Q&A: 15 Years of The Standard Grill With Chef Dan Silverman

The Standard Grill opened its doors on Washington Street in The Meatpacking District in 2009. Fifteen years on, we sat down with Chef Dan Silverman to chat through the iconic NYC restaurant's evolution and future. 

What are some signature dishes that have stood the test of time at The Standard Grill, and what makes them special to you and your guests? 

A lot of chefs, myself included, when asked about their favorite menu items might (and have) respond, “I love all my kids."  But since you asked…The Million Dollar Chicken and Steak Tartare A-Go-Go come to mind first.  Neither is a groundbreaking idea, and I certainly have no claim or intention to claim that I invented either dish…that being said, I think what makes these dishes special, delicious and crave-able is that we try to source and use only the best ingredients to prepare them.  We tasted and tested each dish to dial in maximum flavor.  Other memorable old favorites are Grilled Heritage Pork Chop w/Romesco “Salad” (all of the ingredients that comprise romesco—almonds, pine nuts, hazelnuts, roasted peppers, garlic, tomatoes, parsley, etc assembled as a salad) and Pastrami Cured Salmon Sandwich w/Pickled Red Cabbage and Thousand Island Dressing.

Can you share some behind-the-scenes stories that highlight the spirit and culture of The Standard Grill over the years? 

The best days in the kitchen occur when I learn something new about the food we cook or when I’m able to teach the cooks and/or sous chefs something about food and cooking. I’ve always had a close relationship with the NYC Greenmarkets and have cultivated great relationships with the farmers and producers who bring their hand raised fruits, vegetables and meats to market.  I’ve had a great butcher, Josh Applestone demonstrate how to break down a whole pig; afternoon sessions with Jeremy Schaller from Schaller and Weber come to talk about the sausages his family makes and supplies to The Biergarten; and Rick Bishop of the late lamented Mountain Sweet Berry Farm hand deliver tri-star strawberries—through the restaurant front entrance—in the middle of dinner service and speak to the staff about what makes them so yummy.

How has The Standard Grill evolved over the past 15 years in terms of its menu and culinary approach? 

I’m constantly on the prowl for new local outstanding products that we can integrate into our menus.  Although my training was in three- and four-star restaurants, my food these days is seemingly simple. I like to build flavor and complexity into the prepped components of a dish so that the assembly in the Grill’s busy kitchen can be done correctly consistently. I love talking to vendors, artisans and farmers because I think it’s fascinating to catch the passion and reverence these humans have for their work.

How has the neighborhood and the culinary scene of the city overall evolved in the last 15 years?  

I wouldn’t know where to start with this one.  How much time does everyone have?  When we opened the neighborhood still had working meat packing businesses, Hogs and Heifers was very much a thriving dive across the street, and the High Line Park hadn’t yet opened the first segment of the park yet.  These days you can purchase a rose gold Rolex watch around the corner or a Tesla across the street…

What are some of the most memorable moments that have shaped the restaurant's journey?  

To me the most memorable moments are really about all the wonderful and unique people I have had the honor and pleasure of working with at The Standard, High Line over the years.  Without everyone’s hard work, unique perspectives, senses of humor and desire to make great food in a fast-paced environment I don’t know where I’d be now.  

Looking ahead, what are your aspirations for the next chapter of The Standard Grill, and how do you plan to keep the experience fresh and exciting for both new and returning guests? 

My hope is that we can continue to grow, improve and innovate the menus, find more/different/better products to cook, continue to hire, train and inspire the kitchen staff, wine and dine our guests and have another great 15 year run!

To celebrate the 15th anniversary, during the month of June, The Standard Grill is offering a $75 prix-fixe dinner menu highlighting classic dishes of the past and present including Snow Pea Radish Salad, Steak Tartare-A-Go-Go and The Million Dollar Chicken. Book your table here

Chef Dan Silverman was trained at the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan where he learned classic techniques and went on to work for David Bouley for six years. From there, Dan went on to become the Executive Chef for 60-seat restaurant Alison on Dominick, where he earned a Food & Wine Best New Chef award. He then moved to Danny Meyer’s Union Square Cafe for five years and from there, went on to open the landmarked Lever House in 2003, nominated by the James Beard Foundation as Best New Restaurant. Chef Silverman was also awarded one Michelin star for his work at Lever House. Following Lever House, Dan opened The Standard Grill, leading the famed restaurant for five years. Dan’s accolades include Food & Wine’s “Best New Chef”, a James Beard Award nomination for Best New Restaurant and a Michelin Star (for four years).

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