After a four-month hiatus, Ryan Skeen, late of Irving Mill, Allen & Delancey, and a famous “Get Me the Fuck Out of NYC” tweet, is back in the kitchen, cooking like a chef possessed. Not that the Café Boulud alum hasn’t always brought passion to his work, but unlike every kitchen he’s ever run before, the new 5 & Diamond in Harlem, where he’s a partner, is a place he can finally call his own. “This is the first restaurant where I haven’t been constrained by any other owners’ concepts of what I should do,” he says, not unlike a man who’s just been released from some sort of culinary Guantánamo Bay.
What this means for the American, Mediterranean-leaning menu is that everything on it, from shrimp-and-grits hush puppies to rabbit-and-ratatouille sausage with spaetzle, is the stuff Skeen likes to eat himself. There is housemade pasta (Tuscan kale and robiola agnolotti), lamb cassoulet, and the burger made from a blend of beef cheek, flap steak, and pork fatback that Skeen perfected at Irving Mill. Skeen plans to open quietly this Thursday through Sunday with the same schedule the following week, and by the time regular hours kick in, there will be breakfast pastries and sandwiches, two tasting menus, and a limited Sunday “family night” menu with dishes for sharing. Skeen’s partners, Lia Sanfilippo and Selene Martinez, are first-time restaurateurs who live in the neighborhood and hope to use the 35-seat former hardware shop as a vehicle for community activism, via cooking classes and other projects. “We don’t want to be just a great restaurant, we want to be a very conscious restaurant,” says Skeen.
5 & Diamond Menu [PDF]
2072 Frederick Douglass Blvd, nr. 112th St.; 646-684-4662