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Dinner at Gramercy Tavern - Still the Jewl in Danny Meyers' Crown

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Dinner at Gramercy Tavern - Still the Jewl in Danny Meyers' Crown

Eddie Bennet | Mar 22, 2001 10:53 AM

Last Thursday evening I had dinner at Gramercy Tavern and from the service to the food everything was phoenominal. The couple I was with were going to theater so the reservations were early, 5:45. Shortly after being seated we were offered an amouse bouche of a seared scallop over a small salad. When the two guests I was with said no thank you because they do not eat shellfish, the waiter, without missing a beat asked if he could bring them a salad with roasted beets. It was one of a few examples that evening of thoughtful service. I and another person started with the cured hamachi the other guest had the tuna tartare. The hamachi is a mainstay of Gramercy's menu and it as good as all the previous times I have had it. Thick slabs of yellow tail, brushed slightly with lemon juice, dressed at one end with small fresh greens and on the other with chopped cured lemon. The fish is of pristine quality and the creamy flesh spreads in your mouth. Tuna tartare is is the most tired item offered in the City's restaurants. This one appeared to be the same, cubes of tuna surrounded by small dressed greens. However in the middle of the bowl was an amber colored mouned of horseraddish flavored aspic. Wow. It made the dish and then some. The cool, clear aspic managed to capture the flavor of fresh horseraddish without the heat, it was great. As an entree I had a striped bass with baby artichokes. A side of bass with a crisped skin was served in a bowl with baby artichokes and a light liquid that was based on fish stock, artichokes and thyme. The fish was perfectly cooked, what was amazing were the artichokes which were the sweetest tasting I have ever had (as an artichoke fanatic, I have had many). The liquid in the bowl did not taste at all of fish stock instead it was infused with the essence of artichoke and thyme. If you ever have the dish be sure to use the spoon it is served with, the artichoke flavored stock is not to be missed. The other two people I was with had the salt baked salmon. This is another Gramercy standard and it is simply the best salmon dish I have tried. It could not be more simply prepared (if you want to see how simply, the recipe is on page 44 of Tom Colicchio's book Think Like a Chef). The salmon is meltingly tender with a jewled rare center. Claudia Fleming's desserts are as good as ever. We had the ever popular molten chocolate cake (yes, you have had it a thousand times, but try this one) a baked pineapple tart and a delicious tart tatin. My one complaint is that the doughnut holes served on the lunch menu are not on the dinner menu. If you are at Gramercy for lunch, you must get them. They are warm, light, and and you will not be able to stop eating them. If you like cheese, this is the place. Picholene gets the press, but the cheese service at Gramercy is better. We had a Humboldt Fog, two great blues; Shrophire Blue and Berkshire Blue, an obscenely runny Vacherin Mont d'Or, and a wonderful artisinal ewe's milk cheese from Corsica called Brin D'Amour. A note on the service. One of the guests at my table was celebrating a birthday and aside from wishing him a happy birthday when I was seated, it was never mentioned again. The waiter, never acknowledging that he overheard, served the guest his dessert with happy birthday written across the plate in chocolate. When the same guest inquired as to where the restroom was, a bus boy ofered to escort him. These are little touches, but they are meaningful. We drank a very nice South African Cabernet, Neil Ellis 1998. It is a light enough Cabernet to go with fish and matched very well with the salmon.

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