Thu 10 Jun 2010
We’ve been spending a lot of time eating and sipping in Clarendon lately and with good reason. This yuppie playground is becoming a pleasant destination for quality food in a relaxed setting. Lyon Hall is upping the ante with their new French-infused gastropub on Washington Boulevard, in the old Dan Kain trophy shop space.
I suspect the name Lyon Hall is supposed to hark to the French city and its regional influences to be found on the menu. Unfortunately, it makes me think of dudes my grandpa’s age hanging out in funny hats and planning the big summer BBQ fundraiser. Luckily, this is not at all the crowd you’ll find inside the restaurant. The bar is consistently full of revelers taking in the seasonal cocktails. For my dinner visit and recent drive-bys, the crowd has been decidedly Clarendonian, maybe swinging a few years older than the average eatery in the neighborhood.
While the menu has French overtones, it actually struck me as more Alsatian to me, which is a good thing when done right. And in this case, it is a very very good thing. Imagine an entire section dedicated to housemade charcuterie. The fantastic Hungarian lamb sausage entree I sampled on my first visit earlier this spring was a fun surprise in both flavor and execution, with the paprika seasoning finished just so to give the tender meat an earthy spice. The sausage was served in a shareable plate style, with the charcuterie cut into three smaller pieces, delicately piled on toast points with a warm fingerling potato salad.[Apologies for the lack of photo - my light was terrible and all the pics are too fuzzy for posting.]
Lyon Hall dedicates another section for dumplings and spaetzle, warming the hearts and bellies of many a carb-loving diner. When I came across a section dedicated to house made krauts (classic, turnip, and celeriac), I knew I’d be back soon with Mike. It doesn’t hurt that epoissos, an impossibly stinky abd delicious cow’s milk cheese holds a prominent position on the cheese section. And while the seasonal cocktail list has plenty to catch my eye, it was actually their beer list that most impressed me, with a healthy stock of European options on tap that I don’t typically see on a menu. I’m already looking forward to a return trip with Itty Bitty Betty, my personal beer sommelier.
The Lyon Hall atmosphere is friendly, if a touch loud. I wasn’t thrilled with our waiter, who struck me as a little snobby for such a new and casual restaurant but he wasn’t so off-putting that I’d negate a return trip. Frankly, with all the charcuterie, spaetzle, and kraut options, I don’t think I could keep Mike away for much longer.