While searching for a late night dinner recently, we happened upon Lenox Grill, in the Hotel Lenox. It was there that we were greeted by a much unexpected and very pleasant surprise. Remiscient of an old world ratskeller, the bar and restaurant have been transformed into something that the hotel has been entirely lacking for quite some time. The interior has been remodeled and cleaned up, as one would hope and expect with a new operator, giving the establishment a new lease on life.
What was especially striking was the attention to detail when it came to the ambiance. Gone are the floating drop ceilings over the bar. Added are old world wood cabinets that give the Lenox Gill a soft and warm appearance. From the pleasing level of illumination over the bar, allowing us just enough light to be able to peruse the menus, to the gas fire glowing in the back dining room, the place was very comfortable. Even the music was tuned into some decent indie/rock, playing tunes ranging from bands such as Raconteurs to Mumford and Sons.
The management and staff at the Lenox Grill really appear to have thought of everything. I especially liked the addition of the glass block replacing the formerly blacked-out and boarded-up windows. The glass block is a practical solution that allows welcome daylight to filter into the bar and dining room for the "early" crowd. At night the glow from the streetlights gives life to the grill as well. Combined with the new tin ceilings in the dining room, there's not a bad seat in the house, no matter what the hour. Which brings me to my next surprise of the evening, the extended hours. While most neighborhood bars are open the requisite noon-4am, the Lenox Grill is not only open, but is serving food from 3pm until 3am, Tuesday through Saturday (late night menu starts at midnight). Which is really a coup for those who live-in the neighborhood, because to have such quality options so close to anyone's doorstep, is something that seems to already be coveted by a number of neighbors who have discovered this place.
Upon initially sitting down we noticed that there was a lively crowd at the bar, many of whom were eating. Throughout our stay, there was a constant flow of plates being served, cleared, and replaced once more. That was surprising considering that it was a tad later in the evening - obviously the bar patrons knew something that we did not. That prompted us to order a leisurely selection of courses, all while enjoying the refined wine service, with bottles being first presented and then poured in front of us. This is not something that should be overlooked. It is very rare to order "by the glass" selections, yet be served in such a well executed, formal manner. It did not go unnoticed.
Our courses, also failed to disappoint. Starting with the portabella fries, there was a nice textural element of batter and subsequent panko coating adding a desired crunch to the softness of the mushroom, really coming together to create a most satisfying first bite of the evening. The lack of oil coming through, and the potent cajun remoulade for dipping, rounded out the plate in a-wish-there-was-more kinda way. What we were remiss to order, yet ogled from the couple next to us, was the pablano pepper special, which was stuffed with chorizo, pepperjack and cheddar cheese and served with corn salsa and cilantro sour cream - the dish looked absolutely delicious and entirely enviable. It was also one of the largest peppers that we had ever seen... a true spectacle.
Next up, was our bread course. That consisted of grilled bread, which served as a vehicle to sample the roasted red peppers, basil pesto, warm goat cheese, and olive tapenade. Yes, of course, this was not reinventing the wheel, but when it comes to food being served - to be shared - in a bar atmosphere, I sure do welcome a healthier option such as this, when the many salads on the menu just weren't as appealing at this late hour of the evening. Lastly, we shared the pepperjack mac & cheese, and appreciated the heat that normally is overshadowed by the richness that a dish like this typically has.
Now, when you go to Lenox Grill's website
, you'll see the menu, updated weekly with the specials. There you'll notice a multitude of burgers and sandwiches, which we did not try. Dining out vegetarian for the evening, we weren't sampling these, but, with so many people being seated near us partaking in these offerings, there was some stellar feedback. The stuffed chicken breast to our far right, loaded with spinach, pancetta, mozzarella and romano cheese and finished with port cream, was being highly coveted. Also, the people sitting directly next to us were raving about the house burger - it was their third return trip since the restaurant opened a month ago.
All in all, what a wonderful way to start and end the evening. It's too bad that there's no hockey being played, because this would be the perfect place to catch a game (there are three flat screens). Regardless, this place will become a staple in our restaurant repertoire. Welcome to the neighborhood, Lenox Grill, see you soon!