5 & Diamond Restaurant NYC
Chef Ryan Skeen is as famous for his aggressively-flavored, meat-centric cooking as he is notorious for his too-public battles with owners and partners and other chefs and, um, everyone else in the world. We loved the fatty, offal-y delights at Skeen's Resto, for example, and his flap-meat burger at Irving Mill is the stuff of carnivore legend. But, really, Skeen? Five restaurants in two years? Anyway, Skeen's latest venture is–was?–5 & Diamond Restaurant, on the southwest edge of Harlem, which he opened a few months ago but, as of today anyway, is already phasing out of his life, having taken on a "consulting" or "friend of the restaurant" role.
We went to 5 & Diamond Restaurant earlier this week, and though the weather wasn't ideal for some of the heavier offerings–fourth hottest day in NYC since 1870!–we can report that some of Chef Ryan Skeen's signature-type dishes have survived the journey north intact, and, more important, that Chef David Santos is doing an excellent job in the pinch-toque role. In fact, our favorite item of the night, and a definite contender for best dish of the year, was the seemingly un-Skeenish appetizer of Seared Scallops, cooked to perfection (charred outside, melty within), served in a puddle of sweet apricot "gazpacho", with grilled spring onions and the under-used, celery-like lovage. This is an extraordinary dish: deft, balanced, and tasting of everything we love about summer.
Another 5 & Diamond Restaurant NYC gem was the Sockeye Salmon entree, the intensely-flavored fish brightened with chunks of chilled melon, avocado puree and a foamy tomato ginger sauce. The triple-digit temperatures outside almost dissuaded us from ordering Chef Ryan Skeen's trademark Burger, but cooler heads prevailed and we happily wolfed this juice-sodden, insanely delicious pan-seared patty of bavette steak (aka flap meat), beef cheek, and pork fatback (the fries, it should be noted, we're under-cooked to the point of inedibility). Also good if somewhat weather-inappropriate: the generous portion of Gruyere & Mimolette Mac & Cheese, sharp, creamy, and a steal for eight dollars. Much less of a bargain was the $12, somewhat ho-hum green salad with goat cheese, buttery croutons and–the best part–pickled cherry tomatoes. Finally, we sampled the Tempura Asparagus from the $5 happy-hour menu, the lightly-battered spears nicely paired with a sticky black soy sauce. All in all: totally worth the trip, even when it's 100 degrees outside.
5 & Diamond Restaurant NYC Details
5 & Diamond Restaurant is located on Frederick Douglass Boulevard (which is what Central Park West turns into when the park ends at 110th), between 112th and 113th Street, and is open on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30 until 10:00, and on Fridays and Saturdays until 11:00. The room is smallish, pretty, and bright; the staff friendly and professional. For more information and a sample menu, please see the 5 & Diamond Menupages listing.