I think special occasions deserve to be celebrated at the perfect restaurant, and I devote months to planning them.
Out of town relatives coming for the weekend? Plan ahead and get a table at Lil Frankie’s, Frank or Supper. Celebrating a promotion? Go to Bowery Meat Company ASAP. Girls night out? Find the best Mexican restaurant in the city (I’m told it’s Casa Enrique) and order a round of margs.
When it came to planning a dinner to celebrate 3 years of dating my boyfriend, I had endless ideas. Ultimately, I wanted to a) avoid Italian because it makes me want to nap at the table, and b) find a place that would be a true experience.
Gramercy Tavern was just that place. When they called to confirm our reservation they asked if it was a special occasion so obviously I told them it was our anniversary. This decision turned out to be a good one.
Pre-dinner, we engaged in a little tradition that makes us sound way bougier than we are: caviar and champagne. I order paddlefish caviar from Kelley’s Katch, a Tennessee-based company that sources all their caviar in the US. It’s also somewhat accessible at $30 for 2 ounces, plus $30 flat rate overnight shipping. Ok definitely not “affordable” but doable once a year.
Then we headed downtown and stepped into the magical world of GT.
The service. Mixing up my usual review format because the service was well worth mentioning. You expect a certain level of decorum when you pay an uncomfortable amount of money for dinner. But often that decorum translates to snobbery, especially if you happen to be under 30.
That was not what happened at Gramercy Tavern. Our waitress was young, friendly and casual while still paying attention to all the usual protocol (changing the glassware based on what we ordered, clearing empty plates without us even noticing). Also, she knew her stuff and made some first rate suggestions.
Which brings me to…
The drinks. This is where it pays to come for a special occasion. As soon as we sat down, we were greeted by our bubbly waitress bearing a gift of complimentary bubbly. And it was truly the best prosecco I’ve ever had.
Because we had maybe possibly split a whole bottle of champagne before dinner (don’t judge) we decided we didn’t need a bottle of wine with dinner. So on our waitress’s recommendation I got their seasonal daiquiri which hadn’t hit the menu yet. Now I’m not a big daiquiri person–I associate them with the sickeningly sweet pink things you drink when you’re at an all-inclusive resort for college spring break.
Turns out, a daiquiri is just a drink made with rum, citrus juice and sweetener, which leaves a lot of room for improvement. This daiquiri was made with a liqueur called amaro and two other ingredients–I’m assuming rum and citrus. So it was barely sweet and delightfully refreshing, while still packing a punch.
The food. The thing I love about a place like Gramercy Tavern…well, there are lots of things. But the main thing is all the little extra touches you get throughout your meal. Like the mini gougères (cheese puff) they gave us at the start of our meal. Before that, there was mind blowing bread and butter. The rolls were warm and fluffy, possibly straight from the oven, and came with goats milk butter that had all the buttery creaminess we love with the flavor of goat cheese.
For my first course, I had the pork bolognese with pappardelle. I wavered between this or a gnocchi with hake, but since I was getting a green sauce for my main our waitress recommended the bolognese. While the gnocchi would have been more adventurous, this pasta was packed with flavor and amazing. My boyfriend got squid ink tagliatelle with lobster and pimenton.
For my second course, I had the striped bass with country ham over heirloom beans and gem lettuce. I liked it a lot but it wasn’t the most spectacular thing I’ve ever had. My boyfriend ordered the lamb loin and shoulder with carrots, cous cous and salsa verde and awarded it rave reviews.
The amazing thing was that after the first two courses, I wasn’t totally full. So I soldiered ahead with the cookie plate for dessert. It came with 7 different cookies and an adorable little glass of milk. As it turns out, I didn’t have the stamina for 7 cookies but I took multiple bites of each. They also brought us a little cake to further celebrate the anniversary–coconut cake covered in toasted marshmallow.
I only regret not bringing home the cookie graveyard because I could really use a cookie right now.
To end the meal, they brought us little chocolates.
Suffice it to say, Gramercy Tavern was amazing start to finish. It’s a once in a lifetime experience…but I hope I get to experience it multiple times 😉