food hall

Great Northern Food Hall at Grand Central

by Anne Maxfield on August 15, 2016

Accidental Locavore Great Northern Food HallHo.


Sadly, truth in advertising doesn’t apply to venues.

Or the Great Northern Food Hall would be in danger of being busted.

It’s not great.

It’s actually at the southern end of Grand Central.

There is food. It appears to be Scandinavian inspired.

There are drinks (and cocktails). They come in bottles and are (mostly) not Scandinavian.

Accidental Locavore Food Hall PorridgeThere are Danishes and croissants, neither of which originated from where you think they did and Denmark (where Claus Meyer the entrepreneur behind GNH hailed from) never comes into the story.

There is a porridge bar, because you never know when you’ll be on 42nd Street craving porridge. And not to be kvetching too much, but once again is Denmark the first country that comes to mind when you hear the word porridge?

Didn’t think so.

There are smørrebrødens, which, phew, are Danish open-faced sandwiches and each is a little work of art (and priced accordingly). Maybe it was my imagination but as I passed a pre-made smørrebrød it seemed to me that the corners of the bread were curling up as it’s prone to do when you make smaller versions (hors d’œuvres) before a party. Because they’re topless it may not be the best on-the-run or balancing on your lap snack.

Accidental Locavore Food Hall SandwichesTide stick anyone?

There is coffee. Known to be a big cash crop in Scandinavia.


This is from Brownsville Coffee in Brownsville Brooklyn (which isn’t even in the northern part of Brooklyn).

There is a bar. You might need a drink.

This is a project seven months in construction. Like Vanderbilt Hall, a food hall highly anticipated by those of us who pass through Grand Central, hungry and on the move.

Like Vanderbilt Hall, a letdown.

The Accidental Locavore isn’t sure why the owners of Grand Central (and no, you can’t blame this on Metro North, tempting as it might be) thought that turning it into a Nordic theme park was a brilliant idea.

Besides Great Northern, there’s a hot dog sausage bar and a very fancy restaurant with $100-$125 tasting menus. If spending that much on sunflower seeds and more of that porridge seems like a better deal than a cheap seat to Hamilton, be my guest.

My bet is that Hamilton will be around much longer than smørrebrød at Grand Central.




Food Halls vs. Food Courts, Is There a Difference?

by Anne Maxfield on October 5, 2015

Accidental Locavore Soft OpeningRemind me and keep reminding me that the only difference between food halls and food courts are the slightly better-looking kiosks, tables and chairs, and the significantly higher prices. The Accidental Locavore was eagerly anticipating the opening of Vanderbilt Market at the north end of Grand Central for the chance to up my take-on-the-train lunches and/or have a place to meet people that was a little nicer than the basement of GC.

Sadly, this does not seem to be it. I cruised by on the “soft” opening day. Apparently my idea of a soft opening (limited menu, trying to get the kinks out) and theirs (unlock the doors) were miles apart as none of the 20+ vendors were actually selling food. Disappointed, my friend Laura and I went to our favorite Szechuan place and sweated through a great meal.

Accidental Locavore Soft OpeningToday, having time before my train, I went back. All the stalls were open and, for some of them, surprisingly busy at 11:30 in the morning.

If you had ANY doubts about rice bowls being the trendy food of the moment, a walk through Vanderbilt Market certainly won’t dispell that notion! Regardless of the cuisine in question, almost every stand had a rice bowl selection. From predetermined combinations to the infinite possibilities of choosing it yourself, there were offerings for vegans, vegetarians, carnivores, omnivores, pescavores – you get the idea.

I ordered mine (when in Rome…) from Mimi’s Hummus. It was chicken shawarma, with cucumbers, red onions, cooked yellow onions, parsley, mint and a curry yogurt sauce but surprisingly, no hummus. That was $9 on top of the $14 price tag for the rice bowl.

Accidental Locavore Rice BowlOther food options included Red Hook Lobster, for your choice of lobster rolls with different pedigrees, local coffee roasters who believe that “each coffee can tell a story, and we strive to share that in every cup,” a variety of Asian stalls ranging from Bangkok to Hong Kong with stops for Asian hot dogs and Japanese tacos. Spicy tuna nachos anyone?

While I’d probably rather eat pizza from Roberta’s than Roman Delight at the mall, the look of all these places – halls or courts – is the same and sadly none of the food I’ve had is outstanding. And while it seems like I’m picking on Vanderbilt Market, it’s the same for Gotham West, Brookside Place and even Eataly. So, please remind me the next time!






Is This the Best Bagel in New York?

by Anne Maxfield on July 7, 2014

Accidental Locavore Black See BagelsThere’s been a lot of hype recently about a new bagel shop that’s come to the Big Apple, so when the Accidental Locavore found herself face-to-face with Black Seed Bagels in the new Brookfield Place food hall, research beckoned. Black Seed is supposed to be a hybrid between New York and Montreal bagels, hand-rolled and baked in a wood-fired oven.

Unfortunately, late in the afternoon, there were no everything bagels left, so I grabbed a sesame for Frank and a poppy seed for myself. A bit pricy at $1.50 each, but certainly less expensive than the crazy $2.25 at the Culinary Institute.

Accidental Locavore Brookfield PlaceThese bagels were smaller, with a bigger center than the now over-sized bagels we’ve become used to. Perfectly toasted, with some cream cheese, my first bite struck me as quite salty, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, just what strikes you early in the morning. It was nicely chewy and not overly sweet (always my issue with the late H&H). It’s easy to see the hand-rolled qualities and there was a big difference, visually, between the sesame and poppy seed varieties, however neither one of us got any hint of smoke from the supposed trip through a wood-fired oven.

With two shops, location-wise they tie Murray’s (generally my favorite bagel), but is it worth it to schlep to Elizabeth Street or the World Financial Center, now known as Brookfield Place (unfortunate name for quite a lovely spot)? That would depend on how far you’re willing to travel, invest, and possibly, wait in line. The better option is to do what I did and stroll into a virtually empty Brookfield Place and just mosey up to the counter. If you have time to sit and enjoy them there you’re rewarded with a great view of the Hudson and some other interesting eating spots, but more about that in a later post.