You know those times that you are standing by the door, everything ready to go, about to set off on your day, except you can't find your keys? You've looked everywhere- high and low, in the fridge, on bookcases, under pillows, and yet the keys cannot be found-and then, in a moment of sheer brilliance, you look down and realize that you've been holding your keys the entire time? I felt as though I was having a similar experience on Saturday evening. So often I look for restaurants that are going to raise the bar a bit, but without reinventing the wheel. A place that has been around for a while, but is still current and relevant. Somehow, as long as I have been looking, the answer was just under my nose at East Coast Grill.
I have been hearing about East Coast Grill for years, rave reviews of everything from their barbecue to their much loved Hell Night, yet somehow I have never been able to make it over to check it out for myself. Saturday night was the night to do it!
We were immediately seated when we arrived, something I get the feeling does not happen often especially with their restrictive reservation policy. We lucked out though and were seated directly next to the open kitchen. If you know me- you know that sitting where I can watch a kitchen in action may be my most favorite thing to do. I have a, let's say "healthy", admiration for chefs and cooks, and an incredibly strong appreciation for what they are able to accomplish in incredibly stressful circumstances. Honestly-when you think about the profession-it's pretty amazing!!!! So, sitting next to a kitchen during the height of a dinner rush is basically my heaven. I could watch for hours even without eating. I could do that in place of seeing any movie, play or sporting event. So to summarize- we got a great table. Evening was set to be good.
However, it wasn't just our table that was amazing- the staff was as well. Several different members assisted us throughout the evening and all were incredibly helpful and friendly. On our waiters recommendation we both started with a bowl of their special butternut squash soup. It was served seasoned with maple syrup and garnished with crispy Tasso ham and Pepita's. Pepita's, for reference sake, are pumpkin seeds that have been roasted. The are delicious. The soup, rich and creamy, sweet and spicy, embodied every element of the fall season. The maple syrup lent perfect subtle sweetness which nicely offset the smokiness of the Pepita's and the crispy salty ham. Honestly this soup was so delicious it was completely addictive- and it was served in a pretty large bowl. I was hesitating to fill up completely on the soup-though I would have been glad to, so when one of the waitstaff, as if reading my mind, asked if we'd like to wrap up the remainder of the soup- I immediately agreed.
I had selected their Grilled White Pepper Crusted Tuna as my entree, and when asked, requested it to be as rare as possible. Well the chefs took that to heart and lightly seared the tuna on their grill. Future reference- I may not request as rare as possible again- and will instead just say rare. The tuna, while very nicely seasoned and perfectly tasty, was a bit too cold in the center for my taste. Temperature error though on my side-not the kitchens. The tuna was served with grilled vegetables, house pickled ginger, curried vegetable pickles, aged soy sauce and fresh wasabi. Each element on its own was good, though it was obvious that the star of the show was the tuna, and each of the accompaniments was there to showcase the flavors and cleanliness of the tuna.
I have to say, after the experience that I had at East Coast Grill, and the welcoming treatment, I am more than excited to return again. Next time I go- I'm getting the barbecue...it looked and smelled AMAZING!