Gramercy Tavern: tasting menu or regular menu?
Taking my folks to Gramercy Tavern tomorrow night. It's their first time and I haven't been there in over a year (and never did a tasting menu). I scoured the boards and found some great info, but couldn't find the answer to this question: should we do the tasting menu (with one veggie in the group) or should we do the a la carte menu?
Or, third option: do the tasting menu but with one or two well-placed substitutions? Love to hear any advice on this, as well as any specific food/wine recommendations.
It's a celebration dinner so price is not a concern.
thanks so much!
I recently had the winter tasting menu, and my boyfriend ordered the chef's tasting menu, and so we were able to taste a lot of the items on the current menu.
We were both VERY impressed with the winter tasting, with carrot soup to die for, an excellent warm vegetable salad on farro, the best mushroom ravioli I've ever had, and an amazing butternut squash risotto. Only the vegetable terrine was a misfire. The menus are on the web site are fairly up to date; I went last week and they'd tweaked it somewhat.
One note: it's a vegetable tasting, meant to show off Chef Anthony's talents with vegetables, but I'm not certain it's 100% vegetarian in cooking, as in they may use animal products (broth, etc) for flavoring.
His chef's tasting menu was good but not as amazing for whatever reason. The quail and veal just didn't do it for my companion. And the quail was advertised with bacon but we couldn't for the life of us FIND the bacon in the dish! My boyfriend is not a huge trout fan, but we both thought it was good but not great (really loved the pickled red onions though). We both liked the snow crab and scallops, in addition.
Desserts were good but not great; he had an apple and cranberry crostata with cinnamon ice cream and I had a hazelnut mousse cake. I like mine fine but think that the bread pudding is better. I liked his crostata as well but it pales in comparison to Babbo's version, sadly.
Personally I think Chef Anthony does seafood and pork much, much better than other meats, with a caveat that their pasta is also excellent.
I would unequivocally recommend the vegetable tasting menu. I would recommend the chef's tasting, but with a few well placed substitutes, like the veal cappellacci, blackfish, lobster, or rack of pork + pork belly.. (I love that they allow such a free hand with substitutions.)
They can adjust the vegetable tasting menu for you to make it vegetarian (I ate there a month or two ago and they just removed some garnishes). Our mushroom ravioli was extremely salty, but I think someone mismeasured. Everything else was delicious. We had a chocolate-hazelnut semifreddo for dessert which was really tasty and special.
I'm assuming you have a reso in the dining room. I like ordering a la carte in the tavern area for a casual fun thing.
My friend and I did tasting menus in the dining room a few weeks ago. They actually made two separate tasting menus for us involving 9 courses and 17 dishes total (the first dessert was more of a platate cleanser and the same for both of us).
When you have that many dishes to cook, of course, some are going to be not perfect. The squid ink pasta dish was overly salty and there were a couple other unmemorable ones. The desserts weren't particularly interesting, except for the pre-dessert palate cleanser with perfectly rehydrated tapioca.
But overall we were very impressed. I'd do it again.
I guess the only thing is that it does take a bit of time to do the tasting menu. You should committ good 3.5 hours at the restaurant. Also, if you are going with 3 people, you may taste more dishes (3 appetizers, 3 entrees, 1 or 2 shared middle course, 3 desserts, maybe 1 more extra) than doing the tasting menu for all of you.
If your folks are also foodies and like to switch plates, I'd say do a la carte. The restaurant is formal, but casual enough to feel comfortable sharing.
original poster here. Just wanted to thank everyone for the advice, it was spot on. We did the tasting menu (1 vegetable, 3 chef) and made a bundle of additions and individualized substitutions. They are beyond flexible and extraordinarily helpful.
The service was excellent, and most of the food was outstanding. I agree almost completely with the opinions already posted here, esp Kathryn's - get the pork two way, sub in the veal capellaci, the mushroom ravioli was fantastic, vegetable tasting menu overall was delicious and interesting - but with a small difference of opinion on the chocolate bread pudding. Of all the desserts we had, this was the weakest. Seems like we caught it on a bad night, but it was a small bummer after our superlative meal, only partially ameliorated by the ginger gelee petit fours.
Thank you again to everyone who wrote in! you helped make our night.