On a snowy January night, there were about 7 patrons in The Lemon Grove Cafe; a place that looks like it could seat about 40. It describes itself as "a cafe, coffee shop, bar, art gallery, musical venue and all-around good time." True to its self-description, I could smell coffee in the air, saw a nice bar and artwork displayed upon its walls. While there was no live music that night, I can see how it could be a musical venue and all-around good time, especially on a Friday or Saturday night. This eclectic establishment is positioned to serve breakfast, the downtown lunch crowd, locals in the evenings and college crowd on the live music nights.
While deciding on what to order, I asked the waitress what the two most popular burgers were. She started by naming and describing the first and second, then added, “But if you like…” and ran through the entire burger list. This told me that she was either a good company sales person or that all the burgers are good.
I started with an order of the Hummus appetizer. Within minutes, a generous bowlful of hummus arrived with a plentiful supply of precut pita wedges. The hummus was homemade and tasted really, really good. Its texture was very smooth and very flavorful with a hint of something like caraway seed in the background. There was enough hummus that every pita wedge, down to the last one, carried a good dollop to my mouth. It would have been fantastic if the pita had been homemade.
Being a pushover for bleu cheese, I decided upon “The Blue Angel” burger that I ordered cooked to medium. About “The Blue Angel”, the menu states, “The contrast ‘tween the burger & blue cheese will have ya singing like Marlene.” This is immediately followed by a QR code that, when scanned with a smartphone, opens YouTube to a video of Marlene Dietrich singing.
The Lemon Grove Cafe advertises that, for only 75 cents, you can add their “amazing all natural bacon” to “anything”. Because bacon rocks, I had to add it to my burger. I can only imagine what wondrous heaven awaits those who order the Bacon Cheeseburger and then, for the premium, adds more! Included with any burger is a choice of sides. I opted to try the soup. I forgot what that nights selection was called, but it was described as having a spicy sausage flavor – something that sounded good on one of northeast Ohio’s first real winter nights.
About 15 minutes later, my dinner plate arrived. On it was a nice sized, hand shaped burger covered with a thick layer of melted bleu cheese. Some lettuce, onion and a tomato slice were included. Also on the plate was about 3 ounces of the soup in a proportionately sized bowl.
As I got ready to dig in, I immediately realized that my burger did not have the “amazing all natural bacon” that I had ordered on it. When I pointed this out to the server, she apologized and immediately made a bee-line to the kitchen. As she vanished from sight, I started with the soup. It was more like chowder and had a sausage like spice to it. I enjoyed trying it, but it wasn’t the highlight of the meal.
The burger was a different story. Before I finished the soup, the server returned with a plate full of bacon. There was more than 75 cents worth on this plate. This was probably the capstone to the server’s apology for it not coming out with the order. I proceeded to put the pile of bacon on the burger. As I did, the melted bleu cheese gently squished out from underneath. I then placed the vegies on top.
When I took that first bite, I was quite pleased to find that the burger had been flame broiled. It had a slight char on it that worked magic with the flavor of bleu cheese. The tomato slice gave away it’s out of season character by being a bit dull in appearance and flavor. Otherwise, this was a very satisfying burger.
Did I sing like Marlene? No. Because I can't. But I can tell you that The Lemon Grove Café is a comfortable restaurant with tasty food and reasonable prices. While I’ll probably not trek back to it on another such a blustery, snowy night, I’ll certainly stop again should I be in Youngstown at lunch or dinner time. Eat up!
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