Few restaurants, if any, are as committed to the farm-to-table movement as Grazin’, now open on Reade. Like the original Grazin’ diner in the upriver town of Hudson, it gets its beef, pork, chicken, and dairy from the owners’ Grazin’ Angus Acres farm in Ghent, N.Y., and almost all remaining ingredients are from other nearby farms. “Everything is from within 15 miles of the farm, except seasonal items and stuff like coffee,” says general manager Rebecca Reiss. “We do the best we can.” That means no Diet Coke; instead, they make their own sodas. (“And we have seltzer with lemon juice.”)
The first Grazin’ ended up as a diner mainly because the vintage building demanded it. Grazin’ Tribeca, on the other hand, is the burger-centric restaurant the owners originally envisioned. Both are the first restaurants in the world to be Animal Welfare Approved.
The name of a farm on a menu doesn’t guarantee that the animals were raised humanely; it doesn’t guarantee anything at all. Animal Welfare Approved is an effort to identify the farms that are truly doing everything possible for their animals. But that does mean higher prices. “Every single cow has between three and eight years invested in it,” says Reiss. “They’re all 100% grass fed and finished. The buns are organic and baked locally. The greens and onions are organic and local. Everything is organic, including the salt and pepper. As a result, we have pretty much the highest food costs of any restaurant.” In other words, no one is getting rich on that $14 burger—it’s just the cost of putting your money where your mouth is, if you believe that farm animals should be treated even a small fraction as nicely as you treat your pet.
The Earth-first ethos extends to the condiments (you’re asked in advance what you’d like, to minimize waste); napkins and takeout packaging (made from recycled materials and/or biodegradable); and the decor itself. The wood is from a barn in Greenville, N.Y., that was built in the mid to late 1700s. “Our contractor was hired to take part of it down—it was falling apart—so he used it here,” says Reiss.
Grazin’ Tribeca opens at 11 a.m. every day of the week. Breakfast may be offered eventually, and for brunch, there will be two specials—one sweet, one savory—each weekend, until they run out. The liquor license is expected any day now (with beer local to the farm area and the five boroughs), and delivery will come in a couple weeks.
Grazin’ is at 56 Reade (between Broadway and Church), 646-217-4085; grazindiner.com.
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