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Gramercy Tavern


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In the New York culinary world, such a change was institutionalized by the opening in the mid-1980s of a trio of restaurants in what had been an unappealing business district: the Union Square Café, Gotham Bar and Grill, and Gramercy Tavern. This culinary hour was described recently by Times critic Frank Bruni. Bruni suggests that 1985 changed the world of New York dining forever.

Gramercy Tavern opened in 1994.

That's the power the NYT's food critic - you can get a reservation in a restaurant 9 years before it even opens.

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gaf, you consider Gramercy Tavern mid-priced? If so, I guess that shows that it's really all a matter of perspective. Mid-priced to me is more like $40-60/person. But I suppose there's no point in debating that question, just as debating the meaning of "middle class" in some other forum wouldn't be likely to produce much of a consensus (among Americans, anyway).

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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gaf, you consider Gramercy Tavern mid-priced? If so, I guess that shows that it's really all a matter of perspective. Mid-priced to me is more like $40-60/person. But I suppose there's no point in debating that question, just as debating the meaning of "middle class" in some other forum wouldn't be likely to produce much of a consensus (among Americans, anyway).

I like gaf's suit/car analogy in regards to the price and feel of Grammercy Tavern. It's undoubtedly a very good restaurant and, for many, one that is transcendent and priced at the upper end of dining spectrum. If one is used to spending $100+ p/p on a meal (or $4000 for a suit), however, then it simply become a very a good restaurant but in no way measures up to the "best of the best."

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi all,

Boyfriend's birthday is this weekend. We usually go all out dining-wise for these occasions, but we've decided to spend on other things this year. Nevertheless, we'd like to have some good food and wine at a place where we'll be treated kindly even if we're only spending about $60 a piece.

I was thinking about showing up at the Tavern Room about 5:30pm and trying to pull off a little dinner there.

Could you all let me now if that sounds like a good idea? Does the service stand up to the main room; will we be rushed along or anything? Is that early enough to snag a table after not too long a wait?

Thanks, as ever, for your input.

And if there's somewhere else I should be thinking of going instead, would you perhaps pm me....?

R

Drink maker, heart taker!

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My advice is to eat in the bar area at Babbo (they have a few tables that you will get if you get there when they open) OR at Blue Hill. Gramercy Tavern is over rated food. The service is friendly and good.

60 dollars will take you much further at Babbo, in my opinion.

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Wow, that is the first time I have heard that about Gramercy's food. I have always had a consistantly excellent meal both in the dining room and tavern room and having just dined at Le Bernardin I would have preferred to take the money I spent there and have 2 meals at Gramercy's main dining room. Don't get me wrong, I lov

My advice is to eat in the bar area at Babbo (they have a few tables that you will get if you get there when they open) OR at Blue Hill. Gramercy Tavern is over rated food. The service is friendly and good.

60 dollars will take you much further at Babbo, in my opinion.

John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

--

I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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Done Babbo too many times, but that's the class I'm going for. Blue Hill's bar is an spot I hadn't considered, but do they have a special bar menu like Gramercy? This is what really draws me to the Tavern Room, that the same hands creating th $72 tasting menu will me making my $10 apps. Also, service is extremely important to me. I work in NYC fine dining and don't want to be all stressed out about negligent/smarmy...service on my boyfriends birthday.

Drink maker, heart taker!

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They don't have a bar menu, it is the regular restaurant menu. You may be hard pressed to have a full meal there for under 60, unless you do a few small plates and desert.

I have eaten at the bar quite a few times and it is very nice. If I remember correctly there are only maybe 7 seats at the bar, so if you are going, go early, or maybe call ahead and ask them to set aside 2 seats for you for your special occasion.

What about Upstairs at Bouley?

John

Done Babbo too many times, but that's the class I'm going for. Blue Hill's bar is an spot I hadn't considered, but do they have a special bar menu like Gramercy?  This is what really draws me to the Tavern Room, that the same hands creating th $72 tasting menu will me making my $10 apps. Also, service is extremely important to me.  I work in NYC fine dining and don't want to be all stressed out about negligent/smarmy...service on my boyfriends birthday.

Edited by johnder (log)

John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

--

I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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Taste is very subjective, as is what's expensive and what's cheap. I've always thought I got my best value at some of the most expensive restaurants. Of course when an really expensive meal is disappointing, it can hurt and even at the best restaurant, one can be disappointed from time to time. I also think the best values are had the high end and low end of dining. I'm not alone in that. Nevertheless, we've been finding ourselves eating at a lot of mid priced restaurants lately for social reasons and convenience.

The tavern room at Gramercy Tavern is very different from the main dining room. If anything I think it offers a better food buy. The food is as tasty as that on the regular menu, but the ingredients are less expensive, or they're the less fine cuts of the same ingredients, but used with the same care. There are no tablecloths in the tavern and in some ways, the service in the tavern doesn't stand up to the service in the main dining room. It's more casual, but you shouldn't find it any less gracious. Both spaces are Danny Meyer spaces.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Done Babbo too many times, but that's the class I'm going for. Blue Hill's bar is an spot I hadn't considered, but do they have a special bar menu like Gramercy?  This is what really draws me to the Tavern Room, that the same hands creating th $72 tasting menu will me making my $10 apps. Also, service is extremely important to me.  I work in NYC fine dining and don't want to be all stressed out about negligent/smarmy...service on my boyfriends birthday.

Have you been to L'Impero? The service is not smarmy and the food is first rate. It is a similar price point to Babbo. I love Babbo, but I prefer L'Impero.

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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I second the L'Impero suggestion.

Isn't L'impero cheaper than Babbo? The tasting menu is very reasonable and the food is out of this world. I think the room is extraordinary, service is great and the place just has a nice unassuming feel to it.

Another suggestion -- the bar menu at Veritas. Was there two weeks ago and had an amazing cheese plate. My friend had the short ribs which were extraordinary.

But all of this is off the topic -- I came to the thread to confess my disappointment with the tavern room. Went last week -- shared the following plates: mushroom tart, octopus salad, steak, salmon. Nothing overwhelmed. Mushroom tart was nice but strictly an average concotion -- puff pastry, cheese-based cream, mushrooms; octopus were overcooked and a bit dry; steak was very good but not better than what I had a few days later at Bacchus on Atlantic Avenue; and salmon was not memorable. The thing is, I have loved this place -- the feeling, the light, the art, the cocktails -- for a long time; it's been that special treat I always went to when I needed something great. I think I need to let go of that.

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I second the L'Impero suggestion.

Isn't L'impero cheaper than Babbo? The tasting menu is very reasonable and the food is out of this world. I think the room is extraordinary, service is great and the place just has a nice unassuming feel to it.

Another suggestion -- the bar menu at Veritas. Was there two weeks ago and had an amazing cheese plate. My friend had the short ribs which were extraordinary.

But all of this is off the topic -- I came to the thread to confess my disappointment with the tavern room. Went last week -- shared the following plates: mushroom tart, octopus salad, steak, salmon. Nothing overwhelmed. Mushroom tart was nice but strictly an average concotion -- puff pastry, cheese-based cream, mushrooms; octopus were overcooked and a bit dry; steak was very good but not better than what I had a few days later at Bacchus on Atlantic Avenue; and salmon was not memorable. The thing is, I have loved this place -- the feeling, the light, the art, the cocktails -- for a long time; it's been that special treat I always went to when I needed something great. I think I need to let go of that.

Zagat lists L'Impero as being, on average, $2 lower than Babbo. In my experience, while the tasting menu is a greal deal, I always want to order things that are not available and spend more (but that's just me). I am not sure what is currently not offered as part of the tasting (most stuff is), but two things I highly recommend are the fricassee of seasonal mushrooms w/creamy polenta and truffle reduction and duck and foie gras agnolotti w/ moscato passito di sardegna reduction.

My personal description of Gramercy Tavern would be a very reliable, upscale, American comfort food restaurant. To me, in many ways, Gramercy is the best of a type of restaurant that has become more prevalent outside of the city, perhaps influenced by the CIA, good American restaurants with young chefs that are safe enough to be approachable my non-foodies, but that foodies can enjoy as well. Gramercy is the first restaurant I would take my parents to. They know good food, but they don't eat out at fancy restaurants a lot. They are hate stuffy service and don't necessarily appreciate overly creative chefs and certain types of ingredients (like foie gras, caviar, and offal). The service is very unpretenous, the room is comfortable (nice, but not overly formal) and the food is always solid. I might call it the best American restaurant I have eaten at (not to be confused to the best restaurant in America I have eaten at, which is, in fact, L'Impero).

Since I go out to nice restaurants relatively frequently, I tend to look more for chefs that provide interesting takes on food I like or food I am interested in exploring. Having eaten at a number of nice American comfort food restaurants (Gramercy being among the best), I don't find myself looking to eat at Gramercy Tavern unless the group I am going with dictates.

Edited by mikeycook (log)

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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  • 1 month later...

As Mikeycook notes above, Gramercy Tavern is most definitely a place for American comfort food in a lovely, unpretentious setting. Which is exactly why my friends and I decided to head there for a little Christmas cheer. They do a gorgeous job with the space at Christmastime, particularly in the bar, which is hung with kissing balls of various shapes, sizes and materials.

My dinner there tonight was delicious - not terribly adventurous, but gorgeous ingredients and excellent execution. I started with a glass of the Moncuit (it's the holidays - have to have Champagne!). Our first amuse was a white bean puree and a salsa verde on a small toast point. Delicious - the mellow flavor of the beans contrasted really nicely with the piquant, slightly spicy salsa.

Next up was an amuse of farro topped with smoked caviar (salmon roe, I think), a sprig of chervil, and some parsley puree. This was good - very salty, and not as good as the earlier, simpler amuse, but still tasty.

For my appetizer, I had the roasted sweetbreads. These were HUGE (don't worry - I managed to choke those suckers down), and served with bacon, onions, pickled Jerusalem artichokes and sherry vinegar. I really enjoyed this - the sweetbreads were creamy and rich, and the bacon and onions were cooked really well - crispy enough to contrast with the sweetbreads, but not burned at all. The vinegar gave it a nice little punch.

I decided to turn my evening into a tour of the cow - I had the sirloin with cranberry beans, salsify, wild mushrooms and (yes, more) bacon. It probably goes without saying that the meat was exceptionally tasty and tender, and cooked to my idea of perfection at medium-rare. I'm not normally a huge fan of beans, but the cranberry beans were truly delicious - buttery and full of flavor, and not a bit chalky. The bacon was crunchy and mixed well with the softer mushrooms and steak.

Our dessert amuse was a sheep's milk panna cotta flavored with blood orange and topped with blood orange sorbet - again, totally delicious. Sometimes I find panna cotta to taste just like what it is - jellied milk - but this one was creamy and just sweet enough. My dessert of choice was a warm chocolate and raspberry tart. This was a bit on the rich side after the dinner I had, but I figured why the hell not? It's Christmas! Finally, the petits fours - one was chocolate and too rich for me to touch at that point, another was a lemony tart, which was ok, and the third was a lychee jelly - DELICIOUS. My friend Miles described it as tasting a bit like gin at first, then mellowing into more of a Concord grapey flavor. Works for me, since I love gin, not so good for Miles, as he does not. :wink:

The service was just what you expect at a USHG restaurant - smooth, hospitable and comfortable, but not overbearing. A wonderful evening, all in all.

So, now I'm sitting on my couch, contemplating a late-night jog...but I think maybe another glass of wine is just what the doctor ordered instead!

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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  • 8 months later...

The New York Times reported today that Tom Colicchio is leaving Gramercy Tavern. Danny Meyer has bought him out, ending their 12-year partnership.

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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  • 3 weeks later...

We received a press release today from the Union Square Hospitality Group announcing that the new chef at Gramercy Tavern will be Mike Anthony, formerly of Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Nancy Olson, formerly of Django and Dona, will be the new pastry chef.

According to the press release, the new team will start in October and will change over to an original menu in January.

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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Should be interesting to see what he can do with the menu. He is pretty much giving up the farm at Stone Barns, for a whole bunch of farms at the USQ greenmarket.

John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

--

I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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We received a press release today from the Union Square Hospitality Group announcing that the new chef at Gramercy Tavern will be Mike Anthony, formerly of Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Nancy Olson, formerly of Django and Dona, will be the new pastry chef.

According to the press release, the new team will start in October and will change over to an original menu in January.

USHG Press Release

Should be interesting to see what he can do with the menu.  He is pretty much giving up the farm at Stone Barns, for a whole bunch of farms at the USQ greenmarket.

I'd look for and expect some changes. It would be a waste not to let Mike have a pretty free hand. I also see some major changes of style in the kind of restaurants Danny Meyer is interested in operating, or perhaps more accurately, I see an interest in a broader range of restaurant and an interest in "haute cuisine" as evidenced by The Modern and the change at Eleven Madison Park--at least according to what I've heard. I haven't been to Eleven Madison Park recently, but it's high on my list.

Mike already gave up the farm at Blue Hill when he left. Many of us were expecting him to open his own restaurant. I can understand this was an offer he couldn't refuse, and I assume that to mean he will have considerable freedom. As for the Blue Hill farm, a food professional living in Barcelona told me he thought any chef in Catalunya would die to have the provisions Stone Barns is able to raise and serve. (I've seen fantastically positive reactions to both Blue Hills by Spanish professionals I've taken there.) That's an incredible statement, but Dan Barber still shops the Union Square Greenmarket to supplement what he can grow and the Stone Barns farm works with a number of other sustainable farm projects. I'm sure Mike will have access to to many excellent sources as a result of the contacts he's made over the years. As much as I've been a fan of Tom's, I'll be disappointed not to see major changes by the end of the year.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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  • 6 months later...

I am closing this topic as GT now has a new Chef, Michael Anthony, so a new topic for Gramercy Tavern has been started here.

John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

--

I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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