An upscale bistro serving comfort classics as well as extraordinarily tender cuts of meat, Riverdale K Grillhouse was a pleasure to visit last week. Tucked cozily between SAR High School and Carlos & Gabby’s on Riverdale Avenue, the full-length windows were thrown open so diners could enjoy the light breeze on the late summer evening.
A perusal of the Riverdale K Grillhouse’s impressive wine list was an early indicator that the restaurant is offering the best currently available in kosher vintages. While the house red is by Lanzur, the restaurant also offers two classic Dalton reds (a cabernet sauvignon and a blend), which are $10 a glass. For those who enjoy white white, the restaurant offers the Chateau Bellerives Dubois White Bordeaux 2014, which was recommended by our contributor Gamliel Kronemer in his June article about summer whites. “Crisp and bone-dry, the wine has flavors and aromas of apricots, lychees and honeysuckle.” At $12 a glass, this is a great deal to try a unique wine. Five premium reds are also available by the bottle or glass, include the Borgo Reale Barolo 2010, which is $32 a glass. This Italian wine has been aged in oak casks for 30 months, and is one of only about three barolos currently available in the kosher marketplace. The bar also offers a variety of fruity specialty martinis, mixed drinks and beer.
The restaurant offers a unique array of cold and hot appetizers including house-made gravlax and standard Middle Eastern favorites, as well as an expansive sushi menu. The Eastern Trio cold appetizer included eggplant two ways (fire-roasted and as baba ganoush), and hummus, as well as a savory on-the-side roasted red pepper and zucchini sauce. A yeasty flatbread with sesame seeds was served alongside the cold appetizers. The star of the sushi platter was an imaginative “vegetable delight” roll, which included oshinko, a Japanese pickled radish, sweet potato and red onion, topped with cucumber, avocado and a soy wrapper.
Heading up an impressive fish menu, the whole grilled branzino was perfectly prepared. With crispy skin on both sides that had been finished with sea salt and freshly ground pepper, the fish was hot, flaky and served over roasted summer vegetables. A pomegranate-juice reduction was placed underneath the fish, to ensure the skin remained crisp. Also on the fish menu was pan-seared wild salmon, a branzino fillet and porcini-crusted Chilean sea bass. Seared tuna crusted with sesame over salad was also available. Other salads include a classic caesar and an Israeli salad, which was dressed simply yet deliciously with salt, pepper and a touch of vinegar.
The restaurant’s main courses are true comfort classics. In addition to the made-to-order hamburgers, smoked and baby chicken, beef goulash, veal osso bucco, duck legs and baby back ribs, steaks are also cooked to order. But the marinated lamb chops, cooked to medium, were the tenderest we’d ever tasted. They are the kind of melt-in-your-mouth meat that is often described but is hard to come by these days. The chops were served with made-from-scratch mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables. Both the lamb chops and the prime rib were served with the chef’s special homemade, meat-based barbecue sauce.
If these main dishes are “too adventurous” for the younger set, there is a small kids’ menu, offering chicken fingers, hot dogs and French fries, but if the evening of our visit was any indication, it might be better to spend that money on a babysitter. This is more a date-night or special occasion bistro.
To round out the meal, coffees, herbal teas and freshly made Italian cappuccino and espresso are available, which are served with a soy-based milk alternative and laced with vanilla. Desserts include a palate-cleansing trio of sorbets made from kiwi, strawberry and mango and a dark chocolate cake layered with ganache from a Brooklyn bakery.
About 12 tables for groups of two and four are available in the front of the restaurant, as well as about 15 bar seats, and for those with larger parties or those wanting quiet, there is a large room in the back that holds events and tables of 5 or more. For reservations and special events please visit http://www.kgrillhouse.com, or call 718-708-7940. The restaurant is located at 5693 Riverdale Avenue, Bronx, NY 10471. Riverdale K Grillhouse is open for lunch and dinner Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., with a special Sunday brunch menu.
By Elizabeth Kratz