>> MCG Grand Cafe | Eat the World NYC

21 January 2018

MCG Grand Cafe


For over a decade, the flag of Grenada has flown at this location. The previous spot which was named "De Island" hung a big one from the window and sometimes even more from the awning. For the last two and a half years, a new owner has taken over and modernized the exterior a bit, but look closely enough and the small yellow, green, and red flag of the island nation still hangs in the window.

More importantly, the menu announces the origin of the chef and the vast list of food shows a real pride in the place rather than the ubiquitous "West Indian" offerings of many restaurants. Master Chef Gibbs, the "MCG" from the name, dresses in an all red uniform and has a smile that sets the tone.

The entrance leads down a hallway where many people walk in and place their takeout orders directly with the chef. For those wanting to dine in, make your arrival known and take a seat.

The woman who takes care of the tables is also super friendly, and since I had her to myself on an early Saturday evening it seemed like the "Back in Grenada..." stories could flow forever. I was asking way too many questions about the country and food, but she never skipped a beat in providing full and thoughtful answers.

One of many unique appetizers available is the coo-coo balls and lambie slush ($9, above), which thankfully for January is served hot despite its name. "Lambie" is local terminology for conch, and the snail meat inside is very common in stews and curries in Grenada. The coo-coo underneath, made of cornmeal, is also common in Grenada and it's Windward neighbors, but this combination with the addition of okra is definitely somewhat of a modern take. It is very good.

The portions here are not set up so that one person can eat a full appetizer and entree, so when this massive heavy bowl of oil down ($13, below) arrived, I knew I had met my match. Grenada's national dish, oil down is only available here on Saturdays, replicating how it might be enjoyed back home as a weekend meal.

The most important ingredient in an oil down is breadfruit, named for the texture it has when cooked. This is mixed with much denser dumplings, a bit of potato, and a hunk of chicken and saltfish, which is all cooked in coconut milk and callaloo. All in all, the amount of food here is intense.

Eventually when bellies are full and plates are cleared, the floral tablecloths and plastic bouquets come back into focus. The good spirit of the place is everywhere, and the bag of leftovers is wrapped up.

I must have been asking enough questions that word made it back to the kitchen and the friendly chef came out after my meal to chat a bit as well. It was as if I had made new friends simply by coming and enjoying the food.

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MCG Grand Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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