Friday, October 31, 2008

NY Restaurant Review: Double Crown

Our last stop on our recent trip to NY was to the newly opened Double Crown on a increasingly hot stretch of Bowery. AvroKO, a design firm is behind the restaurant so it's no surprise that it's a beauty. AvroKO also own Public, which just so happens to be where the boyfriend and I had our first date, so they have a special place in my heart.

New Yorkers love a secret bar, so of course Double Crown has a separate bar through the back door called Madame Geneva. With plush booths and low lighting, it's perfect for a pre- or post- dinner cocktail. The special that night sounded bizarre but tasted wonderful. You had your choice of gin or vodka and then a spoon of jam to mix into the drink. I tried the orange cardamom with vodka, and it was one of the most interesting cocktails I've had lately - tart and just sweet enough without too strong of an alcohol taste.
We dined at a long wooden communal table in the main dining room, which was akin to a sexy British colonial bar in a far flung locale with lots of leather and dark woods. Double Crown gets its inspiration from Britain's colonial influence on Asian cuisines, so the menu ranges widely from Singapore laksa to pheasant and licorice pie.
We started with cured Scottish salmon, the tandoori foie gras torchon with earl grey prunes, watercress and nut loaf and the streaky ham with fenugreek-glazed figs and whole-grain mustard. All were delicious but I was particularly taken with the fois gras with prunes. People knock on English food, but to me this was a classic example of how delicious it can be. The creamy and sweet played perfectly off of each other, but I must admit I couldn't really tell how the tandoori came into play in the flavors. Although I enjoyed all of the components of the ham dish, it seemed a bit disconnected with just ingredients sitting on a plate instead of a cohesive dish.
For entrees, we shared the Lamb and cashew meatballs with shaved coconut, crispy onion rings, lime pickle and the Venison Wellington with red currant jus and cranberry chutney. The onion rings paired surprisingly well with the meatballs, and the dish exceeded my expectations. The venison wellington was billed as their signature dish, but I thought it worked somewhat less well. The venison itself was perfectly prepared and tender, and the fruit accents were a delicious accompaniment, but the phyllo shell and mushrooms that surrounded it didn't mesh as well with the meat. At times it seems like Double Crown is over-complicating dishes in an attempt to make them unique.
Still eager to try more, we shared two desserts - the rice pudding samosa with honey apple chutney, carrot ice cream, fenugreek anglaise and the Malaysian banana cake with black tea ice cream, sweet condensed milk sauce. I preferred the banana cake because once again the bready surrounding on the samosa dessert was somewhat lacking. That said, we handily finished all of them, but could hardly remember what they were like an hour later. Interesting but not especially memorable.

Overall I enjoyed Double Crown. At it's best, the dishes are tasty and the cocktails are inventive. At it's worst, it's merely average, so it's worth checking if only to try some quirky dishes you won't find elsewhere and even better to soak in the scene. Double Crown is arguably more about the atmosphere than food anyway. Take a date, sip on a cocktail and enjoy the scenery!

Pros: Beautiful setting, inventive cocktails, unique melding of Asian/British cuisine
Cons: Some dishes are overcomplicated or disconnected

Double Crown
316 Bowery (cross Bleecker)
New York, NY

Double Crown on Urbanspoon



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