Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Where to Eat: Lyon Hall

I was recently talking to someone about the best first date locales in and around the District. He suggested I check out Lyon Hall in Clarendon because he considers it one of the best date places around.

Guess what? He was right.

I think a good first date venue should be relaxed, yet classy. A bit swanky, but not pretentious. Interesting new dishes, yet not too fancy or over the top. Popular, but not too loud and noisy. An added bonus is if the place has a good wine, beer, and cocktails selection. Yeah, I get called a little picky sometimes, but I just argue that I know what I like and what I want.
Lyon Hall definitely embodies all those characteristics.

Lyon Hall is located on Washington Boulevard in Clarendon and is the sister restaurant of Liberty Tavern and Northside Social. To be honest, as I walked up to the restaurant on a chilly September night a few weeks ago, I saw the cheesy neon blue sign and was instantly a little skeptical. Then I walked inside and was completely won over. I loved the vibe. It feels new and fresh, yet cozy and neighborhoody. Dark wood, low dim lights, black and white tiled floor.

The hostess greeted me with a warm smile as I made my way to the bar to wait for my dinner date. I found a seat and the bartender brought me the drink menu. It featured a great wine list, and I ordered a red blend listed as the "house recommendation." The bartender apologized and explained they were out of that particular wine, but quickly offered an alternative and let me taste it. It was a perfect recommendation-- medium bodied and great for a cool September night.

The bar itself had a scarce crowd. It has two big flat screen televisions and lots of beer on tap, so I was a bit surprised that there weren't more people watching Monday Night Football (but then again the Giants were playing sooo who really cares).

My dinner date arrived a short while later and ordered one of the beers on tap. The bartender graciously offered to let him try the beer before ordering a full glass. I love shit like that--- it takes good service up to great service. And we got great service that night.

We decided to stay at the bar for dinner and share a few dishes rather than moving to a table. The menu and decor of the restaurant seem themed around a German-French-Austrian bistro feel. First, we ordered the mussels vin blanc, which were very good. Next we ordered the creamy herb spaetzle, which is Lyon Hall's version of mac and cheese, and the tomato salad that features peaches, basil, red onions, and goat cheese. We both had come from working out, so the salad was a refreshing dish.

I'd tell you more about the food, but to be honest, I was more focused on talking with my dinner date than I was on the food. All I can say is that the atmosphere, the service, and the food were all excellent. And the company was even better.

Overall, I give Lyon Hall a very high recommendation. Whether you're going on a date, meeting for a drink, or just want to check out a football game, it's a welcoming and cozy neighborhood restaurant. AND this is coming from a girl who rarely crosses the bridge into Virginia.

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