NYC — Summer 2015: Gramercy Tavern

Tuesday, September 15, 2015
On Thursday afternoon, we headed down to Flatiron District, where I had made reservations for lunch at Gramercy Tavern, a seasonal fine dining restaurant with consistently good ratings and rave reviews. It is apart of the Danny Meyer empire (which includes Union Square Cafe, Blue Smoke, North End GrillShake Shack, and previously, Eleven Madison Park) and I have wanted to try Gramercy Tavern for quite some time. Walking in, the restaurant itself is somehow casual and rustic with an air of class and elegance, and this is reflective of their menu and food philosophy. You can eat in The Tavern, which is walk-in only and offers their à la carte menu in a more relaxed setting, or in The Dining Room, which is more sophisticated and features their seasonal tasting and prix fixe menus. Of course, since I was on vacation, I wanted to splurge on something fancier, and what's more indulgent than a tasting menu at lunch?

Bread and butter

Okay, usually bread and butter is nothing to write home about, and I usually don't write about it unless it's somewhat noteworthy. I mean, it's a complimentary starter to whet your appetite (or to keep you from starving, whatever the case may be). But the bread here is delightful. I don't know exactly what kind of bread it is, but it's something akin to whole grain sourdough, very slightly tangy and a touch sweet. They come out piping hot, and are served with creamy herbed butter. Don't get me wrong, it doesn't compare to, say, the bread at The NoMad, but it is still quite addictive. And while it was incredibly tempting to say 'yes' when the server asked if we wanted more bread, we had to resist; there were five courses coming.

Yellowfin Tuna Tartare

Poached Halibut

First course of the meal: yellowfin tuna tartare. The fish is fresh and firm, while cucumbers add a very satisfying crunch, sliced plums contribute a very complementary sweet-tart flavour, and almonds provide a surprising flavour profile that really helps round out this dish. A lot of restaurants serve tuna tartare, but it's the additions of the other flavours and textures that make this version sing. It's light and fresh, and a great first course to the tasting menu. The second course is fish again, but this time in the form of perfectly cooked halibut, plush against a back drop of tart baby tomatoes, crisp shell beans, and savoury olives. The lobster sauce adds a nice creaminess and flavour to a simple but well-executed dish. 


Roasted Guinea Hen

Then, the pasta course. Fresh, handmade farfalle coated in a lightly creamy reduction with calamari, chorizo, and mussels. The farfalle is cooked al dente, but isn't too firm; it's just enough to hold its place against the chorizo and the seafood. The bow-tie shape of the pasta holds on to the sauce and flavours well, as compared to string pastas or penne. The richer flavours of this dish make it a good follow-up to the more mild halibut. The pasta is followed by the heaviest course: the meat dish. In the most recent seasonal tasting menu for lunch, the meat comes in the form of roasted Guinea hen. It's ultra-moist, beautifully seasoned, with a delicate crisp, golden skin, complemented with crunchy Caraflex cabbage, tart blueberries, and fragrant lemon verbena. The flavours work well together in modest sophistication, and allows every individual component of the dish to shine without overwhelming each other.


Last, but not least, is dessert, which comes in the form of a poached peach with peach gelato sitting on top of rice pudding. Not just any rice pudding, but the most beautifully fragrant vanilla rice pudding with just a hint of lemon. I've never been a rice pudding fanatic, but this could convert anyone. The sweetness of the peach and gelato meld well with the silky pudding, and the tartness of huckleberries and earthy nuttiness of pistachios makes it a gorgeously well-rounded summer dessert and a most lovely ending to a fantastic meal. At $62 per person, the tasting menu is a splurge for lunch, but it is so, so worth it. 

Gramercy Tavern
42 East 20th Street
New York, NY 10003
(212) 477-0777
Be First to Post Comment !
Post a Comment

Klik the button below to show emoticons and the its code
Hide Emoticon
Show Emoticon