Sea Grill Thrills Quietly

In New York it's easy to forget about certain restaurants and chefs. Take the Sea Grill and Ed Brown. It's a corporate spot, owned and operated by Restaurant Associates, and though the well-spaced tables overlook the Rockefeller Center skating rink, the Sea Grill feels like a corporate spot, at least it did when I had lunch there last Friday (at dinner I presume there are fewer suits and a little more soul). But Ed Brown is a first-rate chef who uses his corporate resources wisely to buy the best ingredients on the planet. He then does his level-headed best not to mess with those ingredients very much. His food is disarmingly simple, his flavors direct and vivid. My lunch was very tasty indeed. I started with a snapper carpaccio with pickled red onions and baby cilantro, and then proceeded to a wonderfully meaty plate of sturgeon cooked a la plancha served with wilted spinach. The sturgeon had a lovely caramelized crust and the spinach delivered a surprising flavor punch. For dessert we had a palette of mini-ice cream cones and a couple of chocolate-covered banana mini-ice cream bars. There's not much new going on at the Sea Grill. When William Grimes last reviewed the restaurant for the Times, in 2000, he wrote about the same carpaccio presentation I alluded to above, and the same set of mini-ice cream cones. But it's still a treat to eat well-executed food prepared by a talented chef who still seems to care. Ed Levine Eats gives the Sea Grill a 90. The Sea Grill is at 19 W. 49th Street, 212-332-7610.