Friday, August 3, 2012

Bits & Morsels: Nantucket in New York

Grey Lady's Callum McLaughlin, Ryan Chadwick, and Gavin McLaughlin.
by Erin Frankel

It's already August! The Summer is more than halfway over (how did it fly by that fast?!) and everyone seems to be taking summer Fridays and making that weekend exodus to the Hamptons, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, Fire Island, or Maine. Except you! You're stuck in the city, bummed out, and sick of seeing yet another photo of your friends by the seaside, biting into succulent lobster rolls or knifing through King Crab legs. Well, you no longer have to go to the outer reaches of Long Island or coastal towns off of New England to get your fix.

Named after the consistent Fog that haunts Nantucket, Grey Lady, opened by Nantucket natives Ryan Chadwick and Callum McLaughlin, brings Nantucket's idyllic summertime allure and fresh lobster rolls directly to the Lower East Side. The Nautical elements are all around, from the centerpiece anchor to the hanging chrome ship lights to the menu, which features the most authentic Nantucket-esque Lobster Roll you will find in New York.
The Fishbowl.
Dark 'n Stormy, PainKiller, and Life is Good.
Chadwick and McLaughlin also brought in McLaughlin's twin brother, Gavin, to preside over the kitchen. And boy, does he make one luscious lobster roll. The 1 pound hard shell Maine Lobster, shucked daily, is stuffed between a buttered, fried bun with a dollop of mayo, garnished with chive and celery salt. It is accompanied by housemade chips and a celery salad with tarragon vinaigrette (which most restaurants mix in with the lobster), but here it is purely served as a refreshing side salad. These guys want their lobster "literally falling out of the bun." Why leave town when you can get the best of Nantucket right here in New York?

Grey Lady
77 Delancey Street
Classic Lobster Roll.
Strawberry shortcake.
The Financial District (or FIDI, as some would call it) is making a steady comeback. More and more people are moving further downtown, which means the uber-cool NYC restaurateurs are staking out spots for the influx of young professionals and post-work bankers seeking cool spots to dine, wine, and socialize. David Kaplan and Alex Day of Death & Co. have teamed up with David Blatt to create Demi Monde, a swanky new lounge in a subterranean den down on Broad Street. This might just be the "coolest" spot in FIDI.

Demi Monde's look is striking, with its crystal chandeliers, walls of scarlet lacquer paneling, and black tufted upholstery. And just wait for the burlesque dancers who arrive later in the evening.
Demi Monde's luscious interior.
Blatt recently hired a new chef whose created a menu of small bites meant for sharing. Best plate on the menu is the King Crab roll — a trio of half sandwiches filled with fresh, juicy bits of crab, mixed with chorizo and topped with Korean chili. The variety of Asian-infused flavors in this classic seaside summer roll will blow your mind. Ditch the crowded jitney and instead head downstairs to Demi Monde.

Demi Monde

90 Broad Street
Demi Monde's King Crab roll.
Oldies but Goodies. One of the glitches of having this admittedly fabulous job as a food critic is rarely getting the chance to visit the classics. We're constantly distracted by myriad fashionable openings and can easily forget how good the older restaurants really are. So, here are a few of the noteworthy standbys I made a point of visiting this week:

Dell' Anima. Before Gabe Thompson and Joey Campanele (ex Del Posto Chef and ex Babbo Sommelier respectively) expanded on their Modern Italian restaurant empire, they opened a small Italian trattoria on the corner of Jane Street and 8th Avenue, which quickly attracted herds of hungry, in-the-know foodies from all over the city. There were month-long waits for tables, and while they squeezed everyone into the space on a nightly basis, we were all happy to be there. Years later, the room is still bustling (even on a Sunday evening in July) and the seasonal modern Italian menu is still inspiring. If you go, opt for the Heirloom Tomato salad with stone fruit, walnuts, and ricotta, followed by the very spicy Bucatini Alla Arrabbiata with calabrian chilies, fresh tomato, and Parmesan croutons.

Dell' Anima
38 8th Avenue

Dell' Anima's Heirloom tomato salad.
Dell' Anima's Bucatini Alla Arrabbiata.
Momoya has retained its allure over the years. This beautiful restaurant continues to offer the best Japanese food bargain for the quality of its offerings. And the dining room is packed any evening of the week. The sushi remains as fresh as any and the roll combinations are always inventive and inspiring. Start with the spicy tuna crispy roll topped with mushroom and jalapeno. Then, try anyone of new rolls on the menu like the Nakamura signature roll (an interesting combination of yellowtail and cucumber wrapped in tuna and salmon with spicy scallops) or the Momoya special (spicy tuna wrapped in seared yellowtail with almond on top).

185 7th Ave
Momoya's Crispy Tuna Roll.
Momoya's Nakamura roll and Spicy Tuna Roll.
Zucchero e Pomodoro hasn't changed a bit in the last 15 years. This was the Italian spot we would go to after school at least once a week. And, we always got the same exact thing, which is still on the menu all these years later: The La Greca Salad. Zucchero's rendition of the traditional Greek salad done the Modern Italian way, with cucumber, red onion, green peppers, tomato, black Gaeta olives, and Feta cheese under a light lemon dressing. Still just as delicious as it was when I was 16.

Zucchero e Pomodoro
1431 2nd Ave
Zucchero e Pomodoro's La Greca salad.