Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dinner at Gramercy Tavern - The Tavern Room

Gramercy Tavern is a restaurant that I have been meaning to go to for quite some time; I absolutely adore Danny Meyer's burgers at Shake Shack, so it was high time that I tried some of his more distinguished fare at his Michelin-starred restaurant.

Gramercy Tavern has two dining areas.  One is the restaurant side which is more formal, requires difficult-to-obtain-reservations and features a 6 course tasting menu for $116; the other is the tavern side, more casual in dress, serves walk-ins only and offers a 3 course tasting menu for $38.

On a whim in light of my birthday (guh, I am so old), Thanan and I decided to take advantage of the very reasonably priced tasting meal at the Tavern side to celebrate.

We noshed on thick squares of cold wheat bread slathered with the disc of creamy butter while we waited for our meals.   Man, I love butter.

 On the Tavern tasting menu, there are three options for both appetizer and entree.  Somehow Thanan and I were too stubborn to budge from our initial choice and both ordered the fried oyster salad.

I really just ordered this for the oysters, as you can tell from the way I scooted the spinach leaves aside.  Although crunchy, the oysters were a bit too bready for my liking and lacked the usual brininess that I love so much.  They were still fine though and paired well with the lightly dressed spinach leaves.  The pickled daikon and carrots (a.k.a. banh mi toppings) at the bottom of the plate were good by themselves but otherwise detracted from the flavor of the oysters.

For entrees, Thanan ordered the hangar steak, served in a kale and bourbon sauce, with fingerling potatoes.  He had a disaster of hangar steak at L'Ecole during Restaurant Week 2010, but Gramercy's rendition was far better and more tender.  Thanan's plate was so clean after.

I selected the trout, which sounded potentially boring, but I was quite surprised how good it was.

Blanketed with tiny bits of shitake and savory breadcrumbs, the topping was a terrific combination of earthy mushroom and crunch.  Slivers of turnip and broccoli were also on the plate, but it was all about the topping for me. 

For dessert, we were presented with the regular dessert menu with 9 different options ranging from rhubarb crisp to a cookie platter.  

Thanan's ricotta cheesecake arrived as a cube of cheesecake sitting atop a fudge brownie and wearing an almond toffee hat.  It was accompanied by a quennelle of cassis sorbet.

At the waitress's glowing recommendation, I ordered the chocolate blackout cake; the slice looked so dark and beautiful with rich round Hershey kisses of icing atop.  Thanan asked, "Did you get an egg with yours?"  Almost.  The cake was served with a perfect quenelle of sour cream ice cream nestled on top of salted hazelnut crumbs.

While the dessert was solid, and sufficiently chocolatey as you would expect, it was not groundbreaking / unusual / swoonworthy.  It was just good (shrug).

Overall, for the price, the quality of food was great, the service impeccable, and the dining room is nicely decorated and comfortable.  I'd be open to visiting again and trying a different seasonal menu, but I am not quite ready to rush back to this one just yet.

42 E 20th St
New York, NY 10003
(212) 477-0777
Gramercy Tavern on Urbanspoon


  1. Yeah, looks good but not super-exciting. I'm a major Shake Shack fan and loved Tabla, but The Modern didn't impress me so much. We'll see about EMP this weekend, I guess. Still, that's a pretty great price for better-than-average food. Just sad it didn't blow your mind on your birthday!

  2. I never knew there was a prix-fixe in the tavern room. Those desserts look pretty outstanding, though, and the mushroom topping on your fish sounds amazing, too!

  3. you know how i feel about anything cassis!!! loooooooooooove.