An out of town friend cancelled his visit to NYC at the last minute. I had made dinner reservations at Cafe Grey awhile ago and decided to still go - reservation was for 9 pm, peak time. I arrived around 8 to have drinks at the bar. I had read reviews criticizing the decor - I actually liked it - a little humours - reminded me of a Holiday Inn lounge circa 1975. Lots of people not eating came in just for drinks to check out the restaurant. On my second Manhattan (very well made, though I did ask for it to be stirred not shaken) I was shown to my table. I noticed 3 tables for 2 people each along the edge of the kitchen - the table I was being taken was in the middle of the restaurant - not the most comfortable place to be solo dining. I asked the waiter if I could sit at one of the tables next to the kitchen - he went to check - it was no problem - great vantage point of both the kitchen and the room, plus smells from the kitchen wafted over constantly through the meal. Started with the salad melange - very fresh greens, dressed in a very light "russian like" dressing, architecturally arranged (a la Gotham) in a pastry like shell, with strands of crystallized ginger (which was a nice surprise). Next, the mushroom risotto - delicious. The flavors changing, deeping as the dish cooled - constantly new flavors coming forward. I let the waiter choose the wines - a very nice white for the salad and risotto and a very hearty full bodied red for my main. For my main - five spice vension on spetzle (I think) - the venison was cooked perfectly. The spice mixture complimenting the vension really well. The spetzle, like the risotto, deepened in flavors as it cooled - really good. They brought me two desserts - a light fruit cream soup and a platter of small scoops of various ice creams and sorbets (the fromage and grapefruit were my favorites). And I had a glass of moscati asti.
The whole evening was great - the staff made me feel very comfortable - they were warm without making me feel self conscious because I was dining solo - I recommmed requesting one of the table nearest the kitchen if you're going solo. I have no hesitation going again by myself.