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Food Review: Lemon Cuisine of India

The latest tenant of a Richmond landmark finds a fast following.

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Cracker prawn are among a changing list of appetizers at Lemon Cuisine of India, in the former Byram's spot near WTVR. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Cracker prawn are among a changing list of appetizers at Lemon Cuisine of India, in the former Byram's spot near WTVR.

There are many idioms for the magic of threes. Good things happen in threes, bad things happen in threes, third time's a charm, and the list goes on. Lemon Cuisine, the third incarnation in a line of restaurants to occupy the once lobster-adorned Broad Street behemoth, could be the right third.

Late on a recent Saturday night, a harried but well-versed waiter hits our table with menus and water, apologizing for a lack of lamb while he deftly passes a tray of bussed dishes to another waiter. We're pressed to quickly order appetizers and a bottle of wine from a well-priced and impressive list. It appears and our server disappears for quite some time. A different server hands off our chicken 65 ($7), a spicy, fried dish, and vegetable samosas ($5), triangle-shaped pastry filled with spiced potatoes and peas. Both have the potential to be exceptional with a little less cooking time. The chicken leaves lingering heat on the tongue with overtones of ginger, cumin and chili, but the chicken is tough and dry. Sadly, our samosas are desert-dry as well, with the potato breaking into bits beneath the sweeter pastry shell.

On a Friday night, our entrees follow the same appetizer path as overcooked. Chicken tandoori tikka ($14) is beautifully plated over grilled vegetables with fragrant rice, but is difficult to cut, and the vegetables are an unappetizing lukewarm. The tiny vegetarian entree of channa masala ($11), described as chickpeas and diced potatoes, curiously is missing potatoes but delicious. On the soupier side, it has a creeping heat from garam masala, a peppery and citrusy spice mixture. Nan ($3) is available in several varieties and is served fresh and hot. Mind the onion and the garlic if you plan to visit the soon-to-be bar and club side of the restaurant after your meal.

Thinking that Lemon is overly busy and trying to gain its stride on weekend nights, not a criticism, we try a weekday visit and have a completely different experience. Relaxed, informed service shows up with piping hot paneer pakoras ($7), fried cheese atop a sweet tamarind glaze. Tender chilli chicken ($9) is covered in a tomato glaze and plentiful. Lamb tikka masala ($16) is a standout. Delicate lamb and light tomato cream sauce are balanced well in this rendition of the popular Indian dish. Mint chicken ($15) is tender and fresh with a not-to-be missed mint chutney.

Soft music plays at all times and the lighting is low. The noise, especially on weekends, can get a bit loud. Utensils are awkwardly shaped, long and pointy. They get style points but are interesting to maneuver. With a few tweaks on those super busy Fridays and Saturdays to keep up with the demand, Lemon could prove to be the third and final place in that space on Broad. S

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Lemon Cuisine of India
3215 W. Broad St.
204-1800
lemoncuisineofindia.com
Monday- Friday 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Monday-Thursday 5-10 p.m.
Friday-Saturday 5-10:30 p.m.
Saturday Noon-3 p.m.
Sunday 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m., 5-10 p.m.

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