Throughout the year, Restaurant Editor Bill Addison will travel the country to chronicle what's happening in America's dining scene and to formulate his list of the essential 38 restaurants in America. Follow his progress in this travelogue/review series, The Road to the 38, and check back at the end of the year to find out which restaurants made the cut.
Ten minutes doesn't sound like much time, but it can feel like eternity in the Danny Meyer finer-dining universe. That's how long a friend and I waited for a server to greet us at Gramercy Tavern on a Sunday night earlier this month. We sank into our chairs in the handsome back room and then watched the staff circle around nearby tables. We began exchanging puzzled glances when no one paused long enough to say hello. Our waiter arrived at last, a glimmer of fluster under his outward composure, and he didn't apologize. He only asked us what we'd like to drink and launched straight into the menu options. It set a jangling tone for the evening that, service-wise, never quite landed back on key.