From the moment one walks into Lambert’s they are treated like an old friend. It is a place that exudes warmth and friendliness, a place where you are a regular the first time you visit.
The rooms are simply adorned, white walls and table clothes with a few pieces of art lending accents. When the weather warms there is also an outdoor patio. The menu is pure and perhaps even a tad old-fashioned but the flourishes are purely contemporary and in this setting it all works harmoniously.
All of that is fine but best fun of the evening is reserved for the raucous table of Texans next to us. When they learn the waitress is German they tell her they have family in “Sauerkraut.”
Comedy aside, The Monster opts for the trio of soups, a Madeira onion soup with a gruyere cheese crostini, a roasted corn and vegetable chowder and the award winning green chile stew topped with salsa fresca along with a special, duck empanadas.
Perhaps you will decide on the trio of international cheeses with grilled bread, walnuts and apples or the chile dusted wild shrimp served with cocktail sauce and lemon. If salad is more to your liking a classic Caesar, a simple bibb with local micro greens and honey-dijon vinaigrette, a marinated roasted beet on greens with local goat cheese and pumpkin seed or grilled radicchio and bibb with artichoke hearts and red onion with Danish blue cheese vinaigrette are your options.
The entrees skew toward meat with the specials leaning toward seafood. There is pasta stroganoff with sautéed beef tenderloin, shallots, wild mushrooms and creme fraiche Dijon sauce over linguine as well as a double-boned pork chop with cranberry-port glaze, poached apple and braised red cabbage or a grilled filet mignon with béarnaise sauce, red wine demi-glace, baked red bell pepper with butternut manchego stuffing.
The Monster gets a full order of the steamed mussels in fresh tomato herb broth with grilled garlic bread as his main along with the scallop special served with garlic linguine and vegetables. It’s been a marathon of eating over the past few days so lighter dishes are appealing.
The empanadas are light pastry, baked not fried. So light they are less empanada and more puff pastry and in this instance that is a good thing. The duck inside is perfect and the sweet accompaniment a perfect foil for the duck’s gaminess.
As for the soups, the notion of a trio works against the individual effectiveness of any of the soups which on their own would shine. The onion’s beef base becomes a dominant flavor, while the stew’s heat makes it a clear winner. The chowder alone would be a worthy soup but gets lost between the two more potent tastes and one is left with a vague hint of cream as the aftertaste.
The entrees are all proficiently done. The scallops for example are cooked well but the spicy marinara sauce just doesn’t pair with it. Likewise, the vegetables are just as you like them save too much butter and oil in the presentation. The linguine cooked al dente, the garlic sauce nearly nonpresent.
The mussels are the best of the lot. The broth is worthy of the garlic bread and the mussels take well to it.
The Texans bring the waiter back to tell her they also have relatives in Farfegnugen. The Monster orders dessert just so he doesn’t have to leave. The dessert is chocolate truffle mousse with raspberry sauce but that is inconsequential to talking with this family who truly enjoy each other.
All in all Lambert’s is a solid meal with friendly service in pleasing environs.
Why go? You were born in Strudel, Germany.
Monster rating: 3½/5 Monsters