Lyon Hall

Written by on July 19, 2011 in I Eat America, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

( – Clarendon neighborhood, Arlington, VA

How I heard of this place: I first heard of Lyon Hall about two months ago when some friends and I were looking for a place to eat in Clarendon. We were on the metro, on our way back from DC and needed a place with good food at affordable prices and a variety of options. We didn’t make it to Lyon Hall that evening, but I made note of its location upon several other visits to Clarendon over the past couple of months. Last night, when one of my housemates wanted a social evening out with the rest of the housemates, we decided on Lyon Hall.

Type of cuisine: “Lyon Hall is a bustling brasserie in the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington, VA. We serve classic French brasserie cuisine, featuring carefully sourced produce, fish, and meats. Our kitchen, overseen by Liam LaCivita and Andy Bennett, prepares freshly baked bread, house-cured charcuterie, and handcrafted cheeses on a daily basis. Our wine list offers an intriguing array of selections, with an emphasis on small, family-owned French wineries. Also complementing our cuisine perfectly is a diverse menu of some of the world’s most notable beers, including 20 on tap and over 50 in bottle. Finally, our bar specializes in carefully crafted cocktails, both traditional and original, including the house favorite “Blood, Sweat and Tears”.”

Ambiance: Walking up to Lyon Hall, an extensive patio area outside awaits diners; with ambiance created by the four-tier wrought-iron fountain. A relatively smaller-than-you-think interior, complete with brick-sized white tiles making up the bottom half of the walls, dim lighting and nearly floor to ceiling windows along both sides of the corner establishment welcomes diners. The hostess requests the number in your party, while you eyeball the minimal restaurant seating at black, wooden tables and chairs, intended for parties of two or four. The extensive bar, just beyond a neck-height partition also includes seating, but mostly at pedestal tables and matching black, wooden bar stools. Funky tile-work on the floor, in charcoal and dirty white, gives geometric shapes a moment to shine, amidst a setting with spherical hanging lights above, and shiny ceilings overhead. At the bar, large, framed mirrors bedeck the area behind the bartender, with painted white, cursive lettering describing the selections available, while two, lone television sets protrude from out of the walls, showing the scores of athletic events being broadcast. Minimal artwork finds its way onto the walls, with only a black and white photograph of a woman strumming a guitar, while kicking back on a bed or lazy couch. A small area, resembling a raised DJs nook, hosts a random assortment of ten trophy’s on the grey-topped barquette. Restrooms are worth noting, here, as they truly embrace the generalized Frenchman’s belief that gender barriers should be pushed to the limits, or removed entirely. The ladies room and the gentleman’s room have separate entrances, approximately eight to ten feet apart, down the stairs to the right, as you disappear underneath the DJ nook. The black doors lead in, and (at least on the woman’s side) around the corner towards the three stalls. Not knowing any differently, one may not question the lack of mirrors at the sinks. It is not until after you have left the stall, and are ready to wash your hands, that you might notice, or be greeted by a man, across the way, washing his hands. Right. Not only are there no mirrors, but there is also no glass, nor anything more than a back wall, at about chest-height, where one could, theoretically, reach over and shake the hand of a member of the opposite sex, while washing hands. Strange, to say the least. I, for one, am thankful that no one was on the other side when I was washing my hands. Would it be worthwhile to come up with a witty conversation starter in the event that someone were on the other side!?! “Our dining room, bar, and expansive outdoor patio offer an appealing mix of comfort and ambiance, and Managing Partner Mark Fedorchak and his team strive to create an environment of attentive, sincere hospitality. Lyon Hall is part of the restaurant family that includes The Liberty Tavern and Northside Social, also in Clarendon. All three gathering places are careful restorations of historically significant properties, and are consciously designed to preserve the character and charm that is a hallmark of North Arlington. We look forward to welcoming you to one of our establishments, and very much appreciate your patronage.”

What I ordered: Being my first time at Lyon Hall, I was eager to try many things. I had to settle for just a couple. Luckily, I was with three others who were quite hungry, and we had the opportunity to sample our share! Happy Hour was set to end ten minutes after we arrived (3:00 – 7:00 p.m. daily), so sadly, we were unable to order anything off of the Happy Hour menu, except the Pommes Frites ($5), which we ordered nearly the moment we seated ourselves. A selection of white and dark French breads with room-temperature salted butter were also presented to us in a basket after placing our orders. I was interested in trying the Burger ($8), but instead went with the Gnocchi Parisienne ($9), served with wild mushrooms, fava beans and thinly grated Ubriaco cheese. My dining companion, who initiated the evening out, after careful deliberation, selected the Mussels Frites ($15), a large helping of mussels in a sauce of white wine, garlic and parsley. The third of the girls in our group, selected a half-portion of the Tagliatelle ($9/$17 for the whole), pasta served in a creamy lemon sauce with asparagus, morel mushrooms and a sprinkling of cracked black pepper. Our sole male was eager to try the Filet Mignon ($25), served with baby vegetables, spinach and a Bordelaise sauce. At the recommendation of our server, he also ordered a side of the Creamy Herb Spaetzle ($6) with Gruyere cheese. For dessert, we selected the Creme Brulee ($7) served over a dense pastry crust and alongside two crescent-shaped fried fruit beignets, and alongside a fresh, tart, yet slightly sweetened raspberry sauce, with many whole raspberries still in tact.

Creme Brûlée

Additionally, again at the servers recommendation, we selected the Lavender Frozen Souffle ($8) with mixed berries in an apricot puree and a vanilla honey muffin-shaped cake.

Vanilla Cake

What I loved: Of everything I had the opportunity to sample, I enjoyed the light, creamy lemon flavor of the Tagliatelle the most. The large, and fluffy, deep-fried gnocchi, which seemed more like fried cheese, was a beautiful and light complement to the hearty and earthy fava beans underneath. The pommes frites, always a hit, were served with a sprinkle of parsley, ketchup and mayonnaise.

Why I loved it: There is a very young feel to the space, with bar seating being made available to anyone (over the age of 21 years) on a first come, first served basis. Open spaces, clean lines and an easy, laid-back atmosphere make this a great place to share an evening with friends over drinks, a bowl of pommes frites or a casual meal.

Cost: Average ($9-$25 per dinner entree)

Be Sociable, Share!


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *