The Lunch Tasting Menu at Gramercy Tavern
April 4th, 2013 by donuts4dinner

We’ve long had Gramercy Tavern on our list simply because it’s a part of the Danny Meyer/Union Square Hospitality family of restaurants that includes Shake Shack, The Modern, and formerly Eleven Madison Park. With the Shake Shack burger being my favourite in NYC and Eleven Madison Park my third-favourite restaurant in all of NYC, my expectations for the $58 lunch tasting menu were high and were met both in the food and the service.

Gramercy Tavern Lunch Tasting Menu

Gramercy Tavern Lunch Tasting Menu

Gramercy Tavern Lunch Tasting Menu
fluke tartare, tangerine, peanut and fried shallot

So citrusy, with a highlight of celery and a little crunch from the kohlrabi and fried onions.

Gramercy Tavern Lunch Tasting Menu

Gramercy Tavern Lunch Tasting Menu
ruby red shrimp, carrots, quinoa and coconut broth

So tender, with the crispy quinoa for contrast. I eat a lot of quinoa because it acts like a grain without actually being a grain, but its use here as a texture element and broth-thickener was one of the best I’ve seen. Despite the heavy flavor of the coconut broth, this was so well-balanced that everything from the shrimp to the bok choy came through.

Gramercy Tavern Lunch Tasting Menu

Gramercy Tavern Lunch Tasting Menu
halibut, barley, shiitake mushrooms and parsnip lobster sauce

A hearty fish preparation, with chewy barley and mushroom, that thick halibut steak, salty caviar, and the flavor that made the dish for me, onion. The sauce had just enough lobster flavor but not enough to drown the halibut.

Gramercy Tavern Lunch Tasting Menu

Gramercy Tavern Lunch Tasting Menu
bull knife

Gramercy Tavern Lunch Tasting Menu
roasted duck breast, lentils, hazelnuts and king trumpet mushrooms

Salty and black peppery, with a crispy-skinned duck, slightly al dente lentils, and that meaty, chewy mushroom. The whole dish had a rich, umami flavor where even the celery puree had notes of earthy lentils in it.

Gramercy Tavern Lunch Tasting Menu

Gramercy Tavern Lunch Tasting Menu
palate cleanser: tangerine panna cotta

Sour notes, with fresh tangerine, creamy panna cotta, and the crunch of pomegranate seeds and meringue. I love overly-tart desserts, but my boyfriend, who does not, loved that this was more balanced than the palate cleansers we’re used to.

Gramercy Tavern Lunch Tasting Menu
chocolate pecan coconut cake, butter pecan ice cream

We loved the light, moist coconut layer in the center of this dense, rich cake. The toasted coconut marshmallows and salty butter pecan ice cream with caramelized nuts added extra-sweet and savory-salty notes.

Gramercy Tavern Lunch Tasting Menu
bonus dessert!: peanut butter semifreddo, chocolate macaron and hot fudge

Super-intense peanut butter flavor! The semifreddo was like a mousse in texture but with the temperature of ice cream. We loved the overall saltiness, the crunch of the caramelized peanuts, and the chewy macaron. Regular macaron filling without the hot fudge to dip it in won’t compare after this.

Gramercy Tavern Lunch Tasting Menu

Coffee chocolate, coconut-cardamom macaron, cinnamon cookie.

Gramercy Tavern Lunch Tasting Menu

Rating One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne-Half Star

We ate this lunch the day after our lunch tasting at Babbo, and I was left wondering after Gramercy Tavern why we aren’t lunch-tasting all of the time. $58 each bought us some really well-composed, really delicious plates of food, and everyone else seemed to be there for business lunch, so the staff doted on us as we talked about celery and butter pecan instead of exit strategies and being proactive. The restaurant has a very relaxed, American feel while looking like a room in a Medieval castle, and the servers’ attitudes match the vibe. With the way Chef Michael Anthony and the kitchen at Gramercy Tavern seem to know just the right little touches to complete a dish–crispy quinoa here, onion there–I’d love to go back for the full tasting at dinnertime.

Gramercy Tavern
42 East 20th Street
New York, NY 10003 (map)

12 Responses  
  • Erin writes:
    April 4th, 20133:40 pmat

    It never fails that I am reading one of your reviews right before lunch time, which makes me starving, so then I go eat my disappointing lunch. This place looks so good.

    • donuts4dinner writes:
      April 11th, 201311:28 amat

      I love that I’m getting you at lunchtime and the rest of my readers in Ohio right when they’re hitting their need for a 3 p.m. carb injection. Time zones!

  • Serial writes:
    April 4th, 20134:36 pmat

    I want that. All of it.

    (But instead I went to a place by the airport today called Joe’s Diner, and it was stuffed with locals. Best chicken fried steak I’ve had in a long time, a side of pickled beets and a biscuit plus banana pudding that was clearly not from a box. So THERE.)

    • donuts4dinner writes:
      April 11th, 201311:30 amat

      I’ve never had a chicken fried steak! I didn’t even know what that was until a few years ago. This is not a competition, dear Ellie, but that all sounds amazing.

  • Kim writes:
    April 4th, 20136:02 pmat

    That peanut butter-ice-cream-but-not will plague my dreams. I need it.

    Why do you use the British spelling for “favourite” but not “flavour”?

    • donuts4dinner writes:
      April 11th, 201311:31 amat

      I’m fully available to lunch on that any time with you. Since all I can afford are lunches now.

      It’s all subconscious! I had no idea I wasn’t flavouring.

  • Smiling Lion writes:
    April 7th, 201311:19 pmat

    This looks way better than my dinner there last year, but then for some inexplicable reason I went for the vegetarian menu, so maybe that’s not a fair comparison.

    • donuts4dinner writes:
      April 11th, 201311:44 amat

      Vegetarian menus are a great test of a restaurant, I think. Beef basically tastes great no matter what you do to it, but if you can make me feel the same way about beets, I’m impressed. I’ll have to go look for your review.

  • Jessica R. writes:
    April 8th, 201311:26 amat

    I would go for that peanut butter macaroon and all the wine, but I’m glad to hear all of it was great!

    • donuts4dinner writes:
      April 11th, 201311:47 amat

      No shrimp and quinoa for the lady?

  • Jess + Garrett writes:
    April 9th, 201311:47 amat

    So much coconut goodness. Also: so many great photos. We had dinner there several years (and cameras) ago. All our photos look like blurry yellow lumps.

    • donuts4dinner writes:
      April 11th, 201311:51 amat

      Thanks! I’m so embarrassed about my early reviews (and, you know, some of the recent ones where the restaurant didn’t care to properly light my table for the photoshoot), but I guess it’s fun to see your growing pains. Aren’t you tempted to edit all of your old pictures and see what you can do with them now? I realize I’m going to want to do that in another five years to everything I’m taking now, too.

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