On Monday, my friend Susan and I went to a taping of Oprah’s Life Class at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. We needed to pick up the tickets at the venue the day before, so we booked a hotel room to stay in the city overnight.
We decided to dine at Gramercy Tavern, a Michelin one-star restaurant that consistently makes it on the lists of best restaurants in New York City and the country. I’m always apprehensive to eat at very expensive restaurants. I’ve been disappointed more often than not, considering the amount of money that’s been spent. I was pleased to find that Gramercy Tavern, and its James Beard-nominated chef, Michael Anthony, did not disappoint. The food, the service and the atmosphere were all excellent.
The night we went, Gramercy Tavern offered three prix fixed menus for dinner in the main dining room. A three-course menu with six choices per course ($88), and two six-course chef tasting menus — a seasonal tasting menu ($116) and a vegetable tasting menu ($98). We decided to go with the vegetable tasting menu, and we were brought one delicious dish after the next paired with the bottle of wine that our waitress had helped us pick out from their extensive wine list.
This is what we had to eat:
- Winesap Apple, Sorrel, Buttermilk and Horseradish
- Radish, Beet and Quinoa Salad
- Bok Choy Broccoli, Black Soy Beans and Hakurei Turnips
- Ruby Crescent Potatoes, Parsnip, Radish and Trout Roe
- Spinach Fettuccine Shiitake Mushrooms and Chili
- Tasting dessert
The six-courses turned into nine-courses plus breakfast. We were brought a small cheddar cheese puff to begin with, a little pineapple cake topped with ice cream before our actual dessert, and six tiny little pastries after dessert. At the end of the meal, the waitress brought us each a muffin wrapped for the morning. We jokingly dubbed all these extras as the “wafer thin mints.” (An allusion to the famous Monty Python skit.) Even though our tasting had been mainly vegetables, we were contentedly stuffed.
Gramercy Tavern is committed to seasonal and local ingredients, something I’m behind 100 percent. It’s also committed to warm hospitality and unparalleled service. Our service was impeccable. Our waitress seemed to be there exactly when and only when we needed her. She answered our questions with patience. She showed no sign of snobbery when we said we wanted a bottle of wine that was less than $60. (In fact, she showed us a couple that were well under $60. I’ve found that in many restaurants when I give a price cap on a bottle of wine, I’m only suggested bottles that are exactly that price.) She took a special request to have mushrooms left off of one of our dishes back to the kitchen and returned with a “yes, they can do that and here’s what they’ll do.”
I don’t spend that kind of money on a meal very frequently, but I’m glad I chose Gramercy Tavern for a splurge. It was well worth it. I hope to be able to return and dine in the front part of the restaurant, the Tavern, that offers a less expensive, a la carte menu.
Have you ever eaten at this beloved New York City restaurant? What was your experience?