My Surprise Birthday Dinner

98 Comments

Recently my husband and I flew to New York City for my week-long 60th birthday celebration. I picked NYC because our younger daughter lives there. Since we hadn’t seen her since Christmas, it was great timing.

I typically make all of the dining reservations when we travel, however, I asked that my actual birthday dinner be a surprise. So my daughter made the plans. And she knows me so well!

On the evening of my birthday, we taxi’d to the surprise location. And there it was – Gramercy Tavern!
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I’ve wanted to dine at Gramercy Tavern for years, but it’s never worked out.
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There is a lively tavern at the front of Gramercy Tavern, but our dinner was served in the actual restaurant of Grammercy Tavern. The room is gorgeous and has great ambiance. (photo below is not mine)
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We chose the 6-course tasting menu with paired wines. I mean, why not?!!


I can’t go into every detail of our food and wine extravaganza because there were so many impressive pairings.

One of the highlights of our dinner was our waiter, who seemed to always make things more complicated by switching out wines, and accidentally serving the wrong course. But he was incredibly entertaining! And the wine pairings were absolute perfection.


One dish I must point out is the dessert of whipped cheesecake served with nettles ice cream. Nettles must be the new big thing, because I saw it on so many menus served in a variety of ways. My husband forced me to try the ice cream even though I was too satiated to eat another bite. It was really wonderful!
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After forcing myself to sample the ice cream, I was then surprised with a special birthday cake! Oh no! But I managed to eat the whole thing. There’s always room for cake?
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The Gramercy Tavern experience was a wonderful, four-hour food and drink adventure. I was also gifted with a signed copy of the Gramercy Tavern cookbook – something my daughter sneakily and thoughtfully planned.

The book is gorgeous and could be used as a coffee table book as well as a cookbook. Besides the impressive photography, included are stories honoring everybody who takes part in making Gramercy Tavern the top-notch restaurant that it is, from the farmers, the florist, to the woman who polishes the wine glasses.

Chef Michael Anthony, who has been at the helm of Gramercy Tavern for ten years, is not well known, maybe because he occupies himself with his restaurant and community activities, instead of becoming a TV personality. I find that really admirable!


Overall, this was an extremely memorable birthday dinner for me. I just wish the rest of my family could have been there.

98 thoughts on “My Surprise Birthday Dinner

  1. Belated birthday greetings Mimi. It all looks so good. Both our daughters live in NYC too, it’s always such a treat to visit the city that never sleeps! Wishing you a great year ahead.

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    • It’s incredible to me how even though I started making dinner reservations so early, there were still restaurants that I couldn’t get in to, or the only dining options were 5:30 or 10 PM ! Crazy! But it’s always fun!

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  2. HAPPY BIRTHDAY sweetheart!! Blessings for “many, many more”!! ♥ What a beautiful time with your family and the food looks incredible! I love adventures like that too Mimi. Thank you so much for sharing your amazing day!

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  3. I am jealous? HELL YEAH!! What a fabulous night – such lovely ambiance, a delightful menu… even if the courses were mixed up one time… wonderful company and special wines – sounds darn near perfect to me. ; o )

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    • Thank you! My daughter had the vegetarian tasting menu, and occasionally the mix-ups worked out because my husband is picky, and my daughter eats fish. It was funny.

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  4. Beautiful milestone that you reached in full style and joy! Quite an inspiration….

    Phil and I once had dinner at Gramercy, unforgettable place indeed, I think he made the reservations months in advance, I don’t remember now, it’s been a few years

    isn’t that amazing how we can polish off a cake in certain situations even AFTER a full meal? reminds me of my Birthday this year at Central in Washington DC…

    well, Happy Belated Birthday! many more decades of bliss for you!

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    • Thank you so much Sally! It was total perfection for me. And we loved our waiter! The funny thing was I didn’t eat any of the duck, maybe a little bite, which was so sad, and then ate two desserts!!

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  5. I’ve only ever eaten in the bar area but I love the Gramercy Tavern (not least for its proximity to Century 21). What a wonderful birthday celebration, it looks amazing. So pleased you had such a great time. Lx

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  6. How much fun was that!!!!! I loved your comment about your comic waiter. Glad it was a memorable time for a memorable birthday, Mimi.

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  7. You should be spoiled on milestone birthdays, but Mimi, you can’t possibly be 60, you look much much younger!! Grammercy Tavern’s reputation has reached us here in Oz, the menu sounds wonderful. Happy birthday Mimi.

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  8. Happy Birthday, Mimi! I’m taking notes, and would love to follow in your footprints. New York is such a wonderful place, and I’ve never been to Gramercy and it looks like something I would love to experience. I can’t wait to see what you make from your beautiful new cookbook. That was so thoughtful of your daughter.

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  9. Hi Mimi, my grandmas name was meme, she was the best most like your daughter that planned the best dinner for your birthday. Family is the most important.

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  10. Happy Birthday Mimi. What a wonderful and thoughtful gift. You are the same age as my mother. She is 60 in October. What a beautiful family you have. You look so much like your daughter. Alice was one on Saturday. She is enjoying her new sandpit we bought her for the garden. I hope your little grand daughter is doing well too. xx

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  11. Happy Birthday! And what a way to celebrate — love Gramercy Tavern. I used to work in publishing decades ago, and for a period during the 90s I worked at a place that was 3 or 4 blocks from there. So that was where I always took authors for lunch! Such luck. Anyway, fun read — thanks.

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  12. A belated but nonetheless heartfelt Happy Birthday, Mimi. It sounds like the celebration was perfect for the occasion. May you enjoy many more healthy and happy ones.

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  13. I’ve always said that a person’s birthday should be at least a week long celebration (a birthday month is best though). It looks like you really had the perfect celebration. I’m glad you got a shot of the menu – it was interesting reading for sure.

    And btw, your daughter is gorgeous!

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    • Thank you Diane! I do try to push the whole birthday thing as long as I can, but sometimes it backfires. Last year I didn’t get Mother’s Day flowers because it was “too close to my birthday,” even though it really wasn’t!

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    • Absolutely! A friend asked me if I would go back, and I immediately said no! I always like trying new restaurants, and after such a perfect experience, I don’t need to go back. That’s just me! Great memories, as you said!

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  14. Happy Belated Birthday – what a wonderful trip and surprise dinner! I love NYC but have never been to Gramercy Tavern, though of course I’ve heard of it – how can you not? :) Everything looks and sounds like it was an amazing evening. You’re a lucky, lucky woman!

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  15. What a fabulous birthday Mimi. Sounds like all the planning was worth it! 60 doesn’t seem so bad when you can celebrate like this! Manservant will have his this year and I am about a year behind!

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  16. Belated happy birthday Mimi and it looks like you had a wonderful meal. My only brush with nettles is getting stung, but the ice cream sounds interesting. So lovely that your beautiful daughter could join you as well :)

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    • Me, too! When we lived in Seattle, my family would go on walks in the forest and I’d always manage to brush my hand/arm against a bush. I remember the little itchy dots! We had a lively discussion at dinner about what kind of idiot decided to pick them for the first time!!!

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