My wife and I made a dinner reservation at the Gramercy Tavern based in part on Trip Advisor recommendations, and in part on an article that I had read about chef Michael Anthony winning the James Beard Award for “best chef in NYC”. Our expectations were high, as we had already enjoyed several other quality meals in NYC earlier in the weekend. I am very pleased to say that Gramercy Tavern exceeded all of our expectations, with our experience leaving us in a state of euphoria for a full day after our visit. We still talk about the meal to this day.
We arrived a few minutes before our reservation time, and decided to see what the bar (which is on the “tavern” side) had to offer. I ordered one of the signature drinks, the Apropos, which contains gin, aperol, and yellow chartreuse, and my wife ordered another signature cocktail, the Peach Blossom (actually the Orange Blossom, but the bartender modified it for my wife's preferences, like a real professional). The bartenders are true artists in terms of skill, speed, and ability to strike up conversation, but the credit goes to whomever designed the signature drinks, as mine, at least, was one of the best bitter drinks I have ever tasted.
The bar and restaurant were packed. I would say that the average age of the guests was mid-30s, although we saw almost all age groups represented. About half of the men were wearing suits, and more than half of the women were wearing dresses, though no one was dressed especially formal, as that is not the vibe there. The noise level is somewhat high but tables are not placed too closely together, so you will at all times feel as though you have some personal space.
After ten minutes, our table was ready. Our server explained everything, took our orders, made excellent wine suggestions based on our food choices, and checked in on us frequently throughout the evening.
Though we ordered the “two-course” dinner, we ultimately enjoyed SIX courses throughout the evening. We were surprised with a tuna sashimi appetizer, followed by our actual appetizers of beef carpaccio and smoked trout. I have tried beef carpaccio at several restaurants in many cities, and this one ranked among the very best. Throughout the evening we were served three varieties of freshly baked artisan bread with several choices of butter, all of which were very good. Our main dishes were Arctic char and smoked duck breast. My wife is rather picky when it comes to fowl but she said that the duck was excellent, and my char was outstanding, owing in particular to the presentation and the glaze. Following dinner, we were served our "main" dessert, which for me was three servings of somewhat unconventional gelato, and for my wife, the peanut better semifreddo chocolate macaroon (the photo will explain better than words just how talented pastry chef Nancy Olson is). After the main desserts, we were served a platter of six small pieces of various treats, including macaroons, which were otherworldly. When we were having our post-dinner drinks (in my case, absinthe, prepared the traditional way) and thought we were done eating, our server brought us some lovely muffins, individually wrapped, for breakfast the next morning. There was not a single misstep to which I could point all evening long - the service and food were consistently excellent.
The Gramercy Tavern is certainly one of the finest Michelin-starred restaurants in NYC, and at under $400 for two people (including taxes and a generous tip) for a long meal with six alcoholic beverages, I would say it was a great value, too.
One closing remark: you should make reservations well in advance, especially if you want to eat in the “restaurant” part of Gramercy Tavern on a weekend. We booked four weeks in advance for a Saturday night, and called a few days later to see if we could alter our reservation time, but the restaurant was completely booked. If you do not have a reservation, you can take a chance and see if there is space available in the “tavern” part of the establishment, since we did see a few people successfully seated in this manner.
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