Dining the Danny Meyers Way

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My initial plan was to go to Gramercy Tavern for dinner.  Having just checked in to the W Union Square, I knew the restaurant was close by and it was just early enough in the evening that I could probably finagle my way into a seat at the bar without having to wait. 

Of course, getting accurate directions from the front desk would have helped. What should have been a 5 minute walk turned into a 1 hour meander around Gramercy Park and the Union Square neighborhood in the rain.  Needless to say, when I finally arrived at Gramercy Tavern it was much later than I’d hoped and the wait for the bar was over 2 hours.Sensing I was *this*  close to giving up and settling for room service, the lovely hostess at Gramercy Park recommended I try Eleven Madison Park; she called and grabbed me a seat, I walked over.

Eleven Madison Park (or “EMP” as they call it) is located in a lofty building just adjacent to Madison Park (and Shake Shack – another famed USHG restaurant).  While a prix fixe menu is the only choice in the restaurant, the bar has an a la carte menu.

Eleven Madison Park

Photo from the New York Times

Dinner there was a true treat – an heirloom beet salad with Lynnhaven Farm chèvre frais, rye crumble and nasturtium followed by Di Palo ricotta gnocchi with violet artichokes, taggiasca olives and bacon, finished with their chocolate peanut butter palette with caramel popcorn and popcorn ice cream.  Service was attentive but not stalkerish, meals were artfully presented and well thought out. As a parting gift, they gave me a small box of blood orange jellies. My bar neighbor received a teeny box of macarons. 

 
The next day, while uptown on a field trip to Dylan’s Candy Bar for gift bag stuffers, I decided to check out the other Danny Meyer location on my list – The Modern – for lunch. 
 

The Modern

Photo from NY Magazine

It was a beautiful fall day and The Modern’s bar menu was a perfect complement – the shaved pumpkin salad with asian pear with Westfield Farm Capri goat cheese and  saffron tagliatelle with cider braised rabbit, wild mushrooms and baby zucchini a fitting addition to the sunshine and changing leaves.

My last night in New York, exhausted but in search of a good meal, I headed across the park to Union Square Cafe on the recommendation of a W staffer. The Union Square Cafe might have been my favorite of the three USHG restaurants I tried that week – if only for it’s coziness.

Tucked in to a seat at the bar, the amazing glass of Pinot Gris that the bartender recommended was the perfect complement to the pan-seared sea scallops with soft polenta, cauliflower-caper brown butter and herb salad.

Union Square Cafe

Photo from the New York Times

All in all, an amazing week of dining that has left me a true Danny Meyers convert.  I have a few of his locations left on my list – Shake Shack, Tabla, Blue Smoke and the elusive Gramercy Tavern – and I’m excited to see if they are as consistently good as the others.
(Event planners – both EMP and The Modern have great private dining spaces:

EMP – the two magnificent balcony-level private dining rooms overlook the main dining room and offer spectacular views of Madison Square Park through 20-foot windows. The smaller room seats 18, the larger room up to 32; or for larger parties, the rooms can be combined to accommodate up to 50 people. The entire restaurant is also available for private functions 150 seated guests or 300 standing.

The Modern – Overlooking the Sculpture Garden, the spare and elegant space is adorned with Danish furnishings and tableware, and can seat up to 64 people.)

 

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