Gramercy Tavern in New York City is a long-standing culinary institution and pioneer of New American cuisine. Having dined here previously half a decade ago I must confess I didn’t remember a great deal about the previous meal. My only reference to that experience and overall quality of the restaurant is a fond memory of the legendary smoked trout and cipollini onion dish. This most recent trip for a birthday celebration was the necessary excuse to go for the Spring Tasting Menu and actually explore what Gramercy has to offer. I find that there is no better way to get a true sense of a restaurant then the tasting menu format.
The service, timing, and execution of the courses is all on display when going the tasting menu route. The flow of each progressive course has to be there or it doesn’t work. By all means last nights meal delivered. There were hits and a miss here or there, but overall we enjoyed much of what we were presented. Lets start with the first course.
The Food Course by Course
Clam & Scallop Salad
This was a solid and refreshing opener to the meal. The clam was perfectly cooked and chilled and the raw scallop added a ton of natural sweetness to the dish. The acidity of the dish and basil provided a pleasant foil to legumes and shellfish. The textures worked perfectly with each ingredient. I enjoyed this dish, although I think my table was even split on liking it or not. The Chef accommodated a fellow dinner who is allergic to clam, by altering the dish. We all agreed that the extra acid (apple cider vinegar) on her plate was overall tastier than the version we were served.
Warm Lobster Salad
Everything here worked on this dish. The lobster was perfectly cooked, the leeks, sunchokes and cipollini onions beautifully accentuated the lobster. There was no doubt that this dish would be anything but superb as everything on the plate are items I love to cook and eat. Good balance of richness, acidity and texture. This was a hit with the entire table and something I personally would order again.
Smoked Arctic Char
This entire plate was about texture. Personally, I found it slightly distracting with the amount of crunch from the rye and black rice. However, the Char was perfect. Beautifully smoked, presented and masterfully handled. The asparagus was finely shaved and delicious, but the amount of black rice and rye took away from the dish. It seemed heavy-handed and slightly unnecessary. On the fence with this dish.
Hands down the Best plate of food the entire evening. The rich mushroom filling of the tortellini was delicious and the pasta was perfectly executed. The sauce of nettles and a pecorino foam was magical accompanying the tortellini. Very earthy, highly seasonal as each bite screamed of Spring. This was some wonderful cooking. Interesting, balanced and beautiful.
I found the seasoning to be slightly off and was inconsistent from plate to plate. I wish my beef was saltier while others found it too salty. Never the less, the beef was cooked perfectly, the sauce, morel and fennel all worked nicely together. The bamboo was met with some resistance by a fellow dinner, but I enjoyed it with the rest of the items on the plate. A good plate of food, nicely presented that showcased the beef really well.
Strawberries & Cream
This was a righteous bite of food. Pastry Chef Miro Uskokovic hit it out of the park with this dish. The whipped cheesecake was insanely superb. Not too sweet, perfect texture and consistency. I’m not the biggest fan of strawberry, but these were ripe and wonderfully handled, almost making me a convert. The sorrel, pistachio and meringue made each bite different, enjoyable and interesting. A fabulous desert and a great end to the meal.
The staff is attentive, knowledgeable and makes the environment rather relaxed for a Michelin Starred Restaurant. Don’t get me wrong, I love the pop and circumstance when eating at a jacket and tie required restaurants, but there’s something comforting about being able to eat in this type of atmosphere without the pretense. The pace of the meal was just right, nothing rushed, but consistently timed between course. The overall amount of food was just right, possibly on the smaller side for the final savory course as a main entrée. In addition, we appreciated the extra effort and accommodation to alter a few courses due to food allergies.
The restaurant space is beautiful, not over done, nothing stuffy and generally more relaxed than the majority of fine dinning in NYC. Overall a Very Good fine dinning experience from a legendary New York Institution and Chef Michael Anthony 8/10.
For More Information on Gramercy Tavern please visit their site at www.gramercytavern.com
I highly recommend The Gramercy Tavern Cookbook as both a coffee table and practical use cookbook.
List of Current New York City Michelin Star Resturaunts