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Pick Your Poison: Lime

January 20, 2009


You know the old adage: You are what you eat. If that’s the case for our economy-stricken wallets, it might seem like a lot of cheap Big Macs and Chipotle Burritos are in our collective future.

But it turns out we needn’t sacrifice our palates. The culinary bailout in times like these is simple: Tapas.

Think of it as all you can eat … on a budget. Tapas are, roughly translated, “little plates,” which usually cost less than oversized entrees slathered with an abundance of sides and unsavory garnishes. The beauty of little plates is that they’re compact, satisfying, and avoid the unwanted (does anyone actually eat that tub of room-temperature cole slaw?) extras. Order a few of them, and sharing is more than just encouraged – it’s part of the fun.

The next time you’re in San Francisco, give Lime a try. It’s tucked in the Castro, just a quick jaunt from the neighborhood’s vintage movie theater (make an evening of it, this is ideal for a first date – sharing food is a great way to keep conversation lively). The menu is divided by price point (from $6 plates on up to $12). The night we went, my eating companions and I sampled the white cheddar grilled cheese toast points with a plush tomato soup dipping sauce. They were tiny, but they hit the spot. Think of them as comfy food. They found an equally soothing match in the long bean frites, flash-fried in a crispy buttermilk batter and paired with basil aioli. They’re served in a heaping pile, which made for a great deal when we ate (one was plenty for three of us). A seasonal salad delved dangerously close to side-dish territory, but the balsamic dressing was spritzed with care and little hunks of mozzarella are always welcome at any table.

Tandoori chicken skewers were a tad flimsy, but were appointed with a tangy chili sauce that gave some much-needed oomph. Calamari came fried. It won’t suggest anything more than pub food, but that’s what you’d expect from the most overexposed item on menus everywhere. Oysters on the shell are crisp and served artfully on a bed of sea salt crystals and dried kelp wisps. The oysters wade daintily in their mignonette sauce bath and slide into the mouth easily – always a good indication of a fresh mollusk.

This is hardly a complete list of what’s available — consider it a smidgen to whet your appetite.

We washed down our light meal with a couple of mojitos, served tall and concentrated in flavor. Lime’s variation on the half-breed drink, known as the illegitimate offspring of a tropical daiquiri and a good old-fashioned Kentucky mint julep, is neither too sweet nor too minty. Their key lime martini is initially a little saccharine, but it quickly builds a creaminess that really implies the meringue on the popular Floridian pie. Most cocktails will run you upwards of $8, and there is a full bar.

I’d suggest getting there early, but not too early. Happy hour means a decibel-climbing din, and as the night goes on, the crowds start to pile into the white, circular booths like bees buzzing in a honeycomb.

A warning: Don’t go if you’ve eaten little-to-nothing all day. Voracious appetites won’t do well with the portions. (Sometimes, when our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, we eat too much, too quickly.) Lime is a place to spend time with company and share the wealth. So, to borrow another popular phrase, put your money where your mouth is. Your bailed-out belly will benefit.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 20, 2009 8:15 pm

    It was so fun to take you guys there, I’m glad you like it. I was actually working there the other night as part of the new Bar on Church promotion. It kind of turns into a club/bar vibe at night. Lime is actually going to be closing for renovations, after the new Bar opens (tonight) and the new Jet opens. They’re all the same owner, and he’s doing this revamp on all his places in the neighborhood. Should be interesting! But also, don’t forget about the bottomless mimosa brunch Lime has on Sundays. That’s what they’re most known for!

  2. January 20, 2009 8:15 pm

    It was so fun to take you guys there, I’m glad you like it. I was actually working there the other night as part of the new Bar on Church promotion. It kind of turns into a club/bar vibe at night. Lime is actually going to be closing for renovations, after the new Bar opens (tonight) and the new Jet opens. They’re all the same owner, and he’s doing this revamp on all his places in the neighborhood. Should be interesting! But also, don’t forget about the bottomless mimosa brunch Lime has on Sundays. That’s what they’re most known for!

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