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Review: Restaurant Week Lunch at Gramercy Tavern

k
kathryn Jul 22, 2008 01:50 PM

As reported previously, the entire restaurant is open for RW diners for lunch. Folks dining in the Tavern Room as well as the Dining Room are able to choose from the lengthy restaurant week menu (6-7 choices for appetizers, mains, and desserts).

We arrived shortly before our 1pm reservation and the restaurant looked nearly but not completely full and I saw some empty tables in the Tavern Room.

It's actually online right now:

http://gramercytavern.com/_media/uplo...
http://gramercytavern.com/_media/uplo...

[they may take this down or update the file after RW is over

]

Torn between the chilled zucchini soup, the lemon risotto, or the kampachi with grapefruit, I naturally choose something else. So, I started with the lamb parpadelle -- a nice, tender ragu of lamb, thick ribbons of pasta. The lemon confit was perfect and added a nice bit of acid. I wasn't a huge fan of the beet greens (too bitter) or olives (too salty) but the pasta itself was fine.

For my main, I had the sirloin steak, cooked medium rare, over beef ravioli, sugar snap peas, and spring onions. Excellent. Perfectly cooked. So sweet and juicy, like a great steak should be. A bigger portion that I thought it would be and I could barely finish the meaty, lemony beef ravioli and the mountain of crispy snap peas.

The blackberry strusel cake was fine, kind of like a fancy coffee cake, but I loved the refreshing blackberry lime sorbet that accompanied it, and I sopped up ever last bit. Very good.

They are offering a gift certificate for the price of your Restaurant Week meal, compliments of the house. $24.07 towards another weekday lunch at GT from August 4 through September 26, between 12 noon and 2pm, in either the Tavern Room or the Dining Room.

Definitely try to go to GT as a walk-in for RW lunch if you can!

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  1. j
    jld34 RE: kathryn Jul 25, 2008 01:36 PM

    Went to GT today for RW sat at the bar. Went about 1:20pm, very few seats open, but many walkins of 2-3 people chose the bar to eat at.

    Service was top notch by the two female bartenders that were there - very polite and attentive even with a full bar.

    Frist Course: Calamari and Carrot Salad - Spot On - Delicious!

    Menu was slightly different from what was posted above for Second Courses - From what I remember:
    Arctic Char
    Stuffed Meatball
    Mushroom Lasagne
    Smoked Kielbasa
    Chicken
    Pulled Pork Sandwich
    (There were 2-3 others but I cannot remember)

    I had the Stuffed Meatball (which was just about baseball sized) - So moist and flavorful - stuffed with Fontina Cheese - served over Onion Marmalade and Potato Puree with a slight bit of gravy underneath - It was fantastic - Great contrast of flavors, sweet, savory and a little sour from the onion. Loved it

    Dessert - went with the Chocolate Brioche Pudding - Light and not at all sweet

    GT was spot on - service, food, everything!

    The $24 gift certificate to return was a very nice touch as well!

    2 Replies
    1. re: jld34
      k
      kobetobiko RE: jld34 Jul 26, 2008 11:00 AM

      Hi jld34,

      It was interesting that you were presented the Tavern Room menu for your RW choices as I dined in the main dining room on the same day and was presented with the main dining room menu (the same as kathryn's) Perhaps they decided to present a separate menu for walk-ins in the tavern room.

      Strange on the first thought, but then not so strange on a second thought.

      1. re: kobetobiko
        b
        Boswell RE: kobetobiko Jul 26, 2008 11:52 AM

        I too went as a walk-in and was seated at the Tavern bar. And I was a little disappointed...I was expecting Kathryn's menu but got jld's. All was very good---I had duck pate and the chicken---but not quite worth a special trip from uptown. Best part, I think, was the $24 wine specials. I had a very nice Lagrein, and they corked the leftovers and let me take the bottle home.

    2. k
      kobetobiko RE: kathryn Jul 26, 2008 10:46 AM

      Hi kathryn,

      Thank you for your excellent review once again. I have been enjoying your posts and you certainly did a fanastic job in making detailed description of your dining experience. I trully enjoyed them.

      I had mentioned that I stopped going to RW because of all the hassles in making reservations and some experiences that didn't quite live up to expectation (and it was disappointing that ome of the better RW participants, like Craft and A Voce, stopped doing RW). Anyway, I was actually called upon to join some business friends for RW lunch at GT as one person was evenatually unable to go. After reading the GT reviews from you and Tina, and the fact that the table was already reserved and all I needed to do was to show up, I of course was more than happy to accept the invitation.

      Our reservation was at noon and surprisingly the restaurant (both main dining room and tavern room) was only 1/3 filled. I was under the impression that people would be fighting in line at the door to get in. It wasn't until 1pm that the restaurant started to become more crowded, but there were still open tables when I left (around 2pm). May be arriving early and on Friday will help those who want to walk in to score a table? Just a note to other hounds.

      We were seated in the dining room and the service, from the begining till the end, was exceptional. I thought it was even better than the regualar non-RW time, perhaps because the restaurant wasn't even full. We were quickly presented with the RW menu (the same one that you got, which was different from jld34's in the tavern room, though we visited on the same day), bread, butter, salt, and water. One grasp was again the butter was cold (not stone cold, but not spreadable without some force). Immediately I was reminded of the butter at EMP. Was this a recurring theme in Meyer's restauarants? Or was I just too picky?

      Since I had been to GT quite a few times in the past, I decided to bypass some of the familiar apps like the smoke trout or calamari and carrot salad, and went for what appeared to be more seasonal - the kampachi with grapefruit. It was a very nice refreshing starter with the acidity and heat balanced the very well. The portion was much smaller than other apps like the lamb parpadelle and the lemon confit risotto, though I didn't mind at all as I wanted a light appetizer under the hot weather. I recommended the lamb parpadelle to my friend based on your review and he always liked more meat. For me it was a bit too heavy for the summer, but the flavor was excellent and my friend thorouhly enojoyed it.

      For entree, I opted for the grouper with wild mushroom as I am a huge lover of fungi(except for button mushroom...). The dish was presented with three "nuggets" of seared grouper on a bed of sauteed sweet onion and some giant grilled/seared wild mushroom. The fish cooked ok without the need of more salt, but the stars of the dish were the creamy onion which was sweet and soft and melt in your mouth, and the mushroom which were meaty and tender. I didn't finish the fish because some of the pieces were overcooked, but I didn't leave any of the onion or the mushroom on my plate.

      My friends chose the sirloin and chicken for their entrees. The sirloin for my meat-loving friend was the perfect choice (and again, I told him that your post highly recommended this dish) and he proclaimed that this dish itself was worth the price. The chicken was cooked fine with crispy skin, though the white meat was a bit dry inside. My friend said he wanted to see what GT could do to prepare a mundane piece of chicken, and his conclusion was that there was nothing you could do to save a mundance piece of chicken (LOL)

      For desserts, I selected again a seasonal fruit - the blackberry cake with sorbet. It was very good but the even more delicious choice was my friend's peach pie. The boring name deterred me from choosing it but I was so wrong - it was fabulous.

      Overall I found GT to be one of the best choices during RW. For this lunch, I think it has certainly exceeded my expectation of what a RW meal could deliver in terms of quality of food, service, and selections. What I liked about GT was that they presented dishes that were on their normal menus, meaning that they were showcasing what they could normally deliver. I found this to be a better approach and often delivered a better experience during RW, as I had similar reactions to Maze at Gordon Ramsey, Craft (no longer offering lunch), and the Modern Bar, which used the same approach during RW in the past. On the other hand, I found EMP who constructed somewhat a different menu for RW and could only deliver like half of what they were capable of really sent a wrong message to those who had high expectation based on reviews of their regular menus.

      However, my pet peeve of GT remained the same as before. I found that their entrees, particularly the fish dishes, still lack the harmonization between the sauces and the fish. The first time I enjoyed Chef Anthony's menu when he took over the kitchen, I felt that the food was cooked perfectly, the vegetables and sauces that came with the fish were always well-seasoned and flavorful, but the fish was usually placed on the top of these ingredients and it would have worked with any types of fish. In other words, you could interchange the halibut with the grouper or stripe base with the same "base", and the overall dish would not have been affected. I still had the same feeling during this lunch. My grouper could have been halibut with the same onion and mushroom and the dish would still be just fine. The fish was somewhat disjointed with the rest of the ingredients. This problem didn't seem to be so profound in the meat dishes, and the appetizers for the most part were well integrated in flavors - the carrot and calamari were perfect companions, and the smoke trout would not be the same if it was another type of fish.

      In my mind, GT remains to be one of the restaurants which I am always satisfied with as you know you will have a great meal there everytime. However, IMO it isn't one of those restaurants where you want to seek the "unexpected" or the "wow's". For a more causal dining experience, GT is a perfect choice. But for something more celebratory or a more exciting meal, I still think EMP (dinner) is a better choice.

      p.s. Please note that I was mostly comparing EMP and GT as they were both Danny Meyer's restaurants and they both received 3 stars in NYT.

      8 Replies
      1. re: kobetobiko
        k
        kathryn RE: kobetobiko Jul 26, 2008 02:45 PM

        Aw, thanks, kobetobiko! I love reading your reviews as well.

        Regarding the butter, ours was slightly too hard, too. Very strange because to me EMP's butter has been consistently ice cold and too hard, but GT's butter is typically warm and soft. I'm surprised it was too hard during RW as I've never had that happen to me at GT before. And Gramercy Tavern's deliciously tangy, cheesy butter really benefits from being at room temperature.

        1. re: kathryn
          j
          jld34 RE: kathryn Jul 27, 2008 02:06 PM

          nice review kobe - i too noticed that there were many empty tables in the dining room - I thought for sure a friday would be super crowded.

          i'm going to give it another try this week, perhaps requesting the non-taven menu or offering to wait for a seat where I can get the other menu as I was hoping to test out the sirloin dish

          for sake of comparison - my butter was soft, spreadable and not cold... perhaps the luck of the draw - there should be more consistency

          1. re: jld34
            q
            qwerty123456 RE: jld34 Jul 29, 2008 12:17 PM

            My butter at EMP today was hard too. The butter at 21Club (and their entire bread basket) was divine.

            1. re: qwerty123456
              floretbroccoli RE: qwerty123456 Jul 29, 2008 02:13 PM

              I didn't use the butter, but found the lunch at EMP today outstanding. You?

              1. re: floretbroccoli
                k
                kobetobiko RE: floretbroccoli Jul 29, 2008 02:46 PM

                There was a recent thread on EMP's RW lunches
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/541981

                1. re: floretbroccoli
                  q
                  qwerty123456 RE: floretbroccoli Jul 29, 2008 05:32 PM

                  I am not much of a fine diner. However, i visited EMP today and tried the salmon on cold peas/asparagus soup, a chicken with something stuffed in it, and chocolate with passion fruit. I loved the meal and the service. It was excellent

              2. re: jld34
                k
                kobetobiko RE: jld34 Jul 29, 2008 12:51 PM

                Hi jld34,

                I think you can just try and give them a call to reserve for a table at the dining room as it wasn't even full when I was there. It appeared that after 1pm the place started to get filled up quickly and bustling. So if you can have lunch at noon, you may be able to just reserve a table in the dining room. That will eliminate the risk of walk in and being seated at the tavern room again.

                Also, since most of the dishes during RW are on the regular lunch a la carte menu, you can always use your gift certicate and dine there after RW ;)

                1. re: kobetobiko
                  j
                  jld34 RE: kobetobiko Jul 29, 2008 06:01 PM

                  Very true. I will give a call tomorrow to see if there is availibility/cancellations. I agree that it did not seem full - especially on a Friday afternoon.

                  Yay for the Gift Certificates - I think that is such a nice touch to be able to come back and dine again for nearly the same price!

          2. o
            okaygo RE: kathryn Jul 31, 2008 07:51 AM

            just a note to people reading this and getting excited by the idea of the restaurant being half-full -- I went yesterday (weds) at about 12:15 and the place was packed. I heard one of the staff say that when they opened, there was a line halfway down the block. I had to wait about 45 minutes for a table to open up (and I think I was the first on the waiting list). I didn't realize, however, that apparently the bar seating is done separately by the bartenders- so maybe if I'd checked in with them, the wait would have been shorter.

            3 Replies
            1. re: okaygo
              s
              sidd RE: okaygo Jul 31, 2008 02:35 PM

              I went today and stood in the line :-) I was there when they opened at 11:45, so I got a spot right away. Service was fine. I ate the lamb pasta (forget what it is called, but was very flavorful, had guinea hen for entree and chocolate breadcake for dessert. And I got the gift cert also.. it was all great!

              1. re: sidd
                k
                kobetobiko RE: sidd Jul 31, 2008 03:12 PM

                Hi sidd,

                did you seat in the main dining room or the tavern room? I thinhk jld34 above was trying to see if he/she can get into the main dining room as a walk in. Perhaps your reply will help her if not too late.

                1. re: sidd
                  k
                  kimnyc RE: sidd Aug 2, 2008 07:06 AM

                  I went on Friday and we got there around 11:30 to stand in line. We were the 5th or 6th group. We were seated right away in the tavern once the restaurant opened at about 11:45. Unfortunately I hadn't been keeping up with this thread since the first post. I was so excited about the Lamb Pappardelle! But alas, it wasn't available on my menu. Still a fantastic meal - the Calamari/Carrot salad, Chicken (so moist!) and Chocolate Bread pudding. And the gift certificate was a very nice touch!

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