Last night we had dinner at the Lion at 62 West 9th Street. Formerly the space was a restaurant named Village where the food was okay and the lighting was horrific. I love what the Lion has done with the space. The bar area is dark and clubby with plenty of space to stand or sit. The back has super high ceilings and the walls are covered with mostly black and white art from a photo of Warhol to a Basquait. A very European feel. Almost felt like an exclusive club in Berlin.
I took a picture of the room with my blackberry and the manager came over and said no pictures and definitely no flash. Are you kidding me? I get the no flash. They want to be exclusive but bottom line is they should want people to write about the Lion. The vibe and clientele will speak for itself on who feels comfortable there. Needless to say, I ignored his snooty request, turned off my flash and captured all the food. Get over yourself.
The best news of the evening is that the food was quite good and the service was fantastic. Maybe I had low expectations but everyone I was with enjoyed their meal. My friends were there last night too and did not have as good of an experience. That is what happens when restaurants are only a few weeks old and packed. It is spotty.
First thing out was a round of tiny light scallion buttermilk muffins. Delicious and the size was just perfect. A nice start to the meal.
The menu is simple, almost classic yet the presentation and twist on your plate is fresh and new. I started off with the garden salad. Shaved vegetables mixed with pistachios and a sweet mustard vinaigrette. Crispy vegetables and the bite of the pistachios worked.
My friend had the beet salad which was nice too. A mixture of roasted beets with crushed hazelnuts over the top and fried goat cheese on the side. There was a pasta floating around the table which was cut rings of pasta with simple tomatoes and oregano. Nothing to speak of.
We all tasted one of the artichoke fritters. Small pieces of artichokes hearts deep fried that were pretty light with a lemon bechamel sauce.
For the main course, I went simple. Basically one large lamb chop with roasted fennel on the side although on the menu it is called a lamb porterhouse. Nothing fancy but the meat was good.
I tasted the fish special of the night which was light and similar to the vegetable salad I had just warm.
The lobster pot pie is becoming one of the signature dishes, says our waiter. Nice presentation. The crust was delicious over small pieces of lobster in a brandy cream sauce which was actually not as heavy as you would think (I turned my flash back on after this picture) I tried the dover sole which was prepared well and very buttery.
We moved into dessert. At this point, we had all drank a lot so dessert ordering was abundant. We tried everything.
Your classic chocolate dessert that oozes with chocolate when your spoon enters was delish.
Cheesecake in a jar was clever but not that amazing.
The crepes were gooey and tasty.
The lemon mousse was nice and light. All and all the desserts were good but nothing was an omigod but they could get there.
My favorite were the fritters.
All and all, a great night celebrating my friends birthday. Love the vibe and the room. Truly one of the most beautiful settings in the back room. Cool, edgy and hip. The food was mixed but mostly quite good. It takes time to flush out the food and the service so we should all hold our tongue. We had great service, my friends didn't. I like the menu and I will absolutely go back. That is all they can ask for. Return customers. I will be one of them.