New York, New York: Gramercy Tavern

14 Apr

Gramercy Tavern
42 E 20th St, New York

For dinner our second night we went to Gramercy Tavern. Although it was a pretty fancy restaurant we got a same-day booking.

We had to all choose either the tasting menu or a la carte so we went with the tasting menu (mainly cos James and Jules didn’t care and I wanted to try the tasting menu). Julian was tasked with choosing the wine and he went with a 2007 Movia pinot noir ($98) which we all really enjoyed.

They started us off with some ricotta in puff pastry. It was very good; light and not greasy.

Peconic Bay scallops, clams, pickled mushrooms and cilantro broth. I thought the colours were beautiful and the cilantro broth offset the seafood very well (James was also very fond of the broth).

The next course was a warm lobster salad with carrots and chicory. The lobster was very tender but I don’t remember much about this dish, sorry! What I do remember is that the waiters would replace our cutlery for every course – the tip on a $100+ meal (plus wine!) is significant but they earned the tip a lot more than some other restaurants where they basically give you the food and disappear for the rest of the night.

Next was halibut with shiitake mushrooms and parsnip lobster sauce. The sauce gave the fish an almost meaty taste and I enjoyed this a lot more than I was expecting to – I don’t normally care for fish but this was fish that tasted like lobster!

The next course was sweet potato agnolotti with kohlrabi and pine nuts. This tasted pretty much as you would expect from the description.

Then we had the final savory course, which was roasted duck breast with quinoa, lentils, celery root and hazelnuts. I am normally not a fan of how white people do duck – to me Chinese BBQ duck is perfection and everything else is a distant second.

But I have to admit this duck was excellent. It was succulent and for some reason reminded me a little of pork. The quinoa was a bit eh but I loved the addition of hazelnuts.

There was only one dessert on the tasting menu but they brought us an additional dessert. Yay! This was a mandarin orange panna cotta with a marscapone disc (we all agreed the disc tasted like meringue though). This was super light and refreshing.

Our second dessert was a chocolate Pecan coconut cake with butter pecan ice cream. The cake wasn’t particularly memorable (I’m not a huge fan of the chocolate/toasted coconut combination) but OMG the ice cream was out of this world. It was light yet super rich and tasted of caramelized pecans. I wonder how hard it would be to recreate – I need this ice cream in my life.

After dessert they brought us some petit fours. The macarons were coconut but I don’t know what the others were because I was in the bathroom. Everywhere we went I was terrified that there would be a bathroom attendant that I’d be expected to tip. Luckily this wasn’t the case here (though James and Jules did encounter one at another restaurant – more on that later).

Julian was getting really full at this point, I was pleasantly full and I think James was just shy of full. It all felt very genteel nibbling on our petit fours after dinner.

They also brought us some after dinner mints. The two blueish ones were mints and the round one was a caramel.

Overall it was a very competent meal. Julian and James said that they weren’t wowed for the price (including the wine, tax and tip it ended up around $200 a person) but I thought that everything was very well done. I probably wouldn’t go back, but only because there are so many other fine dining options in New York that I want to try.

After Gramercy Tavern I was in that happy bubble that I’m always in after a really great meal. We walked to the subway, which was decorated with mosaic tile hats and took stupid photos.

Oh yeah, at the end of our meal we each got a complimentary muffin to have for breakfast the next day. I actually ate it a couple of days later when we went on a boat trip and it was great! Toasted coconut (which they seemed very fond of as a dessert ingredient) and a delicious chocolatey centre.

So that was the first (of a few) expensive meals in New York. Honestly though, New York wasn’t as pricey as I thought it would be. I think part of it was that I had always figured in a $2000+ plane trip from Australia, but Seattle is more like a $200-300 round trip. The food is about as expensive in New York as it is in Seattle (which in turn is comparable to Melbourne) but just worlds better. 

My theory is that if a restaurant isn’t excellent there’s just so much competition around that it goes out of business. I could cry when I compare it to Seattle, where even mediocre restaurants are raved about.

The restaurants were only a part of why we loved New York so much (James was talking about maybe looking for a job there in a couple of years) but they were a significant part! If New Yorkers didn’t do so much walking I’m sure they would all be huge from all the awesome food.
Gramercy Tavern on Urbanspoon

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2 Responses to “New York, New York: Gramercy Tavern”

  1. The Lu Life April 15, 2013 at 6:46 pm #

    Those scallops and clams look unbelievably yummy!

    • pamperedhousewife April 15, 2013 at 10:06 pm #

      They were so good! I can’t wait to go back to NY and eat more! =D

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