Hear the phrase “a prix fixe lunch at the new restaurant from the former chef at NoMad and 11 Eleven Madison Park” and if you’re anything like me, you’d assume it’s several courses of incredible dishes followed by a bill fit for the expense-account set.
But you and your wallet can rest easy when stepping into James Kent’s Crown Shy. The $45 three-course lunch is eminently reasonable given the quality of the food and price diners will pay for food from chefs with comparable – and sometimes less stellar – culinary bonafides.
That contrast between expectations and reality is also front of mind entering the restaurant. Housed in 70 Pine, getting to Crown Shy requires a short walk through the building’s art deco lobby. Dark marble lines the floor and walls, and 1920s flourishes of chrome and stainless steel adorn the hallway. The mood leaves one wondering if you’re on your way to a dimly-lit restaurant from a time when liquid lunches in smoke-filled rooms were the norm.
2019 returns once you set foot inside the restaurant. Childish Gambino is playing on the stereo. Understated modern furniture fills the space, and large windows permit natural light to stream in the space. The one expectation that shouldn’t be left at the door? The food from a Nomad/Eleven Madison Park alum is impeccable.
On my visit, I took the seafood route – the Red Snapper Crudo as my first course and the Soft Shell Crab Roll as my second. What can I say? It’s summer. I wanted to close my eyes and imagine that I’d been transported from Lower Manhattan to an oceanside shack churning out fresh seafood plates.
The crudo plate is accentuated with watermelon and lemon verbena. Including the citrus gives the crudo a refreshingly tangy taste that’s conjured memories of how the ocean smells on a cool New England summer morning.
The Soft Shell Crab Roll comes towering out of a toasted bun. Rounded out with jalapeno relish, the crab is battered in a breading that nicely complements the crabmeat. It was this dish where the restaurant’s attention to detail was most evident. The roll comes with a few sliced dill chips. It would be easy to slouch on this touch, but the dill slices are crisp and chill. Exactly what you’d hope for with a roll or burger.
Lunch wraps up with dessert that comes in a to-go container which our server stressed did not mean we needed to leave our table. I went with the Apple Sorbet with sticky toffee and pecan, a fitting coda to my first meal at Crown Shy.