NYCReview

photo credit: Kate Previte

Gertude's image
8.2

Gertrude's

JewishAmerican

Prospect Heights

$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight Dinner
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The folks behind Gertrude’s cite more influences than your average MFA candidate—Joseph Leonard, Blue Ribbon Brasserie, and Russ & Daughters Cafe, to name a few. And, if you squint, you can see some similarities. Although the best thing about Gertrude’s is that it doesn’t really feel like anything else.

There’s only one place where you can start your meal with a shot of beet vodka and close things out with a slab of black-and-white seven-layer cake, and it’s this little Prospect Heights restaurant that looks like your grandmother’s house. Gertrude’s is a neighborhood spot with big ambitions, and, while it can seem impractical at times, we’ll take quirky over boring any day.

Gertude's image
Gertude's image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Gertude's image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Gertude's image
Gertude's image
Gertude's image

The menu at Gertrude’s is like an overenthusiastic friend who’s dying to tell you a story. An homage to NYC bistros and Jewish cuisine, it features crispy, half-dollar-sized latkes, a seafood tower decorated with smoked fish, and a burger with horseradish served on housemade challah. The daily spaetzle—occasionally borscht-flavored—is always worthwhile, and so is the fried beef tongue that tastes like an appetizer from a 1950s dinner party. You’ll feel nostalgic the moment it’s gone.

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There is, unfortunately, a downside to serving a menu so idiosyncratic. Gertrude’s only has four entrees (Blue Ribbon Brasserie would never), which makes it slightly awkward if you don’t want a whole fish or half a roast chicken, delicious and vinegary as it is. The burger is a reliable option, but, with its slathering of special sauce and heap of caramelized onions, it can take some stamina to finish the whole thing.

Gertude’s can be a little much for a weeknight meal, and it’s not fancy enough for a big-ticket dinner—but for everything in between, you'll have a good time. Come for a casual date night, and share a chopped salad beneath an antique chandelier. Or bring some out-of-towners and take a few shots of flavored vodka while toddlers wearing Dunks and Carhartt watch from a few tables over. It’s too early to say whether this place will become a certified classic, but it’s weird and fun, and that’s a great place to start.

Food Rundown

Gertude's image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Crispy Beef Tongue

Thin, garlicky, and crisp like bacon, this beef tongue is the best thing here. The portion is, admittedly, tiny, but that shouldn’t stop you from ordering this.

Gertude's image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Latkes

All of the entrees at Gertrude's come with your choice of fries or golden-brown lakes (which cost $4 extra). This is a brilliant move that every other restaurant should immediately copy, although we do have one complaint: the latkes are bite-sized, and you only get three per order. You can also get your latkes as an appetizer, topped with trout roe and creme fraiche.

Gertude's image

photo credit: Kate Previte

House Chopped Salad

The salads at Gertrude's are unexpected highlights. With its satisfying mix of salami, swiss, chickpeas, and tomatoes, this one tastes like something you’d get at an exceptional slice joint. Its caraway dressing is fantastic.

The Big (Leafy) Salad

This salad sounds boring. So boring that you might immediately decide that you don't need it in your life. But the lettuce is crisp, bitter, and incredibly fresh, and the tarragon dressing helps make things interesting. (Gertrude’s is good at dressing.)

Gertude's image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Crispy Half Chicken

The chicken at Gertude’s is juicy, tangy, and packed with flavor, with big assists from pickle brine and fennel. It’s the top entree here.

Gertude's image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Gertrude’s Burger

We’re fans of the burger at Gertrude’s, but it squanders some of its potential. The housemade challah bun is a little too big, and the mid-sized patty gets lost in an ocean of cheese, dressing, and carmelized onions. Still, a good burger—but not as good as it should be.

Gertude's image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Le Grand Gertrude

This isn’t your standard seafood tower. It looks like one, and it does come with a few oysters, but most of the other offerings are Jewish appetizing staples like salmon pate and smoked bluefish. The silky sable melts in your mouth, and the pickles are great, but it’s hard to argue that this thing is worth $75.

Gertude's image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Cocktails

Ever since the martini replaced the negroni as the city's mostly-just-booze cocktail of choice, many gimmicky versions have arrived. The ones at Gertrude's are some of the best. Try the martini with aquavit and pickle brine, and chase it with a Long Island Iced Tea (another house speciality). This place makes cocktails better than most cocktail bars.

Gertude's image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Black & White Seven Layer Cake

End your meal with a slice of cake. Dense and moist, with buttercream frosting and coffee ganache, it's half the reason you eat here.

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FOOD RUNDOWN

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