Josh Pickard (Joe’s Pub, Time Café, Lever House) and John (Lever House, City Magazine) McDonald’s latest restaurant (and runway for stunning men and women who all appear to have been freshly styled for some sort of fashion shoot) is Lure Fishbar, located in the subterranean space that was Canteen at 142 Mercer Street (at Prince Street), 212-431-7676. It was only day three when we had dinner, but there was Frank Bruni, the Times’ restaurant critic, dining at a table across from me. Guess we are all trying to get to the new places early one, ‘cause I saw him at Pace the week before. The guy gets around. I’d love to dine with him, so if anyone knows him, please offer him an invitation to dinner with me. I think he is such a talented writer and he is a riot to read (did you read that line about those little dogs in the Hamptons articles—“cats in drag”—too funny), and I would love to share his company for dinner one night.
Anyway, back to Lure, about 2 million dollars went into the morphing the orange-tinted Canteen into a QE2 clone with a Happy Sailor vibe—wide scallop-shaped white leather banquettes, pin-striped wood flooring, port-like windows that allow you to check out the haute foot wear passing by—it’s very Laverne & Shirley if you recall their basement level flat—and a room swathed in varnished yacht-style wood paneling, making you feel as though you are dining in glamorous hull of a luxury ocean liner. Thurston Howell would’ve been much happier here than on the Minnow. (Why did he get on that little boat anyway?) The menu, as you might have guessed from the restaurant’s name, is filled with every sort of seafood creation imaginable, and was developed by executive chef Josh Capon (maybe they should have asked him to change his last name to something a bit more sea-friendly, like Cod or Halibut? Okay, bad joke, sorry) and consulting chef Greg Brainin, who is the chef-de-cuisine at Jean-Georges.
My favorite section was the first one—the raw fish bar—a survey of all sorts of sliced beauties from the sea, tangled up with racy sauces and toppings from around the world. Bright pink cubes of Coho salmon are served with fat slices of deep green pickled Japanese cucumbers in an intense “tea” made from basil-infused soy sauce ($12). Sweet, succulent lobster is turned into a magnificent sort of tartare that is lightly perfumed with golden (sautéed) garlic and infused with chiles ($16). Shaved sea scallops are tossed with young ginger marinade, grated scallions, and radish ($12), and a slivered slabs of fluke are served topped with a dot of intense lemon-jalepeno “condiment”—think mustard—that should be schmeared across the glossy surface of the fish. Then you should swallow the whole thing in one bite. Killer. (In a good way.) The raw fishbar section (there are about a dozen selections in all, in addition to a standard raw shellfish bar) begs to be eaten and reviewed again and again, perhaps at the bar one night, with some sake or as a round of apps another night with a bottle of Sancerre.
Capon also offers more standard fare like New England clam chowder ($9), and crab cakes (these tasted overwhelmingly like celery cakes to me for some reason and resemble falafel more than crab cakes, $14), and main courses like black cod steamed with sake and three mushrooms, ($24) and oil poached salmon with sweet and sour bell peppers and fill oil ($25). We went the way of surf and turf—seared scallops on thin golden blinis made from polenta and a nice buttery slab of filet mignon with sautéed maitaki mushrooms. Another night we had the whole Dorade—a stunning fish specimen with crispy skin and sweet, delicious flesh brought to attention with an assertive acidic sauce of dill and lemon. It was great. For those who must have meat—a dry-aged sirloin with crispy potatoes and tomato salad ($34), and a crispy chicken with braised artichokes with a Riesling pan sauce ($22). But why bother?
To finish off your meal, I’d take a stab at a dessert or two. Deb Snyder, who is the pastry chef at Lever House consulted on the dessert menu at Lure and she’s turning out easy standards like key lime tart (loved the crushed graham cracker crust) and a deliriously rich Devil’s Food cake that resembles a ring ding, in a decadent chocolate glaze.
This one's already luring lots of models and celebs.