Restaurant Review: Spy Rock Grille

Equestrian trappings and a puzzling name—but a rack of lamb cooked to perfection.

A Newcomer in pound ridge

Equestrian trappings and a puzzling name—but a rack of lamb cooked to perfection.

 

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To me, a “grille” is a restaurant that would delight a meat-lover, an eatery whose menu includes juicy cuts of New York sirloin, slabs of roast beef, rack of lamb, a filet as thick as your wrist.

Spy Rock Grille, a small (no more than 20 tables), casual eatery that opened last summer in Pound Ridge, calls itself a “grille,” but if you go there expecting a carnivore’s nirvana, you’re bound to be disappointed. Aside from hamburgers, Spy Rock offers only two red-meat dishes, including a flat-iron steak (the only beef entrée).

 

On my first expedition, I thought I had found an unbelievable bargain in what the menu calls “a rack of lamb,” priced at $26. I assumed I’d get a half-rack, or four tiny lamb chops. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to get eight luscious chops, artfully arranged in a pyramid atop a bed of butternut squash and baby mustard greens, with a sauce hinting of fresh mint. The chops were cooked to perfection—charred and crusty on the outside, pink and tender on the inside. I ordered the same entrée on a subsequent visit and, again, was served a full rack of lamb which, in most restaurants, would easily cost $40.

 

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Of course, when something seems too good to be true, it usually is: A call to Spy Rock’s chef, Gregory Llewellyn, formerly of Finch Tavern in Croton Falls, confirmed that the portion usually consists of five chops, still more generous than the four-chop normally served, but not the gargantuan serving I thought was such a steal. 

 

Although the restaurant earns points for effort, the name of the game at Spy Rock is inconsistency. The food is generally good—but can be fabulous or nondescript. Some dishes are outstanding, like my lamb, or the “carpaccio” of beets, which are sliced credit-card thin and served with warm goat cheese. Ditto the duck confit served with pears and Grand Marnier. My guests savored the restaurant’s seafood specialties, and raved about the prosciuto-wrapped trout and seared ahi tuna with pickled ginger and baby bok choy.

 

But the chef’s flourless chocolate cake failed to impress, and while I found Spy Rock’s dessert of ice cream and sorbet scoops delectable, the accompanying cookies were dry and tasteless.

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On the walls, there is a collection of Western bits, framed as if they were trophy trout, together with pictures of horses, which on inspection turned out to be pages torn from the kind of “Black Beauty” books loved by teenage girls—an old harness made into to a mirror, an umbrella stand welded from horseshoes, a saddle converted into a bar seat, presumably for men (or women in trousers) and Navajo rugs on wide-plank floors.

 

The name “Spy Rock” supposedly derives from a perch where Yankee troops spied on the British during the Revolutionary War. While no one is exactly sure where the Spy Rock is, it’s close enough to give the restaurant its name.

 

About as authentic, perhaps, as the “equestrian” trappings or the idea of a grille with no real steaks. A wonder of inconsistency, yes, but go to Spy Rock not for history or decor, nor expecting a 12-ounce sirloin, but for a $26 rack of lamb done just right.

 

SPY ROCK GRILLE

85 Westchester Ave., Pound Ridge

(914) 764-0200

 

HOURS:  

Dinner, Tue. to Thurs. 5-10 pm, Fri. to Sat. 5-11 pm, Sun. 5-9 pm

Brunch, Sun. 11 am-3 pm

 

PRICES:

Appetizers: $6-$12

Entrees: $20-$25

Desserts: $7.50

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