Reviews >> Double Crown
Double Crown(Manhattan)

Double Crown is a British-Indo-Asian fusion restaurant located on Bowery in the East Village in Manhattan, opened by AvroKO, a rising Manhattan design firm that dabbles in disciplines ranging from fine cuisine to women's fashion and is known for their maniacal attention to detail, from the historical era evoked by bathroom faucets to the texture of exposed bricks in dining room walls. Another of AvroKO's Manhattan restaurants, Public, which opened in 2003, earned a Michelin star in the fall of 2008, the same time Double Crown opened.

At Double Crown, expect starters--available at a table or alongside drinks in the bar/lounge--to range from $5 to $17; main dishes range from $16 to $20; desserts are around $9 each; cocktails $9 to $12. Given its trendy location and popularity with the young-but-rising professional crowd, we recommend calling ahead for reservations for prime dining hours.

Double Crown is attached to a Bar and Lounge, Madam Geneva--an 18th century British term for gin--that offers a more casual atmosphere but serves "hawker-style" appetizers and cocktails. Double Crown's front room--its primary dining area--opens into the bar and the communal table area. The tables are arranged with varying degrees of openness and sound. Some patrons sit in the booths farthest from the bar for a romantic dinner, while others take seats in the middle of the front room to absorb the atmosphere, best described as an artistic juxtaposition of antiquity with modernity. AvroKO is notorious for scouring places from flea markets to thrift stores for the perfect paneling, doorknob, or cultural relic, and the unique character of Double Crown glows softly beneath dim amber lights to evoke a mysterious, east Asian vibe.

Double Crown Dining Room, Photo courtesy of AvroKO

While we admired the interior design, we were initially skeptical of Double Crown's cuisine because restaurants seldom advertise British culinary influences. However, Double Crown did not conjure its menu in a British culinary vacuum; it drew heavily from the rich culinary experiences of its chefs, including Chef de Cuisine Christopher Rendell. Rendell grew up in Melbourne with an English father and a Russian mother who frequently exposed him to Indonesian influences and Thai flavors in her cooking. Later Rendell traveled through Asia and Europe to learn various cuisines, working for several years in London and Singapore. Rendell describes Double Crown's fare as the kind familiar to many Australians.

Chef de Cuisine, Christopher Rendell

Rendell told us that every dish at Double Crown is crafted under a long design process. Besides the flavors, textures, and tastes that are commonly considered before adding a dish to the menu, at Double Crown the chefs and servers collaborate to examine the servability--as Rendell called it-- of any menu item. Do they want people to sit down for a long time? Should they want this every day? Is it more suitable with their signature Gooseberry Smash, while sitting in Madam Geneva (the adjacent bar and lounge) or as an appetizer in the center of their front room?

With meticulous attention to detail, placing items on Double Crown's menu can take days, weeks, even months. Rendell claims that patrons can--and some do--come to Double Crown every day of the week and have a different experience each time: sitting at the bar for drinks, enjoying cocktails outdoors, dining with a date in the front room, sitting with business associates at the communal table, or hosting a more private meal in the panel room. And that's excluding Madam Geneva.

Double Crown Communal Table, Photo courtesy of AvroKODouble Crown Panel Room, Photo courtesy of AvroKO

We began with Double Crown's Duck Steam Buns, one of Rendell's favorite dishes. Double Crown makes their duck steam buns from scratch every day with a high yeast content which shows; the sourdough was exceptionally soft and airy and added a delicious bite to the savory duck. We enjoyed the steam buns, flavored with scallion, cilantro, and hoisin sauce, and instantly craved more. Any patron who has ever visited a Chinese bakery and enjoyed a hot bun should try Double Crown's take on steam buns.

Double Crown Duck Steam Buns

After the steam buns we moved onto a flavorful carrot and cardamom soup, an extremely well-balanced soup with a soft bite at the back of each spoonful, excellent for tasting a little heat. Double Crown floated a chili marshmallow in the soup that mellowed out all the flavors, complementing the sharp cardamom and cilantro oil. The pumpkin seeds stuck out a bit, as their savory kick outlasts the soup's spices, but the soup as a whole warmed us like a hot bowl of butternut squash puree. However, we recommend caution before ordering this soup on a hot, summer day.

Double Crown Carrot and Cardamom Soup

Our next appetizer was a dish of seared yellowtail filets. Each was topped with a lightly fried lotus root and a delightful lime vinaigrette. The dish made no attempt to mask its oriental roots--it was served with chopsticks and pickled Chinese beans. We were pleased that the searing maintained the character of raw yellowtail and did not mask its characteristic savory richness. We felt this dish was perfect for anyone looking for an edgier take on a typically oriental food.

Double Crown Seared Yellowtail

From the yellowtail we moved on to an even more interesting dish, Tandoori Foie Gras Torchon. It was artfully arranged with watercress, earl grey prunes, and toasted nut loaf. It differed from typical foie gras torchon because it was pressed and rolled in a bed of savory spices before being cut and baked. The Tandoori Foie Gras Torchon paired well with the delicate prunes and as a dish it meshed together exceptionally well, a shining example of how Double Crown crafted subtle, fusion cuisine without resorting to slathering every dish with Sriracha sauce.

Double Crown Tandoori Foie Gras

An interesting fact about Double Crown: every ingredient that can be made from scratch, is. The next appetizer we tried was their Streaky Ham, a house-cured ham streaked with broad ribbons of delicious pork fat. It was served on a bed of spicy, whole-grain mustard, also crafted in-house, with a small dish of glazed figs and a light Chardonnay vinaigrette. While the smoky ham tasted delicious as smoked pork fat often does, the house-made mustard screamed of what mustard should taste like: extremely spicy and fragrant.

Double Crown House-Cured Streaky Ham

While ham-and-mustard on lightly-oiled bread was interesting, it was not nearly as edgy as our next dish: Miso-Glazed Bone Marrow, served in a half-open bone. To those whom have never tried bone marrow slathered on brioche, imagine spreading hand-churned butter with the consistency of homemade jam on bread. The miso flavoring was exceptionally subtle; the chefs clearly understood bone marrow well--it's an ingredient you let speak for itself. The house-made orange-olive marmalade was more evidence of Double Crown's expertise in combining flavors and ingredients--paired with the miso glazed bone marrow on brioche; it presented a delicious, creamy amalgamation of unique flavors. While some may consider the dish too adventurous, it's certainly a great dish for showing off to any foodie friends.

Double Crown Miso-Glazed bone marrow

After a half dozen of appetizers, we were ready for a main entree. We tried Double Crown's Big Braised Short Rib, a behemoth of a dish. The rib was as long as our forearm and the meat was incredibly tender, soft, and juicy, separating easily with a fork. The fennel was sweet and complemented the meat. As a whole, the dish was extremely impressive, save for the Brussels sprouts that were served more charred than our liking. The hostess told us we'd be surprised at the number of matchstick-thin women in Manhattan who come into Double Crown and finish an entire big braised short rib in a single sitting.

Double Crown Big Braised Short Rib

For dessert, we were treated to a trio of delights: the rice pudding samosa, the milk chocolate passion fruit s'more, and a passion fruit marshmallow from one of Double Crown's dessert plates. The milk chocolate s'more was an original twist on classic over-the-campfire s'mores, made with a delicate passion fruit marshmallow and milk chocolate ice cream. The passion fruit marshmallow had a texture similar to the airiest of cakes.

Double Crown Milk chocolate passion fruit s'moreDouble Crown Passion Fruit MarshMallow

However, the rice pudding samosas--a delicate combination of honey apple chutney, carrot ice cream, and fenugreek anglaise (a cream made from the fenugreek plant)--demonstrated Double Crown's mastery of modern fusion cuisine. We loved the savory flavors characteristic of samosa subtly complementing the honey apple chutney and rice pudding samosas. While the samosas are more savory than traditional desserts, we believe it's an excellent choice for patrons willing to try new things without risking being too adventurous.

Double Crown Rice pudding samosaDouble Crown Assorted Desserts

Our final verdict? That Double Crown is a restaurant of dualities, mingling tastes from opposing ends of the world as masterfully as it juxtaposes soapstone screens and Victorian decor with meticulous precision. We recommend Double Crown to anyone willing to give imperialist cuisine a chance.

Home Reviews Gallery Home Science About Contact Web Design by Monica Zhou
Free Hit Counter