Lillie’s Victorian celebrates the sense of fun that is namesake, the legendary Lillie Langtry, brought out in her fans. I visited the Union Square area location at 13 East 17th Street just this week and was delighted with the sweet and sentimental vibe created by the exposed brick walls, the high tin-covered ceilings, dramatic carved dark wood extra-long bar, red velvet banquettes and old-fashioned oil portraits in gilded frames. They only modern touches are the paper soccer balls hanging from the ceiling as Lillie’s is a headquarters for Brits who like to watch their “football” on the large TV screens there. Lillie’s has been in the East 13th Street location for seven-and-a-half years and the space happens to be a discount perfume store that I was a regular customer at many moons ago.Lillie’s food is described as “gastropub” by the proprietors and it is extremely well priced. I had the Steak Frites (pictured above) made with certified Angus Beef hanger steak. The portion of meat is generous–about 9 to 10 ounces–and has beautiful grill marks. It is served sitting in fresh chimichurri sauce amd lightly sauteed grape tomatoes and asparagus. If you are health conscious or a low carb dieter, the waitstaff is happy to substitute a salad for the fries at no additional cost. Just for the record, the golden Idaho potatoes used are lightly spiced with salt, pepper and even a little curry powder and cooked to be crisp on the outside and soft ‘n steamy on the inside. I actually started off with one of the Strawberry Margaritas which was made with fresh strawberries and simple syrup for a delicious, homemade taste. The large sprigs of fresh peppermint and a large fresh strawberry on a toothpick where a lovely, fresh touch. The drink menu at Lillie’s is even longer and more diversified than the food menu. There are cocktails and cordials from ever corner of the globe and event quaint Irish “local” drinks like Shanties.I love a good vegetable medley and the one served at Lillie’s (officially referred to as the “Chef’s Seasonal Medley”) totally rocks. While contents may vary due to what veggies are in season, I went in June and got carrots, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower sauteed in EVOO and they were cooked perfectly (slightly firm, just how I like them). The portion is big enough for two people to share along with their entrees and it is great “bang for the buck” at only seven dollars.
And just in case you are curious, here is what the Lillie’s Salad aka the House Salad looks like. It features organic wild mixed greens, Romaine, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes and radishes. The white balsamic vinaigrette dressing is light and healthy but can be ordered on the side upon request. My dining partner Loretta and I were too full to partake of dessert but Lillie’s is famous for their creme brulee although a couple of my foodie pals have recommended the cheesecake to me. I know a couple of guys who come to watch soccer games on weekend and order a couple of slices of the chocolate mousse cake and a couple of Irish coffee each. And speaking of authentic Irish things, a real Irish breakfast plate is served during Lillie’s daily brunch hours.
There are numerous drink specials as you can see from this giant drink menu outside of Lillie’s. There is a huge after work drink crowd that seems to peak at 7 pm so try to get to Lillie’s early if you want to score a table and have a peaceful dinner and do not forget that on weekends they have great brunch specials that include cocktails.You can get deals on beautiful pitchers of drinks such as the stunning pitcher of sangria above which has more than a dozen servings and is priced at a cool $39. I love the photo above because it shows off so much of the fun retro bric-a-brac that is scattered throughout Lillie’s–some of it is real and some of it is reproduction, but there is hoards of it to check out. Even the menu itself looks like it was created in 1912 on a local printing press. Lillie’s is just so quirky that kids will enjoy it as much as adults. For more info go to www.lilliesnyc.com. Dress is casual and reservations are recommended but not necessary. Lillie’s has wonderful sister “retro” eateries Oscar Wilde at 45 West 27th Street and Papillon at 22 East 54th Street. Lillie’s second location in Times Square is at 249 West 49th Street and even busier if you can believe it. Lillie’s is a fun place to take people from out of town who appreciate classic tastes and quirky surroundings. Service is extra-friendly and accommodating just like how it would be in New York during the Victorian times.