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First Taste: Sweet Grass Grill

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To be honest, Westchester is not challenged for bars and grills, and they’re only getting thicker on the ground as bitten restaurateurs re-tool niche-y concepts with dependable, recession-proof menus. So it’s a common phrase around town—“grill” or “bar and grill”—but what does it actually mean? No one would call Alfred Portale’s NYC Gotham Bar and Grill a burger joint, just as it would be a misstatement to call Union Square Cafe a coffee shop. Upon hearing the term “bar and grill,” beer, bargains, and burgers would probably pop into most people’s minds, but given the looseness of restaurant nomenclature, I think that grilled American food might be the common denominator, with maybe “casual” running a close second.

Westchester’s newest entry into the genre falls somewhere between swank and comfortable, with cloth-less tables, jeans-and-apron servers, and a décor dominated by the façade of the recently uncovered rear-lot Victorian. While not swank, Sweet Grass Grill’s ingredient-driven menu certainly expresses upscale attitude, with seasonal, locally sourced produce, and ethically harvested seafood. Also on-trend is Sweet Grass’s porkophilia—a fetish we also happen to share—found in sweet Stone Barns’. Also look for Berkshire pork chops and barbecue, and some delicious Stone Barns pork pigs-in-blankets—while non-pork choices span everything from chicken to cod, and include a luscious, pillowy gnocchi. And, though steadfastly swine-praising, Sweet Grass offers thoughtful vegetarian dishes—none of which manage to feel like a consolation prize.

We found six beers on tap (half of which are local), that included two brews from Pleasantville’s Captain Lawrence Brewery and single choices from South Hampton, Sly Fox stout, Brooklyn, and Ithaca. Only a month-and-a-half into its existence, Sweet Grass’s cocktails still await—though we did spot lots of pretty drinks in chunky-based martini glasses. Sweet Grass’s well-edited, ten-glass wine list is a pleasing roster—though, to confess, on the night of our last visit, we were thrilled with a couple of cold ones.

And though it might have been a concession to owner David Starkey of Dobbs Ferry’s Tomatillo, Sweet Grass’s talented chef, Tommy Lasley, is flipping burgers. Expect very beefy, Creekstone Farm Black Angus patties, deliciously hard-seared, yet juicy inside. New York Times readers might remember the producer from Frank Bruni’s three-star rave of Minetta Tavern, whose Creekstone Farms beef he specifically praises for its intense flavor and perfect fat balance. One quibble that we had (though you’ll have to wait a few weeks for the full review) is that our fries at Sweet Grass come blondly undercooked. This seems to be a virus spreading in these parts, along with barely singed, raw toast.

Finally, perhaps the best thing at Sweet Grass is that it offers ethical food at easy prices. No mains exceed $20, while most come in considerably lower. Delicious starters begin at $5, and those Creekstone burgers cost all of $10. You should expect a few little beginners’ bumps, but you’ll be thrilled with a great bar and grill.

Sweet Grass Grill
24 Main St, Tarrytown
(914) 631-0000

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