At Home on the Shore

Text by Vanessa DeLeon

It’s easy to mistake the entrance to the subterranean playground that is Lure Fishbar for one of Manhattan’s many subway stops. Rest assured, the green iron stairs leading down to the yacht-like interior are loath to be stained with gum or city grime, instead replete with navy and ivory leather banquettes, cascading seafood plateaus and a few cheeky portholes to catch glimpses of the heels and loafers strolling the streets of SoHo. This immaculate conception of a restaurant is the work of designer Serge Becker, the “cultural engineer”—as hotelier André Balazs puts it—of Miss Lily’s, La Esquina and The Box.

Its owners, John McDonald and Josh Pickard, along with head chef Josh Capon, have an impressive repertoire of restaurants between them, including Lever House, Chinatown Brasserie, MercBar, and the younger B & B Winepub, which the power trio opened around the corner on W. Houston St. in 2010. Their rich background in lavishly appointed restaurants has certainly informed the group, for Lure, which opened in 2005, has achieved the clubhouse status that its luxe ambiance, indulgently diverse raw bar and stellar fish-centric menu have been carefully curated to evoke. Even Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock’s epitome of the power-luncher, has been spotted at the bar, where one can imbibe cocktails of moonshine or infused Arnold Palmers, and nibble on lobster rolls or chicken lollipops (chicken wings).

The intimately-lit space is a pleasure to behold, with teak-paneled walls, tartan plaid carpeting, flawlessly trimmed curvilinear walls and even a bit of lacquered latticing to separate the four distinct dining areas. Rounded leather banquettes, a Calder-esque red chandelier, and yet more teak—glossier than Donald Trump’s boat-deck—round out the modern and inviting main dining room. If the clatter and chatter of socialites and fashionistas becomes too much, one can always retreat to the J-shaped veneer bar and lounge area to relax in one of the blue suede booths among elegant walls of brass lanterns and black and white portraits.

For the elite, there is the secluded and narrow “private wine vault,” a white tablecloth affair whose polished walls have been adorned with photographs of the Kennedy clan, weathered fishermen and antique nautical maps as their embellishments, illuminated by spherical bulbs and hanging lanterns. The handsome space seats a prosperous 30 from behind tropical-style curtains, where guests can enjoy a variety of the restaurant’s raw, sushi or opulent surf & turf options. Adjacent is the sushi bar, where diners line up neatly in black leather bucket seats for a meal of omakase, where, for once, the chef, not you, decides dinner.

From the interior to the cuisine, Lure is a seductive arena that is likely not so dissimilar to the raucous pleasures that are indulged upon on the high seas. For all its sleekness and refinery it’s also an absurdly comfortable and welcoming venue, whose delicately themed design ebbs and flows with nostalgia for summers of madras, musseling and boiling lobster on the family island in Maine. This is a culinary voyage you won’t want
to disembark from.