First Christmas as a married woman down, and I can’t believe it’s already been over 6 months since we got back from our honeymoon! Apologies for another very belated blog post, but one I’ve been meaning to finish this post for months – it was the only ‘fancy’ meal we had in NYC so I can’t compare it to other well known restaurants but we loved it and it’s most definitely somewhere I’d recommend!
Much as I love brunch, cafes, street food and all of the sweet, sugary treats, sometimes I just love to relax and enjoy more of a fine-dining meal. I love tasting menus and I’ve been to a couple of (one!) Michelin star restaurants, but I imagine that some two or three star restaurants could be a little pretentious with some of the more refined dishes are lost on me (and definitely lost on Marcus). For us, somewhere that offers unique dishes, good quality food and a lovely atmosphere without the microscopic portions and billions of exotic ingredients (that’s more for Marcus’ sake) is much more our style, and Gramercy Tavern couldn’t have been more perfect. Despite serving incredible food, the restaurant itself is quite relaxed – it almost feels like a very upmarket pub – rather than white, modern and minimalist interiors and white pressed uniforms starched to within an inch of their lives, it feels homely and chilled and the staff couldn’t be more friendly and welcoming.
As soon as we sat down we were brought glasses of champagne. I honestly have no idea how the staff knew that we were on our honeymoon, but they did, and we were made to feel special from the moment we set foot in the restaurant! From start to finish we were brought little extras and for me it’s the small touches that make the difference between a good and an outstanding restaurant.
There’s the option of an a la carte menu or a tasting menu. I had my heart set on the tasting menu – I can never decide what I want and I love trying a bit of everything but unfortunately with Marcus it’s often tough for us to choose that as he doesn’t eat any seafood and there are quite a lot of other things – salad (and most other green things!), aubergine, feta and goats cheese amongst a few other of my favourite things – that he also doesn’t eat, so we agreed it would be a little wasted on him. It was one of those ‘everything happens for a reason’ times though as it turned out to be the best decision – the a la carte menu was incredible and we even got brought a couple of extra items from the tasting menu as extras!
As with every good restaurant, we started our meal with bread, and for me this is where I’ll judge hard! Despite it being simple, bread is one of my all-time favourite foods, and for me, if a fine dining restaurant doesn’t nail the bread then they’re already off to a bad start in my eyes! Thankfully we were treated to an absolutely incredible pillow-soft ‘angel bread’ which came with whipped goats cheese butter – yes apparently that’s a thing! I did manage to get Marcus to try a bit of the heavenly butter but even I must admit that goats cheese is a strong taste, so if you’re not a fan then it’s probably not for you! I absolutely loved it though and the bread was so warm and so soft that the waiter had barely set it down on the table before we’d demolished it and asked for more! Before our starters came we were lucky enough to be brought the first course from the vegetarian tasting menu to try, which was a strawberry gazpacho with hazelnuts, rhubarb and sour cream. Much as I love sweet stuff, I found the idea of a sweet course slightly strange as a starter, but it just worked so, so well. The strawberries were sweet but tart, the sour cream was the perfect accompaniment and the crunch of the hazelnuts added a beautiful texture!
For starters I went for the lobster salad. Despite the terrible pictures which don’t do it an ounce of justice, it was my favourite course by far – I would honestly say it was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten! Marcus chose the lamb ravioli with pea shoots and watercress, and that too was delicious – the pasta was cooked al dente with the meat beautifully tender, served in a flavour-packed jus.
After much deliberation I decided on the black bass with calamari for mains and Marcus went for the pork belly. My fish was cooked beautifully but the tender pork blew it out of the water!
Dessert was where the real decisions had to be made – I wanted every single thing on the menu! We both wanted the cookie plate with milk, and of course the chocolate option (chocolate, custard, crispy milk bread and blackberry ice cream) would have undoubtedly been delicious, but we decided to opt for something slightly more mature and surprisingly both ended up with fruity options. It turned out to be a terrific decision – both of them were absolutely incredible!! I chose ‘cherry’ – sweet, stewed cherries served with maple butter, caramel pecans, oatmeal crisp and horchata ice cream and Marcus chose ‘strawberry’ – brown butter cake, sheep’s milk yogurt, shiso and sesame brittle. To our surprise we were brought a third dessert – a beautiful coconut meringue cake, as well as some chocolate truffles, coffee and some chocolate coated granola bars ‘for breakfast the next morning’ – of course they didn’t last that long!!
The brown butter cake in the strawberry dessert, the whipped goats cheese butter and the lobster salad were the highlights for me but the whole meal was near flawless and the service was incredible. Ironically it was the only place we dined at that didn’t accept service – they clearly state on the menu that all service is included in the bill and so they don’t accept tips, but our waitress made our evening so, so special.
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Gramercy Tavern as a special meal if you’re visiting NYC. Sometimes it’s just so lovely to dress up and go that extra mile for a truly memorable dinner and we both agreed that this meal was worth every penny! Their menu is seasonal so it’s ever changing but we loved everything we tried and I’d love to go back and try some of their other dishes! Note that it is very popular and so I’d definitely recommend booking. They release tables 28 days in advance, and unless you want to eat at a strange time I’d recommend getting in there at 10am US time to reserve a table! If you don’t manage to get in, or end up wanting to visit last minute, there’s The Tavern (as opposed to the Dining Room) which offers relaxed, walk-ins and more casual dining.
Link to their website: https://www.gramercytavern.com/visit/