Despite the ominous grey clouds hovering over Irving Place  on Saturday, September 13, The Gramercy Neighborhood Association’s second-annual Taste of Gramercy , benefiting local schools and The Bowery Mission, was a success. There’s something about fundraising for a school — and getting to enjoy a brunch smorgasbord from 15 restaurants — that brings people out, rain or shine.
Participating restaurants included 71 Irving Place Coffee & Tea Bar , A Spice Lane , Ainsworth Park , Almayass , Bedford Cheese Shop , Big Daddy’s , BLT Prime , Casa Mono & Bar Jamon , City Crab & Seafood Company , Dos Caminos , Duke’s , Exki NYC , Friend of a Farmer , Girogio’s of Gramercy , Ichabod’s , Jack’s Sliders & Sushi , La Follia Osteria , Paul & Jimmy’s , Ponty Bistro , and The Strand .
BLT Prime served a tasty, wine-braised short rib with horseradish Gruyère gremolata, which was a clear crowd favorite. Another standout was Ichabod’s butternut squash dumpling with truffled chestnuts and sage; although there was only one dumpling per portion, it was a little pillow of heaven: fluffy, light, and sweet. A Spice Lane offered a more generous buffet-style spread, with six options that included chicken tikka masala, garlic and cheese naan, and lamb.
On the healthier side, Exki NYC offered vegetarian salads and sandwiches and vegetable emulsion, their signature spread. Slightly less gourmet (but too wacky to resist) was Big Daddy's Diner’s cheeseburger soup, topped with a tater tot.
Big Daddy’s Amelia Rae was all smiles as she noted, “You get a lot of ebb and flow from the crowd, moments when people want to talk, and then, times when people just wanted to do this," and proceeded to mime someone shoving food into their face with both hands. No matter their style of eating, it was clear that everyone, from neighborhood veterans to visitors to the area, enjoyed their Taste of Gramercy.