Gramercy Tavern (@) has been on my list for a while and trip after trip to NYC, we always seem to bypass it for something newer and more exciting. But not this time around! While it might not be the new hot thing in town, there’s a reason why they’ve been going strong for the past 20 years.
The restaurant is divided into two separate dining areas – the casual Tavern which offers an a la carte menu throughout the day (no reservations) and the dining room which offers tasting and prix fixe menus.
Upon entering the space, I was surprised by how warm and comfortable it felt. It had a nice rustic feel to it and wasn’t at all pretentious.
Gramercy Tavern is part of Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group which also owns Union Square Cafe, Shake Shack and Maialino to name a few. The one in charge of the kitchen here is Executive Chef and Partner Michael Anthony (@) who spent several years at Daniel and Blue hill before joining Gramercy Tavern in 2006.
During their lunch service, they offer a seasonal 5 course tasting menu (currently $58) as well as a la carte options. During dinner, no a la carte options are available – only a three-course prix fixe (currently $92) and seasonal tasting menu (currently $120).
Since we dropped by for lunch, we decided to go for the seasonal tasting. First up was the Braised Turnips - radishes and pickled mustard seeds. I loved the colours and its delicate presentation. The combination of ingredients was the perfect way to start off the meal – light, refreshing and incredibly appetizing. We weren’t very hungry when we first arrived but this got our appetites going.
Our second course was the Island Creek Oyster Chowder - celery root, littleneck clams and trout roe. The rich chowder was packed full of deep seafood flavours – perfection! It was centred around a single fried oyster and several little neck clams. I particularly enjoyed the saltiness from the trout roe.
Up next was the Halibut – cauliflower, capers and anchovy. The halibut was perfectly cooked. This type of fish normally has a firmer texture but this must have been poached or cooked sous-vide as it just fell apart with the touch of a fork. Another dish that hit it out of the park!
Our fourth course was the Duck Breast & Bacon – mushrooms, leeks & hazelnuts. It consisted of all my favourite ingredients so I had high expectations for this one and it didn’t disappoint. The duck breast was impeccably cooked and the combination of it with the earthy mushrooms, leeks and crunch from the hazelnuts worked wonderfully well. This was definitely the highlight of the tasting menu.
Before our dessert arrived, we were served an Apple and Pomegranate Consommé (aka apple and pomegranate juice) as a palate cleanser. It definitely did the trick!
For dessert, our server informed us that we could either go with the dessert from the tasting menu or choose another from the regular dessert menu. We took a look through the regular dessert menu and inquired about the Pawpaw (lime foam, passion fruit, chiles & coconut cream). Based on our server’s description, we each decided to go with the dessert from the tasting menu.
To our surprise, she brought out the Pawpaw in addition to our tasting menu desserts. She told us that she felt she didn’t do the dessert any justice as she struggled to describe it in an appetizing way. It turned out to be a really fantastic dessert! Highly recommended if you’re looking for something refreshing to end off the meal.
The dessert from the tasting menu was the Pear - panna cotta, vanilla tapioca pudding and sherry granite. I liked the fact that it wasn’t too sweet and the dessert had a nice silky texture to it with little beads of tapioca. But overall, this failed to wow me like the other dishes. It just wasn’t as memorable.
I’m so glad we finally decided to visit Gramercy Tavern. We had a phenomenal lunch! Like I said, there’s a reason why this NYC dining destination is still going strong after 20 years.
At a glance:
- Open in 1994 by restauranteur Danny Meyer
- Executive Chef and Partner Michael Anthony
- Made up of two separate dining areas: the Tavern (walk-ins & a la carte menu only) and the dining room
- Dropped by for the 5-course seasonal tasting lunch menu (currently $58)
- Incredible meal, fantastic service, not pretentious; would come back in a heartbeat
Ratings (out of 5):
- Food: 4.5 stars
- Service: 5 stars
- Atmosphere: 4 stars