Grammercy Tavern - the Bar - 212 477 0777 - 42 E20th Street (twixt 5th & Park)

We have eaten at Grammercy Tavern before for lunch and for dinner and enjoyed it greatly, but on our most recent trip we decided to try their bar menu. They don't take reservations here, but they do serve all afternoon and even have a special "blow off work this afternoon" menu. We stuck with their main bar menu and were wonderfully satisfied.

We started with the artichoke salad, which had both fresh shaved artichoke heart and pickled artichokes with fennel, mache, carrots and cranberry beans, and the baby octopus with marinated fennel and a smoked bell pepper caponata. The flavors were bright and the combinations were unusual, but worked wonderfully.

Then came the main courses. Chicken which is so often a prosaic dish was a real treat here. They serve the best chicken on this side of Bresse. It is perfectly cooked poussin, almost a platonic roasted chicken. To further heighten the flavor, they served with a savory cheese rich polenta and slightly bitter grilled brocolli rabe.

If you have explored this web side before, you have probably figured out that we love cassoulet <link>. Their version was unusual, with escarole, fresh cranberry beans and fresh bacon, but it captured the spirit of cassoulet, albeit in an unexpected interpretation. It had the requisite richness and smokiness one seeks in this dish.

We finished with the cheese tray, a well chosen array of tallegio, sweet gorgonzolla, roquefort, stilton and pierre robert. Our only regret was that this signalled the end of the meal.

Like all of Danny Meyer's restaurants, they have a zesty sense of hospitality, manifested among other ways, by the generous hand with which they pour their wine. Order a glass of champagne here and you get a hefty wine glass full, rather than a skinny little flute.

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