When you walk into Lodge, (318 Grand Street, at Havemeyer Street, 718-486-9400), you feel as though you've been transported to an Inn in Upstate New York, with a big open room bordered on two sides by a wooden bench hugging a table made from the cross section of a big tree and the bar at the far end. The chandeliers are white porcelain antlers and dividing wall between bar area and dining room is made from slabs of slate stacked horizontally. It's cozy and charming - all it's missing is a fireplace.
We started out with drinks. I ordered The Hunter, a version of a Manhattan with Bourbon and Cherry Brandy, complete with cherry.
The dinner menu is full of warm, hearty options; there are classic dishes and there are those with new twists. The chicken is organic and free-range and from a local farm. I almost went with the Organic Chicken Fingers, but was swayed by more savory sounding dishes. Like the Hot Artichoke Dip which four of us shared and had polished off in about 3 minutes. It was creamy with chunks of artichoke heart and not overly salted or heavy. It was almost light, if Artichoke Dip can be light. Served with toasted slices of baguette.
We also split the special Oysters, but I can't find the piece of paper where I wrote down the details so I can't tell you where they were from. They were good, but the sauce they were served with was fantastic. Chunky with onions and horseradish, it was spicy and proved a perfect balance to the briny, salty oysters.
I chose to get the Carolina Pulled Pork which comes with a side of the Gouda Mac & Cheese (to which I asked them to add the Applewood smoked bacon) and homemade Cole Slaw. The pulled pork was delicious - chunky and juicy, spicy and smoky, it fell apart when you looked at it. The slaw was excellent as well with just a touch of mayo and fresh cabbage, and the mac & cheese....well, the Gouda made it so creamy and so flavorful. It was genius, especially with chunks of that meaty bacon.
There was an order of the Homemade Turkey Meatloaf with garlic escarole, herb roasted red potatoes and white gravy. This was a bit interesting. A little on the dry side, there wasn't enough gravy, and the gravy wasn't buttery enough. It was good though, and the potatoes and escarole were nicely spiced. All in all a very filling meal.
There was an order of another special - the Pistachio Encrusted Striped Bass with spinach, rice, braised leeks and topped with a grapefruit salsa. The pistachio nuts' flavor was overshadowed by the rest of the flavors of the dish. The fish was prepared well though and was moist, tender and enjoyable.
Finally, there were the Steamed Mussels which were done with white wine, garlic, lemongrass and basil which all comes with a side of Fries. There wasn't enough juice in this dish, so some of the mussels were a little dry. The flavor was interesting too - perhaps it was the addition of the lemongrass that mixed it up. Again, they weren't bad, just not great. The fries however, were fantastic - perfectly salted and crispy and flecked with parsley.
All in all I really liked Lodge. Some of the dishes were a little bit of a miss, but still good, and the rest were absolutely fabulous. I think I've added this place to my list of favorites. Can't wait to see what they'll have in store for us in Spring!