Monday, June 14, 2010

An Asian Style New Year's Eve

Lemongrass Fushion Bistro
641 North High Street
Columbus, Ohio
December 31, 2009

Good friends of ours invited us out for "something Thai like" for New Year's Eve.  We then had a few other friends give us a call looking for something to do, and soon enough our dinner group grew to 6.  We tossed around a few resaurant ideas and Lemongrass ended up being our choice for the evening.   

When walking into Lemongrass you get hit with an amazing smell of Asian food immediately.  I next noticed that the place looked trendy and fun.  It was a little loud, but in a fun rather than obnoxious way.  We had reservations and our table was immediately ready (or so we thought).  There was also a live piano player playing close to the front, which definitely added to the ambience.  We were originally seated close by the piano.  We started to settle in when we realized a hostess kept looking at us nervously.  Eventually she came over and very timidly and apologetically explained that she had seated us in the wrong spot, and wondered if we could move.  We had no problem with that at all and felt badly that she was so worried we would be upset.  We moved to a more private corner in the back that suited us just fine and was a lot less noisy.     

With this being New Years, I was definitely in the mood to try some fun cocktails and Lemongrass's cocktail menu definitely did not disappoint.  Some of the choices that piqued my curiosity were the sake with cucumber, a Pom Pom (sake with pomegranate liqueur), and a classic Mai Tai.  Since champagne was the official drink of the night I went with the Sparkling Pomegranate, (a mix of champagne and pomegranite liquer).  It was definitely a fun spin on a mimosa.  Some of the others in our group tried a Key Lime Martini (great initial coconut flavor and then a refreshing lime finish), Great Lakes Christmas Ale (you already know my take on this one), Sapporo beer, and a 2006 Austrailian Chardonnay (I wish I had more details on this one, because I really enjoyed it.  It was not as oaky as many Chardonnays due to being fermented in steel, rather than oak, barrels.). 

We then put in a few orders of appetizers.  First up was the sampler which consisted of seafood rangoon, chicken sate, and spring rolls.  The seafood rangoon was perfectly fried, but there was a great deal more filler rather than seafood.  The sweet and sour sauce for dipping was really great.  The chicken sate was served with a peanut sauce and it was very average.  The spring rolls had a great crisp on the outside, and the flavors inside were very typical of a spring roll with typical Asian vegetables.  It was very much what was expected. 

We also tried the pan-seared veggie dumplings which were good, but a bit bland tasting for my preference. 

Last up was the Lemongrass soup.  This soup was truly wonderful with a great mix of Thai vegetables and chili paste that added a wonderful spiciness to the dish.  The soup was also served with a biscuit that was very good.  Whenever we make it back to Lemongrass, this soup is a must! 

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your perspective), I was too involved in conversation to get any pictures of the appetizers.  You'll just have to use your imagination! 

Onto the entrees!  Our friends are great sushi lovers, but I must admit that sushi is just not one of my favorite foods.  I have tried it many times (and even tried it again this evening multiple times) and I really want to love it, but for some reason I just haven't been able to get into it.  I know that part of it is that fish is generally not a favorite of mine, but I really don't love the veggie sushi either.  That being said, this sushi was by far the best I have ever tried.  I still didn't love the sushi, but I truly liked and enjoyed each and every bite I had. 

Our friends ordered the catepillar roll, which is avocado over a bbq eel roll.  I was very leery to try this especially knowing my slight aversion to fish, but in the name of blogging I decided to give it a try.  And I'm very glad that I did!  Yes, keep that in mind you readers who are stuck in your food ways!  The sweetness of the BBQ eel went well together with the avocado and just melted in my mouth.  Then I got a nice wasabi kick at the end of the bite.  Really very good (for sushi, that is) :)  Our friends also ordered the spicy almond sushi and spicy shrimp tempura with cucumber.  Overall, I couldn't get over how good the sticky rice was in each and every bite!  The spicy almond was good because of the nice crunch and spice the almonds gave the bite.  The fried shrimp tempura was equally good.  Also, look how great the presentation is!  Totally loved it!
Our other friends went with the vegetable sampler which included avocado, cucumber, spicy almond, and a mixed veggie roll.  Again, I loved the sticky rice!  The avocado, cucumber, and mixed veggie roll were all very good.  
My husband and I went with less interesting entrees.  I went with the spicy zucchini chicken over rice (rather than the angel hair pasta suggested on the menu).  This dish was composed of steamed chicken pieces sauteed with zucchini, Thai basil, green chili paste, and cocnut milk.  Overall, I loved the flavor the Thai basil gave to the dish, but I was really hoping for more spice and flavor.  This dish was good, but not great.  
My husband went with the Phad Thai and it was excellent!  The peanut flavors were perfect, the vegetables of carrots and peas were tender crisp, the spices were not too overpowering or too bland, and the noodles cooked with the right amount of bite.  This was definitely one of the best Phad Thais I had ever tried (and was even better as leftovers the next day).
The service was a little slow overall, but due to the holiday we were in no hurry.  They also more than made up for this with friendliness and attentiveness.  The server also did a great job at answering questions and giving good menu suggestions. 

Bill Total:  Truly I have no idea since each couple paid separately, but our portion of the bill was $95.70.  I know that included 2 entrees, probably an appetizer or two, and a host of drinks.  I'm just not exactly sure of the specifics.  The bill was so high mainly due to drink purchases.  For the quality, I felt the food was a good value and hey, it was New Years!

Overall Rating:  4 buckeyes
Lemongrass Fusion Bistro on Urbanspoon

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