Tasting Lunch at Gramercy Tavern
Eaten back on September 2nd, 2009. (I’m working on it…)
I have to admit, if I haven’t said it yet, I love Gramercy Tavern. It has the casual, down-home earthiness yet it’s innovative of what one would expect from fancy pants fare. The service is great, as expected from a Danny Meyer institution, and I absolutely love their food. They haven’t steered me wrong from the multiple times I’ve eaten here and ever since Executive Chef Michael Anthony helmed the kitchen.
I went to their dining room for the tasting lunch. Back when I ate here (on September 2nd) and when it was Restaurant Week (about a month or so) not a whole lot changed in terms of the menu, I requested a few changes on the courses.
The amuse was a small custard of fennel, lemon and a wee huckleberry to top it off. Smooth, creamy, and incredibly robust flavors from this pre-app.
As for the first course, it’s supposed to be a calamari and carrot salad. I tried this last year for Restaurant Week and it didn’t work for me. My waiter didn’t have an issue for me to replace it with the egg crêpe, corn, tomato and Maine crab. This reminds me of an upside down, open faced ravioli. The crab was incredibly sweet and savory at the same time (with the aide of herbs). The crêpe was quite al dente.
Second course was the green beans, shrimp & cucumber. Sweet, tender shrimp with refreshing cucumbers and crisp green beans. It’s not as amazing as the dish I had last time but it’s good (the sugar snap peas had my heart back then). The interesting flavor was the tiny addition of celery that made it more refreshing.
Moving onto the Halibut, Green Beans, Wild Rice and American Caviar dish. The halibut was meaty and firm and was a good vehicle for the nutty wild rice and little salty specks of caviar.
Heading toward the end final dishes of this tasting, the Guinea hen with heirloom cauliflower and house cured pancetta rocked. I love the hen’s crispy skin. It reminded me of Chinese roasted duck skin but has a lovely layer of silky subcutaneous fat underneath. I like the pairing of the tangy onion and caper relish that’s dotted with pancetta with this hen. Wow.
Even though I felt like my stomach was feeling like it’s about to explode, I mentally push myself to make some space for dessert. The dessert amuse was a simple, small serving (in a huge bowl, nevertheless) of balls of watermelon and cantaloupe drizzled with shiso syrup. (In case you never tasted shiso before, it tastes sort of like mint and basil.) It’s a good palate cleanser.
When the dessert options for the tasting menu were disclosed to me – an apricot frangipane or chocolate mousse – neither appealed to me (sounded a bit too safe for my taste) and I requested the dessert menu. I spotted the blueberry corn sundae and ordered it. It’s an odd combination, tempting me to try it.
This sundae was indeed amazing. On the bottom of the glass, frozen blueberries and corn kernels then layered with scoops of corn ice cream, whipped cream and topped with caramel popcorn. It’s a mixture of sweet, tart, somewhat creamy and ended with the airy, crispness of the popcorn.
I wish I could eat this sundae for everyday when corn and blueberries are still in season.
The little cake on the side is a corn cake (I’d call it) that’s filled with corn kernels and sprinkled with sugar crystals to gently enhance the corn’s sweetness. It’s almost as awesome as the sundae.
Then petit fours were served. The mini lemon tarts with sesame seeds (and some kind of herb) were tart and tasty. The white chocolate macaron had too much cookie, too little filling, and a bit too chewy, unfortunately. The chocolate truffle with a candied orange zest was a good, dark, chocolate bite.
At the end of the meal, I was a happy and full little person. Except, I have to get my mind back to reality and needed to haul my ass back to work.