Nine Chowhounds descended on Lyon Hall in Arlington for a menu of innovative Alsatian cuisine. A lot of innovation, a lot of nibbles on the menu. It is a bit swank yet still Arlington casual. Tiny votive candles on the table and frenetic music in the background. Open only for dinner. I think you can even eat here quite late if you only need their wonderful pate (and the like) plus liquid refreshment.
Very hip place, yet they still let us in. Go figure.
The kitchen is very accomplished and we had some truly extraordinary food, mostly nibbles. In my mind, it is already a place for great dining. Full disclosure; one of us works there, and we were gifted three menu items from the kitchen.
The pate de campagne is a knockout that goes well beyond the norm. Very moist and appropriately fatty. A tremendous effort. A selection of three choucroute are on the menu, and we got two of them. Complex flavors, but close enough in taste so getting one is plenty. Rich tasting, top notch. The potato and prune dumplings have a gorgeous flavor and are a must order. Duck fat fries are thick planks, super crispy. Beet-cured arctic char is delicate, delicious, and has a supple texture.
Some of the food here is served with homemade mustards – they are dynamite creations – or in the case of the charcuterie or fruits de mer plates, pickled vegetables. They are extraordinary creations as well. The attention to detail is staggering.
The showpiece of our order was a skillet of sausages, four different styles, with a variety of other ingredients sautéed over, under, and alongside. If you dreamed of eating in a country inn in Alsace, you still could not get a gorgeous mess of food like this. Vegetarians beware.
Other items we tried were good not great. Duck prosciutto, pickled mackerel, a special apricot salad with an assertive vinaigrette, and a main course of arctic char with an unusual pumpernickel crouton on top. Delicious flavor to the sauce underneath but the fish was a bit dry.
We got a selection of five desserts as part of a sampler platter. Every one was a hit, so just go for whatever sounds good to you. The black forest cake turned out to be a riff on the flavors, not really a cake. This I adored, but if you really want a chocolate ‘fix’ you’d have to go for the chocolate praline dessert. Other desserts were banana tart tatin, a brioche of apricot, cherries, and lemon curd, and a streusel in the form of rolled wafers.