The Grill Room still turns up the heat.
Under chef Miguel Berrios, the 16-year-old upbeat New American restaurant keeps dinner lively and lunch on target. The hard-surface dining room does get noisy, and you'll immediately know everyone is having a very good time, especially during Saturday night's live jazz.
The office-park corridor where The Grill Room is situated does become easier on the eyes after dark. Inside the modern, streamlined look and the friendly, no-nonsense approach are appealing come-ons.
What really will attract you, however, is Berrios' sure hand with dishes both traditional and not-so. Berrio succeeded late chef Hal Goldman four years ago. And his idea of fusion works. Get ready for both the aioli and the hoisin.
First-rate starters include the sharp duck tostada, backed by mango salsa, black beans and chipotle-flavored aioli; and the hoisin-glazed, hibachi-seared baby back ribs. The chilled shellfish plateau, briny and pristine, is a minimalist's pleasure, with bluepoints, littlenecks, crabmeat and shrimp. Veer Asian with the lobster-and-crab spring roll, finished with a drizzle of wasabi and ponzu sauces. Continue with the chicken lettuce wrap, a riff on chicken Soong with a soy-hoisin glaze and cilantro aioli. Even better: a special with spicy swordfish given the lettuce-wrap treatment. Tomato aioli is the foil for the house's meaty crabcake, which is accompanied by potato-and-corn salad. The Black Angus strip steak is fibrous, juicy, excellent; the filet mignon, very tender. The red-wine braised short ribs also are recommended. And Berrio sends out a moist, toasty, satisfying paella alla Valenciana, with shellfish, chicken and chorizo sausage. Conclude with a professional crème brûlée or cheesecake.
Dry grilled pork tenderloin; chewy marinated skirt steak; standard sesame-crusted tuna, boosted a bit by black rice; routine "Old World" meatloaf and chicken quesadilla; tired shrimp "two ways;" dull pastas; limp apple crisp.
THE BOTTOM LINE