I am not into “sceney” restaurants – that is, eateries where the crowd appears to be trying too hard to be fashionable, is usually too loud and young (with a hefty helping of bankers), and is always reaching for a new trendy martini a la Sex and the City. The food, décor, and service are my priorities when eating out. What I care most about when eating out is the food, the décor, and service.
Given that disclaimer, if those criteria are met, I am happy to patronize an establishment that also happens to be chic, trendy, and full of celebrities. Few restaurants manage this, but The Lion, which opened in New York’s Greenwich Village about a year ago, certainly does.
Located in a 19th-century townhouse, the Lion successfully recalls classic, old world New York restaurants: the ground floor tavern, bar area, and main dining room evoke the 1920s through 1950s. Moreover, the style is consistent with several other hot-spot West Village spots, including Minetta Tavern and the Waverly Inn; The Lion measures up well.
In spite of the overly busy bar area – patrons seemed to be falling over one another – the main dining room exudes warmth and comfort. Abundant wood, oil paintings, chandeliers, and candles create a cozy environment, as much classic London as old school New York.
The food, while not inexpensive, was worth it. My tuna appetizer was terrific, and I would venture to say that the hefty burger (with cheese and pork belly on top) is the best in the city. Plus, the desserts were outstanding.
All-in-all, my only complaint is that the noise level is too high, a forgiveable offense given that – like so many New York restaurants – the space is designed to maximize patrons.
I recommend visiting The Lion for a special evening out, especially with out-of-town guests. One final tip is to visit the second-floor bar for an after-dinner drink. It’s a charming little hideaway, and it lets you complete the illusion of spending an evening out in 1920s New York City.
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