Split Personality

Some inconsistencies are holding Liluma back

But, just as it is with everything else about Liluma, the kitchen can perform unevenly. On my second visit there, half of what was brought to the table came out either lukewarm or oversalted. The chopped iceberg salad, a highlight of the first visit, elicited a sourpuss expression with just one bite, as did the frites part of the steak frites. Two soups, a yellowfin-tuna entrée and the side of Yukon Gold potatoes all arrived as if they'd been sitting in the kitchen waiting for pickup for a good five minutes.

This was probably the case; the service at Liluma is still operating at a novice level. The waitstaff is young, dewy-faced, pleasant and relatively inexperienced for such a high-end establishment. When I asked for salt to put on a salad (there weren't any salt or pepper shakers on the table), I was given a small dish of rock salt, which is not for putting on salad. The waitstaff needs to become more knowledgeable about food in general and Liluma's menu specifically; for one thing, it would be nice to be offered advice on pairing side dishes with entrées. As for speed of service, on one visit the wait for drinks before dinner (when the restaurant was virtually empty) and for the check after dinner were both inexcusably long, the sort of long where you've run out of things to talk about at the table except for where the damn drinks are or where the damn check is. On another visit, the entrées actually came out too early, but then dessert took so long to arrive that the table almost gave up on the course altogether.

This would have been a mistake, though maybe not quite a tragedy. The only true misstep among the rotating desserts is the homemade s'mores; the marshmallow tastes like the moons and clovers and such from a box of Lucky Charms, and there isn't nearly enough graham cracker or chocolate to compensate. The rest of the desserts, straightforward and traditional, do just fine. Crème brûlée and flourless chocolate torte are as good as it gets, a gingerbread pudding offers an autumnal-tasting alternative to heavy sweets and if you're one of the rare palates who raves for the tame Italian dessert panna cotta -- an eggless custard with the relative sweetness and consistency of yogurt -- you've just hit the jackpot.

Liluma may seem too cool for school, but it's a work in progress.
Jennifer Silverberg
Liluma may seem too cool for school, but it's a work in progress.

Location Info

Map

Liluma Side Door-CLOSED

236 N. Euclid Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63108

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: St. Louis - Central West End

Details

Iceberg salad with bacon and blue cheese $7
Tagliatelle with tomato sauce $14
Steak frites $18
Crushed Yukon Gold potatoes $4
Panna cotta $6

314-361-7771. Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Mon.-Sat.

236 North Euclid Avenue

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Liluma may hit the jackpot someday soon as well, once it takes a good, long look at itself and figures out just what it needs to do and just what it wants to be.

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