Tuesday, May 20, 2008
A Warm Welcome
On Monday night, in an effort to lift our spirits and enjoy cool things to do in New York City, Elana and I headed over to Gramercy Tavern for a very long, very enjoyable meal. This is not a place to grab a bite and run. This is a place to go if you love (and I mean LOVE) food.
I took some pictures that actually turned out better than I expected. I braved the embarrassment of taking pictures of my food in a fancy restaurant (minus the flash, of course), only to find that my files were corrupted after I uploaded them onto my computer. Are you sad? I sure am (I did steal some pictures from the internet - but it's not the same). I suppose I'll just have to go back now and try it again. However, I won't make you wait that long to read my post. You'll just have to imagine the food in your mind.
My first impression of Gramercy Tavern? Boy, are these guys friendly. I think this might be the most welcome I've ever felt in a fancy restaurant. After all, Elana and I don't exactly look like bums off the street, but we're young women, by ourselves, with our gym clothes stuffed into our handbags. We don't exactly scream "important diners." But from the second we walked in, the hostess smiled and said to us, "Welcome to Gramercy Tavern, we're so happy to have you here." The waiters praised all of our dinner choices, everything we ordered "oh, excellent choice." I liked that. It really makes you feel like you're getting the best out of your dinner experience.
On to the food! First they bring out a little pork terrine with celery as an amouse bouche (or however you spell that). I'm not normally a huge fan of cold pressed meat, but it was nice. The celery gave it a nice crunch.
We asked the waiter to recommend a bottle of red wine under $60 and to our surprise, he recommended a bottle for $40. It would be swell if I could remember what it was called. All I can remember is that it was from Spain and it was nice and full. Elana and I both approved. I always ask for help ordering wine, since I don't have a lot of confidence about wine. I haven't been steered wrong yet.
I started with Homemade Parpadelle (wide pasta) with beef ragu and scallions. Oh my god. It was amazing. The beef was so tender, it just fell apart in my mouth. The scallions (which seemed like an odd choice in this dish) were delicious, they kind of reminded me of ramps (I've been a little farmer's market crazy). I just love homemade pasta - there's really nothing better. I was so happy. Elana started with Veal Cappelletti (little filled pastas) with Sage and Cauliflower. There was a brown butter sauce over the whole thing. It was very tasty, the cauliflower was a little caramelized and the meat was really flavorful.
We moved on to the main course. I chose Glazed Duck Breast and Leg Confit with fennel and swiss chard. The fennel was AMAZING. It was so tender and savory. The swiss chard brightened up the flavor. And the duck. Oh the duck. The skin was crispy. The meat was moist. It was just perfect. Elana had Smoked Lobster. Who knew you could do that? Not me for sure. It was really different. It came with some tubey pasta and greens. We both liked it.
We were going to go straight to dessert, but then the waiter tempted us with a cheese course. We knew we couldn't eat three cheeses and two desserts. But one cheese? We could probably do that. We asked the waiter if he'd bring us just one cheese and he agreed. We picked the raw English Cheddar. The waiter brought us another cheese on the house as well! It was Dutch and kind of like a mix between Gouda and Parmesan. Rhubarb chutney and wild honey complimented the cheese nicely - but I could have just eaten the cheese and been perfectly happy. It was really delicious cheese.
Then it was time for dessert. Oh dessert. My old friend. I picked Warm Chocolate Bread Pudding with Cacao Nib Ice Cream. It was like a molten chocolate cake, but not as pretentious.
While Elana was in the bathroom, the waiter secretly told me "You didn't hear this from me, but you go the better dessert." I totally agreed. Not that Elana's wasn't great. It just wasn't made of chocolate.
That's a Rhubarb Meringue Tart with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. It was great. The meringue was especially good. It wasn't too dry and it had a nice flavor. I love rhubarb, so the whole thing was delicious.
Overall, I'd say this was a great overall meal. The service, the food, everything was wonderful. If I'd never eaten at Babbo, this might be one of the best meals I've ever had. However, it's way up there for sure. I highly recommend this restaurant. Bring your appetites and a lot of money. It's worth it, for sure.