Sigh. I meant to write this review, like, 10 days ago. When I still remembered my meal. It was a good meal, though, so maybe it'll come back to me.
Lemongrass in Annapolis didn't open until after I'd moved to Baltimore, and Lemongrass in Baltimore didn't open until after I'd moved to Towson, gotten married and had a kid and generally become a lot less fun and likely to leave my house. I'd heard great things about all three locations, though, so when my friend Adrienne suggested to me (and our other friend Amy) that we meet at the Fells Point restaurant for dinner, I was all over it. I should admit, though, a little bias. Lemongrass is part of a newish wave of Annapolis restaurants that I find a little bit hip and trendy for my favorite town. There is a reason why I go to McGarvey's every year for my birthday and not, say, someplace cool in DC. At the same time, I really had heard great things about the food at Lemongrass, and that could potentially help me get over the emergence of a hipster vibe on West Street.
Anyway, dinner. We met on a Wednesday night (the one just before the 4th of July holiday weekend). At 7 pm, I was surprised to find both the restaurant and bar were fairly empty. Lemongrass is adjacent to it's sister sushi spot, Tsunami, so there's a double draw. On the downside, though, the restaurants' slightly weird Central Avenue location doesn't do it any favors. It's not the worst neighborhood and there are some very cool lofts just across the street, but I wasn't 100% sure where to park (easy answer: the Little Italy garage - it's right across the street) and crossing Central to get to the restaurant was a little dicey. They could really use a crosswalk. If I were the restaurant's owner, I'd be all over that.
So the place wasn't crowded. Which was fine. We had a drink at the bar (I had a ginger martini that was pretty awesome and intensely gingery) then sat in the dining room for dinner. The space was cool, though to be honest, I don't remember it in much detail. It felt big and open, but I can't for the life of me recall what it really looked like. The only detail I do remember is the outdoor courtyard in between the two restaurants. It looked cute and, well, it's outdoors.
What I do remember are the people. Such a random crowd. In one corner, there were two middle-aged ladies who definitely looked more Roland Park than Fells Point. They provided a nice contrast to the group of wannabe thugs in the bar (they had sort of a Kriss Kross vibe - crazy baggy clothes that seemed just a little out of place on them). According to Kyle and Mary, who had dinner there the following night, on weekends, the bar gets pretty crowded and, well, there's a lot of skin. Apparently a LOT of low cut shirts. So, you know, if you're into that sort of thing.
So that's the crowd. But what about the food? Well, the food was really, really good.
First of all, the wine list is super short, but it's decent and cheap, which is nice. The menu covers all the Thai standards - no big surprises. We ordered the crispy string beans to start on the recommendation of the City Paper review, which called them the best thing on the menu. I bet they are - I could've eaten more than one plate of them all myself. They're battered and fried, then stir-fried with a garlic sauce. The combination of the garlic with the fresh taste of a string bean, plus the richness (and all around fantasticness) of anything deep-fried...just imagine it. It is that good.
Amy also had a bowl of tom ka gai, a milky chicken soup that's delicate but still nicely layered with flavor. It was a hit.
Unfortunately, I can't remember what Adrienne or Amy had for dinner, mostly because I was so wrapped up in my own crispy duck. It's my favorite thing at Bangkok Kitchen and while the Lemongrass version wasn't quite as good as the BK stuff, it was up there (and actually, BK's duck could benefit from a little bit of a lighter fry, which Lemongrass seems to have down). It was spicy and juicy and rich just intense all the way around. I ate every single bit of it and it was totally worth the resurgence of heartburn (that lasted for 5 days), the likes of which I hadn't seen since my ninth month of pregnancy.
Oh - and the service. It was good, our uber-hipster waiter was friendly and quick with the drinks and food. However, we think he may have gotten high (I'm being serious) while we were eating because it literally took us an hour to get the check, and we had to ask three times. Which was fine - we were talking - but kind of funny.
So there it is - Lemongrass. The food was excellent, the service was mostly good, the decor is cool but unforgettable and the crowd is worth watching. I'd recommend it, but only if you're in the mood for exactly that experience.