“Why don’t we meet up at Grand Central for a bite to eat?” said no one ever. Unless you and your friend are both catching the same train and want to enter the circus that is the Lower Level Dining Concourse. Or if you work in Midtown East and your colleagues want to grab drinks at the Grand Central Oyster Bar. Or maybe you don’t like your friend and you’re subtly trying to convey this by suggesting an undesirable location. But the dining options have come a long way at Grand Central, thanks to Claus Meyer, a culinary entrepreneur who recently opened the Great Northern Food Hall to bring high quality Nordic cuisine to the station. Now you can get artisanal rye breads and nutritious Danish porridge on your daily commute.
Even if you don’t have anywhere to go, stopping by the Great Northern Food Hall’s sit-down restaurant Almanak makes for a pleasant experience. It’s a bright and airy space that is tucked away in the back corner of Vanderbilt Hall, far from the madding crowd of commuters. Not many people go there, which is understandable, as eating at Grand Central is an idea that has yet to catch on, but they are missing out. Meyer, after all, was the co-founder of the world famous restaurant Noma, and the quality and flavors of the food at Almanak are befitting of this pedigree.
The focus is on simple, seasonal ingredients, prepared in traditional Scandinavian fashion, meaning a lot of hearty meat and potatoes with some dill for flavor and toasted breadcrumbs for texture. It’s the type of food, like the satisfying plate of chicken and crushed potatoes, that would fill you up after a long day of honest work, or that would sustain you for the coming winter months, which the thick and velvety smoked potato soup with cod would do. If you want something a little lighter, the beef tartare is a good choice. The raw meat is dressed up with some bright additions of chopped beets and dill so that the overall flavors are pretty clean.
Being that it was nearing Christmas, we knew we had to try the aebleskiver, a seasonal Danish dessert that tastes like doughnuts. It was served with a delicious raspberry jam and made us feel very warm and jolly inside. If you closed your eyes, you could almost convince yourself that you were at a real Scandinavian Christmas market. It was the best kind of commute you could ever ask for at Grand Central–a peaceful trip overseas without the crowds and hassle.
Almanak at the Great Northern Food Hall
Grand Central Terminal
89 E 42nd St
New York, NY 10017