The Tavern at Gramercy Tavern Really Delivers

I love the idea of getting something at a great price. It’s why I shop at TJ Maxx. It’s why I buy my books at used bookstores. It’s why I occasionally buy expired food. 
If you cut the moldy part off, the bread is just FINE.
 And it’s why I ate lunch in the Tavern Room at Gramercy Tavern
Gramercy Tavern is a Danny Meyer restaurant that focuses on upscale, Greenmarket-driven food. It has a fancy dining room that comes with white tablecloths, amuse bouches, and a rather high price tag, BUT…it also has a tavern room up front. There, you can dine from a more relaxed menu for more relaxed prices. It still comes from the same kitchen as the main dining room, but nothing on the menu tops $22…what a steal!
 After we were seated in the airy, sunlit room that was decorated with flowers, we placed our order and received some excellent sourdough wheat bread. Warm from the oven and served with salted butter, it was tangy, stretchy and pleasantly salty from the creamy butter.  
 Porchetta Salad with Escarole, Fennel, Radishes and Cider Vinaigrette. This was an outstanding salad. Wafer thin ribbons of shaved porchetta, redolent of rosemary, thyme and garlic were fatty and crispy on the skin side, succulent and meaty at the flesh. The meat was so oily and rich that it needed the slightly bitter escarole and spicy radishes to cut it. The fennel was floral and a bit sweet, and the vinaigrette was light and accented herbaceous notes of the salad’s microgreens. This was a shockingly refreshing salad, and was so interesting and complex that it reminded me of the salad at Union Square Cafe. Danny Meyer restaurants really know how to do stuff with lettuce. 
 Fish Croquettes with  Spinach and Kimchi Coleslaw.
These totally blew me away. The fish was a mixture of different white fishes from the kitchen, and the cake was crispy on the outside but tender, dill filled and mild on the inside. Light but still hearty, it managed to be fluffy but not creamy like overly soft tuna fish sandwiches. It was the best fish cake I have had since Millesime, and was a highlight of the meal.  The kimchi slaw underneath was mildly spicy and not too salty or garlicky, with just enough kick to accent the mild flavors of the fish. The spinach provided a respite from all the other flavors going on and the mustard tinged remoulade was so good i was practically licking my plate.
Okay…I licked my plate. 
 Gramercy Tavern is well known for their sandwich and soup lunch special, which changes daily, and today’s sandwich was ham topped with a pickled green tomato, herb aioli and radicchio on foccacia. Now, I don’t like ham. I don’t like the springy texture or the salty taste. 
This ham blew my MIND.
Delicate, shaved pieces had a surprisingly robust taste, much more like pork chops than bacon. Sweet but with an earthy, almost funky flavor, the ham was incredibly meaty tasting…wow. Paired with an herby mayonnaise, wilted but still crunchy radicchio and the tartest, juiciest, mouth-puckering-liest most fantastic green tomato I have ever had…
Well, let’s just say that this sandwich wasn’t long for this world. 
And the house backed foccacia was no slouch either. 
 Carrot ginger soup was simple but sublime. Sweet carrots, spicy ginger, hints of coriander and a cool, creamy yogurt swirl made this soup a meal in itself. 
Pistachio Brown Butter Cake with Bourbon Macerated Blueberries and Lemon Ice Cream.
This little cake packed a PUNCH. A nutty, buttery, rich poundcake-like punch. It was like a muffin on dessert-steroids, and the pistachio’s inherent meaty mouthfeel kept the cake from being too sweet. The lemon ice cream was a little tart, but mostly sweet, like a perfect lemon meringue pie, and the blueberries added that sharp, pungent hit of alcohol that made this dessert just a bit more complex and really but it over the top. 
This whole meal was a hit. Expert service, lovely atmosphere, and a chance to eat at one of NYC’s most renowned restaurants for the same price as it might cost to go to Maggiano’s. The sandwich and soup deal is the way to go – there is a LOT of food there – and the fish croquettes are not to be missed. I will be hitting this place up again for lunch for sure. 
And, as one last money saving tactic…
Take the rolls from the breakfast buffet at your hotel. Save them for later.
What, you don’t do that?
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