First Look: Block & Grinder North
Full disclosure: I’m very familiar at the original Cotswold location of Block & Grinder, the meat shop/restaurant. It’s just a few blocks from my house. I’ve perched at the little bar with a jar of chicken liver mousse and a Bibb salad on many a night.
So I was eager to get a look when the new location, 130 Landings Drive in the Langtree development in Mooresville, held a little party to celebrate the official opening Monday night.
How’s it look? At 6,500 square feet, it’s much, much bigger than the original’s 1,500 square feet, with two dining rooms, a much bigger bar (no more squeezing for elbow room there), a private dining room with three flat-screen TVs, and a much bigger area for the meat shop. With a combination of wood, white tile and contemporary lighting, the feel is more contemporary but still manages to feel warm. It’s noisy, but not cacaphony.
Chef Ben Philpott was particularly eager to show off his new chef’s table, a 10-seat bar with a view of the kitchen. There’s a full selection of his pickled vegetables and a larger wine section in the (yes, much larger) meat shop, ready to go if you need something to round out a meal to cook at home.
The menu is mostly the same, with a few tweaks (the trout now has a blueberry beurre blanc instead of the tomato beurre blanc Philpott used last summer, but it’s a nice, wine-like touch on the bed of farro with pecans and huge chunks of house-cured bacon). I was happy to see the lamb burger, a favorite at Cotswold, and the anti-burger (a favorite of my vegetarian co-worker Katie Toussaint). Yes, my chicken liver mousse jar is still there, and the espresso creme brulee, my new favorite. There are some tweaks, though: The menu is arranged better (Small Plates, The Farm, Chef’s Selections, From the Block steaks with optional toppings and From the Grinder burgers with optional toppings). That makes it easier to pick out things to share if you’re with friends.
At the event Monday night, several people were raving about the “peanut butter & jelly” take on foie gras. At $17, it’s plenty big enough to share.
How will Philpott manage to be executive chef at two places 30 miles apart? “Magic,” he said. (Actually, he’ll be at Cotswold in the morning and Langtree in the afternoons.)
Of course, Bill the Butcher, Daniel Day-Lewis’ character from “Gangs of New York” still has a presence. This time, he’s leering from a spot over the kitchen door.
And by the way, if you haven’t seen this video (below), it’s a lot of fun: Block & Grinder was visited recently by a team from a Swedish food show, looking for the secrets to a great American burger. If you’ve ever wanted to hear “pee-men-do sheez” discussed in Swedish accents, it will make your day. Skol!
Block & Grinder
2936 Providence Road, 5-10 p.m. Monday, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 10”30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sunday brunch, 5-9 p.m. Sunday dinner. 704-364-2100 or 704-364-2133.
130 Landings Drive, Mooresville, closed Monday, 5-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 5-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 5-9 p.m. Sunday. 980-444-2995.