Had dinner at Levende Lounge last night before going to a show. It hit the mark. I wouldnt consider it destination dining, but the totality of the experiencethe room, music, cocktails, and foodwas satisfying.
The room is ultra hip and trendy. Loft-like and open, dimly lit, low tables, mixed seating including some backless padded benches. DJ spinning ambient music; live musicians later in the evening. Video screens showing undersea scenes. Kinda spacy.
We started with well-made Manhattans while we perused the menu. The large plate offerings were not particularly inspiring so we did three courses of small plates. French onion soupa solid, classic rendition with a bubbly cheese crust. Tasty, but the soup itself was not hot enough. Next, a frisee salad with cabrales blue cheese, dates, coins of chorizo, and sherry vinaigrette. Excellent combo of ingredients. Very enjoyable. Next, mini lamb burgers. These were also excellentour favorite plate. They come 3 to an order, maybe 4 or 5 bites each, with house made pickles on the side. Hot, juicy, tandori-spiced patties on fresh rolls. Really very good. We also had a dungeness crab napoleon that was perfectly fine but unremarkable. Lastly, macaroni and cheese with smoky bacon and sage. Tasty and satisfying.
The bill came to $82 before tip, including 3 cocktails.
One weird service glitch. When we arrived for our 7pm reservation, the large dining room was almost empty. They showed us to a table in the middle of the room with backless bench seats. We asked if we could have a table with chairs that had backs and they said the only table we could have was a high table in the bar area. That wasnt a good spot so we kept the original table. This was a tad annoying because there were plenty of empty 2-tops with normal chairs, but we let it go. Our table was a 2-top, sort of. It was actually a 2-top and a 4-top about 3 inches from each other with a single long bench on each side for seating both tables. In other words, it was basically a table for 6. There were 2 or 3 of this kind of table in the restaurant.
The very next party (4 people) that walking in was seated with us, despite the empty room full of tables for 2, 4, 6, etc. It was rather awkward for us and themwe were basically dining together now, course for course because we ordered at the same time. There was an uncomfortable period where I think all of us wanted to ask to be reseated, but we didnt want to insult each other. Once I gave up on the idea of having any kind of private conversation with my dining companion, it was okay but it still strikes me as weird to seat two different parties together at the same table in the middle of an empty restaurant. Maybe thats hip and trendy?
Despite the glitch, it was a fun meal and a great way to kick off the night.