The scene: Chef Andrew Meek and his team have transformed the former home of The Kirkwood Lounge (which in Feb. 2011 replaced Azalea) into The Gramercy Tap. After a soft opening in mid-December, the Court Avenue District restaurant is now open for dinner, and our server told us a grand opening celebration is in the works.
We arrived at around 7:45 p.m. on a Friday night. The bar was busy and several tables in the large main dining area were full. A high, exposed dark ceiling gives it a downtown vibe, and table lamps suspended from the ceiling are a quirky and fun update from ordinary light fixtures. Indie folk and rock music by artists like Mumford & Sons and Florence + The Machine pumped through the speakers.
The menu: Chef Meek is no stranger to good food. He was the executive chef at Sbrocco and the now-defunct Sage (which earned a spot in Gourmet Magazine’s Top 100 Farm To Table Restaurants list). His front-back menu at The Gramercy Tap provides enough options to choose from, but not so many that it’s overwhelming. Contemporary American cuisine is peppered with unexpected touches like ratatouille, Asian rice noodles and pasta carbonara. I was especially interested in the lamb burger ($9), but so were others that night — the kitchen ran out before I could order it.
The food: My dining partner and I split the smoked salmon mac ‘n’ cheese ($7) for an appetizer. Made with three cheeses, the dish was served in a mini pot for a charming touch. It had a delicious texture, and a sprinkle of black pepper gave it the depth of flavor I was looking for. My dining partner ordered the Gramercy burger ($13), a decadent take on the classic crafted with Creekstone Farms angus beef, house-made bacon, caramelized onions, foie gras butter and Maytag blue cheese. He thoroughly enjoyed it and left a bite so I could concur. I opted for the shrimp creole ($14), made with sausage, peppers, okra and rice. It had a nice spicy kick, and it was the perfect Southern comfort meal to warm me up on a chilly winter’s night.
A wine and beer menu offers a fine variety of choices. Although the bar was fully stocked, a cocktail menu had not yet been created.
The service: Impeccable. Our waitress was kind, helpful and had actually tasted the menu items so she could give her honest opinion about the food. Great service makes for an excellent dining experience.
The wrap up: I’ll be back to The Gramercy Tap. We were impressed by the high-quality food at a reasonable price point, and the place looks like it’s on track to stay awhile.
The Gramercy Tap
Find it: 400 Walnut St.
Info: 288-9606, facebook.com/GramercyTap
Hours: 4 p.m.- 2 a.m. Tuesday through Friday, 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturday