Paul and I went there last night for the first time, and it was fabulous. Things you should know about it:
- It is one of the restaurants owned by Danny Meyer, whose places consistently win "Best Service" awards. (Union Square Cafe was his first; also Tabla, Eleven Madison Park, and now Blue Smoke).
- The Executive Chef is Tom Collicchio -- those who have been to Craft will understand that this guarantees HUGE FLAVOR.
- The pastry chef is Claudia Fleming. Wow![/list=1]
The meal was full of highest highlights: the spice-roasted lobster with green-tomato chutney and bronze fennel (app.) -- subtly spiced, sweet, tender, and contrasted with the tangy chutney. Then again, the cured hamachi with roasted beets and lemon vinaigrette (and micro greens) was no slouch. Everything we were told was in each dish was identifiable as a flavor alone, and worked well with all the other flavors.
For mains we had dishes that almost mirror-images, in a way: Roasted Rabbit, that had delicate meat and strongly-flavored accompaniments (tiny olives, garlic, ginger, bacon), and Roast Lamb in which the meat had the intense flavor and the fava & borlotti beans, fingerlings, and wild spinach were the delicate foil.
As anyone familiar with Claudia Fleming's work knows, the desserts were also the height of flavor, in both cases fruit variations: Lemon Souffle Tart with Lemon Verbena Ice Cream and Lemon confit, and a Peach Tatin with White Peach Sorbet, Basil Syrup, and Black Pepper Whipped Cream. Again, WOW!
(Besides these 3 courses, there were 2 amuses-bouches beforehand, a dessert amuse, and 2 kinds of petits fours. We were tempted by the 5-course tasting menus, but this was quite enough! And, oh yes, they gave us each a little coffee cake/muffin thing "for breakfast tomorrow.")
Wines: a glass each of a Brut Blanc de Blancs (sparkling) from Pugliese Vineyards on the North Fork of Long Island, with the apps -- kind of light on its own, but really took on and pointed up the best characteristics of the food. With the mains, Steele Zinfandel Mendocino 1998 -- actually a pretty modest wine, but we love anything from Steele, and this too complmented the food well. With dessert/coffee, some Clear Creek Pomme Eau de Vie from Oregon.
Gramercy Tavern is now definitely on my list of all-time great NYC restaurants.