My one sentence review of the Lobby reads as:
If you like the decor, you'll love the food.
* Chuckles Evilly*
Oh but their wine is not bad! If you're going, just order lots of wine. You'll need it.
First off, let's talk about the decor. It looks like someone went into a late 90s Rona, bought some paint, and then visited a college dorm-room poster sale and bought every black and white poster there. Can you think of a celebrity? Good for you. There's probably a poster of them at the Lobby. Victoria secret models in the men's washroom and Clooney in the women's. I really hope they didn't pay a designer.
Most confusingly of all are their posters of Mike Tyson (who yes, I know was in the Hangover, but is also a CONVICTED RAPIST) and OJ Simpson:
Yep. This photo hangs in a prominent place in the Lobby. Maybe it is some misfortune of fate that nearly every time I've been, they've sat me directly beneath this photo. But to be clear - he murdered people. This is a photo from his murder trial. For murdering his exwife and her partner.
(murder). This is a photo of a man getting away with murder.
The first time I was there, we were taken aback and we asked our waitress. She confided that she was also really confused by it and would ask the manager(s). I had kind of hoped maybe it was an oversight. But that photo still hangs prominently there, and the last time I asked I was told that it was "..a conversation starter! See?! We're talking about it now!". I don't know if the people who picked the posters are unimaginative, classless, or just testing the waters before their planned theme shift from 'pedestrian late-90s sitcom backdrop' to 'murder-chic'. Their website describes the Lobby as Simply Unique. I guess...? (murder).
But that's just my personal opinion. Maybe you're more comfortable with it. Although really, we shouldn't celebrate people who murder their wives, and honestly, Lobby, you can do better. I should note that this total disregard for, you know, good taste has probably biased me. But, well, murder. And let's not forget the convicted rapist.
Oh and BTW - the menu has spelled Virginia Woolf as Virgina Woolf. I'm a terrible proof reader too, but this blog costs me nothing, and I imagine the Lobby cost tens of thousands of dollars.
The food is theoretically the most important aspect, so let's move on.
The Lobby food is self described as " a melting pot of universal flavors, ideas, cultures, stories, music, laughs, tastes and dreams…" To be fair - it does attempt to feature flavours from a variety of cuisines... Samosas, hummus, jerk-chicken.. Sure - all traditional foods of different cultures. And I like the effort. And almost everything on the menu sounds good in theory. IN THEORY.
To sum it up succinctly, I have found that almost everything tastes bland. While I'm obviously a fun-loving home chef, I've rarely walked out of a meal thinking 'that restaurant should really hire me because I know I'd do better".
There is no hint yam in the yam hummus. There is no POW in the jerk chicken. The nachos were covered in a 3.5 cups of olives and onions and not much else. The burger was dry and I think the bun was reused? The pulled pork sauce was eerily sweet. The tofu in the pad thai hadn't been marinated AT ALL. The steak salad had no goat cheese or cucumbers. The surfer salad was tossed in what appeared to be exclusively olive oil and had 5 matchstick thin slices of mango. The BLT bites were alright but they were 90% T, 10% B, and 0% L.
The only thing we've had that we thought was 'oh wow, this is pretty good' was the mint chutney which came with the samosas. Oh and, the fish tacos were actually not bad.
AND I'M SO DISAPPOINTED. I live nearby and was thrilled that a resto-bar had opened up within walking distance. I was desperate to like the Lobby. Maybe they'll work out the kinks. Maybe they'll make their food taste like things. But maybe not. Maybe they're aiming for sub-subpar because they know they can get away with it in an area eager for local dining opportunities. I don't know! TELL ME PLEASE. I don't want to start calling you The Slobby.
What I do know is that earlier this month, on a night on which we were both exhausted, we were going to go to the Lobby for dinner and instead elected to stay home and eat kraft dinner.
I know nothing about the ownership or management of the Lobby, so I don't know if they'll turn it around. But it needs some help. And with a commercial space that size, their rent is not going to be cheap. So please Lobby, turn it around.
Get your manager to intervene when lecherous old men are actually groping your waitresses on a quiet Saturday afternoon. I don't care if they're 50 year old professionals, who have spent 200$ on wine. If they're being asked to stop and won't do so, please show them the door. It's workplace sexual harassment and really uncomfortable for the 6 other patrons. Take OJ down. Season your food. Heck, even taste your food.
You have a great space, potential, and a receptive and eager audience. But novelty only lasts so long.
overall experience: 2/5 (it is close to my house and has big glasses of wine).
The Lobby is located at 2545 Broad Street, http://www.thelobbypublichouse.com/
As always, this is just my personal opinion. Have you been to the Lobby, what did you think? Murdery? Did it make you miss mid-90s and early 2000s celebrities? How was your wine? Should I go back?