Now that I’m officially settled into Midtown, I decided that it was time to make a second visit to The Lawrence. The restaurant was mostly empty when we arrived around 7:30 on a Friday evening, but was definitely packed to the brim when we left several hours later. We began the evening at the bar with a round of dirty martinis, which, despite the blue cheese olives, tasted a little off. I think the bartender was a little heavy-handed on the vermouth. We certainly couldn’t let them go to waste, so we drank them despite the over-vermouthness.
In the mood for some lighter fare, we stuck to the snacks & starters section of the menu. We started with the manchego cheese fritters and the “seasar” salad. The cheese fritters were fried crispy, and topped with shredded manchego and a nice sprinkle of paprika. They were also accompanied by a tangy and delicious chipotle aioli. Manchego is a pretty mild cheese, so the fritters definitely needed the kick of heat that the paprika and aioli provided. I almost think something sharper like a gruyere would have elevated this dish to a new level. The fritters themselves were tasty, but surprisingly not that cheesy. I was expecting something along the lines of the fried goat cheese at Ecco, but these were definitely doughier than they were cheesy.
The seasar salad was a wonderful and modern take on the classic Caesar. The baby kale and spinach leaves were tossed with a nice and light Caesar vinaigrette, with just the right amount of sea salt and cracked pepper. The salad was topped with shaved parmesan and a sprinkling of crispy, fried smelt croutons. The croutons were unique, tasty, and left me wanting more. I would definitely order this dish again.
Next, we moved onto seafood: the tuna tartare, the oysters rockafella, and the crawfish mac ‘n’ cheese. The tuna tartare was my favorite dish of the evening. The tartare was presented beneath a rice paper umbrella that was lightly dusted with paprika.
We eventually crumbled this onto the tuna to add a nice and crunchy element to the dish. The tuna was diced with a few togarashi peppers, tossed in a spicy sambal sauce, and drizzled with a charred scallion mayo. The sambal-togarashi spice combination was hot enough to set my mouth on fire, but balanced so well with the fresh, chilled tuna.
The fried rockafella oysters were served sans shell, over toasted baguette slices. The oysters were fried crispy over a braised kale and parmesan cream sauce, and topped with some colorful sweet peppers. The dish had a wonderfully rich flavor profile, but at the end of the day, I think I would have actually preferred a thin cracker over the baguette slices, so as not to take away from the flavor of the oysters themselves.
Last but not least, we ordered a side of the crawfish mac ‘n’ cheese, per Chad’s request. I’m not a huge crawfish fan, but there are few things in this world that don’t taste wonderful when they’re smothered in butter and cheese. This dish was no exception. The mac ‘n’ cheese was creamy, rich, & decadent, and the toasted panko crumbs on top provided the perfect textural contrast.
All in all, the meal was exactly what we were looking for – light, flavorful, and delicious, of course. We didn’t try any of the fun & creative cocktails that the bartenders were serving up left & right, but I was happy to see that the signature Lady Lawrence was still on the menu. Next on my list for the Lawrence, is to check out the brunch scene…or more specifically, the double stacked cheeseburger that calls my name every time I walk by the place on Saturday & Sunday.