Friday, November 12, 2010

Gramercy Tavern -- Dining at the feet of Danny Meyer

A couple of years ago, I had the privilege of attending a dinner party in the private dining room of Gramercy Tavern.  To top off an incredible evening, Danny Meyer stopped by and talked about his book, Setting the Table, and each guest was given a signed copy.  I devoured the book as well as the meal, and I've been a believer every since!

Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business

So I was really pleased to have an opportunity to co-host a dinner in the private dining room of Gramercy Tavern and enjoy a wonderful dinner with some friends and clients.  One of the really great things about having a dinner here is that the food is amazing (more on that ), you always have a dedicated wait staff, and the kitchen used for the dining room is separate from the kitchen for the private room -- this means that your meal comes when you and your guests are ready.

Quick rundown of the evening -- we walked through the restaurant just before 6 pm to get to the private room, which means we got to pass some of the kitchen stations and see what was being prepared before we even sat down! The private room has a large table in the middle, already set for us, including the nameplates we sent over.  The room is large enough that we can mingle and chat for a while before we sit down -- and the attentive waiters take our drink orders while we wait for all the guests to arrive.  At around 6:30/6:45, we all sit at the table and review the dinner menu -- we have a choice of two appetizers, three main courses, and two desserts.  It's hard to choose!  The waiter came around and took our orders, then brought out a small shot glass of a warm pumpkin soup for our amouse.  I loved the warm soup with a bit of crunchy and tart apple.  Nice way to start dinner!

Our dinner menu options included:

     Tomato and beet salad
     Lamb Pappardelle w/Olives, Lemon Confit and Swiss Chard
     Roasted Hanger Steak w/Fingerling Potatoes, Red Russian Kale and Bourbon Sauce
     Of course a fabulous fish dish (I opted for red meat on this one, and I can't remember what the fish was, but it looked beautiful!)

And, of course, dessert, including a NY style cheesecake, or a layered chocolate mousse cake.  One of the guests special ordered a trio of sorbets, which was easily accomodated.

Wine, sodas, coffee and assorted teas flowed throughout the evening, and there was even a post-dessert sweet tray, with chocolate truffles and mini almond maccaroon cookies. Delish!

But just as important as the food was the "family" atmosphere of everyone around the table. Conversations flowed smoothly, and because we were in a private room, people got up between courses and walked around to say hello to other guests.  Our conversations included topics about food, vacations (past and future!), books, music, blogs, and even some work-related stories. 

It felt a little like Thanksgiving dinner, just having a wonderful time with friends and family.  I think that's the magic of this Danny Meyer creation -- you feel like you're enjoying a wonderful meal in your own home, and you didn't even have to cook!


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