Gramercy Tavern’s Mid-Winter Renaissance: A New Voice Emerges

I went to Gramercy Tavern last night and had a wonderful dinner at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. New chef Michael Anthony is still finding his voice–he’s not quite ready to jettison that Blue Hill bag of tricks–but after one round of his Winter Tasting and Vegetable Menus, I’ll vote Gramercy a forward-thinking concern again.

Cooks, clients and servers alike seem relieved and recharged now that Captain Tom has finally moved on. Colicchio had a great run, but his inattention was beginning to show. The buzz is coming back now and so are the unforced smiles and belly pats of people eating above expectation.

On a first pass, and I plan to make more, I noticed Anthony’s degustation was a far lighter and less overtly luxurious affair than I’d encountered previously at Gramercy: comforting food without after-dinner discomfort. Little butter, no mushroom cappuccinos, no foie gras and no beef meant no late night fat sweats nor early morning Advil.

The vegetables, greens, herbs, and sauces accompanying this lighter fare were fresher, tastier and more colorful than I’d ever had in the City at this time of year, much less at Gramercy. Cilantro purée was beautifully colored, clean flavored and delicious. Beets, cauliflower and daikons were prepped summery even if they’re winter stalwarts. Citrus accents on scallops didn’t hide the Blue Hill connection; then again, Blue Hill never hid its respect for the Gramercy model, even down to their servers’ uniforms.

After five savories–fluke, mackerel, bass, bacon and lamb–I was still feeling peckish, and thankfully the cheese menu was there to lead me toward satiety. Two full pages of rarities, it’s a far bigger and better affair than on my last go-through. Though I missed the ceremony of the cart in the far backroom, I did appreciate the generous portions, appropriate varieties of bread and, yes, the cheese. All the taste but none of the Artisanal preciousness and portion chintzing. Vacherin slid off the plate into oozy, smile-making pools. A gouda of the fruity, funky high quality parm reg school was mimolette on meth, the kind that makes you proud to be Dutch. A Bayley Hazen blue was less exciting but irreproachable.

Wines were uniformly excellent, though 3AM headache (okay, some Advil was still required) makes me wonder about the Hungarian number. Still, beverage director Juliette Pope has a beautiful nose, so I’ll resist the urge to libel her selection.

Pastry Chef Nancy Olson’s desserts and petits fours were also exceptional. A chocolate multi-parter proved how versatile this ingredient is in the right hands, especially the almond joy riff. I wish I’d ordered a third selection for the table, mainly to find out how much more she can do. Best work since Claudia Fleming.

Would have done a Marc after coffee, but check was already on the table. Server was good, though a bit off on reading our sobremesa mood. Of course, I like to talk to servers and linger while my spouse wants to dine and depart in a veil of silence. I guess it depends on whom she read.

En cinco palabras: A great restaurant leaves you thinking and thinking about coming back. Gramercy: II is on the way. I’m looking forward to the Anthony’s spring creations. By then this place should be in full flower, not pushing up daisies as Mr. Bruni would have it.

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5 Responses to “Gramercy Tavern’s Mid-Winter Renaissance: A New Voice Emerges”

  1. tigerdog Says:

    Also loved his work with Van Halen.

  2. Food Fan Says:

    And now, at last, Bruni’s on board! 3 Stars may be a little much, but it’s definitely heading that way.

  3. 5 Reasons to Gather at Hearth « Fat and Happy Food Slut Says:

    […] more than a touch of Gramercy Tavern, this Meyer spawn is producing some of the most compelling dining in the City. It’s not the food, […]

  4. Harrison at the Crossroads: Last Supper Before Freitag Takes the Toque « Fat and Happy Food Slut Says:

    […] York. I arrived at Country as Doug Psaltis headed out, at Parea as Michael Symon closed shop and at Gramercy Tavern as Tom Colicchio was selling his interest. That said, Michael Anthony reinvigorated Gramercy’s […]

  5. 5 Rising Stars of the New York Food World « Fat and Happy Food Slut Says:

    […] Danny Meyer is the City’s topic talent scout.  I can’t find a bottle I don’t like on Gramercy Tavern’s casual or formal menus thanks to its genius beverage director, nor one that I can can forget having […]

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