Carrie Bradshaw Would Approve
Since the dawn of Carrie Bradshaw and Sex in the City, no girl’s night out is complete without the elixir of femininity known as the Cosmopolitan. Just about any good bartender knows the recipe, but the true Cosmo experience requires a certain ambiance of New York City. The closest thing to New York in Annapolis is the year-old Metropolitan. A far cry from the traditional Chesapeake Bay eatery, Metropolitan has set itself apart as the chi-chi ta-ta place to be and be seen. Sleek and contemporary, it’s a vertical space with smaller bars and dining areas on three levels. The menu has gotten a lot of spin, but that’s not why the girls gathered on this night. Metropolitan was a starting point.
Timing is everything; ours afforded us the luxury of prime seats at the second-floor bar. The bartender who runs the show here is known to some by the nickname Hollywood. We were greeted with a smile and a special: half-price Cosmos. This was our lucky night.
Metropolitan runs drink specials Monday through Thursday, with Thursday Cosmopolitans night (half price from 8pm). But this was Wednesday, and only 6:30pm. This was Hollywood’s own special.
The girls bellied up to the bar and dished the dish while sipping our budget premium cocktails ($4.50). Time flew and the crowd thickened. All too soon we realized that we better move on to dinner, or risk Cosmos’ revenge: hangovers.
Our destination was next door, at the equally trendy yet less formal Thai eatery Lemongrass, next door in West Village.
Lemongrass is approaching its first birthday. In its short life, its creative and flavorful Thai cuisine has developed a strong and loyal following. The restaurant is small, seating fewer than 50, with neither reservations nor a waiting area. At the dinner hour, be prepared to stand and wait unless you do what we did: Put your name on the list and go next door for a drink.
What you get for your determination is tight tables (including a raised communal table for less intimate dining), active staff, lots of resonate noise and a laid-back meal.
A simple wine list offers limited choices of four whites and three reds. all priced at $8 a glass and $32 a bottle. The wine connoisseur in our group was disappointed with the limited selection; I liked the fact that it was a level playing ground.
Besides, the reason we’re here is to enjoy the food. The menu is full of great choices. Vegetarians will swoon over nine entrees. For non-vegetarians, there’s duck, beef, seafood, chicken and pork. A pepper on the menu indicates dishes with added fire. Be forewarned: Hot stuff is hot. Of course there’s a nice selection of noodles, rice and curries. Most dishes can be customized, at a higher price, to accommodate your desire for beef, chicken or shrimp.
Our meal started with a winner recommended by our waitress: Crispy String Beans ($9.95). Not something I would normally be drawn to, but a recommendation from our waitress. Actually a vegetarian entree, this large serving of succulent deep fried string beans packed a punch with pepper and garlic sauce. Light and not greasy, these veggies were addictive.
The Lex Spring Roll appetizer ($4.50) was uninspired, probably losing points in comparison to the beans.
Read your menu carefully because there’s a lot to be considered. We passed on the salads including a fascinating papaya salad with roasted peanuts, string beans and tomatoes tossed with spicy lime dressing ($6.95) and soup.
I loved my Green Curry Chicken ($9.95) with eggplant, basil and coconut milk; another in our party found it way too spicy. Chicken Ka Pow ($9.95) also turned up the heat with chili, garlic and basil. Crispy Duck ($13.95), on the other hand, was another winner with less pepper that let the tender duck shine through.
Service was relaxed and, at times, sporadic, but won our admiration when our waitress deleted our uneaten green curry without request. And she kept the water coming.
It’s easy to understand the crowds at Lemongrass. There’s lots to choose from and it’s a nice departure from the ordinary.
The good news for Lemongrass fans and those who aren’t into the wait: Sources have it that owners Gavin Buckley, Julie Williams, Jody Danek and Kristen Lewis have a second location in the works, adding to their restaurant empire including Tsunami, as well as a piece of Metropolitan. Look for the new location on Housley Road near PetSmart and Best Buy
Carrie Bradshaw would approve.
167 West St., Annapolis • 410-280-0086
169 West St., Annapolis • 410-268-7733
Restaurant observer and Bay Weekly sales and marketing manager Lisa Edler Knoll, a.k.a. Gabby Crabcakes, returns each month with a new Girls’ Night Out.