For the past few years, we’ve been going to Tocqueville with Jen and Louis on Erev Rosh Hashanah for the special Rosh Hashanah menu. This year, the first night fell on Sunday night. Now, Louis is a primo football fan, and that Sunday was going to be a mega-day for football games, starting at 9 a.m. and going into the evening. Since Tocqueville does this special dinner on the first and second nights, they asked if we could there on Monday evening. No problem! But I had no intention of cooking for the two of us on Sunday, so we needed to pick a restaurant. I especially wanted something comfortable, quiet, and with, of course, good food. As you can see by the title of this post, we chose the Gramercy Tavern Dining Room.
This extremely popular Danny Meyer restaurant is a short walk from our apartment; therefore, you would think it would be on our regular dining rotation. Not so. During the 20 years it’s been open, we’ve gone perhaps only a dozen times. While service has always been what one expects at a Danny Meyer establishment, and the dining room is comfortable with a moderate noise level even when the place is full (which it inevitably is), the food can be uneven. Though we’ve had some excellent meals, there have been times when the food has utterly disappointed me. The latter was the case last December when we opted for what turned out to be a less than enjoyable tasting menu. At least, that how I felt because Michael thought it was fine. But then, he’s not as picky as I am. Oh, and there was that time years ago when I had a duck dish that remains seared in my memory for how truly horrible it was. And here’s another problem that keeps us away. When perusing the menu on-line, I often find few, if any, dishes that sound appealing to me. Finally, the desserts by the current pastry chef turn me off as they are (a) usually of the deconstructed variety which I pretty much detest, and (b) they have flavor profiles that I’ve found to be “ugh” (for want of a better descriptive).
With all this in mind, it’s not surprising that I was hesitant about going there for this dinner. However, after checking the menu and seeing a few things that sounded good to me – and hoping for the best — we made a reservation. (Just to note that Michael, as usual, was the “no problem” guy.)
The more casual Tavern Room is at the front of the restaurant while the two “formal” dining rooms are behind it, one next to the other. We were seated fairly promptly at a two-top in a corner of the first of the two dining rooms. This made for a cozy feeling. After checking the menu to make sure the dishes that interested me were still on it – they were! – we ordered, and Michael decided on a glass of Pinot Noir.
Here’s what we had:
Corn Muffins and Goat Cheese Spread
We both chose the same first course.
Smoked Tomato Soup with Lentils, Croutons, and Basil
We also chose the same main course.
Chicken Breast & Sausage with Corn, Oyster Mushrooms, and Bacon
We parted company for dessert. Michael opted for what is probably his favorite thing to have for dessert, ice cream. After querying our captain, I was thrilled to hear that the dessert I had my eye on was not deconstructed!
Vanilla, Peanut Butter, Blueberry Buttermilk
“Blueberry”: Lemon Meringue Tart, Pistachios, and Buttermilk Sherbet
My qualms were for naught. In every way, this was a seriously delicious meal. We loved the soup’s smoky tomato flavor. The chicken’s breast meat was exceedingly tender and succulent, so we surmised there must have been some sous vide involved which was confirmed by our captain. The skin on the dark meat was crispy, the meat itself juicy; the sausage was wonderfully flavorful; and the different textures and flavors of the accompaniments rounded out the dish. While it’s no surprise that Michael was happy with his ice cream, I must say I was more than pleased with my dessert.
We were finishing up and ready for the check when our captain and a server came to our table with a surprise – the mini chocolate cake they bring to anyone celebrating a special occasion with “Shana tova” written in chocolate on the plate. How did they know that we were “celebrating” Rosh Hashanah? Well, when we called to confirm out reservation, the person I spoke with asked if we were celebrating a special occasion. I replied that we weren’t celebrating a birthday or anniversary, but this meal would be a Rosh Hashanah dinner. We very much appreciated this thoughtful gesture. I goofed in not taking a photo of the cake when it was presented. Since at that point, as I said, we were finished, we had them wrap it, and I took a photo when we got home.
Chocolate Layer Cake
They also wrapped some mignardises as well as two granola bars.
Overall, a lovely Erev Rosh Hashanah dinner.
The entire photo set of this dinner can be viewed on my Flickr here.