The name Lord Stanley may evoke a stately and perhaps stodgy British gentleman, but the new restaurant bearing that name at the corner of Polk and Broadway Streets is anything but. Featuring spare whitewashed walls, floor-to-ceiling windows, and wooden tables, this thoroughly modern spot feels bright and airy. And its concise, changeable menu of dishes featuring seasonal local produce and sustainable meats and seafood offers fresh, innovative flavors.
Lord Stanley is co-owned and operated by Rupert and Carrie Blease, who did in fact meet in Oxfordshire, England while working at a two-Michelin-starred restaurant, Le Manoir Aux Quat Saisons, 12 years ago. (Rupert’s father’s name is Stanley.) The couple has worked in top restaurants around the world, most recently Central Kitchen and Commonwealth in the city. Their goal at Lord Stanley is to serve food that is simple yet refined with Californian, British, and European influences.
In addition to its small, uncluttered dining room and upstairs loft with a communal table, the restaurant has a standup bar designed to draw in neighbors. Wine and beer, both local and international, are diverse as is the changing selection of local draft beers, and house-made juices, sodas, and low-proof cocktails.
The menu at Lord Stanley, which changes frequently depending on the availability of seasonal produce, meat, and fish, is divided into snacks, starters, mains, and desserts. Snacks ($7-$8) may include olives with lemon verbena and picked shellfish (such as mussels) with fennel and oil. Starters ($15-$17) range from beef tartar with seaweed, cucumber, and nori cracker to English peas with fresh cheese curds, carrots, and dill. This verdant dish is served cold and bursts with flavor. Summer sings from the marinated heirloom tomatoes piled atop pain d’epices (a French spiced quick bread made from dark rye flour and honey) served with black garlic tapenade and shavings of pantaleo, a rare, firm goat’s milk cheese with notes of citrus from Sardinia, Italy.
Main courses ($25-$29) might offer up slow-cooked and grilled lamb shoulder; poached hen with seasonal sides, including sweet corn; black cod with fresh beans and avocado; and a vegetarian dish such as grilled summer squash with chanterelles, pine nuts, and truffle. Desserts ($12-$13) always include the chocolate pouch — chocolate pastry filled with cream and fruit on the side (figs, cherries, or whatever’s in season) — and cheese with granola and poached stone fruit. My gluten-free dining companion and I couldn’t find anything without flour for dessert, and the very obliging chef brought us a scrumptious dish of “Eton Mess,” a classic English pudding with fresh fruit and whipped cream.
My only complaint about Lord Stanley’s menu is that the portions are very small, which leaves two diners who share dishes feeling slightly underfed and those who have two of several main courses a bit light in the pocketbook. But there were no missteps on the menu; everything was lovely to look at and equally delicious.
Lord Stanley follows what it terms a European style of service, meaning that gratuity is included, “therefore tipping is neither required nor expected.” This helps the owners afford to pay a “living wage” to all of its employees. The chefs now offer a tasting menu every evening for about $83 for eight small courses with an optional beverage pairing of $35.
While pricey and maybe even a bit precious, Lord Stanley is still bound to be a big hit on Broadway.