Had the restaurant week lunch at Gramercy's Tavern Room today and was incredibly pleased. I had the RW lunch at Gotham last week and was presented with exactly two choices per course. Gramercy gave you about 90% of the regular menu to choose from (perhaps 6-8 choices per course), which immediately puts it ahead of most RW competition.
Began with the baby octopus, grilled to perfection and drizzled lightly with olive oil, matched with shaved fennel and a Sweet Pepper Caponata that packed a remarkable amount of flavor into what couldn't have been more than a tablespoon or two of chopped vegetables.
Moved on to the unimpressive-sounding "Fish Stew" for my main course. Similar to Balthazar's Bouillabaisse, but with none of the heaviness, it allowed the depth of flavor to truly be tasted without overwhelming you with richness (as I feel Balthazar's can). Chunks of lobster claw meat, salmon, bass, and bits of assorted seafood were submerged in a complex tomato-based broth. You could taste about 10 different spices in the broth, but I can't accurately claim to isolate more than the obvious dill and saffron.
Finished with the sheep's milk panna cotta, which was just sweet enough and wonderfully smooth, paired with blood orange slices, chopped pistachios, and passionfruit (?) sorbet. Perfect way to end a great meal.
Verdict: No decline in service even though we ordered from the Restaurant Week menu and didn't order drinks. Great to have 6 or more choices per course. For $20, this has got to be one of the best RW meals around and it did the trick--I will certainly return to the tavern room in the future for a full-price meal.