Restaurant Review: Lord’s Is a Meat Manor, With a Strong British Accent
Lord’s is the second restaurant the chef Ed Szymanski and his partner, Patricia Howard, have built together in Greenwich Village. The first, which put down roots in the first pandemic summer, is called Dame. With its echoes of British nobility, the naming scheme is a way of letting us know that the two restaurants are English in spirit without going all Charles and Camilla on us.
They are also a his-and-hers matched set playing gender roles. Dame is a seafood place decorated in soft whites and unpainted wood, like a newly remodeled beach house rental on the North Fork. At Lord’s, on the other hand, the curtains, awning and walls are a serious shade of British racing green familiar from Jaguars made in the 1960s and ’70s. As for the menu, it is a festival of meat and offal in a modern British style that hasn’t been seen much in New York lately.
I wasn’t wild about the whole meat-for-boys, fish-for-girls foolishness when Major Food Group did it at the Pool and the Grill. I don’t love it at Lord’s, either, although at least the restaurant doesn’t give us butched-up steakhouse service, the way the Grill does. And to be fair, a pescatarian could eat at Lord’s very happily. (Vegetarians, though, are out of luck unless they’re content with Welsh rarebit and a side of what the menu calls “proper English chips” — both very good, but not the stuff plant-based dreams are made of.)
In a sense, Lord’s is the restaurant New York’s carnivores have been waiting for since Mr. Szymanski was the chef at Cherry Point, in Brooklyn. When I reviewed the place early in 2019, it was my hope that the rest of the city would have a chance to enjoy his pheasant-and-bacon pie, but Mr. Szymanski left not long after. The tavern did not survive the pandemic.
Later that year, when new owners bought the White Horse Tavern, they hired Mr. Szymanski to overhaul the menu. It never happened.
Next, Mr. Szymanski and Ms. Howard, already a couple, became business partners when they secured a snug little restaurant space on Macdougal Street. He was drafting a menu of animals grilled over wood from nose to tail, though not necessarily in that order, when Covid ambled in. The pandemic strategy they landed on was fish and chips, made with more than a bit of modern chef know-how but sold in paper boats through an open window. This succeeded so well that by the time they were ready to open a real restaurant, fish and chips had to be central to the business. So we got Dame and its seafood menu.
We had to wait until October, when Lord’s opened, to see a Szymanski meat pie again. They are oval now, and a little bigger, large enough to satisfy most meat-pie appreciators. The suet crust is still tender and scored in a sunburst pattern. The fillings change daily. So far I’ve had a chicken-bacon pie seasoned with tarragon that was very good in a quiet, weeknight way, and a more attention-getting pie of long-stewed ox cheeks that carried a rousing, pungent undertone of Stilton.
Most of the snacks are bits of English cookery that would have fit right in at Cherry Point. The Scotch egg is a beauty. Instead of standard-issue dry, peppery pork sausage, Lord’s molds spiced lamb kofta around the egg, bringing the dish back to its likely roots in India (no matter what its name says). Inside, the yolk is bright and shiny like warm marmalade.
Welsh rarebit is a brick of assertively tart sourdough bread that seems to have absorbed its weight in sharp, mustard-scented Cheddar sauce. In homage to St. John in London, a bottle of Worcestershire sauce is presented ceremoniously and left beside the rarebit, an implicit invitation to go wild.
A revision of oysters casino, oysters Kilpatrick are broiled under a square of crisp guanciale. This gets dressed with a sauce of shallots, brown butter and — happy and glorious, long to reign over us — a shot of Worcestershire.
When you are ready for something a bit more substantial, you can eat a satiny braise of tripe and sweet onions with a trickle of Madeira; a fried pig’s head terrine and some deliciously crumbly black pudding together on the same plate; and two bundles of cabbage filled with sausage made from duck legs, livers, gizzards and whatnot, each with a brandied prune on top.
Lord’s handles seafood deftly, which won’t surprise regulars at Dame. One of the most elegant dishes is a confident, understated pairing of smoked steelhead trout, buttery and soft, with a thick celery-root mousse. One of the most calming is the rolled omelet filled with lightly smoked eel and then broiled in Parmesan and béchamel.
Poaching is not the usual method for cooking skate, but it is a good one, producing a firm, smooth flesh. Pink curls of potted shrimp tumble over the skate; it’s the kind of generous, seafood-on-seafood dish you see in New Orleans, but seasoned by a British hand, with seaweed in spaghetti-like strands on the side.
I did wonder, though, who all that beurre blanc pooled around the skate was for. This question would come back in other forms as I ate my way through the menu. Maybe Mr. Szymanski is just trying to help us prepare for winter hibernation, but some of his sauces have been off-puttingly heavy. I hadn’t thought grilled mushrooms and stewed lentils could give off so much melted butter. Sweetbreads were sautéed to an irresistible bronze, but could have used a sauce that cut their richness rather than doubling down on it.
Even when they’re not too rich, a fair number of dishes are excessive or unfocused; they slosh about more than they need to. Meat worship, whether as a menu theme or a life strategy, is best practiced with a sense of restraint.
If you have somehow made it through the main courses without realizing that you are in an English restaurant, the desserts should set you straight. There is a Guinness sponge cake, airier than you’d expect, even after it’s buried under chocolate custard sauce and a spoonful of crème fraîche. The trifle is a frothy number, too — built up from poached apples, sponge cake, Calvados, vanilla custard sauce and soft whipped cream.
And if you can see “Queen of Puddings” on the menu without hearing Mary Berry’s voice, I don’t know what is wrong with you. It is hard not to be curious about and even harder not to like. The Queen starts with bread crumbs and custard, then takes a thick layer of raspberry jam and, on top, onion-shaped like the domes on a Russian church, rows of small squishy meringues. They are as weightless and soft as marshmallows. Dessert at Lord’s may, in fact, be the lightest part of the meal.
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