I'm always reticent to review a place based off one meal - but I happened to go to Lazy Ox twice in three days and thought I would write a review while I still have reasonable recall of the experience
First, the beverages. I like their wine list. It's affordable and presents some good options. Had a good '03 crianza and a decent pinot noir. The beers are whole 'nother matter. Nearly everything on tap is Belgian - which isn't a great match for their cuisine. I had asked if there was anything that would surprise me on tap. The nice bartender (I ate at the bar) poured me samples of three very straightforward Belgian (or belgian-style) beers. When I inquired about a low alcohol Belgian she just poured me a full glass of it - without mentioning that it was essentially a lambic. Understandably, I think she was annoyed that she poured three samples and I wasn't into any of them but a pro would cover up her discontent in service of the tip. So on the beer-front the lack of knowledge on the bartender's part coupled with the lame-o Belgian-centric tap choices was a bummer. On the plus side they had a very good selection of bottled japanese beers. Yebisu is a nice value at $7 and I did have a very good $12 Japanese IPA - Ozeno Yokidoke - not sure I'd have it again given the price though.
On to the food:
Pig Ears - Similar to, but way better than, Animal's. They are cut much thicker and you can really enjoy the texture difference of crispy/fatty. Served with an aoili and a side of thin sliced radishes and pickles. The pickles reminded my of McDonald's pickles- in a good way. A+
Lamb Neck Hash - A roasted crispy hunk of lamb with quinoa with a fried egg on top. Great. A
Bone marrow Salad - little slivers of marrow fried and served over microgreens. Good but not great. Would have much preferred a roasted bone and a spoon. B+
Boquerones - surprising how they could screw this up. I love these little fish. But they fried them which totally ruined the slippery cold vinegary texture they should have. Also served with honey and aioli. F
Squash Blossoms - Fried with honey and aoli. Good but not great. Small portion - two blossoms. C+
Maitake and Hen Mushrooms with Beets - done in a buerre blanc-ish sauce. The roasted beets were the best part. Well-balanced but maybe the sauce overpowered the mushrooms just a bit. A teeny tiny portion though. B
Brick Roasted Tomatoes with Burrata - little cherry tomatoes roasted with burrata. sweet, good but nothing to write home about. C+
Family Style Pasta with Pork Meatballs - Specials board did not mention that this was asian-style. Sweet sauce with little cubes of potato. Pork meatball was pretty quality. My gf (who just finished working in a resto in Seoul) hated it but since I generally avoid asian-style italian I thought it was an okay change of pace. B-
Cheese Plate - All Cowgirl Creamery. With some figs and quince. Pretty good actually but I can't recall the name of the one funky cheese that was excellent. A
In general, menu has some lazy aspects (should I expect this given the name?). There seems to be an over-reliance on frying things and serving them with saffron honey and aioli, Also, on the 2nd trip I went specifically for the family style fried chicken and called ahead and asked about both the chicken and the seating. The hostess told me to wait a bit if I wanted a table but when I got there around 45 mins. later they were out of the chicken. A warning would have been nice.
Atmosphere is nice but the layout is a little cramped. Feels like they could use something to break up the space a bit. Menu definitely has a POV, which I appreciate. I really like the fact that the specials menu is longer than the regular menu. Also, doing a different family style special each night is a great idea. While uneven in places, I have to say that this is among my very favorite downtown spots. Great for a casual meet up or date.
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