The space at Lord’s is big. Much bigger in comparison to Dame, the wildly successful and popular British seafood restaurant Patricia Howard and chef Ed Szymanski opened in June 2021. With a kitchen the size of Dame’s entire restaurant space and triple the number of seats Dame has (clocking in at about 60), the sheer size of the duo’s follow-up restaurant comes with endless possibilities.
“To us, it feels like a big, grown-up step,” says Howard.
“For most people, this is just a normal-sized restaurant,” jokes Szymanski.
A normal-sized restaurant where the operators can finally actualize their original concept of a meat-centric modern British restaurant and deliver the kind of experience they’ve always envisioned.
The Making of Lord’s
In March 2020, Howard and Szymanski were out of jobs — and not because of the pandemic: The duo had finally decided to go out on their own and be their own bosses.
The pair dreamt of a nose-to-tail English concept with a wood-fired grill. Alas, Szymanski and Howard would have all but six services to test drive pork rillettes, chicken and sweetbread terrine, and other offal-y treats before COVID-19 shut down their pop-up, named Dame.
You know what happened next: Szymanski and Howard pivoted to making brilliant fish and chips and opened Dame as a British seafood restaurant, after a wildly successful pop-up that launched in June 2020.
But Howard and Szymanski never stopped looking for a place that could accommodate their original concept. So, when such a restaurant space located just three blocks away from Dame hit the market, they pounced.
They toured the space in January of this year, signed the lease in May, and now, Lord’s is set to open on Oct. 3, with reservations going out on Resy Sept. 27 at noon.
If Dame is a playful English lady, Lord’s is Fergus Henderson. “I think he’s our spirit animal,” says Szymanski of the English chef behind the London nose-to-tail institution, St John. “That’s what we want to embody here as much as we can: Rigor in the cooking, but joyfulness and abundance in the dining room, without too much formality.”
For the London-born Szymanski, Lord’s is going back to his wheelhouse of meat-focused cooking and in-house butchery that have defined the near first decade of his career: he counts The Spotted Pig, The Beatrice Inn (where he and Howard met), and Cherry Point on his résumé. But it’s also an opportunity for him and his team to be much more ambitious and creative: the larger kitchen has room for a five-person prep team, a four-person kitchen crew (Szymanski included), and a dishwasher, too.
“You can only plan so much of the menu when you’re scrubbing the plancha at one in the morning,” Szymanski jokes.
Dame had always been restricting. With a tiny 20-seat dining room and an even tinier kitchen with room for just two cooks, “it definitely limited the creativity of the food,” says Howard. “I was the host and the manager and a server and a busser at times. We didn’t have the space to hire another body to help make for a smoother service.”
That all changes with Lord’s, they hope.
“We’ve grown up, and the restaurant is more grown up. I think the spirit is the same [as Dame’s], but the structure is much more mature and befitting of a more experienced restaurant group,” says Szymanski.
As for the food, he says, “It will be comfort food but refracted through a pretty English lens.”
A Menu Built on English Comfort Food
For the snacks section of the menu, that means oysters Kilpatrick (think crispy guanciale-laden oysters topped with a Worcestershire and brown butter mignonette), a twist on the Scotch egg with curried lamb, and housemade charcuterie.
The appetizers will showcase meat, seafood, and vegetables equally — the latter was especially important to Howard and Szymanski, who want vegetarian diners to be able to build a proper meal at Lord’s. Some of the options will include a “hopefully much better version of a terribly executed dish” Szymanski had as a schoolboy (aka cauliflower cheese), and a grilled mushroom kebab in a pool of lentils as one of the entrées.
A Closer Look at the Lord’s Menu
There’ll be trout smoked over hay, a beef tongue salad, clams steamed in cider with black pudding, and braised tripe in a Madeira sauce. Entrées will count a pie of the day (an old Cherry Point hit), poached skate, duck with stuffed cabbage, and a sirloin steak — there may even be a large-format order-ahead beef Wellington down the line. Welsh rarebit, a green salad, and “proper English chips” (the same ones and only crossover dish from Dame) are your sides of choice. Finally, Szymanski will show off his ice cream making skills alongside a selection of English-leaning desserts for your diner’s final sweet note: queen of puddings, a dark chocolate and coffee fool, and an apple and calvados trifle are but some of the offerings.
The beverage program will match the food, thanks to a much larger wine cellar they had than before, that won’t be so cheekily categorized as it is at Dame. It’ll skew heavily towards French labels — expect grower Champagnes, whites from Burgundy and Loire, Bordeaux reds, and lots of Jura — with some German and Italian bottles and sparkling English wines thrown in the mix, with lots of options in the $60 to $80 range.
Cocktails will be rooted in the classics with seasonal twists here and there. You can expect a fig leaf martini, a Damson Negroni (made with sloe gin instead of London dry), a black currant and Concord grape spritz, and a Black Velvet (an English cocktail with equal parts Champagne and Guinness) on the opening menu. And there’ll be lots of after-dinner spirits, lovingly displayed behind the bar, which will almost entirely seat walk-ins only.
All in all, it’s a much more rounded menu that the restaurateurs believe plucks the best parts from Dame and Cherry Point — that playfulness, the greenmarket focus, the comforting meat-centric cooking — mixed together.
Building a Different Kind of Restaurant
On the front-of-house side, Howard is thrilled to (only) be the general manager at Lord’s and offer a much more comfortable dining experience to guests. She speaks of it in the little details Dame could only dream of having: coat hooks, more bathrooms (including an accessible one), and room to breathe and not feel so cramped.
Howard would know; she’s designed the whole restaurant in a very hands-on way. But that’s something you may already know if you follow Lord’s on Instagram: she’s behind the account and has been offering an undiluted behind-the-scenes look on the making of Lord’s. (Do yourself a favor and check out the “Buildout” highlight before you make your Resy for Lord’s.)
The Design Details at Lord’s
The account also reads as an extremely helpful resource for fellow restaurateurs, too: in addition to sharing the woes of liquor license applications and lease negotiations, Howard is never secretive about her sourcing and happily shouts out the Bronx contractor that’ll cut scrap marble to order, and the chef-turned-carpenter who designed Lord’s table bases so the booths may have ample leg room.
“We try to be more transparent than a lot of other businesses,” says Howard. And this not only applies to what Howard shares via Instagram, but to the kind of restaurant model the duo first began building with Dame.
Dame stood out for its playful seafood dishes, paired with an off-kilter wine list and a Donna Summer-heavy playlist, but it also stood out because of its restaurant culture, which seemed to defy the old guard norms: the widely acclaimed restaurant closed on weekends, offered competitive kitchen pay, and even had chefs do service so they may partake in the tip pool, among others.
“It wasn’t long ago we were restaurant employees,” Szymanski explains. “We are in a better spot to empathize and don’t have to choose profit over people. You’ve seen the Resy Notify numbers [at Dame]: we could be open seven days a week if we wanted to and make everyone work. But we would rather work a sensible amount, [open] for five days a week, and make sure that [our staff] gets paid well, gets a sensible amount of time off, and has a good workplace culture.”
“At the end of the day, we just try to be super humane about our decision-making and ask the staff their opinions,” says Howard. “It’s a testament that the only person who’s left Dame since we opened was because they got a record deal.”
This ethos and way of doing things will follow through with Lord’s. In addition to closing on the weekend, the restaurateurs are excited for the team at Lord’s (all new except for chef Dago Cruz, who’s been with Szymanski and Howard since day one) to have room to grow in their respective roles, not just their employees, but themselves, as well.
“We’re hiring people who have been in the industry forever and I feel like we have to work even harder to prove ourselves to [them],” Howard says. “It encourages us to be better constantly. We want to do right by them and learn from them.”
It’s safe to say that Howard and Szymanski are building something very special. And given the larger space, the institutional knowledge they now possess, and the very fact that this is the original concept they had always wanted and envisioned, it very much feels like the duo is growing into their own.
Reservations for Lord’s will drop on Resy on Tuesday, Sept. 27 at noon with a first bookable date of Oct. 3. Lord’s is open Monday through Friday from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m.