Lot No. 3 is the latest in the Heavy Restaurant Group's eateries located in Bellevue Towers. This one is heavy on beer, booze and bacon.
Heavy Restaurant Group has Bellevue Towers cornered, literally. Purple Café is the nexus linking Barrio to the east and Lot No. 3 to the north.
Lot No. 3, which opened in June, got its name because it was the third lot the company developed at the site, a rare lapse of imagination by the Purple people, Larry and Tabitha Kurofsky. Fortunately the concept is more inspired than the name.
You could sum it up in three words: booze, beer, bacon.
Let’s start with bacon, a plate of it, sweet with brown sugar. It’s in the “snacks” section of the menu along with a giant, salt-crusted hot pretzel (dip lightly in the fiery horseradish mustard), and “devil-ish” eggs — emphasis on the “ish” for this trio stuffed with a smooth spread of smoked salmon and chives.
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There’s a thick, smoky piece of bacon in the BLT slider, one of three available as singles. It lost points for meager pieces of “L” and “T” and ranks third on the “slider” scale. Second place goes to the ultra-rich short rib/chile sauce/cheddar combo. The winner: duck confit, crunchy with cracklings and sweetly accented with raisin-flecked verjus jam.
The “B” in PB&J stands for bacon; yes, with peanut butter and grape jelly on thick-sliced country white toast. It’s sweet, salty, crunchy, gooey and great. So are the fresh kettle chips with it.
There are bacon bits in the blue-cheese salad, but Panzanella is bacon-free. It’s a true bread salad with traces of creamy burrata cheese clinging to chunks of grilled pumpernickel tossed with cucumber, cherry tomato, basil and red onion in balsamic-sweetened vinaigrette.
Bacon flavors sautéed green beans, ordered as a side with herby roast chicken, an exceptional half bird whose “not-so-country” gravy owes its spicy sophistication to bits of salami.
They taste like the sopressata and mole that are among several Salumi salamis on the menu. Those along with a nice choice of cheeses are priced individually, allowing diners to customize a meat and cheese plate.
Some things on the menu need retooling. The “hot link” tasted like a petroleum product; its bun did a good impression of Styrofoam. Limp polenta “fries” came with cloyingly sweet tomato sauce. Gnocchi gratin was leaden, lumpy and far too rich; baking those delicate potato dumplings like macaroni and cheese is simply a bad idea.
Robust, carb-rich fare like this makes a perfect drinking partner, which brings us to booze and beer. Go elsewhere for flavored vodkas and crayon-colored martinis. Here skilled bartenders conjure 20th- century classics like The Vesper (James Bond’s drink of choice), The Boulevardier (Negroni’s ancestor) and the Corpse Reviver #2 (when you’ve had too much of the others).
Whiskey is this bar’s strong suit. Imbibers attuned to the nuances of bourbon and rye, or small batch versus single barrel, will like building their own Manhattans with the whiskey, vermouth and bitters of their choice.
Wines by the glass are limited; for wines by the bottle ask for Purple Café’s vast wine list. Fifty beers from all over the world should be enough to satisfy the guys who hang around the circular bar playing Fantasy Football on their laptops.
The mood mixes contemporary urban chic with vintage men’s club. Tufted leather sofas and wing chairs flank low tables in the front window. Head upstairs for seating that’s a little more intimate, or for an eagle’s view of the antics below.
Flames from oil lamps relieve the gloom. They are tucked inside canning jars. So is maple-glazed “jar cake,” which is baked in one. Soft and cinnamon-spiced, it’s best ordered with house-made French vanilla ice cream.
There’s no bacon in any of the desserts (yet), but there is one with beer: a chocolate ice-cream float made with double chocolate stout. Here’s looking at you, kid.
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