Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lyon Hall: Is it Ready for Prime Time?

The creators of Liberty Tavern have been busy recently, rolling out two new endeavors (Northside Social and Lyon Hall) in the last couple months within a block of their original place. While both Liberty and Northside Social are great options for dinner/drinks/happy hour and coffee/tea/pastries/wine, Lyon Hall is not your best choice for, well, really anything in the neighborhood other than a beer or two.

Lyon Hall bills itself as an affordable neighborhood brasserie. And on my first visit, I agreed. B and I were impressed by the selection of Belgian and German beers on tap; we both enjoyed them served the proper glassware and were impressed with the menu choices, but were on our way to a dinner party, so did not get a chance to eat. The bar is long, the space is European in feel which fits with the theme, and the service very attentive--they almost try too hard to please.

This past weekend we went back with three friends, and unfortunately, spending more time here and sampling most of the menu made me question whether Lyon Hall opened too early.

We were seated in the upstairs dining room which lacks the character of the main floor and in fact, feels like a different place entirely. Our table in the back overlooked stacks of cleared dishes sitting out behind a small bar--not the most appealing view.

All the staff were very friendly and professional, but were frenetically trying to handle a large number of tables. Two of the beers on tap--one of them talked up by the waitress--turned out to be tapped out. And our appetizers were delayed a half an hour because they were delivered to the wrong table (though we did receive a quick apology and a free order of mussels). But most significantly, the majority of food was less than impressive. The steak tartare was neither tender, nor flavorful, but the Polyface Farm egg on top was a nice touch. The chicken liver dumplings were dry. And the housemade sausages were just okay. However, it was not all bad. The beers we did have, including a very rare find on tap , were excellent and both the pate and the mussels with lamb sausage were quite delicious.

I wanted to love this place, but I don't, at least not yet. I think I will try the bar again for a beer, but I won't be back to dine anytime soon. Dinner for five including tax and tip was $420, which included four shared appetizers, at least six plates, and a slew of beers.

Lyon Hall on Urbanspoon

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