New York has so few great seafood restaurants you’d think we were the largest city in Nebraska. Outside of the most exclusive sushi bars, kitchens that are entirely devoted to handling fish with care and finesse are rare. When I told a friend I was reviewing a new seafood restaurant that was actually kind of nice, he said, “Nice? Like Le Bernardin?”
No, Dame isn’t like Le Bernardin. No more than two dozen people can squeeze into its dining room in a pinch, and some will sit facing the chef, Ed Szymanski, as he works at the stove. Before the weather turned cool, another 30 or so could dine outside on the sidewalk and on the pavement of Macdougal Street in Greenwich Village.
Sitting outdoors like a guest at a lawn party, you can order what the menu calls “a proper Pimm’s Cup.” These are excellent. When you are ready for wine, you will be handed not a leather-bound volume as at Le Bernardin, but a sheet of paper whose two sides are headed, “What James Bond is Drinking” and “What Austin Powers is Drinking.” Both spies seem to prefer French whites, but Bond likes his pedigreed and well-tailored, while Powers goes for the free-spirited and sometimes funny-smelling ones.