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Gramercy Tavern

Restaurants, American creative Flatiron
5 out of 5 stars
(6user reviews)
Photograph: Courtesy Liz ClaymanPhotograph: Courtesy Liz Clayman; Chicken breast with peas
Photograph: Courtesy Liz ClaymanPhotograph: Courtesy Liz Clayman; Pear with walnuts and Port
Photograph: Courtesy Liz ClaymanPhotograph: Courtesy Liz Clayman

Time Out says

For the past nineteen years, there had been only one official chef change at any of Danny Meyer’s restaurants, and it was a success: The addition of chef Daniel Humm at Eleven Madison Park. Thus, the Gramercy Tavern handoff a few months ago, from founding chef Tom Colicchio to Michael Anthony (Blue Hill at Stone Barns), carries the rarity of a papal succession. Gramercy, after all, is the restaurant that transformed Meyer from a one-shop restaurateur to a full-blown impresario, made Colicchio a star and launched a citywide proliferation of casual yet upscale American eateries.

On a recent visit, the place felt like a parallel-universe version of the old Gramercy: The farmhouse-style setting (a look that’s getting dated), with its decorative brambles, pinecones and intoxicating smell from the wood-burning oven, are all there. But Colicchio and his hearty, meat-heavy fare are not. In a significant shift, it’s delicate constructions of vegetables and fish that dominate now.

The influence of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, a restaurant given to ingredients-worship, is evident as soon as the first course (of the main dining room’s mandated $76 three-course prix fixe) is rolled out. The broccoli soup was a light broth poured over dried shiitakes, airy sweetbreads and a runny quail egg. Each element appeared to have been prepared with care, but the interplay among them did little to elevate the dish. Meanwhile, a shellfish ragout, with baby turnips and a bitter escarole sauce, was a pungent, unpleasantly briny stew.

The better dishes recalled Colicchio’s stick-to-your-ribs ethos: One beauty was a bubble-gum-pink pork loin with pillowy soft flesh and a salty crust. The delicate filet of sturgeon could have passed for filet mignon, save for the snowy color. But it, like many of his dishes, was too small.

If the dining room represents the more restrained side of Gramercy, the lively tavern, which serves a simpler à la carte menu, is its laid-back counterpoint. To the chef’s credit, Anthony has leveraged the tavern to justify purchases of entire boutique cows and hogs; the short rib might get braised for the dining room, while secondary cuts can go to the tavern’s outstanding meatballs, stuffed with gooey fontina.

In some ways, the tavern is what the whole restaurant should be, and several dishes, like those meatballs, or juicy scallops served over red cabbage with prosciutto, suggest a possible future model—less fussy, more elemental—for the dining room.

It’s the pastry chef, Nancy Olson, who proves herself a worthy successor to Gramercy sweets whiz Claudia Fleming. A chocolate peanut-butter cake tasted like a high-class candy bar, and a fusion of chocolate and zucchini resulted in a moist, spicy cake.

Just as I’ve taken the food’s consistency for granted at Meyer’s restaurants, I also expect a perfect dining experience—he wrote a book on it, after all. I’ve frequently touted Gramercy as having New York’s best wine program, but during a recent meal, I didn’t get my bottle, a so-so rioja, until our appetizers were almost gone. Another time, a waiter erroneously described the pork loin’s preparation. These sound like quibbles, but in Meyer-land, such oversights are glaring.

Until now, the lack of turnover among Meyer’s toques created a solidity that’s both a blessing and curse—like your favorite sweater, it’s guaranteed to be comfortable, if predictable. The transition at Eleven Madison Park demonstrated that change can reinvigorate a restaurant. Gramercy risks becoming an example of what the wrong chef can do.



Address: 42 E 20th St
New York
Cross street: between Broadway and Park Ave South
Transport: Subway: N, R, W, 6 to 23rd St
Price: Three-course prix fixe: $92. AmEx, DC, Disc, MC, V
Opening hours: Tavern: Sun–Thurs 11:45am–11pm; Fri–Sat 11:45am–midnight. Dining room: Mon–Thurs 11:45am–2pm, 5:15pm–9:45pm; Fri 11:45am–2pm, 5:15pm–10:30pm; Sat 11:45am–1:30pm, 5:15pm–10:30pm; Sun 11:45am–1:30pm, 5:15pm–9:45pm
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Users say (6)

5 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

4.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:5
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
2 people listening

One of the best meals I've ever had -- and definitely worth the price tag. I'm not sure how they do reservations but the restaurant never felt too crowded, every single course was delicious. We did the 3-course meal and each got a drink. The plates didn't come out too fast, the servers weren't too annoying or in your face and I LOVE that gratuity was included haha. I would absolutely come back (after my bank account recovers) to try more dishes. It really feels like an old time New York restaurant. 


I have been wanting to try this restaurant for quite some time, so when I found out that they did restaurant week this year, I jumped on the opportunity to have some lunch. Went for lunch because the menus for lunch and dinner were similar, but cheaper for lunch. The menu actually looked so good that my sister and I actually got 3 restaurant week menus and split it. Yeah, we got some looks. Oh well. We made sure to dress up because there are lots of professional looking people here, definitely not casual. Even at the beginning of lunch the restaurant was packed! We were seated in no time, and the service was attentive and quick, as per usual fine dining standards. The actual food was coma inducing good. I was actually really glad we got three of the menus because we got lots of different things and I could really get a feel for the flavor profile of the restaurant, and I LOVED IT. Looking at their regular menu, I am definitely coming back!

With our client coming into town it was important for us to make a good impression, cue Gramercy Tavern. This place is all class and has an extensive wine list which always help to keep the conversation flowing. Upon arrival we were seated immediately by a very polite hostess which segwayed into a very professional looking waiter who knew his stuff. Watching the staff work is mesmerizing, they are all in sync with placing and removing dishes or refilling wine glasses, so top marks there. We sunk into a scrumptious 3 course pre fixe menu which left everyone more than satisfied. The highlight of my meal was my main course which was the Lamb Loin & Shoulder, Summer Squash, Cucumber and Sumac all cooked to perfection. Overall, decent dinner, great service and a good venue for high-end entertaining.

We live right around the corner and I was reviewing timeout's top 100 restaurants and couldn't believe we hadn't tried Gramercy Tavern yet. We showed up on a Tuesday night with the hopes that there would be a short wait and we were able to get a seat at the bar within the hour. I will say there are two areas the Tavern and the dining room and the tavern is much more casual with a slightly more limited menu and this review is for the latter. The bar service was excellent we had the broiled oysters with spinach and cheese which were phenomenal and I had this fried rice dish with seafood that was reminiscent of a paella. It was absolutely delicious. The wine was amazing and the service was incredible. One would think bar dining wouldn't be very glamorous but at Gramercy tavern they somehow manage to make it such.


I had a memorable evening - overall the intimate dining experience, excellent service and delicious menu offering (american creative) stood out. I had the dining room experience (though I think it's easier to get seated at the bar), everything was fresh and finely prepared - best described as flavorful, heavy, but with light and crisp textures and flourishes throughout. I was unable to finish (tasting menu) but got a bag of goodies to bring home and munch on for the next few days. The interior felt intimate, based on the use of clean linens and curtains, and everything was pristine. Overall, one of my top picks for fine dining.


Any restaurant that lasts over 20 years in the same location and is packed out every night is clearly doing something right. 

I've only been to the Tavern part of the restaurant, but I absolutely love it. The atmosphere is classy without feeling stuffy. It's definitely a great spot for an occasion without breaking the bank or with a group of friends for a nice dinner. The cocktails are great, although they're known for having one of the most extensive wine menus in the city, and the food is always on point. Try to get at least one pasta, and a flatbread. And dessert.