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Gramercy Tavern Vegetarian Menu Report (longish)


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Gramercy Tavern Vegetarian Menu Report (longish)

c212 | Jun 18, 2003 09:07 PM

So I finally got to eat at Gramercy Tavern last week (mid-June). We went with the vegetarian tasting menu, with matching wines... here are the courses and my reactions as I best remember. There are bound to be some errors and omissions in some of the ingredients since I've only gotten a chance to write this a week on.

First of all, we (2 of us) were seated towards the back and the service, while not rushed, was certainly prompt. I suppose for a 7-course dinner that's not too odd! We had ordered cocktails, and had only taken a few sips when the first course/wine arrived. Immediately we realized wines with every course was out of the question as the "tastes" they offered were actually half-glasses. Add the cocktail and that's enough alcohol to drown any meal.

#1: White asparagus and grapefruit sections with pink peppercorns in a vinagrette. The flavors complemented each other perfectly, the spicyness of the peppercorns and the tartness of the grapefruit (which matched my grapefruit martini nicely) with the subtle white asparagus flavor that tasted somewhat like leeks (for someone like had never had white asparagus before - I guess the texture also had something to do with this). Also had fava beans, I think. The only complaint was that the asparagus seemed a little cold, not room temp. Matched with a nice dry white wine.

#2: Eggplant "napoleon": fried small rounds of crispy eggplant layered with eggplant puree and tomato sauce with a side of arugula and roasted red peppers. A heartier second course which was executed perfectly, warm and delicious. The puree was not overly seasoned, so you really tasted the eggplant (seeds and all), without any bitterness. The arugula matched nicely as a complement. I think we skipped the wine for this course, worked on the previous white.

#3: Potato "risotto": finely diced potato served in a creamy risotto-like sauce, with morel mushrooms and parmigiano reggiano. Perfection. Absolute deliciousness. I wanted to lick my bowl. The potato pieces were not overcooked, and it really tasted like risotto! The mushrooms were sweet and roasted and mouth-watering and the whole thing just clicked. Could have used a little cracked pepper maybe. Served with a more complex white wine (the names of the wines really escape me.) Certainly the most eye-opening and "wow" course of the meal.

#4: Mixed roasted vegetables with a white truffle(? i think!) vinaigrette. Fava beans, haricots verts, wax beans, fennel, sun-dried tomatos, fresh peas, etc. in a subtle dressing. A nice lighter course in between the two heavier, "meatier" courses. Delicious (as everything was) but perhaps a little on the boring side. The fava beans and fennel were great, all the veggies were as fresh as could be, it just missed a certain excitement to it. Skipped the wine, as we were still finishing our previous glass.

#5: Mushrooms three ways: roasted mushroom tart, mushroom salad, and mushroom "cappucino". The mushroom tart was amazing, like the morels from the risotto course the melange of roasted mushrooms were ultra-flavorful and meaty, and the mix of textures between the mushrooms and the crispy tart crust (more like a pie crust - which was only on the bottom, not the sides) was brilliant. The mushroom salad was a little bland, came with other veggies that I forget. The mushroom "capuccino" was perhaps the one misstep the entire meal IMO, mushroom broth topped with steamed milk in a cappucino cup, intended to be imbibed with the other two dishes. To me it tasted like mushroom broth. Kind of "bleh". Served with a robust red.

At this point we were both verging on stuffed and had still not finished our cocktails (we had been working on the wines during the meal). We probably ate too much bread (delicious rolls which were contsantly replaced on our bread plates). Ah well, we trudged on to dessert.

#6: Desert amuse: orange soup with orange sections, orange sorbet, and candied ginger. A bright palate-cleansing soup/sorbet taste which was perfect following a heavy meal. If the next course wasn't included we probably would have stopped here!

#7: Desert: we had requested no chocolate so we chose from the normal desert menu. One of us had pineapple with pink peppercorns and vanilla ice cream, the other had tarte tatin with vanilla ice cream and green apple sorbet. Both were heavenly but we couldn't finish either. The ice creams and sorbets were particularly appetizing. Tea and coffee served with this course.

Finally, we had barely enough room to taste the petits fours, chocolates with creamy mint fillings. They also brought non-chocolate cookies in addition.

Along with the check we were given muffins to take home. The next morning I had one for breakfast, it was more like cake than a muffin. Once again, pure deliciousness.

All in all, with cocktails, wines, and the menus, it came to just about $260 total with tax and tip. Certainly not something I'd do often, but maybe I can manage once a year from now on. I'll definitely be back. As for the menu, I enjoyed how certain ingredients (mushrooms, fava beans, peppercorns, citrus) were repeated in the menu but in different guises. And the back-and-forth of the courses over 2 1/2 hours from light to heavy, as well as the mix of different flavors and cooking techniques, was perfect. It really is gourmet vegetarian food. Next time I may go for the 3-course menu as it would mean more time to linger over each course, and that I wouldn't feel as if I was about to explode at the end of the meal. The service was unpretentious, and they certainly didn't try to rush us, but I couldn't help feeling a bit rushed at some points for some reason. Maybe it was the general bustle of the place.

Well, those are my reactions. Hope they're of some help!

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