Part of our week in New York was catching up with long time friends and also making some new ones.
Wed. morning we caught the cross town bus on 72nd for a breakfast appointment with John Kander, the composer of Broadway Musicals including "Chicago" and "Cabaret". He and I go back over 65 years when we both went to summer camp in northern Wisconsin. We have stayed in touch all that time so he is more like a friend than a celebrity. He likes to meet at Mozart's Cafe on West 70th. The most that can be said for it is that it is just around the corner from his NY Apartment. We had our usual fine visit and some basic sustenance.
About noon we began to walk down Broadway headed to the theatre district. We made several stops including "Whole Foods" at Columbus Circle. We were searching for a couple of mundane items and so further along we stoped at the "54th St. Market" at the corner of Broadway and 54th. We had never been inside, before, and were struck by the hot and cold salad bars which contain everything from low end to very gourmet. At $6.99/lb. it is an excellent place to pickup a lunch or light dinner.
Continuing on, we picked up our tickets and perused a couple of shops an 49th. The matinee, we attended, was "August-Osage County" a 3 hour drama, brought to NY from Chicago, well done and powerful. It is about a dysfunctional family and even thought each of us feel we have one, we're pikers. You leave feeling drained so we were please to return to our room and a hot shower before leaving for "Gramercy Tavern" Get ready for an unabashed rave.
"Gramercy Tavern" at 42 East 20th St., phone 212-477-077, is one of the restaurants operated by Danny Meyer and has been in the top two or three in the Zagat ratings for several years.
Danny Meyer and his family and the Hirschhorn's have been entwined for 4 generations, ever since his Grandmother and my Mother were young women in St. Louis.
I know that some of the treatment we receive at his restaurants is based, somewhat, on this relationship, as it would be in any business, but since he has always stressed good food and especially hospitality (read his book, "Setting the Table) everyone is treated with special attention, therefore the Zagat rating.
The chef, Michael Anthony, grew up in the Cincinnati area and went to school in Fairfield, where I was a student over 65 years ago. Michael is just a few years older than our Grandchildren. His most recent position before coming to Gramercy was a chef at "Blue Hill" although he trained and cooked in Japan and France as well as in this country.
Gramercy serves a price fixed 3 course meal st $83/person with wine, gratuity and tax extra. Reasonable for a top flight NY restaurant.
I started with Pappardelle with a beef ragu. The sever had brought the wine list and I was pleasantly surprised to fine excellent wines starting at $35/bottle. After all had ordered she helped me select an excellent Valpolicella in the $40 to $45 dollar range. The table, of 6, managed, with no trouble, to down two bottles. You must remember Marilyn doesn't drink. Next came a fish course, courtesy of the chef. Three of us had poached Sable in a very light cream sauce while the other three were served lightly sauteed Fluke on a bed of pureed mushrooms. Of course we each tasted each, tough duty.
For my main course I decided to stick with Beef, very unusual for me when out of town. I choose a grilled,sliced sirloin served along with a brazed short rib. The meat was nesselled on a bed of coarsely shredded cabbage and Brussels sprouts, cousins. The short rib had a lovely, tasteful, sauce. For a pallet cleanser we had tiny citrus tarts, about the size of a thumb nail.
My dessert was a wonderful, individual pineapple upside down cake served with frozen yogurt. The chef was not satisfied and again suppled an extra dolce for the table, delicious Tapioca with some small nut crunch. This was topped off with a plate of miniature candies.
I must report that Marilyn had red snapper which she said was the best she had ever eaten, and she has eaten a lot.
At a table near by was a man I had hired for the Joseph Co. and who is now in the wine business. He uses Mark Anthony as a consultant and so the chef was busy, when not in the kitchen, checking on both tables. The restaurant manager also reintroduced herself, we had been to Gramercy twice before.
If you can get a reservation, GO. Even if you can't get a reservation go and sit in the bar where there is seating without reservations and an abbreviated menu. Believe me it is memorable for all who eat there.