Lunch at the Tavern in Gramercy Tavern
Taken place on March 5, 2009.
During the week when half of my lab is out to conference in the West Coast, I managed to relax a bit to have lunch at Gramercy Tavern. It also helps with timing, since I have to use their gift certificate that was given out during Restaurant Week in February. Not wanting to bother with spending a whole lot of money and time in the formal portion of the restaurant, I opted to dine at the tavern room.
Oddly enough, I spotted Executive Chef Michael Anthony sitting with another person about for about half of my stay there. The Tavern is still busy as is usually is, with diners, mostly regulars and some visitors, walking past my table and the conversations around are lively. I’m just the odd ball being the solo, quiet diner wanting to be alone with my food and take pictures of it with my large camera.
After perusing their menu, I’ve decided upon ordering sweetbreads to start with. As any of you who have read this blog long enough, I love all things offal. Well, most of it. Gramercy Tavern’s rendition of Sweetbreads with escarole, capers and lemon was pretty good. Creamy, tender sweetbreads with a peppery hint from the escarole. The drawback was the capers – a bit too salty and briny that it overpowers the sweetbreads flavor rather than enhancing it.
Proceeding onto the Four Story Hill Chicken Soup and Ricotta Dumplings and Salsify with their Housemade Pastrami Sandwich, I’ve swapped out the original pairing of the soup and sandwich – cauliflower soup – for the chicken soup. I was yearning for comfort food, albeit with an upscale twist. The soup was lovely. Hearty, filled with large cubes of tender chicken, lots of diced vegetables as I scoop up a spoon. The ricotta dumplings were very soft that it melts in my mouth.
As for the pastrami sandwich, made with their own potato bread, toasted on the cut side (smart move), smeared with garlic mayonnaise, their own pastrami, and lined with arugula, and sweet pickled cippolini onions. Just one bite made my mind scream, “OMG!” The soft, slightly sweet potato bread with a touch of crunch from being toasted meets the salty, peppery pastrami and arugula and a touch of crunch from the pickled onions. It was a freakin’ amazing sandwich. Not many sandwiches swoon me but this one had my heart.
Despite the fact that I was full, I still had my eyes (and stomach) set for dessert. I was indecisive between two different desserts but went for what my waiter liked a lot – the chocolate pudding (note that it’s no longer on their dessert menu now, if you look at their site). I know all of you might be screaming at me ,”Why did you order pudding?! You know how to bake, surely you could make your own pudding.” Well, yes, I do know how to make chocolate pudding, bread pudding, etc. I’m curious to know how Pastry Chef Nancy Olsen would make chocolate pudding interesting.
Has Ms. Olsen knocked my socks off? Not really. But I did love her creamy salted caramel that I wanted to order a bucket to go. The toasted, caramelized brioche croutons brought some texture that’s needed from everything silky smooth.
42 East 20th St (between Park Ave S & Broadway)
New York, NY 10003 (map)