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Posts from the ‘west village’ Category

Monument Lane: Where English Colonialism is Good

Maybe it was my personal elation from securing employment or maybe it was the wonderful crew of friends who showed up to help me celebrate or maybe it was just Monument Lane’s infectious warmth, but whatever it was, I freaking adore this place. Monument Lane, a West Village newcomer on the same stretch of Greenwich Avenue as Bennie’s Burritos, Tea & Sympathy, and Lyon, is a marvelous addition to a neighborhood seemingly saturated by cozy ‘neighborhood-y’ establishments. Sure, it’s not a brilliant new idea, a bastion of nouveau gourmet techniques, or a foodie’s fantasyland, but does that really matter when the Anglo-American comfort food is executed well, the cocktails are classic and strong, and the general mood seems to fluctuate between pleasantly satiated and truly convivial?

The new tenant in a long-vacated spot on Greenwich Avenue in the West Village, Monument Lane has settled itself nicely into a misshapen and quirky corner space. The result of much interior design work is an angular room with more than a few nooks and crannies. At the entrance is a bar, crowded with people waiting for the rest of their parties to arrive before sitting down to dinner; it’s a transient bar crowd, not the sort that sits around for the sheer pleasure of it. This is probably for the best, considering the bartender seems to suffer from forgetfulness and an inability to prepare a cocktail in under 5 minutes.  Several lucky diners get to reap an unsung benefit of a corner restaurant – plenty of window tables. Pressed up against the plate glass windows, these hot seats are ideal for watching the world go by, with a loved one, good friends, or perhaps just on your own. Further into the interior of the restaurant are tables for bigger groups – on a Saturday night, Monument Lane could accommodate at least two parties of eight and with those, the place is rollicking. Tucked mostly out of sight, away from the bar and away from the windows, is the best seat in the house – a wood-paneled booth surrounded by walls on three sides, over which towers a vintage Union Jack.

The kitchen delivers Anglo-American comfort food, dressed up to suit the palates of discerning New Yorkers. To begin, it’s hard to turn down the siren song of soft whole wheat pretzel bites and cheese dip, of fresh ricotta dusted with lemon, of hot and tart buttered radishes, and of a classic fisherman’s fried basket filled with greasy but not too greasy bits of fried clam bellies and fried fluke fingers. Each starter was lovely in it’s own right, but the string of them together had my group of eight friends remarking on what a great meal this was sure to be. Later in the meal, a stunning rendition of classic American meatloaf includes not just gravy, but bacon gravy – an unforgettable touch that transforms a pedestrian dish often overcooked, undercooked and slapped together into a sinfully rich carnivore’s delight. The lobster roll, while not the best in the city, tries hard to impress with a hot buttered ciabatta bun, not too much mayo, and a plentiful helping of sweet succulent lobster meat – although it’s not a Maine lobster roll, it’s still pretty difficult not to enjoy it. A New York strip steak is cooked tender and bloody pink, if you let the kitchen have it’s way, and paired with the sweet bite of cipollini onions. For vegetarians, the fried green tomatoes are a wonderfully light option – crispy and breaded on the outside yet cut open to expose the thick juicy bright green tomato slice within. Each of the entrees had that satisfying heartiness that makes comfort food so beloved and had my friends moaning in pleasure over their plates.

Yes, it’s true – I loved almost every bite of my Monument Lane meal and not because it was exquisite in the way that Gramercy Tavern or Gotham Bar & Grill or Eleven Madison Park are exquisite. Instead, I loved Monument Lane because it was so pleasantly plebian, so warm and so delicious. It was the food you want to eat when it’s cold outside, when you’re having a rough week, when you’re tired of oily delivery and, perhaps, the limitations of your own cooking. Sure, Monument Lane has it’s quirks – including a particularly surly waitress, the tortoise-slow bartender, a no-reservations for parties under 6 people policy, and an unwillingness to seat incomplete parties – yet, if you relax and enjoy what’s coming to you, the experience can be quite pleasant.

Perfect For: West Village natives, groups of 6 to 8 friends looking to celebrate, Anglophiles, comfort food fanatics, first dates, girls night out, a casual dinner with mom and dad

Monument Lane on Urbanspoon

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Mole: Classic Mexican with West Village Flair

Since I moved to the West Village in 2009 and subsequently left it this past spring, I have wanted to try Mole, a classic Mexican restaurant on the corner of Hudson Avenue and Jane Street that seems consistently mobbed. Owned by the same team behind Yorkville’s beloved Taco Taco and a similar Mole Lower East Side Location, Mole focuses on presenting traditional Mexican fare like sopas, burritos, taquitos, fresh grilled corn, and empanadas in a casual, eclectic and friendly environment.

Situated on Hudson Avenue where the West Village begins to fade into the Meatpacking District, Mole is distinctly more West Village than Meatpacking in character. Instead of flashy, it is quirky and low-key; instead of chart-topping hip hop hits, Latin American tunes and old-school jazz floats from the speakers; instead of gaggles of girls in stilettos and skin-tight dresses, a more mellow hipster crowd comes a-callin’. Mole is to the West Village as Dos Caminos is to the Meatpacking District. The small space is colorful, with rust-colored exposed brick, burnt orange Mexican tile, artwork flecked with bright blues, reds and yellows, and sparkling silver pendant lanterns. Rough exposed ceiling beams, rustic wooden floorboards, and an open kitchen in the back lend a warm and homespun feel to the place. On cool summer nights, the sidewalk patio is a wonderful spot to sit and watch the world go by.

The food at Mole is a sort of greatest hits compilation of traditional Mexican cuisine. Expect tacos, burritos, empanadas, chips & gaucamole, all sorts of salsas, quesadillas, ceviches, taquitos, sopes, fajitas, and carne asada. The mostly simple dishes are well-executed, flavorful, and familiar – a far better version of the cheap takeout Mexican food that appears on virtually every Manhattan block. The queso fundido starter is decadent, consisting of an entirely over-the-top bowl of gooey melted cheese (best when topped with marinated crumbled chorizo), paired with jalapeno slices and a marvelous salsa verde, and big enough for a large group. Rich and delicious, it far surpasses that served as nearby Empellon. Burritos are almost comically large – served over-stuffed like your favorite couch, pillowy, and twice the size of a typical burrito. The grilled marinated chicken filling is light, tender, juicy, and especially marvelous with accompanied by the silky homemade guacamole.

Mole’s tacos come in a dizzying array of mix-and-match options. You can have two stuffed with everything from chorizo and carne asada to three different types of pork (carnitas, chipotle with cabbage, and adobo marinated) or a vegetarian blend of spinach, cabbage and mushrooms. Or, if you want something more than your classic tacos, you can opt for the taquitos borrachos, crispy and slender fried tacos lightly-stuffed with shredded beef and sprinkled with cotija cheese. Seafood tacos are also available, as either baja-style shrimp or fish (a raw seared tuna when I stopped by), and served on blue corn tortillas with light and zesty dipping sauces. The options continue with soft tacos filled with adobo marinated pork and succulent grilled pineapple, ‘american’ style tacos with ground beef, lettuce, tomato and onions, and shredded beef brisket tacos with guacamole.

Mole is a casual and uncomplicated spot – ideal for neighborhood dining, a mellow margarita happy hour amongst good friends, or a casual date spot for long-term lovers. It’s charming and relaxed with a menu that doesn’t attempt too much and pleases in its simplicity. The kitchen executes the classic Mexican fare well, with lots of spices, salt and seasoning – the product just tastes great. Service suits the mood; it’s warm, welcoming and friendly, where your waiter always says good-bye as you walk out and the bartender waves hello when new guests walk in. All in all, Mole is not a game-changing restaurant, a hotspot, or a ‘fine dining’ establishment, but it’s just marvelous for a late weekend lunch, happy hour or an informal dinner with colleagues, family or friends.

 

Mole on Urbanspoon

Fedora: A Popular Neighborhood Dive Reborn

When I first moved to Perry Street two years ago, Bar Fedora was a total dive – the sort of spot popular with aging men from the surrounding ‘hood (i.e. not a place I’d visit regularly). Although beloved by neighborhood patrons, Bar Fedora went under about a year ago. Gabe Stulman, of Joseph Leonard and Jeffrey’s Grocery fame, has spruced up Fedora, transforming it into a neighborhood hotspot with artisanal cocktails and an haute comfort food menu that’s all the rage right now.

Fedora is tiny. Descending down the few stairs into the cozy dining room, it’s hard not to notice how truly small this new ‘hotspot’ is, especially when it’s crammed with people. The narrow space has small mismatching dining tables against one wall and a long wooden bar on the other. The look is simple and tasteful, with hints of old Americana peppered through out. White walls covered with beautiful photographs and a white tin ceiling help this space-challenged restaurant out, and the lustrous black leather banquettes and gleaming bar add a touch of luxury to the otherwise sparse decor. Much of these design elements are left unnoticed though when the night really gets swinging; more interesting is the fashionable yet diverse crowd that packs into the various nooks and crannies of the quirky space and pushes towards the bar good-naturedly.

There’s no dispute here that the food is very good. It’s not the most thrilling or innovative menu ever, but perhaps that’s not the intention. The food is classic homey-American with ‘haute’ finishes here and there; in fact, it’s almost identical to that served at Stulman’s other establishment, Joseph Leonard. Expect unusual proteins like lamb sausage and hake, various offal at times, a crispy fried chicken, and two ‘special’ appetizers that rotate on a weekly basis. The chicken liver toast, a regular these days on trendy menus all over Manhattan, is good; it’s not marvelous and it’s not near the best I’ve had recently, but the chicken liver mousse is creamy and smooth, and the red cabbage topping is a refreshing surprise. The week I visited, one of the special appetizers was a raw tuna dish, served ceviche-style, with a pepper vinaigrette; it was light and zesty, meaty without tasting heavy; the quality of the fish was indisputably high.

The entrees were virtually flawless – the perfect combination of hearty and soulful and executed beautifully. The roasted hake served atop a creamy polenta with shitake mushrooms and radish is the perfect antidote to a warm summer evening; somehow, miraculously, it packs in huge amounts of creamy savory flavor and yet still manages to feel light and refreshing. It hit all the right flavor-notes, harnessing tastes of both the ocean and the earth. The lamb sausage and octopus was equally marvelous – though in a completely different way. Hefty and substantial, the combination of thick lamb sausage, a long octopus tentacle, crunchy lentils, and minted sour cream was nothing short of explosive; the dish was salty, savory, meaty, and a mix of playful textures.

Fedora is exactly the sort of place you want to go to on an ‘off-peak’ sort of night – a night when the crowds are all elsewhere and you can enjoy your hand-crafted barrel-aged cocktail and your pressed pork sandwich without being distracted by the glint of a 23 year old girl’s sequin dress that’s altogether too close to your food. When it’s not stuffed to the gills with the hordes of hot young things dying to check out the hottest new bar, Fedora is quite charming – the ideal sort of neighborhood spot that you can still take your fashionable friends to without worrying about whether it’s cool enough. Because, trust me, it’s cool enough.

Perfect For: people-watching, fancy cocktails, Sunday night supper, West Village locals, before the a big night out

Fedora Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Empellon: Mostly Missing Lowbrow Mexican

‘Trendy’ Mexican food seems to be a thing in New York these days, as evidenced by former wd-50 pastry chef Alex Stupak’s new Empellon and its predecessors Cascabel Tacqueria, Toloache, Dos Toros, Hecho en Dumbo and so forth. Whether or not this thing, usually a blend of dressed-up Mexican street food, fancy cocktail menus, and a casually elegant vibe, is successful depends on the restaurant, and unfortunately, Empellon struggles where others have triumphed.

On the suddenly red hot corner of West 4th and West 10th in the West Village, Empellon is pretty much like every other hip ‘neighborhoody’ restaurant in the area. It has fresh white walls, unadorned dark wooden tables, a backlit bar stocked with all sorts of fancy alcohols (mostly artisan tequilas here), rounded leather booths for groups, and the requisite gilt-framed mirror, you know, to make the room look bigger or whatever. Sure, it’s comfortable and charming, but this look is starting to get a little bit redundant (see: 10 Downing, Bistro de la Gare, Casa, Recette, Kingswood, and so on and so forth). I ask myself: why should I come here if there are carbon copies with different menus littered throughout the surrounding blocks?

Perhaps my beef with Empellon rests in that not only was the atmosphere ‘same old same old,’ but the food was wildly inconsistent. Some of what the kitchen produced was truly delicious, while other dishes were just plain bad. The guacamole is wonderful – the type of stuff you could eat every night with one of the bar’s stiff tequila or mezcal-based house cocktails. And its made even better by the two ‘salsas’ its served with – a smoked cashew sauce and a smoky arbol chile variety; both are distinctive and addictive. Yet, the tacos were over-priced at $12 each and almost inedible. The lamb barbacoa tacos, by far the most tasty sounding, were pretty awful – underseasoned lamb meat, a tough tortilla, horrible bits of bitter green olives that overpowered every other meek flavor in there. The chicken variety were better, though not by much; like the lamb barbacoa, the chicken was egregiously under-seasoned, and unfortunately, not even the little nuggets of green chorizo could save this dish.

Other non-taco dishes are better – the octopus marisco with parsnip and a lovely dressing of chipotle, sweet spices, and an unrefined sugar called piloncillo is well-cooked and an unusual spin on an octopus starter. The queso fundido options sound ridiculously good. I mean, how could you not salivate over a bowl of melted cheese served with warm tortillas? However, the execution was not as good as it could have been. I was imagining some sort of decadent Mexican fondue, and yet what I was delivered was a disappointingly small bowl of extremely concentrated pseudo-melted cheese that had hardened a bit too much. Its hard not to like melted cheese, and so, of course, I ate every bit of what was served; yet, at the end of the day, I would rather just go get some fondue at The Bourgeois Pig. The best part of the meal was the end of the meal. The bunuelos, a bowl of churros-like fried doughnut holes, are utterly incredible. Served with two sauces, a warm honey and an absurdly-delicious caramel-ish cajeta, these are like Pringles on steroids (once you pop, you just can’t stop). I could eat them every night, if I didn’t mind risking heart failure.

Empellon is fine; it’s not great and its not dreadful. Mostly, it just makes me miss low-brow Mexican fare from such favorites as Benny’s Burritos and Maryann’s Mexican. Why pay $12 for a crappy taco if you can pay half that for a scrumptious burrito or decadent plate of nachos at a less chi-chi spot? or perhaps a better question is, in a neighborhood as jam-packed with quality restaurants as the West Village, why pay exorbitant prices for mediocre food when those same prices will get you something amazing just down the street? That being said, if you’re only looking for some guac and awesome cocktails with your lady friends, Empellon is undoubtedly your spot.

Perfect For: guacamole and margheritas at the bar, ladies night out, west village locals

Empellon on Urbanspoon

Spasso: A Dime a Dozen and No Less Enjoyable

In Italian, Spasso means amusement, and the West Village newcomer from the team behind the now defunct Choptank seems to be meant just for that sort of thing: amusement. Replacing neighborhood favorite Alfama, Spasso is rustic and charming, bustling, buzzing, and cheerful. Set on the corner of Perry Street and Hudson, Spasso is almost impossibly scenic: fresh white paint, big bright windows, exposed brick, a long and crowded bar, glinting mirrors, an attractive staff…it’s quintessential West Village – the sort of place the locals will fawn over adoringly.

The inside is bright and shiny and new, though with the ubiquitous ‘lightly distressed’ look popular with trendy rusticity these days. The bar, which runs down almost the entirety of the restaurant, is marble and set for dinner. On a quiet night, its a lovely place to eat alone or with a friend; on a busy night, it’s mobbed and better for glasses of wine and socializing. In the rest of the awkwardly-shaped restaurant, the tables line the walls and windows with comfortable banquettes and modern funky orange chairs or are stuffed into odd corners and quirky nooks. Perhaps the prime table though is pushed up against the window up front, near the door. A four-top, it’s isolated from the hub-bub in the back and commotion at the bar.
The food at Spasso is both traditional and contemporary ‘artisanal’ Italian – the most remarkable thing about it is the quality of the ingredients, which you can taste in every bite. Cured meats and sausages, unusual cheeses, fresh-baked bread, luxury olive oils, fresh and seasonal vegetables, homemade and hand-rolled pastas – it’s a verifiable cornucopia of luxe products. The starters are presented more like small plates and divided into pesce, verdure, formaggi, and carne casalinga; the options are dizzying. I ask, how is one to choose between such things as coppa and scallion, lardo and smoked mozzarella, pools of homemade stracciatella served with crusty bread, delicate cuts of robiola and taleggio, slender cured sardines with pickled radicchio, tendrils of charred octopus with creamy yogurt and mint, eggplant arancini with fluffy whipped housemade ricotta, or a simple tricolore salad with a zesty lemon vinaigrette? And those represent only half of the options you have to pick from to start a meal…
The primi and secondi courses are fairly traditional and hearty interpretations of Italian cuisine. The pastas are wonderful – cooked perfectly, tender, savory, and heart-warming. The spaghetti al pomodoro is simple and satisfying – it’s a classic red ‘gravy’-soaked dish and great if you’re craving something uncomplicated. The maccheroni di busa is just plain addictive with a pork ragu that I want to sop up with bread and lick out of the bowl before they take it from me – additions of fennel and goat cheese don’t hurt either, adding depth to an already delicious dish. With such soul satisfying pastas, it’s hard to imagine why you would order anything else, but, if you must, the entrees at Spasso are pretty good also. In particular, the grilled lamb chops are cooked perfectly to a pinky-red and served with a fresh and bright tomato marmelleta and sweet pools of vincotto – the flavors are unusual yet combine beautifully for an overall earthy taste.

Spasso is an immensely enjoyable addition to a neighborhood known for its charming restaurants. It’s hard to imagine how an immediate area that’s home to The New French, Cafe Cluny, Paris Commune, The Place, L’Artusi, August, and The Spotted Pig, amongst many others, can support another casual and cozy eatery; and yet, early on a Wednesday night, Spasso was packed to the gills with fashionable types, emerging for a relaxed yet stylish meal from their nearby brownstones. While it is ‘just another West Village restaurant’, with a similar vibe, price point, and clientele to many of those listed above, it’s also a lovely Italian option in a neighborhood heavy on French and New American and a wonderful alternative for desserts and wine.

Perfect For: West Village locals, solo eating at the bar, bustling sunday brunch, double-dating, pasta fanatics, hearty family dinners out, early in the night eats
Spasso on Urbanspoon

Hotel Griffou: A Fashionable Boarding House Reborn – Again

I’ve always been intrigued by Hotel Griffou, mostly because I can’t lie about my mildly embarrassing fascination with supper clubs and their spawn. Granted, the faux supper club on 9th Street and 5th Avenue has gotten slammed for its service, it’s pretensions, an obnoxious crowd, and so forth. However, not even this laundry list of bad reviews was going to keep me away. And good thing it didn’t, either all those reviewers were on crack and prejudiced for whatever reason or Hotel Griffou has really cleaned up its act.

The location is lovely, situated in the basement of a posh building, a former 1870s boarding house, on 9th Street, just off the famous Fifth Avenue ‘Golden Mile.’ The restaurant is dark and twisty, in a good sort of way, with dim sultry lighting and a collection of dining rooms modeled after townhouse parlors and living rooms. Up front is the bar, generally crowded with a fashionable group of after-work suits, writers, gallery owners, fashionistas, and so forth. Its remarkable how attractive every person I encountered appeared to be – perhaps it was the lighting. The dining rooms are cozy and stylish, with luxe dark wood dining tables, petite personal ‘gas’ lamps, fancy wallpaper that seems taken from the stairways of a Victorian home, and all sorts of vintage-y portraits and paintings. Yes, the look is now a little over-done in New York’s trendy dining scene, but it just looks so pretty that it’s hard to get tired of.
I had quite a bit of trepidation regarding the food, given the less than complimentary reviews from the NYTimes and NYMag. However, with the hiring of Chef David Santos in October of 2010, everything has changed: the menu is marvelous and the food even better – magic seems to have made its way to Griffou. The organic poached egg starter is near perfect: a beautifully poached egg sits atop rustic bits of gnocchi romani, which are swimming in a decadent truffled chestnut veloute. When you cut into the egg, the rich yolk explodes over the rest of the plate, coating the gnocchi in a golden yellow glaze. Also excellent is the housemade cavatelli, a perfectly-portioned bowl of well-made cavatelli, cooked to an addictive chewy texture and served with bitter and refreshing broccoli rabe, a dusting of chili flakes, and melted clothbound cheddar that hints at classic mac n’ cheese. Though I didn’t have a chance to sample them this time, I have plans to go back for the golden cod brandade fritters and the fois gras terrine, served with an unusual-sounding jasmine and kumquat marmalade.
The entrees are grand: roast suckling pig, a whole roasted chicken for two, lamb leg, peking style duck, tuna bolognese, and so forth. Of course, there is also the requisite ‘haute’ burger, and this one is pretty damn delicious. Served on a buttery toasted brioche bun, Santos keeps it simple with a perfectly cooked and impossibly juicy patty, a thick slice of sharp Vermont cheddar, and sweet dried tomatoes. On the side, an ‘artful’ mess of golden brown salty and crispy fries – parfait! My friend was lucky enough to find on the menu the branzino, served beautifully filet-ed with crispy skin and a bed of luscious gnudi. Its safe to say that with the arrival of Chef Santos, Hotel Griffou’s food woes are a thing of the past. There was not a single misstep all night for Santos and his kitchen – a rare thing in a restaurant known more for its scene than its cuisine.
Hotel Griffou was a wonderful surprise – you can’t help but feel chic in its sultry renovated ‘boarding house’ rooms, surrounded by beautiful people. The food was hearty and sophisticated, accessible, and packed with flavor; each dish was well-executed. Naturally though, whether because of its coveted location or its fashion-friendly image, the prices are steep. Appetizers rarely dip below $14 and entrees below $25 – glasses of wine or one of the house specialty cocktails add frighteningly quickly to the bill. However, if you’re looking for a quintessentially trendy downtown New York restaurant, where reservations are reasonably accessible and the food is good, Hotel Griffou offers up a pleasant and, at times, exciting experience.
Perfect For: showing off your new shoes, cocktails with friends, pretty people-watching, a night of indulgence, swanky eats before a night on the town, burning a hole in your wallet
Griffou on Urbanspoon

Lyon: Mediocrity for Middle France

For a city with so many restaurants, ethnic cuisines of all varieties, and an often thrilling gourmet scene, New York is depressingly deprived of high-quality casual French bistros and brasseries. Sure, on occasion, you’re lucky enough to stumble across a gem like Cafe Cluny or Le Gigot, but the vast majority of options either sink into muddled mediocrity or hover loftily in the heavens with Daniel or Jean-Georges. The middle ground is vast and empty. Unfortunately, West Village newcomer Lyon does little to elevate the current state of French food in Manhattan.

The relatively new restaurant in the storied Cafe Bruxelles space on Greenwich Avenue is gorgeous. Wood-paneled and gleaming, it’s hard not to be enamored by the seductive golden glow, the rolling French accent of the host, the sparkle of lantern light reflecting off glass knick-knacks, the cheery red-and-white check of the tablecloths. Everything is so shiny and new, rosy with optimism, plucky, design-conscious, and comfortable without being shabby. The narrow railroad car space is bustling to the point of bursting at the seams with well-dressed West Villagers, happy to be inside from the cold. The atmosphere is frenetic at peak hours, buzzing with conversations in French and English that rise to a fever pitch as more and more bottles of wine fly off the shelves. As the night goes on, Lyon is like a train picking up speed, starting off slow and steady before roaring through the countryside.
Unfortunately, despite its seemingly endless charm, Lyon falls depressingly short on the food front. With such beauty all around you, it’s hard not to be disappointed by generally bland and uninspired cuisine, especially when French comfort food is supposed to be so rich and flavorful. In short, the appetizers were a relative success when compared to the mediocre entrees. The onion soup is a marvelous way to start; it is brothy and savory, filled to the brim with tender ropes of beef brisket, heightened with an only slightly discernible layer of rich marrow jam, and served with a crusty slice of baguette, topped with creamy fontina cheese. It’s safe to say that the onion soup was the highlight of the night. Other notable starters are the jumbo-sized Lyonnaise salad, topped with hearty chunks of bacon and a delicately placed poached egg, and the escargots, served mixed into a vibrant green watercress risotto with a pungent and authentic-tasting garlic sauce.
The entrees are a laundry list of traditional French dishes: steak tartare, lamb shank, steak au poivre, and so forth. The kitchen takes a few liberties with classic cuisine, offering the eponymous skate wing and a modern bacon-wrapped whole branzino. The executions on the heftier dishes leave something to be desired. The bacon-wrapped branzino is not as advertised; rather than serving a whole fish, it offers delicate rounds of the flaky white dish – a fairly anemic and pedestrian alternative. The lamb shank is absurd in a couple of ways: 1) it is served on the bone in a plate half as big as the table, evoking caveman-style dining 2) the portion size is inexplicably larger than anything else on the menu, and 3) there is absolutely no seasoning on the meat; it was begging for healthy doses of salt and pepper. For such a large and tender piece of lamb, it is upsetting to see it served with so little flavor or pizzazz.
Lyon is simultaneously the epitome of casual glamour and a culinary disappointment. While so beautiful and glossy on the exterior, its restaurant guts need a lot of work. Not only is the food just a hair above mediocre, but the service is frenzied and inattentive and the wine list is poorly curated for a restaurant rooted in such a vino-centric culture. The best way to enjoy Lyon is to waltz into the crammed and spiffy bar, order une bouteille de vin and some fromage from the bartender, and spend your evening languishing over the two of the best parts of French culinary culture. If you’re smart, don’t bother with the crowds in, the wait for, and the irritation of finding a table in the dining room.

Perfect For: a drink at the bar, a bottle of wine over chocolate cake and cheese, gatherings of friends, a venue for francophiles, escaping chilly nights

Lyon on Urbanspoon