Fantastic Lunch at Gramercy Tavern & Excellent Desserts from Chef Miroslav Uskokovic
Gramercy Tavern is one of my perennial favorite restaurants in New York City. The restaurant looks pretty with the many colorful flowers on display (as it is spring) at the Tavern Room and the splaying tree on the bar. It feels cozy and home-y in the best way possible but in an upscale manner. We chose to stick with the Dining Room for a calmer atmosphere.
The waiters are very astute, professional, and friendly. And of course, the food is fantastic. It reflects the seasonal changes of what the restaurant receives from the local farmers and suppliers with flavors that are vibrant and delicious.
I ended up taking one luxurious afternoon dining at Gramercy Tavern with a loved one and had an amazing time from start to finish, especially when desserts rolled around (by the relatively new Executive Pastry Chef Miroslav Uskokovic). I’ll get to that later.
When we’re seated and got settled down, we’re presented the a small but bountiful bread tray. Our options were consisted of warm, soft and fluffy chive rolls and slices of crusty, tangy sourdough. Like my typical carbphile self, I opted for one of each and delightfully ate them with a tiny schmear of sweet butter.
We had brisk and refreshing ginger swizzle. Yes, it’s non-alcoholic but it definitely refreshing from the spicy ginger beer and the fresh mint.
We first presented with sugar snap pea salad with carrots, leeks, and cucumber dressing. Refreshing, vegetally sweet flavors and has an acidic bite from the cucumber dressing. A great start.
The lobster salad, asparagus, spring onion and pickled ramps was sweet and delicious. The pickled ramps embraced the delicate brininess of the sweet lobster. The shaved asparagus added a gentle crunchiness.
The smoked Arctic Char, carrots, lentils and preserved citrus was delectable. The char cuts effortlessly like soft butter and had enough of smokiness that it worked wonderfully with the preserved citrus and contrasted the sweet carrots and earthy, creamy lentils.
The roasted lamb loin, sunchokes, spring greens and hen of the woods mushrooms was hearty but not over the top that we would hit food coma soon. The lamb loin was super tender and cooked to a perfect pink medium-rare. The earthy mushrooms echoed the earthiness of the wonderful lamb.
When finished with our savory courses and a couple of minutes of digesting as the staff knows we’re pretty full, were presented with pre-dessert of aerated cheesecake and anise hyssop. In the humid, hot heat of New York City, this would be my go-to dessert all season long. Bracingly cold, crunchy, and minty from the anise hyssop granita and the ethereal cheesecake foam would be a perfect end to the meal. That’s if Miroslav would end our meal that way. But that didn’t even come close.
Executive Pastry Chef Miroslav Uskokovic walked out from the kitchen to warmly greet and welcomed us. A gentle, soft spoken person but man, could he crank out the desserts and make our jaws drop for its beauty and how much depth and complexity his desserts are.
Miroslav presented us first a pair of desserts was all about celebrating spring flavors: strawberry, matcha green tea custard, honey crunch and caramelized brioche and rhubarb, almond cake, mascarpone cream and brown sugar ice cream.
The strawberry and matcha custard dessert was an easy favorite, especially for my friend. The super sweet strawberries meld with the creamy, grassy, slightly bitter, matcha custard wonderfully. The paper-thin slices of caramelized broiche added the needed crunchy texture.
The rhubarb and almond cake dessert was pretty with the small edible yellow flower that dotted on top of the moist almond cake. The tart, stewed rhubarb that topped the cake was fantastic and a great foil to the sweet, nutty brown butter crumble and brown sugar ice cream.
The final set of desserts were all about chocolate, though one of them was from the Tavern Room’s dessert menu, the warm chocolate cake, hazelnuts, prunes and coffee cardamom ice cream and chocolate, Devil’s food cake, black cardamom, rum and banana ice cream.
The warm chocolate cake was a decadent ice cream, especially for this kind of sweltering day. However, if you do love a heady, moist chocolate cake but has lots of unique flavors, this would be it. The coffee cardamom ice cream’s spicy, floral flavors bolstered the bitter, nutty, spicy notes of the warm chocolate cake.
The Devil’s food cake dessert was a lighter version of the two chocolate desserts despite made of very similar ingredients. The thin, slice of layered Devil’s food cake was delicious. Almost fudge-like but still managed not to feel weighed down. The black cardamom haunts the palate with its exotic, warm, floral tones and the rum and banana ice cream was a perfect compliment to this cake with the delicate crumbles of dark chocolate and white chocolate powder for texture.
Miroslav just want to make sure we’re completely satisfied by bringing out this all too adorable and nostalgic tray of Milk & Cookies. You can’t just help smile, even a jaded New Yorker like myself. This tray was filled with pairs of rose nougat cubes, mini macarons (that actually have the right texture), supple and fruity pâtes de fruit, warm chocolate chip cookie (the chocolate was still gooey when broken apart), a fudge-y chocolate cookie rolled in powdered sugar, triangle of buttery shortbread, coconut macaroon, a large Linzer cookie, and his version of the Oreo cookie, served with a small jar of milk and a red and white striped paper straw. You can’t help but feel like a giddy kid, even though you are much older.
Miroslav being the sweetheart that he is, he sent us home with a box of salted caramel with puffed rice bonbons. These were heavenly and I did not share it with anyone because it’s that good and I love salted caramel anything.
The entire experience of this meal was phenomenal at Gramercy Tavern was phenomenal. The savory food was great. The desserts were amazing. The flavors seems familiar but Miroslav takes these flavors on a global journey as he adds spices, herbs, and other ingredients that generally aren’t too familiar with the public and eases them into his desserts without alienating you.
To view more photos of this event, please CLICK HERE or view the gallery below:
42 E 20th Street
New York, NY 10003
Phone: (212) 477-0777