oftentimes, when an abundant, and wide variety, of breads appear on our table, Janna will softly say to no one in particular, “I guess I’m not getting bread tonight.”

And, as ever, I reply to her soft dissent, with this embarrassing, public, shout, “You got that right, sister!”  I then promise her my dessert and she is back to not caring about the warm bread overfilling my mouth and belly.

When we used to get our weekly fresh organic food delivery from Urban Organic in NYC, I would always order several loaves of their fresh sourdough and wheat and pumpernickel breads.  By the end of the next day, we had no fresh bread for the rest of the week.  I had happily, greedily, and eagerly, toasted and olive oiled up every last slice and crumb.  And I made no apology.  And I did not get fat.

Stay away from the Bryant Park Grill if you want a filling Vegan dinner, but do frequent the establishment if you’re looking for some marvelous oat rolls.


    1. Umm… it makes a better story if I ate all your bread… I mean… “If you ate my bread, it was behind my back! I’m outraged, I say! Outraged!”

  1. Laughs at you two ! How fun ! Mr P and I both like our bread and oil and I have been recently introduced to soupa borrego estufado …………………….. which is where slices or chunks of bread line the bowl and then the soup or stew is then served on top. When it arrives at the table they then mix it all up in front of you – should you wish – delicious !

    Do you find it as annoying as I do when a restaurant get 2/3 right or even brilliant and miss the other course badly – it is such a shame,

    1. Oh, I love the bread and soup combination. I want that!

      Yes, it was incredibly annoying to look forward to the entree and be disappointed with rabbit kibble. I was so glad I filled up on bread. In writing this article, I did some research on the Bryant Park Grill, and while the location and atmosphere are great — people don’t seem to think much of the food.

      There are all sorts of places for us to eat and play around Bryant Park. We usually go to Pax because it’s fast and cheap, but noisy, and we wanted some quiet:


      Then we decided to go next door and try the Le Pain Quotidien chain —


      — but at that location, if you can’t sit on the “quiet side” you’ll be stuck in the noise with tiny tables, and they refused to sit us in the quiet area, so we turned and walked around and found the Bryant Park Grill.

      The Grill was quiet — and that was our number one concern.

  2. It looks beautiful from your photograph. Ironic you were looking for quiet but when you found it you realised it was quiet for the wrong reasons !

    1. If you look at the Atmosphere link in the article, you can take a Google View inside the restaurant. It’s quite beautiful and busy. We were lucky we went there in the early afternoon when everyone was done with lunch service. The staff actually turned the lights off on us in the main dining room and the light from the park spilled in to light the room. It was lovely and peaceful and they left us alone. Yes, we tipped well…

      I guess if you’re a non-Vegan, the food might be good? The Vegan choices were first on their menu, and when that happens, it usually means They Know What You Want, and are pulling you in from the street you to eat there. It turned out not to be so…

  3. Wonderful article David. I fill up on bread sometimes too. I often find it to be the best part of a restaurant’s “menu” sometimes. I especially love it when it comes out fresh and it’s nice and warm. So yummy.

    1. You always know you’re in a good restaurant when they give you an assortment of bread when you sit down — and if the bread is especially delicious, you know they care about the rest of their food. Usually…

  4. We love going to the Italian restaurant Noi Due on 69th and Broadway. They start you with warm bread and olive oil and malt vinegar — Chaim has learned to dip his bread and eat it like Tati!

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