Posted by: Hungry Korean | May 26, 2009

Gramercy Tavern

The Thursday before the long Memorial Day weekend, I met with a friend for a last minute meal, no reservations. We decided to try our luck at Gramercy Tavern. I’ve had drinks at this restaurant (and FYI the bartenders make great drinks) but had yet to try this long standing NY establishment.

Luck would have it, we were seated within 10 minutes of our arrival. The restaurant is classically dressed, pretty, looks almost like the interior of a barn converted into a restaurant. In one section of the more casual Tavern section of the restaurant was a pile of flowers that grabbed my attention adding to the “I’m eating in the country” type of ambiance.


We shared two appetizers. First, the octopus salad with carrots, daikon and toasted pine nuts dressed in lemon preserve vinaigrette.

octopus salad

The octopus was sliced into thin strands and cooked beautifully tender. The daikon and carrots not only added a mild sweetness to the dish but it added the textural crunch to compliment the soft octopus. Octopus that is overcooked becomes chewy and tough. This was not the case at all. Creamy lemon dressing brought the ingredients together while adding a citrus brightness. The appetizer was a great starter as it was light and got your palate going.

Since ramps are in season for only 2 months and about to expire, we had to have the egg crepe appetizer with grilled ramps and sweet crab. If you have never had ramps, make sure to try them next year when they are back — ramps look like scallions but have a mild chive and onion flavor with a very distinct sweetness to them.

egg crepe

The ramps were exactly as I’ve just described them and there was plenty of chunk crab meat accompanying them. However, the most surprising aspect of this dish was the egg crepe. Think traditional crepe in terms of its texture and consistency but imagine it made entirely of egg. That was what this egg crepe was like. I expected something more like an omelet but if you closed your eyes, you would think it was the flour crepe. This appetizer comes highly recommended. It was very light and burst with fresh flavors of the earth (ramps and egg) and sea (crab).

For main course, my dining companion had Gramercy Tavern’s famous roast chicken.


Our server told us the chicken is brined and then roasted delivering a moist, tender chicken. Crispy browned skin, tender moist meat and crunchy roasted carrots and asparagus.

I opted for the gruyere (I am guessing this cheese based on taste) stuffed meatballs with pureed parsnips, onions and red wine.


Meatballs tasted of the classic mixture of veal, beef and pork meat. The meatballs are about the size of a tennis ball and presented in halves. If you are in the mood for comfort food this is what you need to get. This meatball packs a lot of flavor and is a bit rich considering that they have cheese centers and then topped with another healthy grating of parmesan but very tasty.

Full and a bit tipsy from the two glasses of sauvignon I had with dinner, we bypassed dessert and both headed home to pack for our respective out of town trips.

I now see why Gramercy Tavern has withstood the test of time in a fickle city where restaurants die and are born almost every day. Danny Meyer, also of Eleven Madison Park and Shake Shack fame, really knows what he is doing. Another success in my book.

Gramercy Tavern, 42 East 20th Street, New York, NY



  1. Everything loked pretty good. Not so sure if that can be said about the meatballs.

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