21 April 2010

The Best Restaurant In Za Vorld

42 East 20th Steet - Just down the street from TR's birthplace

Empty table but not for long

It'll make you giddy
Update: Check out this NY Times Sunday Metro piece (25 April) on Danny Meyer's sharing his hospitality secrets through his new consulting business, Hospitality Quotient. Nice is Lesson 1.

I remember reading the NY Time's restaurant review of Gramercy Tavern when it first opened 15 years ago. I was on the commuter train to work in Chicago and it was a Wednesday morning. Had to have been. That's when the restaurant review ran. I don't remember who wrote it. Possibly Ruth Reichel but not sure.

What I am sure of was a B&W picture of two women sitting at a table framed by the simple letters of the restaurant on the front window. One woman elegantly tilted back a glass of white wine as if she was taking the very last sip. It was the sexiest newspaper photo I have ever seen. When I got to my office I called the Times and asked how I could buy it. The Times didn't really care about what I wanted - - but Gramercy Tavern does.

I haven't been in a better restaurant. It's rare I don't find something to bitch about but never here. Flawless and intelligent service by people who know the menu and are passionate about food - - not pretentious. Fantastic local and seasonal menus that change but always a pasta that melts in your mouth. Hell, even the nuts at the bar beat out what was once the premier nut dish of New York - The King Cole.

A wine list where I've been steered to what became magnificent obsessions of mine - - Sagrantino di Montelfalco and Domaine Serene Evenstad to name two. A room that is simple and elegant and not a stick out of place. I look up from my plate and see a famous actress and I don't give a shit. Any of the anxiety I brought in off the street melts out my feet. I am calm and at peace and I am happy. It's expensive but it's cheaper than therapy.


Anonymous said...

Is that by any chance the Gulf Foxtrot? If so, this is her first appearance in The Trad, no?

longwing said...

Sounds wonderful. They'll be booked for a while now. They should give you a nice bottle.

heavy tweed jacket said...

It sounds like a sanctuary from the cares of life, if even only for an hour or two. You never obtained a copy of the photo?

M.Lane said...

Wow that sounds really great. I've heard of GT of course, but have never been there. I'll have to put it on my list the next trip up.


Anonymous said...

I would only ad that, as long as your in the company of a woman in a sleeveless dress (a major weakness of mine), you can't go wrong...


tintin said...

Anon- Not the GF but it may be the first photo ever taken of an angel.

LWing- They're always booked. It helps to know an angel.

M Lane- I'm coming with you.

DB- It's time for a post on sleeveless sundresses. I thought LWing would write it but he's more interested in old dead men who wear bow ties.

Laguna Beach Trad said...

Wonderful review. A superb restaurant.

Enjoy your free meal. ;)


Hey, T: It was probably Grimes that wrote the review.

That gent built many a church of prosody for my lowly arse to waddle through.

W.Essex said...

Whenever I mention this place the wife breaks out in laughter about how we'll never get in. Is this accurate? Tnx

Garry said...

Is this the review you read?


If not it's pretty easy to poke around for it on the NYT search, and you can even buy full page reprints (presumably including your memorable photo) right here:


(Coincidentally, only minutes before reading TT this morning I'd been on Boston.com searching for my own memory of a circa 1985 Boston Globe photo.)

tintin said...

LBT- Thanks. I'll never qualify for a GT freebie. Same with RL in Chicago.

Stew- It was Ruth. Ever read her review of Gallagher's Steak House? Poetry, baby.

In an Iambic pentameter. "I did go to Gall - a - ghers for rare beef." "And a Free -zing Beef Eat-er Mar-ti-ni."

W Essex- It's a problem but try the front of the restaurant by the bar. Nice tables and no reservations required. The service is no different, the food no different. A good time to go is for lunch on a weekend. I'm not saying it'll be empty but there's a good chance you'll get a table.

Garry - That's it. Thanks for digging it up. Should a known it was Ruth. I'm gonna call about the pic. Many thanks.

Garry said...

tintin -- They will sell you the whole page reprint 18x24 for $59.95, right here. No need to call, it's all online.


When you get it, I hope you'll scan the photo and employ fair use to show us what "the sexiest newspaper photo I have ever seen" is all about. I'm sure it will be ultra cool.

A.Rane said...

Glad you it. My experience with GT was downright horrible. The food, the waitstaff, the manager whom I later emailed...perhaps it was an off night, though I've heard similar disappointed reviews from friends. And to think, I'm usually the one with the least complaints.


Ruth was pre-Grimes? Those lines are like Basho, no?

Sir Fopling Flutter said...

A wonderful place - one of my favorites. A few years back I had a glorious spell when I treated the front bar room there as my local.

How do you feel about Union Square Cafe? A very different vibe, but the same perfect hospitality. (Danny Meyer did a fantastic job with these places)

Anonymous English Female said...

It's always fabulous there. I think the Tavern menu is one of the best deals in town - you can have a sublime snack at any time of day. I used to find it impossible to walk past the door without at least perusing the dessert menu...

Brett said...

Nice, Domaine Serene - a winery from my neck of the woods. I visit it often.

Giuseppe said...

Sagrantino di Montefalco...is there anything you don't know?

ignorance arbitrage said...

Grammercy is nice-- sous vide lamb was one of the best dishes i've ever had (and should you be willing to eat a less than civilized hour, say 6:30 or 9:30, not too hard to get a table at); however, 11 madison park is the true jewel of the danny meyer crown.

Easy and Elegant Life said...

Noted and added to the list, should I ever make it back to the City. Sounds like my idea of heaven.

As far as restaurants go, I've never had a bad experience in one in which the waitstaff wears clean, starched white aprons, shirt and tie. Go figure...

The Sluice Box said...

I've always used Gramercy Tavern as my personal gold standard for dining in the US. A restaurant like GT should run the airlines, the utilities, the department stores - somehow GT manages to get all the details right.

tintin said...

Garry - Thanks. Of course I'll share it.

A Rane- Sorry to hear that. Try it again. Many a time I've gone back to places where I thought it was an off night and had sucess but never a place where the service and management was rude.

Stew- Pre Grimes? I don't know. Basho? I ain't stepping on Tessa's toes.

Sir Fopling- The GF loves Union Sq probably as much as GT. I like Union Sq but feel that GT has something magical about it. There are people who can see and appreciate that magic and they're are people who can't.

I'm having your 'glorious spell' now and while I know it won't last forever - I look at it as one of the true rewards for living in NYC.

Anon Eng Female- I'm more cheese course than pudding but I too find it hard to walk by without going in for at least a glass of wine or my favorite cocktail - The Rye and Shine - at the bar.

Brett- I've never been but those guys most be gods.

Gio- Doesn't everyone know about Sagrantino?

ignorance arbitrage- Was at 11 Mad back in 2002 for lunch and really liked it. Beautiful room. Need to go back but this is just me - - it didn't have magic. It was a big and powerful room with beautiful people everywhere ( lunch at 4 Seasons vibe) but it lacked the humility and down to earth stle of GT. Still, it has its place as a more formal place to lunch.

Easy And Elegant- Put it at the top of your list. And I'll take you. I'm not sending you an engraved invitation. This is the invitation. Get up here.

Sluice Box- I agree. Maybe they could run congress?

Andy said...

On our first trip to NYC GT came in third out of the three dinners we had. That's not saying it was a bad experience. On the contrary it was excellent. Needless to say I spent more on dinners than on airline tix and the hotel.

We still need to return.

tintin said...

It's great that you're keeping an open mind. NY has some stiff competition but GT brings everything together. Even their bathrooms.

Anonymous said...

been therer many times and ambieance is wonderful ,but food has gone down hill since tom sold it and they brought in a new chef..my wifes food was undercooked etc they did comp us which we were not expecting.will go back but will just eat from the bar menu