Thursday, November 18, 2010


4. 8 out of 5 stars

The last time I went to New York six months ago, my best friend took me to Velseka (a Polish/Ukranian diner) and Bonchon (a Korean restaurant similar to North Park in Manila, having the best double-fried chicken wings on earth), while my cousin took me to Matsuri (a Japanese restaurant by acclaimed chef Tadashi Ono), finally dining and partying in Buddakan ( a flashy Chinese restaurant/bar owned by Stephen Starr, who also owns Morimoto; NY trivia: this is the place where Carrie Bradshaw threw her wedding rehearsal dinner).

This was all fun to the palate, but left me wondering that I've tasted all kinds of cuisines but American in a US State. So for the second time around NY for '09, I begged my foodie best friend B to take me to an restaurant that served excellent American food. Without even thinking, she mentioned Gramercy Tavern, although it was a struggle not to try the famous Burger at DB Bistro Moderne, where Daniel Boulud conceptualized a sirloin burger with a filling of boned short ribs braised in red wine, foie gras, and preserved black truffle, served on gruyere and gold flecks.

Gramery Tavern can be described in three words --- homey meets luxury. Expect the graciousness of an elegant American home in the private dining area accompanied with a causal area parked at the bar.

Never too avant garde, never too loud; rather, it draws its strength from gastronomic ideas that are tried and tested, and the freshest of seasonal ingredients that are luxurious but uncomplicated. And one can expect the best from Gramercy, making its mark for more than 15 years, housing the likes of distinguished chefs such as former executive chef Tom Collichio and its current one, Mark Anthony (who has also worked under Boulud).

We got the Four Story Hill Chicken Soup ($ 12/22) and Barley and Butternut Squash Risotto ($ 12/22) for our First Course, and the Chicken ($ 19) and Halibut ($ 22) for our Entrees. Even before we ordered, the waiter took it upon himself to converse with us about the menu, the specials and our orders It is this kind of service that is expectedly excellent, working seamlessly like a well-oiled machine. Although sadly, the starter bread was slightly tough and cold.

The chicken soup was the odd man out, its chicken and ricotta dumpling / ravioli absorbing the bland taste of the broth. Not even the unique taste of salsify upped the flavor level. This was salvaged by the risotto, whose texture was a contrast or rich creaminess from the barley grains that remained al dente. Not only was the delicious squash cubed within the risotto, the risotto was also encircled by its puree. The shiitake was not too strong for the dish; rather, it provided a slightly smoky taste that had a similar note as the barley grains. It was topped off with seasonal miniature vegetables of zucchini, radish and carrot --- an over-all winner.
Four Story Hill Chicken Soup ($ 12/22)

Barley and Butternut Squash Risotto ($ 12/22)

The chicken was roasted to perfection, fanned out in a medley of butternut squash, carrots and brussel sprouts. It intense jus served as the base of the plate. The halibut was more simple in its presentation --- literally just a slab of fillet on top of a red cabbage slaw. Around it was a thick drizzle of hazelnut yogurt sauce. The fish was perfectly seared on both ends, retaining its succulent juice inside. The sauce was a great accompaniment to the fish, refreshing and cooling to the taste.
Chicken ($ 19)

Halibut ($ 22)

complimentary dessert
We capped off the scrumptious meal with a complimentary array of truffles, macaroons and chocolate tarts. After eating in this famed restaurant, I must concur with Frank Bruni's closing statement in his review:
"But like a solid marriage rather than a heady love affair, it has stood the test of time, righting itself when it starts to go wrong, knowing that what’s at stake are a great many warm memories, some yet to be made."
Menu. Click to magnify.

Gramercy Tavern
42 E. 20th St
New York, NY 10003
(212) 477-0777
Mon-Thu 12pm-2pm, 5:30pm-10pm
Fri 12pm-2pm, 5:30pm-11pm
Sat 5:30pm-11pm
Sun 5:30pm-10pm


noeljerry said...

Gotta tell you - the food doesn't look very appetising but Malaysian food is bar none the best in the world. I've been to Penang a few times. Best food on earth. I think its in the spices. Keep posting!

graey eats said...

Will keep that in mind and try posting on it! thank you!

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