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Gramercy Tavern


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Influenced entirely by the consistency of rave reviews at eGullet, I finally made it to GT. Theoretically, this was a business meeting with a customer, but it turned out that we didn't talk business at all because we each felt it would spoil our enjoyment of the culinary experience. My accountant is now arguing with me about whether I can claim this on expenses  :wink:

I arrived early stood at the bar for 20 minutes drinking a cocktail. This gave me a chance to observe both the bar area and the dining room. I had arrived at 7.40 on Wednesday, and the place was a continuous buzz. Thee bar tables were full with people eating (they seemed mostly to be eating oysters) and the atmosphere was cheerful and noisy. I could see nothing but smiling faces in the bar and the restaurant (always a good sign) and the staff moved around calmly and efficiently.

After my guest arrived, we had to wait for a table, because I had specially asked to be served by eGullet's own Christopher. The wait turned out to be worth every minute! What particularly impressed me was the friendly service we got from the bar, the courtesy of passing waitstaff, and the pleasantness of the other customers.

And so to the meal, which was a prix fixe $65. Starter was Marinated Hamachi with Roasted Beets and Lemon Vinaigrette, strongly recommended by Chris. This was first-class. Tender and moist, superb flavor, my introduction to a new fish. A glass of Chardonnay was an excellent accompaniment.

Main was Roasted Sirloin and Braised Shortribs of Beef with Foie Gras, Bone Marrow, Mustard Greens, Consomme and Potato Gratin. The loin was tender, perfectly cooked and tasty, while the ribs were just a tad on the tough side. The consomme was exceptional, adding a rich tang to the meat which complemented it perfectly. I also loved the potato, but the foie gras got kinda swamped by the rest of the dish even though it was very good.

The dessert was fabulous, a Lemon Souffle Tart with Ginger Ice Cream and Lemon Confit. Bless you, Claudia Fleming  :smile: I had been agonising over the Apple Tatin, and with Chris's assistance it also magically appeared on the table. That too was superb, but after the lemon souffle .....

With the meal we had a bottle of 1999 Liebich Shiraz, selected with Chris's help from a pageful of "spicy reds" in the wine list. It certainly was spicy, and proved an excellent accompaniment to our meal.

Service throughout was superb, efficient and unobtrusive. The whole pace of the meal was perfect. I can't even remember what the waitstaff looked like. They seemed to glide to and from our table at exactly the right moments, then disappear as quietly when their job was done. Our captain, Chris, similarly seemed magically to appear whenever I or my guest looked up with raised eyebrows, and he only once insisted on interrupting our conversation (so that he could describe an amuse bouche).

Altogether this was a thoroughly enjoyable dining experience. My guest, who had eaten at GT a couple of times previously, commented how much she enjoyed the evening, and how much more she enjoyed it than before, and that was clearly a reflection of the service. So GT is another eGullet success story for me to add to Babbo.

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The whole pace of the meal was perfect. I can't even remember what the waitstaff looked like. They seemed to glide to and from our table at exactly the right moments, then disappear as quietly when their job was done.

one thing that stands out in my mind about my last trip to GT was that i didn't even notice the water and wine glasses being filled.  and we were a table of three in a corner booth.  i have no idea how they made themselves so invisible.  

glad you enjoyed it.  after all of the discussion here over the last 6 months, i'm keen on getting back as well.

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Delighted to see they are still garnishing the beef dish with bone marrow.  One experience at GT which warmed my heart was complimenting them on the use of bone marrow, and almost instantly receiving an extra helping of it.  Love that fat.

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Seems like an appropriate place to add my own first and recent GT experience.  After both of us sat for the NY Bar my wife and I took the next day off and actually got to enjoy being in NYC.  We had a late lunch in the tavern room and it was wonderful.  Service, in the tavern, at the awkward transition time of 3 p.m. was friendly, suggestive and efficient.

    After quaffing some Magic Hat, I had a surprisingly flavorful and perfectly dressed salad of mixed greens.  Every bite was different and I could actually taste the varieties.  After that, venison shank with Yukon Gold potatoes.  The venison was mouthwateringly tender with just a slight game finish.  Perfectly cooked - the savory brown sauce was so good, I violated courtesy and mopped it all up with the crusty/chewy farmhouse bread which the server brought more of when she noticed what I was doing. Dessert was a parfait of homemade caramel and coffee ice cream - really special.  We also finished with good strong Yauco Selecto Puerto Rican coffee (one of the two best coffees available on the island and, in my opinion, among the best in the world - the other being Alto Grande for those interested).

   All in all, a perfect winter's lunch, and we will be back for the real deal dinner in the main room one of these evenings soon.

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  • 1 month later...

We had a fabulous meal at GT last Monday (final feast of my NY visit).  Of special note are the dishes Christopher steered me to that we weren't originally  going to order.

Marinated Hamachi with Roasted Beets and Lemon Vinagerette - cured more than marinated, and the curing gave it a unique, exciting flavor differentiating itself from other hamachi dishes.  Truly excellent.

Langostino with Sweet pea ravioli.  We were going to get something with peas, and Christopher recommended this one.  Outstanding spring peas, with a perfect langostino to go with it.

Coconujt Tapioca with Passion fruit ice, coconut sorbet and cilantro syrup.  I would have never ordered this, thinking I'll save tapioca for my senility.  What a mistake that would have been.  I was astounded at the contrasting flavors and textures doing a tango in my mouth.

Ones I figured out on my own - Black Bass with white and green asparagus, radish and chervil.  I just loovvvve Black Bass when it's done right, and this was definitely right.  Crispy skin, delicate but flavorfull fish, great balance with the veggies.  I could have had 3.

I loved the spiced- roasted lobster with green tomato chutney and bay leaf.  The sauce was superb, really bright enticing flavors.  The lobster was just a little tough, but no matter.

The only dish that didn't work for me was the fresh bacon.  It's because the only red meat I eat is in small pieces and with lots of nitrates (and if it's bacon, crisp).  This seemed more like pork.  But I'm sure the pork fans love it.

We had a lovely selection of cheeses; some interesting goat cheeses and a perfect epoisses.  A bottle of 98 Martinelli Reserve Pinot Noir and 1991 Chateau Montelena Cabernet made a great pairing for me (since I don't each much meat, I usually accompany red wine with fish).

Of special note was the excellent, welcoming and gracious service by Christopher.  In addition to being our navigator, we had a great time exchanging views on restaurants,  wine, etc.  And he didn't even react when my friend said the glass of Amarone wasn't quite big enough, did they have anything bigger.  My eyes rolled up into the back of my head; (sorry steve c.  if you're reading this).

As it was a early birthday celebration from my friend, the warm service made it extra special.  Thanks, Chris.

beachfan

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Coconujt Tapioca with Passion fruit ice, coconut sorbet and cilantro syrup.  I would have never ordered this, thinking I'll save tapioca for my senility.  What a mistake that would have been.  I was astounded at the contrasting flavors and textures doing a tango in my mouth.

And he didn't even react when my friend said the glass of Amarone wasn't quite big enough, did they have anything bigger.  My eyes rolled up into the back of my head; (sorry steve c.  if you're reading this).

The only guests who I can't persuade to try the tapioca are those from Great Britain. Seems they were scarred in boarding school and the memory lingers strong.

The only time I've been truly nonplussed with wine at a table was when a woman, after tasting four champagnes by the glass, declined them all saying she didn't like them because they tasted not like champagne but like "wine with bubbles"  :confused:

thereuare

I would allow $50 per person tax and gratuity inclusive for 3 courses plus coffee in the front tavern room. The big variable here being the choice of wines.

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The big variable here being the choice of wines.

They've an excellent little assortment of wines by the glass.

After three visits in three days, my wife and I slightly preferred the bar to the restaurant -- not that there was anything wrong with the latter, but the organic cathedral-like grandeur of the bar area was at the same time awe-inspiring and welcoming. Returning after the first visit, we felt as though we were coming back to our private club.

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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Beachfan,

Glad to hear you had such an excellent experience.  I would be much obliged if you could answer a few questions.  Did you take the tasting menu as printed, or did you make substiutions?  If so, were there any supplemental charges for your substiutions?

I've always enjoyed the coconut tapioca dessert, but have had much difficulty in getting it incorporated into the tasting menu.  Ditto for a cheese course and the lobster.  Has the restaurant changed its policies regarding tasting menu substitutions?

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I made substitutions.  However, it was a special occasion (my friend's birthday) and the planets were auspicous,  so I don't know if it would be the same (or even allowed) next time.  

We did both have identical tasting menus.

beachfan

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The only guests who I can't persuade to try the tapioca are those from Great Britain. Seems they were scarred in boarding school and the memory lingers strong

LOL Christopher, it's not just boarding school  :raz:

This is a generational thing. Tapioca was school meal dessert de rigeur in British schools after the war and into the 50s. I assume it was to do with availability during rationing, and the policy of giving children milk. We used to call it "frog spawn" and I recall everyone detested it.

But next time I'm at GT, you could make a small effort to persuade me ... I'm not saying it will work, but you could try ...

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T-t-t-tapioca? (shudder)

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Beachfan,

At the risk of being indiscreet, did your substitutions to the changing menu result in supplemental charges?  I would think that would be likely given that it's unlikely they could have reduced the lobster portion.  Also, I seem to recall a cheese course as also commanding a supplemental charge...If one can indeed customize a tasting menu for 90 bucks, I will make my reservations immediatley :raz:

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I've always wondered what the difference between a fruit ice and a sorbet is.  Any insights would be much appreciated.  from my recollection of the tapioca dessert, they were equivalent...

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I would think that would be likely given that it's unlikely they could have reduced the lobster portion.  Also, I seem to recall a cheese course as also commanding a supplemental charge

Yes, you are correct, lobster and cheese command supplemental charges.

beachfan

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Hm. Tapioaca five days out of seven at boarding school. And not necessarily alternating days but just leftovers of the "speckled goo" or Cook couldn't think of anything else.

Not that I would be adverse to trying it as used by a maestro of... Oh, who am I trying to kid. It's just foul.  :raz: Melt Velveeta cheez on a diver's scallop before and I might be less reticent to smell let alone taste it.

But if folk like it, that's fine.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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  • 1 month later...

I’ve been to the mountain and seen the light…you’re all right, Gramercy Tavern is the best restaurant on the planet.

Or at least it was for our dinner there Tuesday night. Amuse bouche of crostini with foise gras (excuse my French…even worse than my Italian) and red onion jam, another appetizer of tiny artichoke heart, white bean puree, red pepper tapenade, and baby arugula (all in about 2 bites)…then I had the roasted sweetbreads, rabbit with olives and tomatoes, and a crème fraiche napolean with rhubarb and strawberries. Judith had marinated hamachi and roasted chicken, but to be honest, I was so busy moaning about my own food I didn’t really get to do much more than sample hers.

Soft shell crab with fish stock, crème fraiche, and ramps was just killer.

Christopher and the rest of staff demonstrated why GT won the Time Out readers’ poll for best service. We stayed at our table for more than 3 hours, pacing the food and enjoying the scene around us..an adjoining table was a classic business dinner, and we wondered how anyone could be talking about something other than the incredible food.

Anyway, we’re glad we followed all you New Yorkers’ advice. GT for dinner is the best choice.

We also had soup dumplings at Joe’s Shanghai for lunch…good and fun, and the Shanghai noodle soup…thick, ropy noodles in a hearty brown stock with chunks of shredded pork and that incredible pickled cabbage..mmm.

Today I was still full, so made do with coconut bubble tea (we walked over the Manhattan Bridge from our friends’s place in DUMBO, and the bubble tea place was the first thing I saw coming into Chinatown) and a pretzel in Central Park, then some ho-hum Thai fried rice just before we saw Urinetown…great show…get tickets now before it wins a boatload of Tonys.

Like stellabella, we’ve been riding the subway and walking our butts off. It’s been beautiful, though, sunny and not too hot. We’re having a great time.

Jim

olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

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  • 3 weeks later...

Had my second visit to GT last Friday, in the excellent company of Stefany and Tommy and Mrs Tommy.

Overall, another first-class meal. Starter of cheeks of veal, served in a consomme, was good, but maybe a little salty for my taste. Main of Organic roast chicken was superb, the chicken being beautifully flavored and tender, set off by a variety of vegetables. I had to try the tapioca dessert after all the discussion on this thread, but sadly I was disappointed. Yep, it was just like I remember from my schooldays, but maybe a bit better cooked  :biggrin:.

The service was maybe a trifle cloying, but they did try hard. But the wonderful company more than compensated.

So I'm still voting for GT as one of my top 3 restaurants in NYC (with Babbo and Peter Luger), but maybe Le Bernardin will come into the reckoning after my first visit next Monday. I have less expectation that Union Pacific on Wednesday will surpass those, but who knows  :wink:

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We've eaten several times at Craft and Craftbar, which now rank very high on our all-time great list.  Never before at GT, until last night.  Oh my, oh my.  

To get the negative (yes, only one) out of the way: the rolls were just okay, and would have been better warm.

We started out with sherries at the bar.  The (new) bartender was game -- climbing up to pull down all the bottles, since he was not yet familiar with the stock.  I ended up getting an Alvear Amontillado -- very nutty and full-flavored; Paul got La Gitana Fino -- a little thin to me, but he likes it.

At table, we received the same amuses-bouches that Jim Dixon mentioned in his 5/23 post: foie gras mousse with red onion relish, and marinated artichoke with white bean puree and red pepper tapenade.  Tiny mouthfuls, but enough to taste the elements alone and in combination.

Apps: the "marinated" (really, cured) hamachi, and the spice-roasted lobster.  Christopher (yes, the same) described each dish in detail, and yes, we could taste everything that was there.  The lobster was definitely worth the $10 supplement -- subtly spiced, sweet, tender.  With apps we each had a glass of Pugliese Vineyard Brut Blanc de Blancs, 1998, North Fork.  Alone, it was just pleasant; but with the food, it became a chameleon that took on the best flavor characteristics of the dishes.  (We've been trying lots of LI wines over the last couple of years, and have been quite pleased especially with the whites.)

Mains: at the bar, we had noticed they had Steele Zinfandel Mendocino 1998 -- and since we are big fans of Jed Steele, for once we picked the food to go with the wine: the rabbit, and Roast Lamb.  Again, the individual elements were wonderful, and more so in combination.  The two dishes were almost complete opposites: the rabbit itself had a very delicate flavor, while the accompanying olives, garlic, ginger and bacon (?) were very bold; on the other hand, the lamb and its jus had the strength, and the favas, borlottis, fingerlings, onions, and spinach were the mild counterpoint.  And both brought out the best in the (really pretty modest) wine.

Before dessert, we had a little "entremet" of panna cotta with strawberry jelly and strawberry sorbet.  It proved to me that I was right to expect that I would fall in love with Claudia Fleming.  Tart, tart smooth cream; jelly that tasted only of fruit, and sorbet that had just enough sugar to help the fruit overcome the cold.

Dessert proper was the Lemon souffle tart with lemon verbena ice cream and lemon confit, and the Peach tatin with white peach sorbet, basil syrup, and black pepper cream.  By then Paul was in love with CF, too (we've both loved Tom Collicchio since our first visit to Craft).  And some Clear Creek Pomme Eau de vie with our coffee.  Wait, wait -- then 2 petits fours: chocolate hazelnut ganache in a chocolate crust, and lime meringue tarts.  Sigh.

Service was, of course, impeccable -- even the new waiter-in-training did a great job.  

It was better than perfect: it was JUST RIGHT.

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As a Londoner, I've only been to GT once, a couple of months ago, but I was disappointed enough to want to sound a less enthusiastic note.

The restaurant seemed to me (and I say this as a big fan of NYC and its food) to have pretentions above its abilities. As far as I can remember, I had tuna tartare (with some kind of meat jelly) and then rabbit. The rabbit was good and the tartare was no better than okay. Dessert (something chocolate involving a mini malted shake) was the best course.

However, what really left me with a bad taste in my mouth was the service. It was all incredibly welcoming and friendly, but the waiter did that thing of refilling, and overfilling, our wine glasses every two minutes. What made this particularly noticeable was that my companion was not really drinking -- most times he hadn't taken a sip between top-ups. When we were first served our wine it was poured up to roughly the right level. Every time the waiter walked past, it went up a quarter of an inch or so. By the last refill, there was almost no air left in the glass.

This haste to shift product is enough to put one off otherwise good service, and what would probably have been an enjoyable meal.

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