This was probably my 10th trip to Gramercy Tavern. It’s my mom’s favorite restaurant so we often go there for special occassions. Each time it is definitely an experience…always a good one. I wouldn’t eat there every week, but because I go a few times a year it is always fresh and new. They change the menu often (by season) so it’s usually a new menu everytime I go, though many of the desserts are often the same. This time I got the spring vegetable tasting menu. It used to be the vegetarian tasting menu (years ago), but now you have to request it to be meat-free. It’s mostly vegetarian by nature but you have to be careful because there are pork products, seafood, etc. in certain dishes. First up this night was the amuse bouche, a potato puff with olive tapenade. Really just a taste (so small I couldn’t get a good pic). It was good, too bad there was just one . I think three would have been more satisying, but then it wouldn’t be an amuse bouche (a one biter) now would it?
The first actual course was an Asparagus and Radish Salad with Country Egg. It was a very light salad with the egg overpowering the vegetables. It was actually a traditional egg salad on the bottom of the dish. It was solid, fresh and a good start, but nothing to blow you away.
Second Course: Parsnip soup with brussels sprouts. It also said it came with scallops so I told them to leave those off. The soup turned out to be much better than the first course. It was like a really good baked potato soup. Very creamy, rich and seasoned just right. A perfect portion size too.
Third course: Barley Risotto with baby carrots and shiitake mushrooms. This was the most unusual dish of the night. It was really like a carrot risotto. The description doesn’t do it justice. As you see in the picture the carrot also served as the sauce. Definitely a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach.
Fourth course: Warm Salad of warm vegetables and black lentils. I have to say I was kind of surprised when another salad came out. I thought it was kind of out of place because the risotto seemed almost like main course. Because that kind of caught me off surprise this wasn’t my favorite course. I still ate it all, but I think that’s just because it was inviting to look at and I was curious if it was going to get better the more I ate. It didn’t, it was just kind of bland.
Fifth course: Ricotta Ravioli with Escarole. The menu also said it came with lardo (a pork product), but I told them to leave that off. The ravioli was solid and at the same time light. The dish all came together nicely, but again Icould have used a bigger portion. I know it seems like tons of food by this point, but somehow you don’t get all that full.
Last course, but certainly not least: Dessert. There were four of us, but we got like 10 desserts. First they gave us all a beautiful sorbet course. Next up our waiter said instead of giving us four desserts he was giving us six. Wow this was a lot of dessert. Among the sweet treats was a Brown Butter Cake which was probably one of the best at the table. A very simple dessert, but full of flavor. Tied for the best was a Rhubard tart with meringue on top. I could have eaten a bowl of the meringue alone. This dessert was sweet and tangy. This would be the one I would re-order if given the choice. My husband’s favorite was the Chocolate Bread Pudding. The dessert is pretty self explanatory, exactly what a chocolate bread pudding should taste like. There was also a lovely Pineapple Upside down cake. Kind of a surpising dessert for Gramery, but solid nonetheless. The desserts I could have done without were the chocolate cake (I’m just not into that much chocolate, someone else may love this) and the apple pie. Yeah I just don’t go to GT for apple pie.
Oh not so fast. This review isn’t done just yet. After all that dessert the waiter delivered a generous platter of small cookies and candies. Who can eat this after that last dessert, well us! I had to at least have the coffee flavored macaroon.
And…..just when you think the food service is over they give you a pleasant little coffee cake that you are supposed to eat the next morning to remind you of the night before.
I think one thing you’ll definitely gather from this review is that it isn’t boring and there sure are a lot of courses. Funny thing is we went to a party right after dinner and they had cheese and what not out and we actually were a tad bit hungry. I know it seems strange, but the courses are all small so on one hand it’s good that you don’t leave with that sick overfull feeling, but on the other hand you don’t feel completely satisfied either. Gramercy still proves though that it is one of the best restaurants in NYC. Since I’ve been there so much I know this. I have to admit that this particular trip doesn’t rank up there with other trips there, but this is the kind of restaurant that I will always return to. The atmosphere and near perfect service make up for the not perfect food on this trip. My biggest criticism here is and always has been though that the food for vegetarians has to be a little more balanced. There needs to be more protein, iron, etc. worked into the dishes. I think that’s why that second salad course was strange to me. It doesn’t have to be all vegetables, all the time. I would just like to see the Chef think out of the box and become a little more innovative on the meat-free side. If he does that this would be a five fork restaurant, instead today I have to give it four out of five forks.