I finally returned to Rockland’s Lily Bistro last night, and luck was with me, as we were able to snag one of just two unreserved tables. Judging by the way staff greeted customers, the restaurant already has a strong following. And for good reason.
The small, storefront dining room, with its vibrant green walls, is comfy, almost cozy. When filled, it’s loud, loud enough to mute the background music, but not so to drown out conversation.
We were welcomed with slices of crusty bread served accompanied by butter and a delicious chicken pate. It would have been easy to fill up on bread and pate, but the menu promised so much more, and it delivered.
The menu offered five appetizers and five entrees, with a few nightly specials also available. We started by splitting an appetizer special, a rabbit tagine which essentially is a crepe. I’d mentioned to our waitress that we’d be sharing, and when she delivered it, it had already been split in the kitchen and was presented on two plates. A nice touch, one we didn’t request but indicated that the staff and kitchen are attentive to customers’ needs. Thank goodness we’d split the order, as half was plenty to serve as an appetizer.
I wished we’d also ordered the house salad, a mix of greens, Paula red apples, and roasted squash topped with a sherry pumpkin-seed vinaigrette. Folks at neighboring tables were savoring it, and it looked fresh and enticing. Really, all the appetizers were intriguing: French country fare done with New England flair.
Most entrees were classic French country staples, such as pan-seared bistro steak with garlic frites, bacon-wrapped pork sirloin, and a seared local hake served with saffron mussels, red bliss potatoes, and Morning Dew’s leeks. We ordered two classics: cassoulet and the chicken grandmere.
When I ordered the cassoulet (duck confit, pork belly, smoked ham, and a frisee salad), the waitress said: “Good choice.” And how. The aromas wafting from it when served were divine; the rich smoky flavor even better (One whiff, one taste, and I was ready to embrace winter). I took half of it home, along with a remaining slice of bread, and had it for lunch. I will return for this alone.
Tom’s chicken grandmere was equally wonderful, a juicy, tender, crispy chicken breast and leg were accompanied by braised greens and fingerling potatoes. He ate it all.
Too full, we didn’t order dessert, although I would have considered the appetizer house charcuterie and cheese plate, which came with pates, terrines, local cheeses, and other goodies.
BOTTOM LINE: Total, including two glasses of wine, came to about $64 pre tax and tip. Appetizers run $6 to $12; entrees $18 to $22. My only complaint: the kitchen uses a bit more salt than I prefer, but not so much as to be overpowering. Will I return: You bet! Reservations: Highly recommended.
**More Lily Bistro news here.