British Home Cooking at Lord’s in Greenwich Village
The menu takes the mundanity and pleasure of comfort food and elevates it for the intrigued masses.
By stasia de tilly
I ducked into the busy corner of the bar at Lord’s on a rainy Thursday night. The restaurant’s only open from Monday to Friday, which I find charming—it participates in the lineage of the daily grind, despite being priced higher than a wage-worker’s average dinner spot. Everyone here seems to either be just getting off work or still jittering with the nerves of the day.
You won’t see your upside-down reflection in the spoons. They’re scratched and full of wear minus the schmutz. The Brit-pop playing over the speakers in the dimly lit room feels happy-hour casual. This place signals that it’s for the masses, a respite from the day’s work. Even the staff gets the weekends off. It makes me want to slink into a booth and play Scrabble. Lord’s is fine dining with the gastro-pub charm and without the usual cliches of leather and sticky tables.
Seated at the bar, I got to be nosy about everyone’s role in the establishment and every guest’s night. Diners waiting to be seated at 9:30pm offered up in conversation, “It’s been a long day,” and the bartender told me about an old geezer who came promptly at opening to demolish the 22oz steak special alone. The bar team is stacked with personality, juggling elaborate cocktails and conversations with slurring patrons. Their dry beverage selections are informed by the hip brands of Instagram. I opted to indulge in Tart Vinegar’s Oro Blanco Spritz but was eyeing the non-alcoholic aperitif, Figlia.
Lord’s storefront in Greenwich Village
Lord’s serves the Welsh rarebit & anchovy, which is a variation on the well known British tradition of putting things on toast. (See: cheese on toast, beans on toast, etc.) Their bread is dark and sour, toasted in butter till chewy but not crunchy, and topped with a béchamel infused with the tanginess of cheddar and malty notes. Delicate anchovy filets top the cheese and melt on the tongue. It was a welcome addition to my palette as it lingered and brightened the last note of each bite. This dish, typically made by mums in a rush, is elegant and velvety smooth, but as it gets colder, the cheese takes on a grainy texture that transports you to a wooden kitchen table with your mum placing your tea in front of you. The accompanying bottle of Lee Perrins Worcester sauce was equally playful. As I cleaned my plate, I was delighted to uncover the scene of a 1700s suitor prostrating at the feet of a coquettish beauty painted on the dish. Whether the dinnerware was made in China or reclaimed, it fit into the working class-meets-bourgeoisie aesthetic.
I took a chance on an ultimately disappointing seasonal salad. Apple and Montgomery cheddar with burnt onion sounded like a good pair considering cheddar and onion might be one of my favorite duos. The burnt onion puree tasted like steel wool. On this week’s menu, they’ve replaced apple with citrus. I won’t be reordering their cheddar salads with rotating fruit.
My one mistake was forgetting the beef tallow chips to go with the tartare. The venison steak tartare with salsify was a lovely textural experience. The venison cubes were slightly gamey and wonderfully diced. The tartare was seasoned in a citrus dressing, minced shallots, rosemary, chives, and small seeds. Plated atop salsify puree, it was garnished with thorny, seaweed-like greens and salsify chips. The aforementioned seeds are my current fixation. They exploded upon chew but had the texture of a bean and tasted herbal with a subtle salinity. Salsify is more popular in the U.S. but makes an appearance before sea-kale in Dorothy Hartley’s Food in England: “Salsify, a root with a curiously salt, fishy flavor, called also the vegetable oyster.” The sea-like elements of this dish gave me a new perspective on “salting a dish” made primarily of game.
Tail-to-snout eating isn’t just a British tradition born from necessity and a bit of pleasure—it has become a badge of honor for diners looking to stake claim in serious dining. What would life be without pork fat or beef cartilage? Lord’s does it in homage to British tradition—I’ll eat anything once. I wonder if they’ll bring jellied eel or stargazy pie to NYC.
Brits know their sweets, but the Guinness sponge stood out as the least ostentatious dessert on the menu. I love a humble pudding. I was pleasantly surprised when a slice of deep-brown sponge arrived under a layer of frothy custard and quenelle of creme fraîche. The edges of the sponge were crispy, and this worked perfectly as it soaked up the custard. In contrast, the creme fraîche was a tangy cut to the rich chocolate flavors.
Borrowing elements from dishes of the British working class, Lord’s presents to the diner a lesson in the people’s food. The menu takes the mundanity and pleasure of comfort food and elevates it for the intrigued masses. Traditional British food is often unremarkable and frowned upon by the culinary world—it’s the food that made the droogs from Anthony Burgess’s 1962 novel A Clockwork Orange go mad. Lord’s is great because they keep the sanity by giving their staff the weekends off and giving New Yorkers a place to dine out on notoriously dead Monday nights.