Saturday night and somewhere with a degree of casual fanciness seemed like a good plan. Continuing to place trust in Helen’s thus far faultless recommendations we headed to the Gramery Tavern around 6pm to put our name down on the waiting list for dinner at their no-reservations tavern room.
The wait was projected to be 1 hour 45 minutes which was pretty much ideal for dining at a preferred hour. We popped round the corner for a cocktail at Sibar with a message arriving just after 7pm that our table was ready a little ahead of schedule.
We tootled around the corner and were soon being seated at an excellent table with a prime view of the finishing kitchen.
The tavern menu was packed with tempting dishes so it took us a little while to settle on the right path. We eventually decided to open with the duck liver mousse and the roasted oysters, then follow with the fisherman’s stew and the kielbasa sausage.
We nibbled on excellent focaccia as we pondered a wine choice. We enlisted the help of the sommelier team who steered us towards a friulano which proved an excellent choice.
Starters soon arrived looking pretty smart. The oysters were topped with kale, chilli and grana padano in a riff on the classic Rockefeller. They were delicious.
Helen had been bemoaning the lack of pate availability in local markets and supermarkets around town, so the duck liver mousse – essentially a pate – was all the sweeter for its rarity. Served simply with good toast and a side of pickled carrots, cauliflower and chilli, this was beautifully rich stuff.
The main courses were served as two consecutive courses divided into a portion each, which was rather nice. First up was the fisherman’s stew. With a firm white fish at its core, this was another beautifully simple preparation, seasoned very accurately and providing an excellent showcase for the central element. It was highly accomplished cooking.
The kielbasa was really good, too. Served as the topping for a classic raclette style dish, the sausage was filled with deliciously melty cheese. It was top notch.
We rounded things out with sherries and a shared decaf French press which was surprisingly good.
Overall, Gramercy Tavern was an excellent choice. It was full of warmth and charm to match the exacting standards applied to hearty and appealing fare. If I lived in New York it would quickly become a regular haunt.
Blythe scores Gramercy Tavern
4.5/5 for food
4/5 for presentation
4.5/5 for service
4/5 for setting
giving an overall 17/20
Today’s questers were: Helen, Blythe
We ate: roasted oysters, duck liver mousse, fisherman’s stew, kielbasa
We drank: friulano, oloroso, fino, water, decaf
We wore: green dress, orange trousers
Total bill: $287.75
Address: 42 East 20th, New York 10003