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Fun, Cool Global Fare
by Gloria Tai on Jan 14, 2005
Step into the future, 60's jet-set style at Lime Restaurant, the latest collaboration of club and restaurant veterans Greg Bronstein and Craige Walters, the design team behind Sno-Drift and the Red Room. The newly opened space, with its schizophrenic past-meets-future feel and internationally inspired cuisine, somehow works.
Standing outside the restaurant, you will find the place tempting your voyeuristic tendencies, as the glass wall frames a sleek lounge area, illuminated in hot pink. Behind the lounge is a marble bar lit in electric blues, with mini TV screens, displaying random images in front of each barstool. The sensual space is a dramatic mix of vibrant colors offset by matte wood floors and white vinyl booths.
The touchy-feely theme is carried through in every detail down to the untie-me-to-use-me lime green napkins. A few booths have moveable ottomans for swooshing around the table or easy-exit-access. White plates in circles, rectangles and squares play like Tetris on the petite square tables that are somehow able to accommodate every plate, thanks to deft reorganizing by the servers.
Chef Sharon Ardiana provides the culinary know-how, stirring the gustatory senses with her creative small plates. The very share-friendly and reasonably priced menu, organized by price range from $5-$10, encourages you to try items in abundance, as we did.
We began with zucchini frites, shoestrings of fried zucchini in buttermilk batter, accompanied by basil aioli ($6). The frites had good texture, but the mere slivers of the vegetable were overpowered by batter and oil. The ricotta gnocchi ($8) were nuggets of mild ricotta topped with a complementing sauté of shittake mushrooms and herbs, sprinkled with sweet white corn. A good combination of flavors, however the gnocchi needed just a little more fluffiness. Our first round of dishes ended with the fish tacos ($8), three fist-sized soft tortillas filled with cornmeal dusted halibut, finished with cabbage, onions and a dollop of sour cream and flavorful guacamole. This dish was our favorite of the three.
We then moved on to our main courses. First, the miso-glazed sea bass in lettuce cups with cucumber soy dipping sauce ($10). The five well-portioned, individual butter lettuces cupping tender mounds of bass were heavenly. We then finished with the Two Way Filet Mignon ($10), a satisfying medium-rare filet in a yin-yang staging of sauces. Half of the slices were placed on a rich, red wine butter sauce that didn't overtake the natural flavor of the meat, while the other half were adorned with a zippy, slightly spicy salsa verde.
For dessert, we chose the lollipop cheesecake with raspberries (all desserts are $7), a delightful vision reminiscent of a Dr. Seuss scene: upside down lollipops of chocolate and white chocolate globes of cheesecake covered with chocolate. A treat for sugar junkies, it was a bit on the sweet side for our tastes, but nevertheless, fun to eat. The chocolate angel food cake with chocolate gelato, less chocolatey or sweet as it sounds, was a tasty combination of textures, with the spongy cake soaking up some of the creamy gelato.
Libations are like the space and the menu, well designed. Specialty drinks here ($7-$9) rival any slick bar in town. Our absolute favorite was the White Cosmo ($9), made with Hangar One mandarin blossom vodka, white cranberry and lime -- a very sophisticated take on the plain-Jane Cosmo. The Vanilla Mojito and Key Lime Martini also earned our applause. Wine is also available in a compact list of bubbly, whites and reds spanning California, New Zealand, France and Chile. Our suggestion here is to stick with the delicious mixed drinks.
It's imaginably difficult to maintain focus with a venue of fun dishes with a global vibe in a fun, hip setting at a sensible price, but Lime's combination of smarts in all these areas makes it a treat to visit, whether for a night out for a drink or for dinner. If you plan on a visit, make sure to bring lots of friends -- it's a great excuse to try everything on the menu!
Editor's Note: The bottomless mimosa weekend brunch at Lime is a force of nature. Brave it if you dare!
by Gloria Tai on Jan 14, 2005
image courtesy of Lime Restaurant