Earlier this summer City Grit, Sarah Simmons's culinary salon in Soho that's brought dozens of talented chefs from around the country to cook in New York, announced their plans to leave their current location and kicked off a fundraiser on Kickstarter. But an ambitious goal of $100,000 in crowdfunded donations fell short (over $33,000 was pledged, but Kickstarter projects are all-or-nothing), and since then chef Simmons announced that the building her restaurant occupies is being sold, leaving her with no choice but to move out.
City Grit's future isn't certain yet, but the good news is the restaurant is actively working on a new location, is seeking out new investors, and has launched another crowdfunding campaign for those who wish to donate to the relocation. The restaurant just added a fundraising section to their website where you can make direct donations in exchange for Kickstarter-like perks, from a t-shirt to VIP tickets to events planned for the fall.
Unlike the Kickstarter campaign, these donations go straight to the City Grit team for immediate use, not as a pledge contingent on receiving a certain level of support. Most of the fundraising perks pertain to merchandise or events in the current City Grit space; donations with perks contingent on a new space will be refunded if the restaurant can't relocate.
City Grit's dinner schedule currently runs through mid-October, and the restaurant likely won't have to uproot until next year. Here's a look back at the meals we've eaten there, the chefs that have shared their food with the New York audience, and the culinary zeitgeist that Simmons and her team have captured.
Global Southern with Jon Currence
Chef Currence originally hails from New Orleans, while his chefs du cuisine are from Baltimore (Heath Johnson) and Gujarat in India (Vishwesh Bhatt). Bhatt's influence especially was evident throughout—in a tomato peanut chutney that graced the fried "royal red" shrimp, in the spicing of grits prepared in the style of upma, an Indian breakfast dish.
Paul Qui's Next Steps
Simmons characterized Qui's menu as "his food truck in a plated dinner"; Qui just calls it "my take on summer down in Texas." What that meant last night: a 7-course dinner with lots of clean broths and summer vegetables, precisely cooked proteins with clear, focused flavors.
Northern Thai via Los Angeles
"You're gonna be eating some super traditional Thai hick food." That's how Kris Yenbamroong began our meal at City Grit. What followed was a one night stand of lime leaf and spicy pork salads, something of an ode to authentic Thai drunk food (suggested beer pairing: Corona, which "tastes like Thai beer"). "But I'm not an authenticity goon. I don't do something because it's the authentic way; I do it because it's the best way."
Jason Dady, Young and Hungry
Dady started with an amuse of a savory macaron, layered with bone marrow mousse and a concentrated Luxardo cherry jam. Five courses followed, combining ingredients brought in from Texas with those Sarah sourced for him here. A few surprises were discovered in the process—the addition of Nutella to baba ganoush lends an extra layer of depth, for example—but overall Dady's focus was on a blending of flavors from different origins and just having fun with it.
The Chef Behind the Scenes
Chef Simmons prefers to let her guests take the spotlight at City Grit dinners, but she has plenty to say all on her own:
The bottom line is the number of food writers that are based in New York—I feel like it's the food media capital of the world. It's hard to get your name out there and it's hard to get recognition—you can't fly ten of these people to where you are and have them eat your food—so I think that's what makes it exciting in addition to the sparkle of cooking in New York City. Here there's a good chance that you're going to have four to six food writers that are highly influential and have the ability to bring recognition to your name in the dining room eating your food.
For more information and to see next steps for donations, visit City Grit's website.