Monument Lane (103 Greenwich Avenue, 212-255-0155), the relatively new West Village restaurant that took over the old Day-O digs, has been quietly establishing itself as a spot for tasty, slightly upscaled comfort foods. And a recent visit showed us that even the most humble of such dishes — fish sticks — can actually taste good if done right.
For $10, the restaurant offers an appetizer of a basket of fried fluke fingers. With that you also get a handful of fried clam bellies thrown in, which is great, because who doesn’t like the combo of fried and brine? The portion is fairly large, doable as a light entrée, if maybe you sprung for a side of fries for some fish ‘n’ chips action.
Arguably, because most fish sticks are made with mild varieties of swimmers, the dish is really all about the batter. And this one — crunchy, well-seasoned, and thick enough to hold its own — does the job right, while the fish remains moist and slightly flaky. The clams add a hint of salinity into the equation, while a dish of homemade tartar sauce makes for good dipping. All in all, this dish is about as far from a box of Gorton’s fish sticks as you can get. And that’s a very good thing.