Venue Review: Lily’s Bistro
DAYTON — I suspect I was not alone in greeting the announcement that Café Boulevard would morph into Boulevard Haus, a German restaurant, with considerable skepticism. German food? Really?
I am skeptical no more.
Two dinner visits to the latest incarnation of the restaurant that has operated in the Oregon Historical District for more than a decade resulted in some very pleasant surprises from the food menu.
From the appetizer menu, do not miss the In-House Smoked Salmon ($6.95), chunk of salmon filet with exuberantly smoky flavor, yet still silken inside, nestled atop dressed salad greens and ringed by sliced hard-boiled egg, pickled fresh cucumbers and tasty little potato-pancake-like medallions, and accompanied by cucumber sour cream and capers. It's among the best appetizers in town.
The Chicken In Riesling ($15.95) features a chicken breast simmered in a delightfully decadent cream sauce with mushrooms, carrots and onions, served with a mound of well-made mashed potatoes. Wiener Schnitzel ($16.95) — no, there are no wieners in wiener schnitzel — consists of a dinner-plate-sized, pounded-very-thin pork cutlet, breaded and fried. It's a bit bland and dominated by the crispy breading, but perks up nicely when drizzled with the accompanying caper lemon sauce. The dish is served with pomme frites (thin French Fries) and sauteed vegetables — a distinctive and garlic-spiked blend of zucchini, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach that turns out to be the hit of the plate.
From the sandwich and sausage menu, try the Chicken Pretzel Burger ($9.95), enlivened by an apple-horseradish sauce and pickled cucumbers, or the Onion Bratwurst ($12.95), consisting of two sausages topped with sweet caramelized onions and served with spicy mustard and tart sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. It's a satisfying meal.
The restaurant offers nightly specials, but the best deals come on Wednesday evenings, when all items on the "Sausages, Burgers & Sandwiches" menu are 25 percent off menu prices.
Boulevard Haus serves up some German brews such as Erdinger Hefeweizen and Ayinger Celebrator Double Bock in beautiful, branded glassware. Don't miss the Erdinger Hefeweizen on tap in the 17-ounce glass.
Diners seem to have responded enthusiastically to the new Boulevard Haus, as evidenced by the nearly full front dining room on a Wednesday night in early January, and by a Jan. 7 filing with U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Cafe Boulevard filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April and has continued to operate while restructuring its debts. In a request to a bankruptcy court judge to give the restaurant more time to file a detailed plan to emerge from bankruptcy, restaurant owner Eva Brcic-Christian said sales in December 2009 — the first full month after the transition to Boulevard Haus — "indicate a dramatic increase in business," jumping from $37,000 in December 2008 to $57,000 a year later.
Daytonians must be finding their "inner German," courtesy of the dishes served at Boulevard Haus.