Ever on the lookout for specials in these recessionary times, I was delighted to see a post on Grubstreet about the 25th anniversary special at Gotham Bar & Grill. On Sunday nights until Labor Day, Gotham is offering a selection of classic menu items at their original 1980’s prices. I didn’t think twice before making a reservation, particularly as my husband had never been to Gotham (I went a few years ago with my other favorite dining companion, my dad).
A visit to Gotham on a Sunday night was a far cry from our normal routine of cooking and eating in front of the TV (the one day a week this is allowed). What fun it was to put on decent clothes and go to one of New York’s most iconic dining establishments.
The huge, open dining room is full of grandeur. Despite being mostly full, the restaurant was surprisingly quiet. With a few exceptions, they just don’t make restaurants like Gotham anymore. The new darlings of the dining scene are bustling, cramped and very loud restaurants (see Minetta Tavern) – as though the decibel of the noise level in the restaurant is an indicator of the quality of the food (the logic goes that if you are willing to put up with not being able to hear anyone at your table, the food must be very good). Fortunately, in the case of Gotham, the restrained noise level did not result in a mediocre meal. Quite the contrary.
My husband and I stuck to the 80’s pricing options on the menu – there were four choices for each course. Here’s what we got with the year the dish was introduced to the menu and the price (my general reaction to the prices was “people were willing to pay this much for food in 1984?!”).
Gotham Garden Salad – 12 vegetables, creamy Dijon dressing (1986; $8)
Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta – fava beans, pecorino toscana, grilled bread, basil aioli (1989; $14)
Lobster Pasta – fresh fettuccini, basil, maine lobster Bolognese (1985; $17)
Grilled Hanger Steak – “creamed” spinach, crisp potatoes, bordelaise sauce (1988; $24)
New York Style Cheesecake – blueberry compote, lemon thyme sorbet (1985; $8)
There was a clear winner in each category – the bruschetta , which my husband ordered (in defense of my salad, it was lovely and fresh…but it was 12 vegetables with some dressing and didn’t stand a chance compared to the sublime bruschetta), and the hanger steak. The hanger steak was my order (a rare victory) and it was phenomenal – cooked medium as requested with a fabulous, flavorful crust. The only disappointment with the hanger steak was the crisp potatoes, which were rather dry and bland. The “creamed” spinach had a mousse-like consistency, which struck me as a very 80’s preparation.
Dessert was an extremely light cheesecake, which had been deconstructed with a little pile of graham cracker crumbs next to a crustless sliver of cheesecake. I prefer my cheesecake with a rich, buttery crust, but the blueberry compote was wonderful and the lemon thyme sorbet was refreshing. While we were working our way through the cheesecake, a plate of complimentary diminutive treats arrived – all delicious. A delightful end to a delightful meal.
Gotham was a solid three-star meal. Neither the service nor the food are on the level of a place like Daniel, but there was very little to criticize. I might feel differently if I had been paying full fare (the prices at Gotham are as a jaw dropping now as the prices on the 80’s menu probably were in the 80’s) so count me in for the 30th anniversary. And for the rest of you, there are three more Sundays left to take advantage of the anniversary special.