Sunday, March 06, 2011

Restaurant Review: Double Crown

The highlight of last week was definitely getting to see Book of Mormon in previews with some friends. But before we get to that review, I wanted to backtrack a little and tell you about having drinks and dinner at Double Crown, since that was originally part of my Couture Fashion Week adventure but I don't want to wait forever to talk about it. Here goes:

Double Crown is an unassuming restaurant and bar tucked away on the corner of Bleeker and Bowery. When my friends originally suggested it, I honestly wasn't sure if I expected a sort of run-down local hangout (what I usually hit up when I'm in that area) or something too swanky for my budget (which the name sort of hinted). Instead, it fell neatly in between, perfectly suiting my outfit and mood for the evening.

When I arrived, in the midst of dinner service, I was asked if I had a reservation with a kind of pitying glance from the hostess. That cued me right away that this was not your normal downtown resto. It turned out that we did in fact already have our name in, but we could only get a reservation for a party of our size (six) in about a half an hour. So of course I thought my friends would be waiting for me at the bar...and they were. Sort of. You see, far in back corner of Double Crown is a hidden door that leads to a cozy little clandestine speakeasy, Madam Geneva:

With attentive (and attractive) bartenders mixing up original cocktails from fresh and inspired ingredients, the quality of these drinks almost actually justified their $12 pricetag--a rarity in NYC. Immediately, I loved it. I've read about tons of bars with this theme in NYC, but had yet to visit one, so this was a delightful surprise. With four of us taking turns ordering from the specialty menu, I managed to try most of the offerings. But it was the "Ellison" that stole my heart and kept me coming back: Beefeater 24 Gin, homemade lime cordial, cucumber and mint. It was the perfect palate-cleanser between sipping everyone else's drinks, on top of being light and crisp and refreshing.

Dinner, when we finally got there, was less exciting than the cocktails but still delicious. I opted for Avocado and Seaweed Salad as an appetizer; it was the perfect ignition for my hunger after noshing on nothing but my drinks' cucumber garnish, but light enough not to make me full. I shared with my two gal pals, and we all wrestled for the delicious strips of soy-soaked avocado. For my entree, the waitress recommended the Butternut Squash Curry--soft, smooth, silken and not too spicy. My friend ordered the Sweet and Sour Eggplant, which I got to then try as well; it was a little too sweet for my taste, though my bite was also from the bottom of the bowl where the eggplant and tofu was undoubtedly marinating in the sauces for awhile. I wish I could review the duck, pork belly or oysters for you as well, but since I'm a vegetarian this is just not that blog. And while I can say the desserts all looked delicious, I was so stuffed and sated from my meal by then that I didn't even try the 2-3 beautiful dishes that the table ordered to split.

Honestly, I can't wait to come back again. The menu was reasonably priced (with most items less than $20), the food was all delicious and the ambiance was spot-on: refined diners transitioned to a bustling crowd surrounding the bar(s) as the night wore on, but always busy and lively in an otherwise swank setting. I guess I'll just always need to remember to put in a reservation, first! Food aside, I would head back just for the "Ellison"--or to see what else they're shaking up in the back room.

Postscript: My sister suggested posting two shorter blogs throughout the week instead of a longer one just on Sundays, so we're gonna try it out! Check back Wednesday to hear about Book of Mormon.

Also, it seems like Couture Fashion Week is still in the process of posting official photos of the shows; someone needs to volunteer to be in charge of this for them in exchange for tickets to avoid this ridiculousness for next season, please!

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