Gramercy Tavern42 East 20th Street, New York New York 10003, USA • +1 (212) 477 0777 • Map • Website
We have long wanted to visit Gramercy Tavern as we had heard they do great things with pork belly. Having recently feasted on the best porchetta of my life however (see Porchetta review)I decided to let one of my friends try the pork belly and settle for some venison instead. But I am getting ahead of myself.
We met at the very lively bar where they had a great selection of non-alcoholic cocktails which soothed my not able to drink grumpiness somewhat. In fact my ginger fizz "mocktail" looked so exciting that two of the women at the bar asked me what I was drinking!
Once seated at our table we were presented with an amuse bouche of some superb smoked Coppa accompanied by mushroom and pickled radish. The flavours complemented each other perfectly and I began to think we were in for a great evening.
Our starters certainly lived up to my high expectations. I had some superbly crispy flash fried soft shell crab served with pickled ramps (or baby leeks) and tasty crispy discs of potato, while my friend's Chilled Zucchini Soup with Cucumbers and Fried Oysters was a work of art, and intensely tasty. Our male companion had the Ruby Red Shrimp with Polenta and Salsa Verde and declared his polenta perfectly cooked and his shrimp very good.
We faced a somewhat long wait from then until out main course which would have been annoying had we had less to talk about. Once our mains arrived I was glad I had chosen the venison loin with its accompanying sausage as the famed pork loin and belly looked underdone to my crackling crazed eye. I must admit to not really seeing the point of all that fat on the pork belly if you don't get it seriously hot and crisp it. However perhaps I am short sighted in this as my friend declared it delicious. The venison itself was tasty but a little on the small side. I had been anticipating a meat fest New York style but my three small discs of venision didn't sate my inner carnivore even given the (very good) accompanying sausage.
Before heading to dessert we decided to share a selection of goat and sheep cheeses to go with the last of the red wine my friends were enjoying. Completely guided by my friend I enjoyed a Vermont Valency goat cheese and a very tasty Idiazabal which was my first encounter with this Basque pressed sheep's milk cheese.
I could have skipped dessert but was persuaded that it was included in the menu price and so launched in (after a dessert amuse bouche of berries and mascarpone.) Nancy Olson is justly celebrated as a great pastry chef and maker of deeply comforting desserts. My burnt sugar cherry cake was excellent, accompanied with a great cherry icecream and a simple tasty crème anglaise. My friends enjoyed a tasty looking panna cotta and some seriously good looking ice cream.
Tea and sherry were then served along with our petit fours which included a salted caramel, a powder light macaroon and an intensely passionfruit flavoured, coconut crusted truffle. I rather enjoyed these offerings but one of my friend's felt harpooned by the intensity of the passionfruit flavour and railed against chefs who feel they have to make statements when all one wants at the end of a good meal is something light and palate cleansing.
At the end of the meal we were each presented with an orange and coconut muffin to take away with us - a delightful touch. I enjoyed mine very much the next morning along with a cup of English Breakfast tea and thought kind thoughts of Nancy Olson as I munched - intense petit fours notwithstanding.
Visited: 11th June, 2010
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