Not Wowed by Gramercy Tavern
I was SO excited having heard from everyone under the sun about Gramercy Tavern. I made reservations a month in advance. My friend and I did the three-course menu - started with the sweetbreads and peekytoe crab fondue, which I admit were both excellent with the right balance of savory and zing. The entrees, however, fell totally flat. My friend had the salmon - the sauce was too salty. I had the rabbit, which was kind of dry and tough. For dessert, we had the creme caramel and hazelnut chocolate mousse - which were really good.
I usually expect the appetizer to be way better than the entree since they are usually more creative, but I thought Gramercy Tavern would be different. I was disappointed. Did anyone else have this experience?
Gramercy has been crusing along on what is known as the 'Zagat Effect" In short this means once a restaurant gets a good rating, diners flock to it and, convinced that they are eating at a top-flight establishment, cannot bring themselves to believe otherwise.
The food isn't bad it's solid but it certainly does not deserve the reviews it receives. The best bet is to eat in the Tavern portion.
I think Gramercy's appeal lies not so much in the food (which is very good, but not spectacular compared to other restaurants in a similar price range) but in overall experience - which includes the top-notch service and the decor, which I find particularly welcoming. In fact, I'd say "welcoming" is the word which likely describes the "Zagat Effect" mentioned above. The restaurant goes out of its way to make everyone feel special, and is much less intimidating than maybe a place like a Perry St. It leaves you with a general good feeling, and it always serves a consistently good, if not spectacular meal, in my opinion, which in terms of repeat business, counts for a lot. And the "tavern" area is indeed a nice touch.
I'm sorry that yours was a disappointing experience. I have had three or four meals by myself in the tavern area and they have ranged from pretty good to only okay. I did have one meal in the dining room proper a few years ago that was absolutely spectacular, and with flawless service. It is a fond memory and one that I cherish, but the intervening tavern meals have left me less than anxious to return.
When you asked "everyone under the sun", you evidentally neglected to ask the chowhounders here, who have been reporting merely-decent meals at GT for a while...
i agree with you about the food quality...many years ago, i had some spectacular meals at GT but the last two meals fell flat, and i haven't returned since...the food was fairly good but not worth the price nor the reservation hassle/crowds...more surprising though was the decline in service...when GT opened, i thought the service was remarkable in that the waiters/waitresses were incredibly knowledgable culinarily while remaining completely unpretentious...on one of my last visits, i was shocked to find a slightly arrogant attitude, which, coupled with less tasty food, made me strike it from my list of regular haunts...
That sucks. I was there a little over 2 years ago and had a great meal in the Tavern room. Sorry to hear they're in decline. Maybe Tom should spend less time on Top Chef.