So before we start, I must confess something… “Hi I’m Dave, and I’m a burger-holic!”.
I’m confessing this now so you know that I’m not exactly estranged with the juicy meat sandwich so, when you’re reading this article, you know where I’m coming from. Now there are two-ways you can think of this; you can think that I’m easily going to say this place is great, but in reality, I’m more of a burger “connoisseur” which actually helps when it comes to reviewing places like this one.
So last night, we were invited to what they called a ‘soft-launch’ (a preview night for invited guests only, basically) of the latest edition to Hull’s big fat American Grill scene, the NYC Bar & Grill in St Stephen’s. NYC are a regional group with all 4 of their restaurants in Yorkshire. I’ll give you my 4 big reasons why you need to try this out.
1. It looks authentic
Before walking into the restaurant, it’s easy to be impressed with the outside, but it’s on the inside where the interior deco gets you set for the American experience without being too over-the-top. New York street signs and hand-drawn graphics adorn the flooring while classic back-lit signs light up the walls with a promise of the quality of food you’re about to experience. It’s actually the most authentic restaurant I can remember going to in a shopping centre. Most big retail centres around the country contain the usual national chains, but this is a great edition to the ever growing line-up at St Stephens and the city centre.
2. Service was exceptional
With it being the soft-launch, I naturally expected the service to be great – opening night, no hang ups, wanting to impress – but I quickly realised that this was a test-run for them with later finding out that almost all the staff only had 2 days training to prepare for the night.
However, the service was exceptional from our server, Francesca, as well as the whole team who were friendly and looked like they were enjoying their first big day on the job. We really put them to the test with our menu choices too, customising to death as we wanted to try out absolutely everything possible, and when it came not a single item was wrong, forgotten about, delayed or cold.
Our host for the night, Sam, absolutely knew the food like the back of his hand. He’s been working at NYC only 2 months (training in Sheffield while the Hull restaurant was being put together), yet knew every detail after my brother Dan asked him about the size of the onion pieces in the coleslaw! I was expecting a “I’ll just go ask the chef” moment but instead he answered confidently and reeled off every single ingredient in their ‘slaw. Very impressive and it made me realise how much he must love the restaurant he works for.
As the evening went on and the restaurant quietened down, more and more of their staff came over to say hello and just talk to us in general. A nice touch to use their less-busy time talking to their customers, rather than just hanging around and talking to themselves.
3. The food was incredible
So the reason we were there – the food. And it was simply incredible! Remember, it’s obvious that from my ‘slender’ figure that I’m no stranger to a burger – so I’m pretty well positioned (well, mostly wedged-in!) to comment on whether this was great food or not. And it was.
I went with Sam’s recommendation of Dog Bites to start, and Dan went with the Maple Hickory Chicken Skewers. The bites were the perfect combo of frankfurter sausage meat, cheese and BBQ sauce with the added luxury of being wrapped in sweet-cured bacon. Dan’s chicken was tender and full of flavour.
For the mains, I went for the big daddy of them all – the Fat Cow – which was two beef patties that clearly benefited from the fresh preparation that day, topped with 24-hour marinated pulled pork which was soft and full of flavour. Dan went for the Mexican Chicken Burger which comes with Nachos, Guacamole, Sour Cream, Jalapenos & Salsa all on the burger itself. He loved it! Like his Skewers, the chicken was tasty and tender. He liked the fact that rather than one big thick chicken breast, it was thinner slices, so it was easier to taste all the flavours in one bite.
I also had the Maple Hickory Ribs – meat wise, amazing, but I prefer the sauce with a bit more kick, and Maple Hickory just isn’t that. They had a JD alternative which might have been a better choice, in hindsight. I had a side of Jack (Cheese) & Bacon Fries which were tasty, but Dan’s Sweet Potato Fries were the better choice – sweet enough where they taste like you expect but not too sweet where you get sick of the taste. Corn Dogs are a must! I had them once in the USA and these tasted just how I remembered them. Dan’s the connoisseur of Coleslaw (has to have it with everything!) and his bucket of it was creamy and fresh. In his words, like his burger, it was “perfect!”.
Although we were stuffed, there’s always room for dessert. So we shared a Nutella Milkshake and a Chocolate Gooey Boston Brownie. The Milkshake came first where they brought out what I can only describe as a mountain of cream on top of a foot-high frosted metal cup full of blended ice cream milkshake with genuine Nutella flavour – just the right taste. Then came the brownie, as described. Warm, crunchy on the outside, soft and gooey on the inside. The perfect way to finish it off.
4. Price ain’t bad either
Prices were modest and portions generous. Many burger meals cost less than a tenner, starters and desserts around a fiver. Very reasonable. If you want to customise for a couple of quid extra, you can too. Drinks were well-priced too with our bottomless drinks costing just £2.70 each. At the end, we were given a ‘Nando’s style’ loyalty card with free stuff after so many visits which you keep building up to a free main meal.
To sum it up…
So if you love the new American scene coming over to the UK, this is definitely for you. If it’s the authentic brilliance of a local independent that operates with the professionalism of a national chain, then NYC Bar & Grill is for you. It’s officially open from today on the 2nd floor of St Stephen’s. I’ll be back there as soon as I can but for now… who’s got the cure for a ‘ham-gover’?