My Surprise Birthday Dinner

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.

By Published On: May 9th, 201698 Comments

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

98 Comments

  1. Loretta May 9, 2016 at 7:12 AM - Reply

    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.

    • chef mimi May 9, 2016 at 7:20 AM - Reply

      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!

  2. Travel Gourmet May 9, 2016 at 7:25 AM - Reply

    Dear Mimi, I am so pleased you had such a wonderful birthday celebration!! It all looks fabulous and just as special as a ‘big’ birthday should be :) Lots of good wishes for the year ahead.

    • chef mimi May 9, 2016 at 8:02 AM - Reply

      Definitely a big birthday! But I survived! Thank you!

  3. Debbie Spivey May 9, 2016 at 7:42 AM - Reply

    Happy Belated Birthday! What a wonderful birthday spent in NY with your husband and daughter. Wishing you a great new year!

    • chef mimi May 9, 2016 at 8:03 AM - Reply

      Thank you so much Debbie! It was a special time for sure!

  4. dishinwithdidi May 9, 2016 at 7:45 AM - Reply

    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!

  5. anyone4curryandotherthings May 9, 2016 at 8:14 AM - Reply

    Belated Birthday, it sounds like you all had such great fun! And that menue, omG, it looks and reads absolutely superb.

    • chef mimi May 9, 2016 at 8:18 AM - Reply

      It was everything I’d hoped Gramercy Tavern would be! I would have been happy eating in the bar!!!

  6. Cecile May 9, 2016 at 8:46 AM - Reply

    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 )

    • chef mimi May 9, 2016 at 8:57 AM - Reply

      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.

  7. annascuisine May 9, 2016 at 9:03 AM - Reply

    Belated Happy 60th birthday. Wow! What a milestone! And, what a way to celebrate! Beautiful images. Best wishes to you, Mimi.

  8. sallybr May 9, 2016 at 9:22 AM - Reply

    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!

    • chef mimi May 9, 2016 at 9:29 AM - Reply

      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!!

  9. Chica Andaluza May 9, 2016 at 9:46 AM - Reply

    Belated greetings for your birthday – and what a lovely way to celebrate! Gorgeous photos of you and your family too :)

  10. Nadia May 9, 2016 at 9:50 AM - Reply

    Wow! You are very spoilt. A week long birthday celebration. I am so envious.

  11. Kiki May 9, 2016 at 10:16 AM - Reply

    Happy belated birthday! And wow – to get a whole birthday week in NYC… fabulous!

  12. Elaine @ foodbod May 9, 2016 at 10:28 AM - Reply

    How wonderful!! A very very belated happy birthday to you Mimi xxx

  13. Tasty Eats Ronit Penso May 9, 2016 at 10:43 AM - Reply

    Such a wonderful surprise. Happy Birthday! :)

  14. Linda Duffin May 9, 2016 at 10:51 AM - Reply

    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

    • chef mimi May 10, 2016 at 3:20 PM - Reply

      I would have been happy in the bar! But the restaurant was perfection.

  15. eliotthecat May 9, 2016 at 10:59 AM - Reply

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

    • chef mimi May 10, 2016 at 3:21 PM - Reply

      He was very serious, which made him even funnier! But it was top notch service and food!!!

  16. StefanGourmet May 9, 2016 at 11:43 AM - Reply

    Looks like a great dinner with great wine pairings!

  17. Kathryn Grace May 9, 2016 at 12:25 PM - Reply

    What a charming post and birthday celebration. Wishing you many more delightful birthdays and celebrations with your loved ones.

  18. anotherfoodieblogger May 9, 2016 at 12:38 PM - Reply

    Wishing you a belated Happy 60th Birthday, Mimi! It sounds like your surprise birthday dinner was everything you could have hoped for!

  19. Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward May 9, 2016 at 1:18 PM - Reply

    Happy birthday, Mimi!

  20. The Gourmet Gourmand May 9, 2016 at 1:48 PM - Reply

    What a lovely family and a lovely celebration! I’ve never gotten to go to Gramercy but it is definitely on my bucket list!! And your photos of your meal look just delicious. Happy birthday!!! :)

  21. flippenblog May 9, 2016 at 3:08 PM - Reply

    Happy 60th to you. May the next 60 be equally spectacular😀

  22. Lisa @ cheergerm May 9, 2016 at 3:28 PM - Reply

    What a wonderful birthday surprise and love the family photos. Gorgeous.

  23. Lucky you to have such a thoughtful and insightful daughter. Sounds like a wonderful birthday evening. Happy Birthday.

  24. White House Red Door May 9, 2016 at 5:54 PM - Reply

    Your daughter did well… Gramercy Tavern!!! Love the tasting menu with paired wines. What a perfectly memorable evening! Hope we get to see you try a recipe or two from your new cookbook. 😊

  25. Gerlinde de Broekert May 9, 2016 at 7:13 PM - Reply

    What a beautiful dinner and company . A perfect celebration for your birthday week . It has been too long since I visited New York .

    • chef mimi May 10, 2016 at 3:22 PM - Reply

      It’s quite the city!!! I could not live there, however. But a lot of people can!

  26. Michelle May 9, 2016 at 7:43 PM - Reply

    Why not, indeed?! Glad you had such a lovely birthday. And I know what day it was. ;)

    • chef mimi May 10, 2016 at 7:00 AM - Reply

      Is it your birthday as well? I seem to remember something last year about that. I apologize for belated wishes. At least you can be happy that you’ll always be younger than I am!

      • Michelle May 10, 2016 at 7:46 AM

        Yup, same day. And not far behind you!

  27. mindyb69 May 10, 2016 at 12:31 AM - Reply

    Such an interesting blog and great pics, thanks

  28. ladyredspecs May 10, 2016 at 5:15 AM - Reply

    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.

    • chef mimi May 10, 2016 at 6:50 AM - Reply

      You’re too sweet, but I’m indeed 60. It’s all the wine!!!

  29. Francesca May 10, 2016 at 2:50 PM - Reply

    Happy (belated) birthday, Mimi! What a great way to celebrate the blissful occasion. And your daughter is really beautiful!

    • chef mimi May 10, 2016 at 3:23 PM - Reply

      Thank you Francesca! Her insides match her beautiful outside!

  30. Laura @ Feast Wisely May 10, 2016 at 5:37 PM - Reply

    Happy birthday Mimi – what a fabulous way to celebrate!

  31. Julie is Hostess At Heart May 10, 2016 at 5:41 PM - Reply

    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.

    • chef mimi May 11, 2016 at 8:11 AM - Reply

      She’s very thoughtful, and definitely knows me well! The cookbook is stunning! Can’t wait to really read it cover to cover.

  32. cheri May 10, 2016 at 9:46 PM - Reply

    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.

    • chef mimi May 11, 2016 at 8:10 AM - Reply

      Absolutely! My grandma name is grandma, because I didn’t want to be Mimi!

  33. Mr Fitz May 11, 2016 at 7:39 AM - Reply

    How wonderful!

  34. A Cookbook Collection May 11, 2016 at 9:04 AM - Reply

    Belated Happy Birthday Mimi! What a wonderful daughter to go to so much effort, but I’m sure you deserve it all :-)
    I believe nettle syrup has become very popular, particularly in cocktail bars

    • chef mimi May 11, 2016 at 9:17 AM - Reply

      Nettle syrup? Gah, when will it end? I think it you add sugar to just about anything it becomes palatable. I saw a lot of nettles pesto and sauces. Thank you!

  35. emmabarrett1508 May 11, 2016 at 9:29 AM - Reply

    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

    • chef mimi May 11, 2016 at 12:28 PM - Reply

      It’s funny – I think of myself as much younger, but then I forget that I have a 30 and 33 year old daughters!!! Happy Birthday Alice!

  36. kitchenriffs May 11, 2016 at 12:06 PM - Reply

    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.

    • chef mimi May 11, 2016 at 12:27 PM - Reply

      Oh how fun! It was wonderful, and it was about time I dined there!

  37. Karen May 11, 2016 at 3:19 PM - Reply

    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.

  38. apuginthekitchen May 11, 2016 at 7:13 PM - Reply

    Happy Birthday Mimi and what a wonderful meal. I love going to Grammercy Tavern.

    • chef mimi May 12, 2016 at 8:01 AM - Reply

      I’m so jealous! And thank you! It was a great, hectic visit.

  39. dianeskitchentable May 12, 2016 at 9:24 AM - Reply

    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!

    • chef mimi May 13, 2016 at 8:07 AM - Reply

      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!

  40. Cocoa & Lavender May 14, 2016 at 9:01 AM - Reply

    What an incredible birthday adventure! Good memories from that evening will last forever…

    • chef mimi May 14, 2016 at 12:45 PM - Reply

      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!

  41. Lesley at Lola Rugula May 15, 2016 at 3:56 PM - Reply

    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!

    • chef mimi May 16, 2016 at 7:09 AM - Reply

      Thank you! That’s the thing – I’ve heard of Gramercy Tavern for so long – It was so nice to finally go and have it be everything I’d always anticipated!

  42. aodenwalder May 16, 2016 at 11:36 PM - Reply

    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!

    • chef mimi May 18, 2016 at 10:28 AM - Reply

      So far it’s been okay! My husband is 2 months older than I am so I always tease him that he’s older.

  43. camparigirl May 17, 2016 at 8:29 PM - Reply

    Happy birthday! May your 60s be interesting, wild and generous!

    • chef mimi May 17, 2016 at 9:24 PM - Reply

      Generous sounds good! And wild!!! thank you.

  44. Moya May 25, 2016 at 11:37 AM - Reply

    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 :)

    • chef mimi May 25, 2016 at 12:16 PM - Reply

      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!!!

  45. Kimmiz Kreations May 26, 2016 at 6:37 AM - Reply

    Happy Birthday Mimi, what a wonderful Birthday surprise. Many more to come.

    Best Wishes,
    Kimmi

  46. love in the kitchen June 3, 2016 at 5:17 PM - Reply

    belated happy birthday Mimi – you and your family are beautiful! ♡

  47. topochinesvino August 8, 2016 at 4:39 PM - Reply

    I really enjoyed this article!

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