Gramercy Grill: Pasta Galore

After a month of hiatus, I am back and writing again! Sorry for the long break.

The decision to try Gramercy Grill with Isabel on a sunny Monday evening after school was again, partly spontaneous. Commuting from UBC, the two of us had initially planned to try out Bistro Pastis. As we were devastated to find out that the French bistro was closed Mondays, we decided to try out another restaurant that was also upscale. Visiting Gramercy Grill required a couple blocks of walking, but we didn’t mind since it was one of the first days with sunshine this year.

Gramercy Grill presented itself as a slightly fancier restaurant than normal with its classical, wooden architecture. The ambiance was quite lovely, suitable for dates or catching up, with small squared tables and candles that Isabel and I later discovered were not really real candles. To be frank, both of us were rather intrigued by how this block of artificial wax worked; as such, we proceeded to watch our waiter go around tables and illuminate them one by one, at the simple flick of a switch.

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From what I remember, the waiter offered us two menus – one permanent, and another deriving from a makeshift nature. Their permanent menu boasted their very own Chef Dennis Huang in the early pages, a name coherently attached to Gramercy Grill. Online sources have indicated that Gramercy Grill use local and organic ingredients in preparation of their dishes, a fact that I did not note during my visit to the restaurant. I was slightly disappointed at how the other menu was presented to us: on a sheet of paper that was a tad bit crumpled, like it was treated without care.

Isabel and I decided to share the Chicken Livers ($12) that were accompanied with shiitake mushrooms, star anise (spice) and red wine jus. In terms of presentation, the dish looked a little messy but acceptable – a fork was required to dig through to the bottom to reveal a layer of toasted tomato pan bread. Both of us didn’t know what the red soggy fluff underneath was until we flagged down the waiter for further explanation. There were more shiitake mushrooms than chicken livers, but since mushrooms are my favourite food, I didn’t mind that at all. The red wine jus was very strong, which was enough to conceal the usual gamey-ness of livers. If I recall correctly, this was probably my first time trying chicken livers, and I guess I can conclude that most types of livers taste practically the same (to me, at least).

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As entrées, both of us opted for pasta because that section seemed the most appealing to us for the evening. Isabel’s selection was in particular part of their Monday ‘Pasta’ Night special, featuring different pasta dishes for $10 with optional add-ons of up to $5. She chose the very first pasta listed, the Aoilio Linguine ($10) with capers, garlic, parmesan and grana padano (Italian) cheese. Since our waiter was so good at persuasion, he also successfully managed to convince her to add prawns ($5) and bacon ($1.25). In terms of pasta specials, I think other restaurants (e.g. Trattoria) would have a pasta special that is more worth the price. For example, without these add-ons, I think the pasta would have been very plain and most likely not very filling. Mind you, after all these add-ons, the dish was pretty much regular price, amounting to around $15-17. The aoilio linguine would be a great choice if you prefer thin pasta with flavoursome surf and turf. I remember trying a bit of the aoilio linguine and that the pasta was much stiffer than my own tagliatelle, which I am about to talk about next.

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My pasta entrée was more of a daily special, which was the Seafood Tagliatelle ($16.50) featuring steelhead-salmon, scallops and asparagus served with cream of dill sauce. The fish tasted different than salmon that I normally eat (drier), and after doing some research, steelhead is apparently a type of trout – therefore, they are similar but not entirely identical. If you ask me, I definitely prefer salmon over steelhead because I find the former is tastier with its fat and oily texture. I thought the scallops and flat noodles went very well together, and therefore there is no surprise that tagliatelle probably emerged to become one of my favourite types of pasta after this meal (in addition to pappardelle). Cream of dill sauce is always a good idea with seafood in my opinion, because the sweet and tangy seasoning helps bring out the freshness.

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Lastly, I will commemorate briefly on the service we received during our meal. I unfortunately regret not having caught the name of our waiter, but he definitely set the bar for my service expectations in future food expeditions. Not only did he constantly refill our water without having to be asked, he even offered to (which he eventually did) refill my own water bottle that was bluntly sitting beside the salt and pepper on our table. Even at the end of the meal when we had both paid and were heading toward the door, he got there before us, held the door open and told us to come back next time. So here I’d like to write, thank you for your impeccable service!

And, just gonna insert this in here if anyone cared, that these pictures taken at Gramercy Grill were noticed by the Vancouver Sun via my Instagram and they urged me to submit them to Gastropost! However, lazy me never ended up doing so – whoops.

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Both of us were too full for dessert this time around but sometimes, spending a sunny weekday evening with a friend and a nice restaurant is all you need to be happy.

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