A LocalBozo.com Restaurant Review
77 Delancey Street at Allen Street, Lower East Side
Getting There: B,D to Grand Street; F,J,M,Z to Delancey Street-Essex Street
Restaurant Review: Grey Lady
Though it’s been a place that we’ve been wanting to visit in the year and a half since it opened, the Lower East Side‘s nod to a Nantucket small town seafood shanty Grey Lady, somehow managed to avoid us all this time. Seeing the restaurant as a featured setting in the excellent and city-centric music video for Haim’s “The Wire” conjured up a renewed desire to finally head downtown. Though our love for fresh shellfish and lobster rolls are typically reserved for warmer months, it was our recent trip to Grey Lady that made us forget about the perils of winter just as Mother Nature was bringing her worst.
The many windows that wrap around Grey Lady look out onto a busy Delancey Street, which is normally not snow covered. With the sun shining, outdoor tables typically envelop the building, yielding an uber-casual daytime atmosphere considering the fare being handed out. But tonight, we are ensconced in a full on mess of winter weather. It’s cold and snowy and the restaurant acts as a much welcomed respite from the world outside. Decoratively, Grey lady is outlined with small mirrors and picture frames among other knick-nacks that cover parts of the drably painted rustic gray walls. The long and narrow L-shaped bar is striking upon first glance, completely filled with patrons who appear to be stopping here for a small bite and a first drink before braving the elements for the night ahead. The informal dining tables scattered around the room are equally as populated, surprisingly by different groups of women amid the dimly lit setting.
The menu here is neither diverse nor necessarily vast, just as you might expect, but it certainly fits in nicely with the charm of the venue which feels utterly cool. Formulaically though, the team’s strategy seems to be working as sister restaurant Norman’s Cay was among the most anticipated openings of the fall. Prices here are reasonable with the menu divided between Starters (none of which exceed $17) and Mains. That said, there are some distinctive dishes like the smoky “Bluefish Pate” ($12) with mustard caviar and the hearty “Lobster Pot Pie” ($28), though there’s no re-creating the wheel with much of the offerings. We picked at the “Peppers” ($8), grilled shishito style and not overly zested with lemon. The black sesame seeds added a subtle hint of nuttiness to quell the cracklings of sea salt that sprinkled each dark green stem. The heaping pot of “Mussels” ($14) brought with it a literal sea of different tastes punctuated by a flavorful tomato broth that saturated the shellfish and the hunks of cooked Spanish chorizo with a blend that highlighted fresh herbs and citrus notes.
Where Grey Lady really shined though was with their main dishes. The intricately prepared “Swordfish” ($26) proved to be an excellent selection as the ‘Fish of the Day.’ Thick and meaty, the tender filet was generously portioned and served atop some sliced Chinese cabbage and drizzled with a rich red glaze. The Asian inspiration continued with the “Tuna Burger” ($22), a sushi grade cut of ‘Yellow Fin’ served in between the buns of an English muffin lunch tray style with different taste compartments. Thick cut French fries proved pivotal for dipping in the remaining sides of wasabi aioli and the salty meets sweet ginger soy, sided by a portion of crunchy chilled Asian pickles. To no surprise, the Maine style “Lobster Roll” ($26) stood superior to the dishes that preceded it, with a full pound of tender shucked lobster served cold and decadently wrapped in a buttery fluffed bun. With each bulbous bite, the meshing of flavors and temperatures was downright delectable as we unintentionally devoured the handheld sandwich far too quickly for our liking, though in our defense, the dish was in fact, that good.
When you consider the reasonably priced, quality dishes being prepared at Grey Lady, coupled with an ambiance that exudes the essence of the word ‘cool,’ it’s no wonder that the team is already on to their second standalone location. They’ve managed to harness the characteristics of a quaint Manhattan restaurant that also captures some of the authenticity you’d find much further up north on the east coast. And it’s that middle ground that Grey Lady straddles that make it so special and somehow, so normal.
Rundown of the Meal
Lobster Roll ($26)*
Tuna Burger ($22)
Fish of the Day ($26) – Swordfish*