Gramercy Bistro is a hidden gem in North Adams. Situated right at the entrance of Mass MoCA, Gramercy serves a traditional brunch of comfort food with an upscale twist from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays.
The space has a museum-style openness to it due to its white furnishing and glass windows that allow for maximum sunlight. Mass MoCA’s industrial buildings can be seen from pretty much any seat in the restaurant. The walls are lined with art that gives the restaurant a breath of fresh air, and the space feels bright, clean and uncluttered.
The menu does not have many items on it, which I prefer, as it is a sign that the restaurant is confident in the few items it does serve. A small menu also tells the customer that the restaurant tries to keep its food simple and minimalist but delicious. I got the onion soup au gratin to start. Onion soup is hard to do well, as many times it is made overly salty. Alas, Gramercy’s onion soup is also overly salty. However, it is indeed hard for me to think about a time in recent memory when I had onion soup with just the right amount of salt. Despite the fact that I felt like there was half a salt shaker in my soup, the au gratin part of the soup (the cheese, breadcrumb and butter mixture layered on top) was very hearty and rich. I can that guess the soup was broiled before it was served because the ramekin pot was piping hot, which kept the soup very hot the entire time.
For entrees I tried a rabbit pot pie, their breakfast pastry and a classic croque madame. All of these dishes are classic comfort breakfast food, but Gramercy executes them in sophisticated fashion. Croque madame is essentially a glorified ham and cheese sandwich with gruyere cheese and a fried egg on top. (Fun fact: without the egg, the sandwich would be called croque monsieur.) I liked the panini style bread of the sandwich along with the subtle, not too biting mustard. Croque madame sandwiches are also served with a special cheese sauce called mornay. I felt like the mornay overpowered the sandwich, and I wished I could taste the actual gruyere cheese more. The ham was also a little too dry for my liking.
The breakfast pastry, however, was absolutely delicious. Goat cheese, chives and bacon were enveloped in a puff pastry and topped with two sunny side up eggs. What could go wrong? I especially enjoyed the goat cheese sting balanced by the buttery puff pastry. And bacon is just the cherry on top for every meal.
When you think about pot pie, you think comfort food in a Southern grandma’s kitchen. I had never had rabbit before, so this was a very adventurous meal for me. I would describe the taste of rabbit as a darker, more tender chicken. I thought the crust on the pot pie could be reduced and the gravy enveloped within enhanced with more flavor, but I was impressed with the execution and the presentation.
For dessert, I finished the meal with a deconstructed lemon meringue pie, fitting in well with the current trend of “deconstructed” desserts. Customers like the messy yet very structurally organized aesthetic (sounds like a college student!). The dessert was a grand finish to the brunch. It was not too sweet nor too sour on the lemon cream side, and the meringue itself was maple infused and piped into hard meringue. The crunch of the meringue was a nice complement to the cream. My favorite part of the dessert, believe it or not, was the side of graham cracker crumbs. It was very reminiscent of a childhood cookie I used to eat all the time.
Gramercy is a treat-yourself or treat-your-friend kind of place, and I recommend making sure to check it out next time you are visiting Mass MoCA.