The Lemon Bar Goes Bottomless at Brunch Time
This eye-popping alliteration can be found at the top of the menu at Lemon Bar, the
hot new pub that set up shop in the West Village in the old Lazare space, down the block from Mi Cocina. Lemon Bar is a hopping, happening place, crowded at noontime on a gorgeous, Spring-like Sunday afternoon, and the frozen concoctions are literally flying off the shelves.
Rather than wait for a spot on the packed patio, my wife and I opt to sit indoors
where there's lots of flat-panel TVs and lots of black-clad waitstaff. Service is definitely on the cordial-but-slow side. Aside to waiters: "I need a few more minutes before I'm ready to make my selection," means "come back in a few minutes, please," not "please disappear and don't bother us for 20 minutes," which is exactly what happened.
Over the years, I've made a rather earth-shaking discovery when it comes to selecting an entrée: Order what the restaurant specializes in, not what you are hungry for. This advice may sound simplistic, but I'm continually puzzled by how many people, including myself, fail to follow it.
Lemon Bar's menu is not large, but sports a number of sumptuous-sounding choices such as seared tuna, filet mignon, spicy sausage flatbread, and that old Southern standby, chicken and waffles. All sounded good, particularly the chicken and waffles, but we noticed that none of these selections were marked with the lemony yellow highlight color that designated them house specialties.
So, we decided to go with two highlighted entrees--my wife, the Lemon Bar Pigs in Blanket and me, the Lemon Herb Chicken-- which were brought out by two genial food runners.
One bite of my spouse's pigs convinced her that she had received an upscale version of
a Fletcher's corny dogs--sausage and eggs were wrapped in pancake batter and fried,
giving them a decidedly State Fair crunch. Served with basic brunch potatoes, these pigs made for a filling though not overzealous brunch, unlike some of the other entrees. She also ordered a side of bacon, which was slightly underdone, but again, good quality pig, and at only $2 for a generous portion, there was no point in sending it back.
No surprises with my lemon herb chicken, which consisted of grilled chicken with a lemon-herb crust. The moist and flavorful meat was seriously upstaged by the sides. Wisely, I had opted for Lemon Bars Frites (another specialty) which were so crispy and crunchy, we decided to return for Happy Hour just so we could get a $4 bottomless basket of those well-seasoned spuds.
Also, Lemon Bar's fresh vegetables are worth a mention; red and green bell peppers,
squash, green beans, and carrots are served al dente rather than mushy, giving them much more flavor then the throwaway mushiness that this side so often receives.
Oh, and those bottomless bellinis (Lemon Bar also offers bottomless mimosas for brunch if you prefer) were good, not great, but at $8 a glass for as many refills as you want, who the hell cares.
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