I’m usually very weary of establishments that have anything to do with “American” food because I don’t really know what that means. Lucky for America, the brilliant Danny Meyer and his world-class team have given a tangible and lovable definition to that clichéd term. Gramercy Tavern has been a long-time favorite haunt of mine since the days when I used to live in New York and every time I return, I can’t stay away.
With a restaurant as large as Gramercy, you might expect a lack of coziness and the typical slow or careless service that comes with such a size. This couldn’t be further from the truth here.
Service through the years has been consistently welcoming with just enough attention so you don’t feel like you’re lost in a maze of fellow diners. One of the reasons Gramercy has become such a Big Apple staple is due to its warm and nostalgic interiors, with its dark wood ceiling beams, colorful wall murals, candlelight, gorgeous flower arrangements and touches of American antiques.
There is a constant sense of movement and vibrancy here, where not so hush hush conversations take place between power politicians and banking magnates, yet the cozy feeling still prevails where tables away, a family shares laughter and a baby squeals aloud.
One of Gramercy’s famous dishes is their Calamari & Carrot Salad with a tangy Lemon Vinaigrette, which does well deserve its loyal following. My personal favorites are the Grouper with Sweet Onions and Mushrooms, a melt in your mouth fish with the complimentary earthiness of the mushrooms and the Smoked Lobster with Pancetta and Saffron Fennel Strozzapretti, which is the very definition of American Italian cuisine, with perfectly crisp pancetta bacon and the uniquely flavored strozzapretti pasta, so difficult to encounter in American restaurants. If Gramercy had nothing else but these two dishes on their menu, I would forever be a die-hard regular.
Not to be missed on the dessert menu are the Grand Marnier Cheesecake with Blood Orange Salad, an orgasmic pairing of the aromatic liqueur, smooth cheesecake and the sweet, tangy orange with its seductive burgundy color as well as the fragrant Jasmine Tea ice cream, found usually only in Asia but thankfully executed to perfection in good ol’ New York.
Kudos to Danny Meyer and his Gramercy team for creating and maintaining what has become one of my very favorite restaurants in the country.