Ah, to be a boring married guy. Frankly, the chances to hit “finer dining” establishments and such has been going down with various life events intruding (never mind what they are, the intrusion is welcome). In any case, in a sudden impulse, we decided that we finally had to hit Lyon Hall in Clarendon. The restaurant, run by the folks who own Liberty Tavern, Northside Social and a few other places in the area, is decidedly aiming at a cut above some of the other places with a menu of continental, innovative sort of dishes. I guess German-inspired might be the most appropriate description of the menu, although that seems like a limiting description too.
For instance, when we got there, for the appetizer, due to their happy hour special, we got moules-frites, which is obviously decidedly not German inspired. The mussels for the happy hour special were cooked in a tomato based sauce/broth, which was pretty darn tasty. However, the mussels that we got were not particularly good examples of the breed, as the individual mussels were rather tiny. One wishes the mussels themselves were “better”, but the overall dish was good, and the fries were well cooked. The fries came with ketchup, a garlic aioli and some sort of Thai-seeming aioli, with a distinct vibe of coconut milk or such. It was the least of the three sauces, but the fries were definitely solid average.
The entrees though do speak to the German-inspired vibe, one fairly directly so, and one much more creative. My dish was the direct application, where I got a bratwurst, served on top of a pickled cabbage, pickled plum and potato cake arrangement. The sausage itself was stuffed with gruyere cheese, nothin wrong with that. This is some pretty straightforward Continental block and tackling of course. The sausage was flavorful and not overworked, and the potato cake-cabbage-plum combination provided a nice acidic-briny-sweet combination played well against it. But the real imagination was saved for the arctic char, which was presented as a “reuben”. The char was crusted with pumpernickel bread, and served on top of cabbage and a mustard buerre blanc with flecks of char which was cured in juniper and pastrami “seasoning”. Overall, the fish had a solid flavor and texture – definitely NOT turning into a corned beef or anything, but the mustard buerre blanc and cabbage worked well. It is a well thought out and interesting dish. The red snapper that also was at our table – served with a zucchini and tomato marmalade, squid ink couscous and smoked eggplant puree was more of a misfire as the smoked eggplant was too smoky and sort of dominated the rest of the dish.
This is not some phenomenal bargain – $90 for three people (including tax etc, no booze) – but for a foray into “eating out”, it is another solid place to work into the lineup. Certainly it is the best meal I’ve had in the genuinely uninteresting Clarendon enclave.