The Smith and a Night at the Tavern

This past weekend was a foodie marathon, barely allowing me to catch my breath before diving into another plateful of deliciousness. It was almost too much of a good thing…but not quite. The first lunch was at The Smith, a place in East Village I had passed many times and had heard about, so I was excited to try it out. The day was gorgeous, so the restaurant was open to the sidewalk, creating an open and airy French-meets-American-grit-bistro feel. I know I’ve been posting a lot of these luxe, vintage inspired Americana places lately, but I swear it’s not intentional. I’m just noticing this trend as I take in new dining spots. I think many restaurants are trying to subvert the standard of fine dining and are instead tapping into that cozy, heritage feeling that seems cool and not too precious.

Anyway, the food, which is also new American, was just what I was craving. I ordered a shrimp roll, bursting with juicy lemon aioli smothered shrimp in a brioche hot dog bun. I apologize for the lack of pictures, but with a table of 15 people, it was tough to snag a shot. Everyone’s else plates looked enticing as well, the salads fresh and topped with lemon chicken or slabs of ahi tuna, fat juicy burgers and thick, stringy mac and cheese. I’ve also heard that it’s a great spot for brunch, so I’ll be keeping that in mind for next time. This time, I had to save room for dinner at….wait for it…Gramercy Tavern. Yuuummmmmm.

Rated one of the top ten restaurants in New York by NY Mag’s Grub Street this year, we were elated to get a reservation for my sister’s graduation dinner after a long waiting process to find a table for five. From the moment we walked in, the service was exceptional, and the setting homey and grand at the same time. Soaring ceilings and huge farmhouse tables littered with buckets and informal arrangements of peonies and dogwood branches. Swoon.

The evening continued with choruses of mmm’s and yumm’s, forks criss crossing to snatch a bite from neighboring plates and artfully presented plates of perfect food. From breadcrumb crusted baked clams, extremely tender porkchops nestled in smooth polenta, and a seafood stew to get lost in, the dinner was without a catch. And then came the dessert. After our place settings had been swiftly replaced for the final course, we didn’t think that we could entertain the thought of more than two desserts for the table. Five minutes of thoughtful pondering and there was no way we were leaving without trying EVERYTHING. Oh yea, people, I go to dinner to read the dessert menu first so I’m not leaving without my fair share. I ordered the chocolate pecan and coconut cake, while my sister ordered the chocolate pudding with salted caramel, my mom ordered the lime tart (see below), my boyfriend ordered the ricotta cheesecake with black currant sorbet (see below), and my dad ordered the macadamia coconut brown butter cake, simply because someone absolutely had to. A feast for the eyes, certainly, but man, I cannot think of a happier group of people. Each taste was bliss, and I think the most complimentary feature was that each dessert came with an accompanying ice cream or sorbet that perfected the mix of flavors. That black currant sorbet was one of the most sensational things I’ve tried and I’m always heading straight for the chocolate, so that’s saying something.

Gramercy Tavern, I will be back. I may be looking under a few couch cushions first for some spare change, but I will be back.

I had too much fun in the photo booth downstairs.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST! Gramercy Tavern deliciousness. Heaven on a plate.

Key lime lovin’.

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