Since we are on the topic of birthdays and the 17th is playing such an important number lets move on to another great date and that is January 17th of this year. It was over a month ago and also happens to be the day I went to Lure Fishbar for the very first time.
I had been longing to go to this restaurant for as long as I can remember. I remember Adam Richman of the Food Network mentioning it. I even remember a scene a few years ago on “Bethenny Getting Married?” where Bethenny Frankel and her good friend, and my imaginary friend, Hoda Kotb had a lunch there. While the point of that episode I am sure was not of the restaurant it is all that remains in my memory. I was so excited I still remember shouting at my TV “hey that’s the restaurant I wanted to go to!” But alas the scene was over.
Lure has been just that to me. It has been luring me in, calling my name, enticing me and never for one moment did I doubt I didn’t belong there. It is one of the most highly regarded restaurants in Manhattan and for good reason, Chef Josh Capon. Since it’s opening in 2004 Chef Capon has made a seafood restaurant that seems like a voyage to a magical island paradise. The experience was otherworldly and a large part of that, second to the food of course, was the décor.
To say this restaurant has an original concept is to say that you will not find anything else like it no matter how far and wide you look. It is below ground level and is decorated to feel like you are on a ship. This theme is carefully applied everywhere: to the circular windows that allow you to see through to the kitchen, the couple of steps you take up or down depending on what “level” you are seated on, and even the outer windows looking out onto the streets are oval shaped. When you walk down the steps to enter this restaurant you are leaving your world and worries behind and coming aboard the food boat.
On the Friday evening I was there the place was packed. Everyone was smiling and eating and appeared to be having such a good time. I was shocked to see how many people were just there for the bar and bar food. I am sure it was good but I would not have been satisfied that being my only experience. I needed the whole package.
I was there for a celebration and as I alluded to earlier was there on the one-month anniversary of my birthday. While the date happened to be a coincidence I was meeting someone special to share this meal and merriment with, my brother.
Ever since we went out to celebrate his twenty-fifth birthday last year at The Darby (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2013/04/for-celebratory-meal-darby.html) we have decided to make it a tradition to share a meal at a nice place for our mutual birthdays as they are only two days apart. This year I chose Lure Fishbar because I could not wait any longer and it was a genius move.
After carefully reviewing the menu for what felt like hours, we finally just had to make our choices and go with it. We would share two appetizers, each have our own entrée and then share a dessert. Now of course prior to coming here I had done a lot of reading and research about the food and even may have glanced at the menu once or twelve thousand times. Thankfully during my hunt I came across the review of the former food critic from the New York Times, Frank Bruni, and used this as my bible.
When the waiter came our way he brought with him a dish of edamame with him. That was delightful. I can eat my weight in those snap peas, they are just so yummy and the good news is no matter how many you eat they never seem to ruin your appetite.
Appetizers were hard to decide on but we went with the fried blue point oysters (half dozen, caper tartar sauce) and crab cakes (smoked pineapple, jalapeño, sweet onion). I had never had oysters before and was up for trying them. I knew if I were going to like them this was the place to go for it but since it was my first time I went with the fried versus the raw just to be safe. I know I would eat just about anything once it has been fried.
When these babies came out, it was the crab cakes I went for first. I can honestly say that I have never tasted two crab cakes that were the same. Every restaurant has a different style and they are hard to compare. These were sweeter and lighter than I’ve had before. I had to take a few bites before I could really appreciate the flavor but I loved every single bite.
Next up was the big moment- my first oyster! I popped one into my mouth and was overwhelmed by what I was tasting. It was so rich and creamy I could not catch my breath. I was stunned and that rarely happens especially with food. I ate another one without even giving it a second thought. After that I was sad that they would be gone soon. I could have eaten those all night. It was kind of like the Pringles motto “once you pop you can’t stop”.
Since this was a restaurant known primarily for seafood I felt that had to be apart of my entrée. I was immediately drawn to the surf and turf, which was a petit filet mignon and a grilled lobster tail. I absolutely LOVE a lobster tail and get one whenever I see it on a menu. Another reason I wanted to order this was that Frank Bruni’s recommended it. With reinforcement like that I knew this was the way to go.
My brother ordered the steamed lobster tails, which was sautéed with spinach and served with crispy potatoes, lemon, and drawn butter.
When our dinners arrived I was so excited I was practically jumping up and down in my seat. It looked so gorgeous I was afraid to bite into it. But after a mini photo shoot and I was satisfied I had captured its essence, I dug in. I am worried I wont’ probably convey the excellence of this meal but I will try. It was so amazing I could have literally died on that spot and been happy.
The lobsters were so good and cooked to perfection. My steak was so soft seemed to cut itself when the knife touched it. I have never tasted something so soft and tasty and yet well done. I have to have my steak well done. Even the spinach seemed better. It didn’t hurt that the brick of potatoes that was on my plate seared in butter had the touch of God hands. As I took my time and ate my dinner I could not remember a better meal. I know I have had some damn good ones in my life, and especially in recent history, but this is definitely one of the top five in of all time.
I was so intent on having dessert I had planned on it long before I arrived. This too was another Frank Bruni recommendation, the ice cream sandwiches. Our flavors may have been different but they were right on the money. I think my favorite was the chocolate chip. I was about to burst but I made sure I got at least a bite, more like half, of each sandwich down.
The final touch were the two chocolate peanut butter cups brought with our check. Yes those went down the hatch as well. That is when I was actually afraid to stand up. That meal was so filling and delicate that I as sure I gained enough weight that when I would stand I would end up taking the table with me. I managed to escape that fate and after one last look around and a few more photos we were off.
I have to say that I have been to some of the best restaurants in the city. I hang out with some heavy hitters in places by Chefs Alex Guarnaschelli and Scott Conant just to throw around a couple of names. To say that Lure and Chef Capon are of this class is a no brainer.
I will actually go one step further.
As I got into my cab that night full of food, happiness, and pure Lure delight, I had such a strong urge to write. It was the first time I had felt that in months. I was feeling more creative and in tune with myself.
Although this blog did not post on the night of my visit it is not a reflection of my experience just of circumstances beyond my control. But now that I am finally sharing my thoughts with all of you and releasing this out into the world it is just about joy.
NYC’s Winter Restaurant Week is in full effect and it continues through Friday March 7th. Lure Fishbar is participating in this program and if you can you should take full advantage.
For NYC Winter Restaurant Week:
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