Always the Perfect Meal

by Cynthia Sin-Yi Cheng
March 31, 2008

Gramercy Tavern
42 E 20th St
(Broadway & Park Ave S)
New York, NY 10003

My girlfriend Alexa and I have been friends since the days we lived a stone’s throw away from each other in Paris in the 7th arrondissement. Forward 15 years later, she lives on the Upper East Side, I live by Union Square, and we meet at Gramercy Tavern for lunch regularly.

Alexa and I are picky eaters, and GT has been our lunch spot of choice since 1998.

In fact, last Sunday, I went there craving the carrot soup that’s currently on the menu. And with that, I wanted a good selection of wines by the glass to go with my light meal, and some cheese from the cheese cart, a fresh herb salad simply dressed, pot-pressed coffee to end the meal and impeccable service. I can’t think of many places that could fulfill all my simple wishes.

Here are several dishes I’m crazy about on the current menu in the main dining room (I can’t promise how long they’ll be there):

Warm salad of vegetables and farro ($13)
An awfully pretty salad and equally delicious, if you think you don’t like farro, this dish will change your mind.

Carrot soup with spiced cashews ($11)
W taught me about the brightness in a soup, and this is a great example. Like the acidity in a good white wine, a bit of acidity in a soup lifts the texture of the soup and gives it zing. The waiter serves the soup by pouring it into a bowl over pieces of raw carrot. The crunch of the carrots creates another layer of texture, and the cashews add spice and nuttiness.

Handmade pappardelle beef ragu and scallions ($15/$21)
I came back for this dish three times last month. Enough said.

There are tons of good wines on the by-the-glass list, and I was thrilled to spot in the champagne selection the 1996 Jacquesson Grand Cru Avize ($200), a favorite of mine.

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