The Lady’s Dining Room in Greenwich Village.
Photo: DeSean McClinton-Holland
When gastronomic scholars sift through the ashes of this dark era for clues on how to survive the next Great Plague, the case of the tiny seafood restaurant called Lady, which has been open in one form or another since last year, will be up for study. As any fan can tell you, it started life in March 2020 as a pop-up in a cafe on the Lower East Side and then emerged a few months later in Greenwich Village as the Dame Summer Club. , a seasonal operation serving delicious dishes from Chef Ed Szymanski. witty (and for thousands of locked-in, delicious Instagram junkies) version of fish and chips. Over time, there were more fleeting events that caught the eye, and then, over the winter, after signing a long-term lease for the restaurant of their dreams, Szymanski and his partner, Patricia Howard, have opened a small pantry selling wines, T-shirts, and jars of classic English potted shrimp, among other staples.
Now that this dream restaurant has finally arrived, I guess more or less as intrepid owners always imagined, in one of the tangle of storefronts and alfresco dining shacks along Macdougal Street. The facade is trimmed in blue, and the dining room is filled with neat rows of blond wood tables and counters. The sturdy outdoor space is lined with flower boxes and furnished with the kind of metal tables and blue and white patterned plastic wicker chairs you might find near the rocky beach in an English seaside town. Fish and chips remains on the menu, but it’s now surrounded by a rotating cast of entrees like spoon-grilled oysters in freshly whipped hollandaise sauce, Montauk squid skewers squeezed between grilled shishito peppers and – if you fall for it. the good evening – heaps of scrambled egg kedgeree folded not with the usual salted herring like they do in Scotland, but with lobster or uni nuggets.
Szymanski grew up in London and apprenticed at April Bloomfield’s Michelin-starred gastro pub, the Spotted Pig. Bloomfield here in the United States. The aforementioned oysters were delivered to our sidewalk table on a bed of white pebbles, and if you look closely you can see their creamy, dutch-coated tops are tinged with an elegant touch of chartreuse green. They were accompanied by a salad of ripe late summer tomatoes in a lightly creamy anchovy vinaigrette and a pod of crispy smoked white fish nuggets, which the kitchen serves directly in the deep fryer with a red pepper sauce to Italian for soaking and sprinkling with lemon zest.
Between tasting Pimm’s Cups, classic martini styles (there are three options) and perfectly balanced gin-tonics, it’s tempting to make a meal of these stylish bar dishes, and on my visits to Dame, we almost did. We ate warm slices of toast stacked with generous stacks of bottarga-flavored tuna tartare and kebab skewers glued with squares of monkfish that Szymanski and his cooks dress in a rich London-style curry sauce and lay down on a bed of fresh yogurt. Depending on the day, you might come across servings of sweet raw scallops accompanied by equally sweet sungold tomatoes and platters of cucumbers mixed with smoked mussels and dill. Blowfish never tastes as exciting as it sounds, but the version we had on a rainy evening was topped with melt-in-the-mouth Espelette pepper butter which we patted down with pieces of sourdough bread.
When the legendary fish and chips finally arrives in this non-pop-up version of Dame, it’s almost as good as advertised: a curl of just sizzling hake set on a stubble of heavy, double-fried fries with a tartar sauce and a lemon slice on the side. As my colleagues at Underground Gourmet have reported, the usual flour and beer batter has been lightened with a combination of rice flour and a hint of vodka, giving the crust a quality of. feather. But these are the square crisps that our table never tires of, and we enjoyed them with other classics like grilled mackerel (which was even better the next morning with my scrambled eggs), ray wing with chanterelles and pot prawns, and a masterful version of that great Galician fish, turbot, served for two on an old blue and white porcelain platter adorned with garlic butter, roasted cockles and a dash of parsley.
As in all serious seafood bistros along the English (or French or Spanish) coast, the menu changes with the catch of the day and the seasons, but the wine list – an original and well-chosen mix of euro bottles -centrics adapted to seafood (“What James Bond is drinking”) and more modestly priced, less traditional natural options (“What Austin Powers Is Drinking”) – is one that wine lovers at my table have been waiting for looking forward to exploring over time. I will go back however for the desserts, which seemed to come alive on every visit. Surprisingly, this old British cream and berry staple Eton Mess was the less crisp of them, so if you’re in the mood for a great taste of pudding, call the cream pie (ours was speckled). tiny Champagne grapes infused with elderflower flavor) or a wedge of fruit pie that this excellent little kitchen comes out hot from the oven with a scoop of crème fraîche on it.