Restaurant Review: Great Northern Food Hall, Open Rye and Grain Bar

Details: The address is Grand Central Terminal, 89 Vanderbilt Ave, New York, NY 10017. In case the address isn’t descriptive enough, Great Northern Food Hall is located in Grand Central’s Vanderbilt Hall, with access from 42nd Street or the Terminal’s Main Concourse. Official site is http://greatnorthernfood.com/

Great Northern Food Hall is a food market focusing on Nordic cuisine. It was created by Claus Meyer, one of the creators of Noma, a restaurant considered by many as the greatest restaurant in the world. He is also credited with being one of the creators of the New Nordic food movement, which focuses on developing traditional, Scandinavian dishes while using local ingredients. A more practical description of New Nordic would be the attempt to make traditional Nordic cuisine fit for the French concept of fine dining. In other words, they wanted to figure out how to charge more money for Scandinavian food.

The food served at Great Northern Food Hall is not fine dining. Refreshingly, it is moderately priced given the prestige associated with the Claus Meyer brand. The food served here is meant as something that you can pick up quickly and eat on the go, a fitting format for a business located inside Grand Central Terminal.

I stopped by for lunch on a weekday and visited Open Rye and Grain Bar. There are six different stations here which serve different things. Open Rye and Grain Bar simply had the things that looked most interesting to me.

At Open Rye, I ordered two open-faced sandwiches (nice way of saying sandwich with only one slice of bread): the chicken salad (apple, watercress, celery) and the roast beef (horseradish, remoulade, onions). Both were served on a surprisingly strong slice of rye bread that could hold the weight of all the toppings. The sandwiches were fine. I wish they offered a second slice of bread so that I could have an easier time holding the things. Both sandwiches cost $7.

Grain Bar focuses largely on Danish porridge. It’s essentially better oatmeal. Unlike oatmeal, you can actually see the grains and feel the texture of the grains. They also do a better job of seasoning the porridge. I ordered a mushroom porridge. It was topped with some fried stuff and mushrooms with a very vinegar-y taste. It was okay. It cost $10.

Overall, it was just okay. The tastes and quality weren’t so great that I’d feel any compulsion to come back. I’d rather go to my local deli and get a sandwich for cheaper.

Score: 5/10

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