My brain is a sieve when it comes to the details of meals gone by. If I didn't write it down or eat it 12 times, it vanishes into the ether. But I still recall everything about my first visit to New York's Gramercy Tavern, a few months after it opened, in 1994. I remember being greeted by a young woman who appeared to be having a very good day. She walked my wife and me jauntily through the busy, mural-wrapped bar she called "the tavern", where there seemed to be a lot more eating than imbibing going on; past an expansive but homey main dining area accented by copper wall sconces and early-20th-century antiques; and, finally, into a quiet, comfortable back room. She talked knowingly and enthusiastically about the menu, and she went out of her way to make sure nothing was amiss without, somehow, ever seeming to go out of her way.