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Café Gray - Closed Now, But 2009...


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GREAT ENTREE ALERT

There's an entree that's been added to the Cafe Gray menu within the last week or so that I really really recommend.  I think it might be the best entree I've ever had there.

It now appears at the bottom of the menu under the heading "Summer Specials", but it's as autumnal a dish as you could imagine, and the bartender confirmed that they are trying it out for permanent inclusion on their fall menu and that, based on the response so far, it should be available at least through the winter (with variations for availability of ingredients).

The menu calls it "Rabbit and Foie Gras Stew", but that doesn't really describe it.  It's a loin of rabbit with a slab of foie gras on top of it and a rack of rabbit to the side, in a gewurtztraminer reduction with bacon, chanterelles, and some vegetables.

The rabbit was cooked perfectly:  not a bit of the dryness to which that meat is subject.  The rich rich foie gras complimented the mild-tasting rabbit brilliantly (I'm surprised I've never had that combination before).  The gravy added a kick, but did not overpower the other constituents of the dish (which is really my only criticism of the food at Cafe Gray:  the sauces, gravies, glazes, etc. sometimes tend to be overspiced and end up being all you taste).

Actually, the "Summer Special" appetizer I ordered also avoided that Cafe Gray pitfall.  It was a similarly misnamed "shrimp salad", which actually consisted of a few grilled(?) shrimp on a bed of braised endive with a "Thai spice" sauce.  This dish is really what we all love Gray Kunz for:  the tasteful combination of European and Asian flavors and techniques into a dish so well integrated you can't really even call it "fusion".  And again, the "Thai spices" complimented rather than overpowered the other constituents of the dish.

I'm sorry that summer is ending, but Fall is looking to be pretty good at least at this one restaurant.

I tried the rabbit and foie stew the other night, and yes, it really is that good.

On a side note, the bar at Cafe Gray has become one of my favorite solo dining spots in NY.

Nothing to see here.

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  • 3 months later...
  • 1 month later...

That's sad! The first time I ate at Cafe Gray my SO kept yowling "I hate this place. It's too noisy..." I kept murmuring "remember our first meal at Lespinasse when you ordered the braised short ribs" I might add I probably used the words "pedestrian tastes" when he ordered these (this was many years ago at the beginning of the short rib boom) until I tasted those ribs. Heaven on a plate. I purchased his "Elements of Taste" hoping to replicate the signature braised short ribs. No such luck as that cookbook is for experts but it does give you food for thought. Anyhoo... the meal we had at Cafe Gray was wonderful. As soon as the food arrived a beatific look came upon his face and he forgave me for taking him to a place that embodied all of the things he hated in NYC restaurants. We still argue about staying at the Peninsula or the St Regis but I understand that that argument is moot. I've had lunch there alone and dinner a few times with the SO. He still hates the space but we both still adore the food.

Kate

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  • 10 months later...
  • 4 weeks later...
I thought I'd update the thread myself as I've now heard that the restaurant is back open for lunch, has been since last September.

My son, about to be a dual graduate (culinary and baking/pastry) from the CIA, is considering working here. Should he? He works incredibly hard and wants to learn, learn, learn. Any tips on surviving financially and/or otherwise in NYC for an upstate-bred young man?

Lonnie

"It is better to ask some of the questions than to know all of the answers." --James Thurber

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  • 1 month later...

Yikes! Son Scott dodged a bullet perhaps? He had a choice between Cafe Gray and Eleven Madison Park and went with the latter, where he's doing the mignardises. His former dorm-mate went to Cafe Gray. I mean, she was just hired there! Where will Kunz go next? Or do restaurants typically hire people when they're about to go completely out of business?

"It is better to ask some of the questions than to know all of the answers." --James Thurber

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Yikes!  Son Scott dodged a bullet perhaps?  He had a choice between Cafe Gray and Eleven Madison Park and went with the latter, where he's doing the mignardises. His former dorm-mate went to Cafe Gray. I mean, she was just hired there! Where will Kunz go next? Or do restaurants typically hire people when they're about to go completely out of business?

My guess is that the CG people are still negotiating behind-the-scenes with the mall owner for a rent concession, and the restaurant's demise isn't 100% certain. If it were truly done-for, there would be no reason to deny the rumors—as they are still doing. Restaurants in their final weeks sometimes actually see an uptick in business, as people realize that something unique is about to disappear.

I wouldn't worry about someone just hired there. Whatever may happen to the restaurant, it was a first-class Michelin-starred place. There are always places hiring, and it won't harm anyone to have CG on their resume.

Kunz still has Grayz, and I assume he still wants to have a Michelin-starred restaurant in his portfolio. If CG closes in the TWC, it will give Kunz the chance at a do-over. No one disputes that the food there was excellent. The restaurant was done in by exorbitant rents and the dumbest interior design of the decade.

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I will lose my job if my people show up for our private dinner there next month (60 people) and the place is closed down. Masa and Per Se are out. Does anyone know anything about Landmarc, or any other similarly priced restaurant to Cafe Gray that is VERY close by time warner center who have a private room?

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I will lose my job if my people show up for our private dinner there next month (60 people) and the place is closed down.  Masa and Per Se are out.  Does anyone know anything about Landmarc, or any other similarly priced restaurant to Cafe Gray that is VERY close by time warner center who have a private room?

Landmarc can accommodate that many, but I suspect it's significantly beneath CG in both price and quality. I doubt that CG is closing that quickly, but if it does, my next choice would be Grayz.
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I just read the thread on landmarc, I don't think that will work for our group.  Is Grayz close by?  I will research it, thx.

You would really lose your job if a restaurant closed unexpectedly and you had to change plans? oy.

What about The new Blue Ribbon across the street? it's not as formal, but the kitchen is run by a Cafe Gray Alum...

does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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I just read the thread on landmarc, I don't think that will work for our group.  Is Grayz close by?  I will research it, thx.

You would really lose your job if a restaurant closed unexpectedly and you had to change plans? oy.

What about The new Blue Ribbon across the street? it's not as formal, but the kitchen is run by a Cafe Gray Alum...

Thx for the suggestion, I have a couple of other places to check out now.

I have close to 70 people, very important people to my company, whom we are taking to dinner after a business meeting. If we get to the restaurant and they are have suddenly closed (which is generally how it happens), it's not like we can just go somewhere else. I would be in big, big trouble and I just don't know what we would do. I'd rather not find out so I'm making other plans.

Edited by rockandroller (log)
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I have close to 70 people, very important people to my company, whom we are taking to dinner after a business meeting.  If we get to the restaurant and they are have suddenly closed (which is generally how it happens), it's not like we can just go somewhere else.  I would be in big, big trouble and I just don't know what we would do.  I'd rather not find out so I'm making other plans.

In all likelihood, CG will still be open on the date of your meeting. They haven't actually confirmed that they're closing at all, and if it does happen, it won't be overnight.

Any large dinner like that, you would normally be in frequent communication with the restaurant in the days preceding the event. It's not as if they'd give you the all-clear on Wednesday, and you show up on Thursday to find the place padlocked. CG isn't that kind of place.

It would clearly be prudent to have a backup plan and to be in constant communication with the restaurant, but if they're closing, they'll tell you so.

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I have close to 70 people, very important people to my company, whom we are taking to dinner after a business meeting.  If we get to the restaurant and they are have suddenly closed (which is generally how it happens), it's not like we can just go somewhere else.  I would be in big, big trouble and I just don't know what we would do.  I'd rather not find out so I'm making other plans.

In all likelihood, CG will still be open on the date of your meeting. They haven't actually confirmed that they're closing at all, and if it does happen, it won't be overnight.

Any large dinner like that, you would normally be in frequent communication with the restaurant in the days preceding the event. It's not as if they'd give you the all-clear on Wednesday, and you show up on Thursday to find the place padlocked. CG isn't that kind of place.

It would clearly be prudent to have a backup plan and to be in constant communication with the restaurant, but if they're closing, they'll tell you so.

I can't believe how hasty I was with my reply. I agree with Oakapple. A restaurant of Cafe Gray's caliber is not going to give you the shaft on a party reservation. Besides, I have it on very good authority that they are NOT CLOSING. Please, rockandroller, communicate with the restaurant...

does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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I have close to 70 people, very important people to my company, whom we are taking to dinner after a business meeting.  If we get to the restaurant and they are have suddenly closed (which is generally how it happens), it's not like we can just go somewhere else.  I would be in big, big trouble and I just don't know what we would do.  I'd rather not find out so I'm making other plans.

In all likelihood, CG will still be open on the date of your meeting. They haven't actually confirmed that they're closing at all, and if it does happen, it won't be overnight.

Any large dinner like that, you would normally be in frequent communication with the restaurant in the days preceding the event. It's not as if they'd give you the all-clear on Wednesday, and you show up on Thursday to find the place padlocked. CG isn't that kind of place.

It would clearly be prudent to have a backup plan and to be in constant communication with the restaurant, but if they're closing, they'll tell you so.

I can't believe how hasty I was with my reply. I agree with Oakapple. A restaurant of Cafe Gray's caliber is not going to give you the shaft on a party reservation. Besides, I have it on very good authority that they are NOT CLOSING. Please, rockandroller, communicate with the restaurant...

Thanks everyone. I guess it's easy to panic when I see something like what was in NY mag. I will not panic and will talk with the restaurant.

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  • 1 month later...

Andrea Strong reports that Cafe Gray will be offering an $85 tasting menu featuring Kunz's classic dishes until the restaurant closes on June 30.

Is Kunz doing anything else after Cafe Gray closes, other than Grayz? Is this the end of fine dining (in the foreseeable future) for him?

Edited by ulterior epicure (log)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

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Is Kunz doing anything else after Cafe Gray closes, other than Grayz?  Is this the end of fine dining (in the foreseeable future) for him?

It was reported that he intends to re-open Café Gray in another location, not yet disclosed. I won't be holding my breath, given that Kunz is a notorious slow-poke. One widely floated possibility is that the private banquet space at Grayz would be converted into a proper restaurant.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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  • 2 weeks later...

I finally got a chance to look over that farewell tasting menu and it's an astonishing value:

RISOTTO

mushroom fricassee

:::

COCONUT COATED RED SNAPPER

crabmeat and green papaya

:::

BRAISED SHORT RIB OF BEEF

soft grits and meaux mustard

:::

CHILLED SOUP OF LEMONGRASS

yogurt lime sorbet

:::

HAZELNUT SOUFFLE

spiced oranges, cardamom ice cream

$85.00

…and a special thank you treat from Chef Kunz and the team at

CAFÉ GRAY

These are some of Kunz's best dishes ever, from his whole repertoire, and all for $85 . . . that's pretty great. I have to look at my calendar.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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