My Dinner at Lord's
A proper (and smashing) British restaurant from the team behind Dame
I absolutely loved everything about Lord’s. Well, except one thing. But let’s not start with that. Let’s start with the good stuff, because there’s plenty.
As you may know, Lord’s is the second restaurant from Dame owners Ed Szymanski and Patricia Howard. The pair had been planning a modern, meat-focused English restaurant prior to Dame, their fish-and-chips sensation. Funny enough, Dame was actually going to be called PESH — an acronym of their names — and it built on the more experimental British meat cooking that Szymanski was building a reputation for at Cherry Point, the now closed Greenpoint restaurant that received a two-star nod in the New York Times under Szymanski’s tenure.
But COVID upended those plans and they pivoted to fish and chips in a pinch, and Ed fried his hake and potatoes so beautifully golden it’s possible Harry Styles wrote a song about them.
I will never forget those fish and chips at Dame. It was the first time and sadly the only time (so far) I have had them. I do have a Resy “Notify” set for every day for the rest of my life, and maybe one day the reservation gods will shine on me again. But for now, the memory is a good one. Sometimes memories, untarnished by the potential stain of repetition, are really better than anything else.
Now comes Lord’s, an English tavern brought to life with the meticulous and magnificent detail of a theatrical set dresser. There are wide planked wooden floors, slatted oak banquettes, and dark and dreamy English rose wallpaper in the Water Closets. (Yes when you go to the bathroom here please refer to them as water closets or perhaps the loo.) There’s the estate-salvaged cocktail glassware: elegant coups etched in gold, and heavy tumblers of cut crystal. And the bone china, flown in from Europe painted in heritage floral and flocks.
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I loved the dark, long, and inviting bar, backed by a wall of spirits framed in sculpted mid-century modern rectangles, lit with the warm glow of starburst brass fixtures from above. There’s even a page on the website where you can by merch—a Lord’s sweatshirt with the words “An English Restaurant: Tongue, Tripe, and Trotters” on the back if you’d like a souvenir.
Lord’s is transporting, from LaGuardia Place to London or the Cotswolds. Inside at Lord’s, no matter what the weather is outside—a warm bright blue fall day turning into a soft pink sky at dusk in my case—it’s blustery and gray as soon as you step inside. It’s London after all. It’s a Eugene O’Neil play, but considerably more cheerful. So you see, it’s all on theme and it’s all very proper. (Please read this review with an English accent.)
With Lord’s, Szymanski picks up his devotion to his English roots, and continues the cooking he left behind at Cherry Point. His menu at Lord’s nods to chefs he cooked with in England, including James Lowe and Tomos Parry of Michelin-starred restaurants Lyle’s and Brat. He also has a thing for nose-to-tail gurus Fergus and Margot Henderson, so there are lots of snouts, feet and organs on the menu.
All of which is to say that the food at Lord’s is very good, but very English, so if a savory meat pie covered with a quilt of buttery pastry, filled with chicken, pig trotters, and leeks doesn’t make you weak in the knees, then maybe this place is not for you. If you would not love a Scotch Egg, fashioned from lamb curry, inlaid with a picture-perfect egg with a shiny orange yolk, deep fried, sliced in half, with a dollop of mayo for spreading over the top, well then maybe skip Lord’s. If you would not care to dig into a bubbly Welsh Rarebit, a plate of crispy pig's head, butter beans and black pudding, or a rustic stew of braised tripe, cipollini onions and madeira, you do not need to come. But if this sounds at all appealing to you, then keep reading.
Let me now sing the praises of Oysters Kilpatrick. My (on again/off again) boyfriend Jeremy and I had started with two, but once we finished them, we had to have two more. Honestly, I’d have kept ordering these all night long with rounds of cocktails at the bar. The oysters are grilled, something I tend not to like, but I’m glad to say I was mistaken. These are fantastic. Just warm enough so the oyster barely slips into cooked territory, then topped with a sliver of crisped, sizzling hot guanciale, and a gloss of Worcestershire sauce, so they’re briny, salty, smoky, and spicy, sort of everything to everyone. Just smashing.
Fish and Chips are not on the menu at Lord’s, but Sirloin and Chips are. Lucky us. This dish is similar to its pescatarian cousin in that it’s a simple pub plate, but simple has never been felt so damn desirable. The steak was buttery and tender, but with enough bloody meatiness to make it edgy and sexy, not just docile. And those chips. Keats could write poems about those chips. They are marvelous, like the ones at Dame—Jenga-sized slices of potatoes, double fried (maybe even triple), crunchy and salty and positively addictive. You could add malt vinegar, or mayo, or (gasp!) ketchup, but there’s no need. These are best devoured as is, picked off the plate one-by-one in well-paced succession, fingers licked clean of salty crisp bits of potato crumb between each bite. There’s no better fry, errr, chip, in the land at the moment.
Sweets are British creatures too; there’s an apple and calvados trifle, and a Guinness sponge with chocolate custard, but we went for “The Queen of Puddings.” I mean how could we not? The Queen of Puddings! You can’t say no, and nor should you. I’m glad we didn’t. It was just stunning: fluted meringue burnished on top, covering a pudding with raspberry and sponge soaked in a very old vintage Tawny port, a British Bake Off champion in waiting. It was Jeremy’s birthday dessert, and the staff put a candle in it, giving it a glow that flattered the dessert in dappled candlelight like a true Queen.
Now, my friends, we come to that one thing that I was not so happy about at Lord’s. And perhaps this is just particular to me. As I mentioned at the start of this review, everything at Lord’s, every little detail down to the teeny tiny oyster forks with mother of pearl handles the size of toothpicks, is well thought out and on message. Everything except one thing. And that’s the music. To me, music creates atmosphere. The volume is important of course, but so is the playlist. It has to match, if not elevate the concept.
When I walked into Lord’s, the music that assaulted my ears, blasting through the speakers, was Ray Charles (whom I love) singing “The Mess Around.” This was followed by “Wait a Minute Mr. Postman,” then Billy Joel singing “Anthony’s Song,” and a rousing Chuck Berry belting out “Go, Johnny Go!!!” The music had me thinking I was slurping a vanilla milkshake on a swivel stool at a Johnny Rockets, not sipping an elegant Negroni in a cut crystal glass in a moody, dimly lit English bistro.
Folks, this is a British restaurant down to its bones. Why not play Bowie, Bono, and the Beatles? Or some period jazz—maybe Chet Baker, Miles Davis, Lena Horn, Ella Fitzgerald. They could do the Cure and the Furs. But ‘50s American music with some B-side Billy Joel? When you take so much time to ensure that every single detail of a dining experience is on message with your vision, how do you end up blasting Ain’t No Mountain High Enough through the restaurant? It was a disconnect that for me was quite distracting and difficult to overcome.
So, my friends, I am hoping that you are not bothered by unfortunate playlists, and that you will go to Lord’s and enjoy a fantastic meal, in a truly lovely English bistro that just happens to play really loud ‘50s music.
Lord’s is located at 506 LaGuardia Place. It is open Monday – Friday, 5:30 – 10:30pm, firstname.lastname@example.org, TEXT: (929) 398-5433, lords_nyc