Needing a quick bite before the third and final Presidential debate, Mack and I headed to Lemongrass Cafe (10417 51 Avenue). I came to that decision for three reasons: it was on our way home; the restaurant had provided food of reasonable quality at our staff retreat last week; and I had an Entertainment Book coupon to burn.
My first impression of Lemongrass Café wasn’t a positive one. A makeshift paper sign had been taped up on the door, reading something to the likes of “We are not accepting 2008 Entertainment Book coupons or cards.” As we wouldn’t have been able to get to and out of another non-fast food dining establishment in time for the show, we elected to eat there anyway.
Walking in to this strip-mall restaurant with an aged awning, I was surprised to find an uncluttered, clean and fairly modern space inside. The furniture appeared to be fairly new, though the wicker chairs left some more comfortable seating to be desired. Black and white photos of posed Asian women adorned the walls, and while artful and unexpected, they were a bit unnerving.
The physical menu was simple but nice – easy-to-read typeface on a white background, accented with photos of different ingredients or implements used in the cooking process. For the most part, the available dishes reminded me of the offerings at Hoang Long – both in composition and price.
Without a discount incentive to order a more expensive dish, I opted for a warming bowl of pho, my usual variety topped with medium rare beef ($7.50). Mack gravitated towards a rice plate, and decided on the stir-fried vegetables with beef and chicken, choosing to exclude the squid ($12.75).
Our food arrived in timely fashion (though the same could not be said for the water refills that did not come). My pho was bereft of onions, with just a few measly slivers to speak of, but I was happy to taste the comforting broth, flavourful but not too salty. Mack enjoyed his dish, noting that the kitchen didn’t skimp on the meat, but claimed there were “too many vegetables.”
Medium Rare Beef Noodle Soup
Stir-fry with Beef and Chicken
Caught in photography mode
Lemongrass Café won’t replace Pagolac for me, but should I be in the area and in need of an emergency hit of pho, at least I know now that there’s a decent stopover nearby.
10417 51 Avenue NW
Monday – Thursday 11am-9pm, Friday 11am-10pm, Saturday noon-10pm, Sunday 4-9pm