Magazine article The New Yorker

Monument Lane

Magazine article The New Yorker

Monument Lane

Article excerpt

Lined with ho-hum cafes, shops, and remnants of St. Vincent's hospital, Greenwich Avenue always seems more dishevelled than the ultra-gentrified precincts to its west. But before the Revolutionary War, when most of the area was still fields, part of the street led to a monument honoring General James Wolfe and his victory over the Quebecois, and was known as Monument Lane. The restaurateur Josh Frum has spun this historical perspective into a kind of theme for the new restaurant he opened in April. One wall is dominated by a reproduction of Bernard Ratzer's 1767 map of New York; on another is a Betsy Ross American flag, an eighteenth-century Union Jack, and a Dutch flag. Tables made from salvaged antique doors have a weather-beaten patina, and lights above the bar rest on a sleigh-like wooden pig carrier from a meatpacking plant. Ironically enough, Frum's historical efforts were opposed by the Historic Districts Council, which hoped to preserve the metal Art Moderne facade of the previous tenant, a Caribbean diner.

So much for the history lesson; how's the food? Early reviews were gently deprecating, and the original chef, an alumnus of Picholine, soon left. On a visit a month ago, the impression was of an establishment treading water. The original menu had been retained, and the food was neither good nor bad. Dishes sounded better on the menu than they appeared on the plate. …

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