This Yorktown Heights eatery successfully walks the line between grand and cozy. And, oh … those hushpuppy crab cakes!
Run by ex-Manhattan restaurateur JT Selimaj, The Gramercy is a picture of balance in atmosphere and food. It is both luxe and approachable, outfitted with green leather banquettes, sleek wooden tabletops, and brass accents.
The large rear space is quiet and refined, while the front is vibrant and casual, thanks to a sports-bar vibe, complete with large TV screens and lounge seating. Oversized windows line the room, letting in tons of natural light, and though the views of the undistinguished parking lot are nothing to write home about, they certainly create an airy atmosphere without (importantly) being devoid of intimacy.
When it comes to the dining experience, The Gramercy delivers, with just a few stumbles. The service is friendly, and the staff is knowledgeable, if ever-so-slightly inefficient. Servers’ uniforms, complete with aprons tied at the waist, contribute to the upscale-yet-comfortable theme (on a recent visit, one of the co-owners, who acted as our server for a weekday lunch, wore a suit, no tie, and sneakers, to boot).
While the cocktail program is impressive, the food is where the restaurant really shines. Most options are thoughtful, elegantly plated, and boldly flavorful, and while The Gramercy bills itself as an American brasserie, many dishes have a distinctly European influence to go with the modern execution.
To start, the endive-and-crisped-duck salad is both simple and special. The duck, as advertised, is expertly crispy, with a satisfying crunch, and apricots offer a light counterpoint to a rich buttermilk dressing. Hushpuppy crab cakes are a more filling choice, with sweet corn, tangy remoulade sauce, and a hearts-of-palm slaw so refreshing, it’s almost guaranteed to make you a minted member of the clean-plate club.
From the array of artisan pastas, the wild mushroom ravioli is exceedingly rich and bursts with flavor. The veal Bolognese, a staff recommendation, made with San Marzano tomatoes, caperberries, and black olives, is creamy and decadent, but I was still able to down a huge portion somehow.
There’s an old saying that the true test of a great restaurant is how well the chicken is prepared — and if that’s true, the kitchen has earned his stripes. The heritage Amish chicken for two is, in fact, large enough for at least three but worth the indulgence. The roasted breast is impressively juicy, while its Dijon sauce is savory and addictive; served on a separate platter, the fried thigh is crunchy and somehow delicate. The seasonal vegetables offered as an accompaniment are pleasing and straightforward, allowing the poultry to do most of the talking, err, clucking.
From the single-portion entrées, the dry-aged rib-eye is particularly successful. One of a few beef offerings on the menu, the 12-oz Prime cut is delectably salty and marvelous in its simplicity. Served with delicious duck-fat potatoes and a Bordelaise sauce, it’s a reliable plate for anyone in the mood for a solid piece of red meat. And if somehow your table needs more still, an array of sides is available: The gently fried frites are just greasy enough, and the gratin potatoes are well-balanced. Be sure to try the Brussels sprouts if you’re craving something green.
There are, of course, some less successful dishes, too. The tuna duo, for example, doesn’t have quite enough of the so-called “Carolina rice crisp” and is doused in far too much of the Green Goddess mousse, which appears to be more of a mayo-like sauce than anything else. The King Louis XIV Burger, which sounds heavenly on paper, falls just short of meeting the high expectations; while it makes for a fine lunch, it’s not necessarily fit for royalty.
The Gramercy ups the dining-out ante in Yorktown Heights and hopefully will stick around to prove itself in the neighborhood. Whether for a casual bite at the bar or a more drawn-out meal on a Saturday night, there’s a little something excellent for everyone here — as long as everyone is onboard with a meal that’ll keep them full straight into the next day.
345 Kear St
*Note: After the reviewer’s visits as well as press time, there was a change in executive chef.
Daisy Melamed Sanders is a freelance fashion, food and lifestyle writer based just over the border, in Fairfield County.