I know that on Sunday night we ate dinner at the Gramercy Tavern. I know this to be true but as opposed to Daniel, which I wrote about below this, dinner memories aren’t flooding to the surface. Everything about the Gramercy Tavern was perfectly executed–the hostess was pleasant (and pregnant), the bar room was colorful and bright and full of flowers, and the food was all pretty flawless. But the experience as a whole sort of felt generic–and maybe that’s the point. It is, after all, a tavern.
Gramercy Tavern is located on 20th street, across the street from Veritas (which looks excellent) and around the corner from Craft. On my walk to meet my parents there, I discovered another point of interest: the birthplace of Teddy Roosevelt, my favorite president, is only a few doors down from the Gramercy.
“Did Teddy Roosevelt eat here?” asked my dad when I told him the news.
“I doubt it.”
My dad wasn’t particularly taken by the Gramercy Tavern. “I thought this was supposed to be a tavern,” he said. I’m not sure what he meant by this but I think he meant that it was too fancy to be a tavern, and the food was too weird.
My poor dad. All he wants in life is a good steak, creamed spinach, onion rings and Caesar salad. Instead, we force him to consume amuse bouches–in this case an amuse bouche that I am completely forgetting because the picture I took didn’t come out. Around this time we ordered our food and did the thing we did the night before–asked the waiter for help matching the food we ordered to a wine. Once again, this proved successful: he suggested a Rioja (a Spanish wine) and it went perfectly with the meal. (Didn’t overpower my duck, stood up to my parents’ meat.)
I loved my appetizer–“Crab Fondue”–which was basically butter poached crab meat on sweet pea puree.
The crab was buttery and luscious and the sweet pea puree tasted wonderfully fresh. Dad had scallops, which he seemed to enjoy.
My entree was a huge winner: duck with a candied lemon crust.
And same for mom and dad’s meat:
So why are down on Gramercy?
It’s hard to say. Maybe because it feels like a neighborhood place (it is, after all, right next to Gramercy Park–a home for the not quite downtown, not quite uptown elite) and we, not belonging to the neighborhood, feel like outsiders?
Certainly, many of the tables around us appeared to be regulars. A birthday party happened right over my shoulder: friends bought the birthday girl different dresses which she held up over herself while her friends laughed. A table of women a few feet away seemed to be having a ritual Sunday night dinner.
After our entrees, we were presented with palate cleansers: raspberry sorbet in a lemon panna cotta.
This certainly cleansed our palates–the panna cotta was quite astringent. Not much sugar in there.
For my dessert, I got a Gramercy classic: the rolls off your tongue “Coconut Tapioca with Coconut Sorbet, Passion Fruit-Pineapple Sorbet, Passion Fruit Caramel, and Cilantro Syrup.”
I liked all the textures and flavors, but it didn’t please me in a homey comforting way. Isn’t that what a tavern should do?
Dad’s dessert, on the other hand, pleased him perfectly.
See that ice cream in front of him? That’s an ice cream sampler. My dad loves ordering ice cream. And on this night he said, to the amusement of my mother and I: “Finally–I get enough ice cream.”
The petit fors were lovely, too:
And as an extra nice touch, they gave us blueberry muffins for the next day:
Yes, the Gramercy Tavern is a classy joint. If I was a self-made tycoon and I lived down the street, I’d go there all the time with my friends. But since I only really fine dine when my parents come to town, and since the Gramercy Tavern is really a neighborhood place–more for locals than for visitors–I’m not sure we’ll be running back. Which is a shame, because those muffins are a good motivation to eat breakfast. Now I’ll simply starve.