11
Feb
09

dinner at gramercy tavern: a feast for kings!

If anyone ever tells you that the Danny Meyer group of restaurants is a good company to work for I strongly suggest you take them seriously and for good reason. On my recent trip to NJ-NY I was privileged enough to eat at Gramercy tavern with a three year employee of Union Square Café. Being three chefs who just straight love food we were treated as though we were celebrities for just that reason, Awesome! It means a lot to me when a restaurant can recognize people that come in to really experience food andthen treat them the same as the high class people who come in just as an outlet for their money. I was in NY with my friends Brian and James both fellow foodies and restaurant industry devotees, our mission, to have a bad-ass meal at a bad-ass restaurant. To fill our stomachs with awesome food so much so that we will have something to brag about until we can fill our empty wallets back up for another experience. We decided on Gramercy because of Brian’s previous experience with the company and were immediately assured when we made our reservation and the hostess recognized his name in the system as a previous employee of Union Square. We weren’t given menus when we sat and so greeted with the suggestion that the chef would like to cook for us if we would prefer. Fuck Yea Man! Now I’m not ChuckEats or any of those review only blogs, I went out to have a good time and eat and I did my best to take pictures of what we were given, It was a huge dinner consisting of nine courses where each of us received a different plate per course. That was a lot of food and it was all done very well I assure you regardless of its highs and lows.

cimg0582First course, our amuse was enjoyed with our round of very fitting Manhattans. A fish and egg salad on bread, a fried ham fritter, and a cold squash soup was all great, releasing some of the anticipation of the meal to come, This was the only course where we all received the same thing.

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Next was out first appetizers; warm haddock with ramp and fingerling salad, citrus cured salmon over salmon tartar, and shrimp salad over celery root remoulade. With the first courses we shared a bottle of 1979 Karthäuserhof Auslese Riesling, Definitely the oldest white wine that I have every tasted, it was amazing, a light fruity wine with almost a carbonated feel on the mouth, it went perfectly.

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Next up, soup; my parsnip soup with bay scallops was the highlight, followed by the squash soup with barley was a great new take on an overplayed soup, Brian enjoyed a light pumpkin soup with lobster.  All excellent in keeping with the season and whats available at the market right now.

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Fish courses were next: my trout with onions in three forms was a miss at a hard target to achieve.  James had a seared fish that I don’t recall accompanied by potatoes and chantrelles ( no wrong direction there), and Brian had triggerfish with stewed lentils and parsnip puree which was aside from the grandma sized portion of lentils really good.   What’s next? Well just when your feeling like your getting a little full how abouttttt……. PASTA COURSE!!!

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Pappardelle with lamb ragu and baby chard was put in front of me once again hard to find a wrong direction in that!   James received a warm vegetable salad over farro which was the talk of the course it was like a Gramercy version of Michel Bras’s Gargouillou. A variety of winter vegetables all cooked perfectly served warm in a vinaigrette each keeping their own characteristics, awesome! Brian received the veal cappelletti with cauliflower and sage which was also a very memorable dish. As we finished our white out came our bottle of red for the evening a 2005 Clos des Grives, very good but not as unique as the white. Although our waiter was very polite and humble in saying it was hard to follow up such a breathtaking first selection without breaking the bank.

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Alright finally some meat: my rack of veal was lacking, the one ounce piece of deckel steak was overcooked and tough which I did not think was possible for such a cut and the boneless rack was mid rare but not cooked in a good fashion as it was well done on the outside and rare-ish on the inside (meaning it was cooked with fast intense heat) the rest of the set was good though showcasing the apples and hedgehog mushrooms we had seen earlier at the green market. I did not get a picture of Brians duo of rack of pork and braised belly as he ate it to damn fast, it was good though. James received a duck dish with cauliflower and carrots that looks good but I don’t remember all of it. Our entrée course was followed up by a cheese course where we all received three separate cheeses. They were good but lacked the usual garnishes of fresh and dried fruit and nuts.

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Finally dessert, my mango lime cheesecake was a good ending light but still creamy as a cheese cake should be (No points for that though, Its fucking cheesecake you’d think more of the country would have figured out to do it right by now). Brian’s peanut butter semi-fredo was again so good I could barely get a picture of it before he ate it all. James got the chocolate bread pudding with the coco nib ice-cream also very good. My only complaint the espresso was strait rocket fuel reminiscent of what we ordered reduced by half and served hot. Bourdain would have loved it and taken great pride in sharing with you how many children he would sacrifice to drink it for the rest of his life. Personally, it was to strong, so much so that I had to water it down with table water. All in all this one of the best dinners of my life. Its going to take months to get the money together to have another dinner like that. It will be a well needed pause though, a time to reflect on how fuckin awesome that dinner was. Gramercy is not doing anything off the wall, they are just serving great food, what I have learned is the mission in sorts of the Danny Meyer group. Our waiter was one of the best I have ever had and I can’t thank him enough for keeping that Dese Guys Are Really Into This vibe about him and doing it right. I don’t have to say it do I? OK fine Your in New York, Go to Gramercy done deal, especially if you know someone who has worked there, done deal! Thanks to Brian and James, its always better with some fellow foodies at the table!cimg0614

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