By: Shannon Cornman
Just order something weird, OK?
Look, I know it is scary going to new places and trying new things. And when you have finite resources, it seems even more important that you really enjoy the food on which you’re spending said resources.
But if you never try anything new, you’re never going to find your new favorite thing. And I think a lot of you will consider The Lobby Bar & Cafe your new favorite, given the chance.
Located on a particularly restaurant-y stretch of Western Avenue, is The Lobby Bar. Inside, you’ll find a menu that is probably different from what you’re used to seeing.
Sautéed calamari, for instance. Or a lamb slider. Or the beet salad. And that’s a pretty great place to start.
The roasted beet salad ($9) is a gorgeous little blend of greens topped with slices of hearty beets — a little sweet, a little savory — and paired with almonds, a vinaigrette and goat cheese mousse. Salads are often an afterthought, but this is a well-crafted and well-reasoned dish.
Want something a bit warmer?
I like the soups at the Lobby Bar, too. It has daily specials, but the white bean and bacon ($2.50 for a cup, $4.25 for a bowl) is always on the menu. It’s a light soup, with a broth that is thin, but substantial. There’s not a ton of bacon, but the flavor is there in spades. It’s smoky, peppery and tasty.
The tapas menu is a real draw, with plenty of items you’re not likely to see elsewhere in the metro. The bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese and chorizo ($5.50) are a sweet bite that pairs well with wine or a cocktail — as a bar, the Lobby Bar is pretty well-stocked — although I found the flavor to be very comparable to sweet potatoes.
I was a little less taken with the roasted red pepper hummus ($8); however, I bet many would disagree. Unlike some versions of this dish, I detected a lot of red bell pepper. It’s a bit wetter than most hummus, but with much more flavor. I liked it, but there’s more on the menu that I crave.
the grilled cheese ($8) with a mix of Spanish cheeses like Manchego,
Mahon and Tetilla. It’s a little greasy, a lot nutty and very delicious.
It’s not a meal in and of itself, but that’s kind of the point here:
Try a little of a lot of things and you’ll enjoy yourself.
of the most popular dishes on the menu is the lobster slider ($8).
While I understand the appeal, I was a little disappointed in the lack
of lobster flavor. There’s plenty of lobster, which is great, but paired
with bacon, tomato and horseradish aioli, it gets lost in the mix. It’s
still a great-tasting mix, but if you’re looking for lots of lobster
punch, you might not be satisfied.
those wanting something heavier to pair with libations, the
bacon-wrapped meatloaf slider ($8) comes with balsamic ketchup and Swiss
cheese. Oh, and my affection. That’s in there, too.
Have you saved room
for dessert? There’s seasonal ice cream ($4) and a lemon panna cotta
($8) with a vanilla gastrique. I say this in the best way possible —
that panna cotta reminded me of lemon yogurt. Like, the purest
expression of lemon yogurt ever. It’s creamy, tender and tartly sweet.
The only problem I had was sharing.
that’s how things work with a menu like this. It’s different, although
not shockingly so, and everybody is going to want to try a bit of
everything. So make it a point to go there with friends ... or at least
enough of an appetite to finish off a few items by yourself.