Home Food Restaurant Review: Penny, a Seafood Counter That Knows What It’s About

Restaurant Review: Penny, a Seafood Counter That Knows What It’s About

by белый

Almost everything on the menu at this sibling of Claud contains seafood. You sit at a counter to eat it. The only surprise is how well it all works together.

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PennyNYT Critic’s Pick★★★American;Seafood$$$90 East 10th Street, East Village

Chefs tend to load their first restaurants with every hope, dream, vision and idea they’ve ever had. It may not all come together, but if it comes close and if the ideas are any good, we can respond to the originality and overlook the weak spots.

That was my reaction to Claud, which the chef Joshua Pinsky opened with Chase Sinzer two years ago in the East Village. I was so happy with the food coming out of the kitchen that I didn’t mind the disjointed layout, which sometimes left me wondering if I was sitting in the wrong place. I didn’t care, either, that it was hard to see a thread that tied together the homespun devil’s food layer cake and the tomato mille-feuille built from sheafs of puff pastry that any patisserie in Lyon would be proud to claim. Still, my review attempting to answer the question “What is Claud?” took up more than 1,000 words, and I’m not sure it ever got where it was going.

Mr. Pinsky and Mr. Sinzer opened a second restaurant in March, directly above the first, up a short flight of iron stairs from the East 10th Street sidewalk. They named it Penny, and I can describe it in two words. It’s a seafood counter. With a few more words, I’ll tell you that the counter is comfortable and roomy, that seafood of one kind or another turns up in almost every item on the menu except the two desserts, and that it is handled with unusual sensitivity and clarity.

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Penny is a very good restaurant for many reasons, not the least of which is that it skates around so many of the little traps Claud fell into. I’m not trying to run down Claud, which is the more complex of the two and may be the more interesting. But Penny improves upon it in several ways, and that’s notable because restaurants that avoid the sophomore slump and manage not to come off as branding exercises are rare and getting rarer.

Ian Chapin, the interior designer who broke Claud up into small, distinct dining areas, takes the opposite tack with Penny. One nearly continuous counter, made of fog-white marble with fat, smoke-colored veins, runs down the entire space, which is long and narrow, like a bocce court. Facing the counter are 31 stools, all the same and all very comfortable, with cushy leather seats and backs and metal footrests.

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