LM Bistro | Restaurant review
The flagship of the LM Restaurant Group makes a case against itself.
By now, the intentions of LM Restaurant Group are clear—it’s taking over, neighborhood by neighborhood, and it won’t stop until it has a bowl of mussels in every zip code. Hotel restaurants seem to be part of the group’s strategy: First, it took over the disastrous Tribute restaurant in the Essex Hotel; now it’s taken on the less disastrous, but often overlooked, Elate space in the Hotel Felix.
Neither of those restaurants was amazing. Still, LM’s mission is troubling. Spaces that once held independent restaurants (Tribute; Elate; Premise in Andersonville) now hold carbon copies of a concept that was never particularly creative to begin with. When mediocre restaurants are replaced with a middling bistro chain, it’s not a triumph as much as a Band-Aid. In these cases, a Band-Aid in the form of a lyonnaise salad.
On the other hand, chef Brad Phillips, LM’s corporate chef who is spending at least some of his time at this location, is doing honest work, and the results are sometimes surprising. His heirloom tomato salad—not long for this world, unfortunately—layers sharp and sweet tomatoes with tart peaches. His tender, slow-roasted salmon is notable for the lovely accoutrements: decadent gnocchi, savory mushrooms. His Alsatian tart stumbles—crumbling under the weight of a Midwestern portion of bacon, it’s much more akin to American pizza—but his chicken, laid on the plate with a smooth eggplant puree and piquant olives, is lovely, rustic French food. If this level of food were being executed at every LM location, its aggressive expansion would be easier to swallow. But that’s not the case, and until it is, eating at any LM will be bittersweet.