As some of you already know, my wife and I are moving to New Jersey. Were excited to have some more space (and be closer to the golf course!), yet sad to leave NYC. Even though its a relatively short commute to NYC, it will be tough to go out to the front room at Gramercy Tavern on a whim at 9:00 PM on a Monday night. Thus during our last week as NYC residents we decided to go on a tour of our favorite restaurants.
Monday night we packed boxes for several hours and then decided to go out for a bite to eat. After mulling over our choices we decided to see what the wait was like at the front room at Gramercy Tavern. Luckily at 9:00 PM there was no wait. It should be noted though that we got one of only two open tables late on a Monday night in the summer. I guess New Yorkers know a good value.
We pored over the menu for a bit and then made our choices. I was tempted to go with several appetizers, but decided to get the quail stuffed with corn meal as an appetizer and the roasted striped bass for my entrée. My wife got the artichoke salad for her appetizer and the vegetable and tallegio sandwich for her entrée. The quail was glazed with something (Im not sure what it was) that tasted wonderful. I like game birds a lot, but when I think back on some of the great dishes that Ive had over the past year, several of them involve quail. Ive had amazing dishes at Peristyle, Po, and now Gramercy Tavern. The striped bass was tasty as well. The chef crisps the skin perfectly. I suspect they use a salamander to do this since I have found this hard to replicate at home without setting off the fire alarm. I didnt taste my wifes artichoke salad, but the vegetable sandwich was great. The eggplant was marinated in red pepper and had a real kick to it.
One of the great features at Gramercy Tavern is their wine list. Not only is their list diverse and well priced, but the by the glass program is interesting as well. You can choose to have a glass or a taste (3oz pour) of wine. Also, the wines by the glass are interesting. Many restaurants serve crap by the glass and mark it up as much as possible. I had two glasses of the 91 Fonsallette Cote du Rhone. The wine had a classic nose of garrigue and earth with the Grenache fruit poking its way to the top. For a ten year old CdR is was still very tannic though. Im not sure that the fruit will outlive the tannins in this wine.
Tuesday night started with some more packing. Will it ever end? We continued on our restaurant tour. If I had to name a restaurant that we had dined at the most over the past five years (excluding neighborhood places) it would be Po. We made our way over to Po with the intention of eating at the bar. The bar was full, but they happened to have a table for two available.
We started with the complimentary white bean bruschetta that is so simple yet so flavorful. I was still full from my meal the night before, so I just ordered an entrée. Allison had a salad with white bean vinaigrette and for an entrée she had the white bean ravioli with balsamic and brown butter. We have probably eaten at Po 25 times over the years and with the exceptions of the times that we ordered the tasting menu I think that Allison has had the white bean ravioli every time! A few years back Mario Batali showed her how to make this dish in the kitchen at Po when she popped her head into the kitchen to ask how he made the dish. I guess when you like something you stick with it. I had the porcini crusted cod with scarlet runner beans. My dish was great. The beans added a rich texture to the dish and the porcini crusted added an earthy component. I had a glass of Barbera dAlba with my meal. It was very high in acidity and when tempered with the rich beans made a nice match.
Even though Mario Batali is no longer associated with Po, the restaurant is still run very smoothly and offers an incredible value. Bruschetta, an appetizer, two entrees, and glass of wine came to $51 with tax and tip.
We decided to walk over to the Magnolia Bakery for some dessert. As we got closer we noticed the crowd that was outside the bakery. There must have been twenty people milling around outside the bakery and at least another 20 crammed inside. What a business this place was doing! We picked up a couple of cupcakes and walked home.
Stay tuned for tonights installment