The West Village restaurant Market Table occupies the old home of the legendary Shopsin's. Shopsin's and its mercurial owner Kenny Shopsin have since moved to a smaller place in the Lower East Side's Essex Street Market. Now, Market Table is the child of Little Owl's Joey Campanaro and Gabriel Stulman and ex-Mermaid Inn chef Mikey Price. Aesthetically it follows the low key luxury of Little Owl, while the menu reflects Price's fixation on seafood. The place is a lot like the West Village without Shopsin's: rich, unoffensive, restrained.
(This all plays into a pet theory: It's like the cast of characters that make New York interesting—Kenny Shopsin a prince among them—are constantly being called upon to reinforce faltering areas and retreating from hopeless ones. It's the strategy of a losing army. So the Lower East Side is richer for Kenny Shopsin and the West Village happy but poorer without him.)
Anyway. This isn't a knock on Market Table. Of the Bedford Street restaurant row, it is by far the best. Barfry is a bowling alley to its ballroom. Blue Ribbon bakery, though it's been there forever, can only look on in envy at what Market Table has done and think to itself, "Whoa, that is like a better us!" (That's how I feel when I look at Seth Meyers.)
The times I've visited Market Table, the food has been nicely done. There's also Yuengling which, as a Philadelphia boy, warms my heart. The crab cake sandwiches are, according to a Washingtonian friend with whom I ate, Chesapeake quality. Ed Levine calls their lunch hoagie one of the best in the city. The swordfish steak, on a bed of corn, avocado and greens, really showcases Price's ability to coax the best out of a fish.
The check comes in music books. One time I got a Marvin Gaye bio. The other night, my dinner for one (not sad, I had a book) came to $60, The check was tucked into the page of John Szwed's So What: The Life of Miles Davis. It was on page 269, at which point Miles Davis is roaming through the flash and funk boutiques of the West Village, high out of his mind. Would he have preferred Kenny Shopsin's blisters on my sisters to Mikey Price's apple and fennel salad?