Looking for a kick of flavor to spice up your day-to-day routine? Or perhaps simply craving a healthy, satisfying meal? Try Lemon, the restaurant voted Richmond’s Best Indian Restaurant for three years in a row.
Opening my car door after parking in Lemon’s parking lot near Scott’s Addition, I was immediately greeted by the aroma of zesty Indian spices. As I took in the scent, my mouth immediately began to water, and I began to imagine the delicious food awaiting us inside the restaurant. As a fan of Indian food, I was incredibly excited to try out Lemon. Although it was not as short a drive as some of Collegiate cult favorites (Chipotle, Chick-fil-a, Boyer’s, etc.), the twenty-minute drive to 3215 West Broad Street was completely validated by Lemon’s incredible dishes.
Walking into the restaurant, my three friends and I were greeted by the hostess, who guided us to our table. The restaurant was large and spacious, but the mood lighting, brown and white color palette of the walls and decorations, and lush curtains made the atmosphere very comfortable and relaxed. Beautiful paintings decorated the walls and chandeliers hung from the ceiling. Overall, the restaurant had a very pleasant ambiance: polished, but informal.
Upon sitting down, a waiter quickly poured us waters and brought over a complimentary appetizer akin to chips and salsa at a Mexican restaurant. I did not quite catch the name of the dish, but it consisted of dry chip-like crackers and three dipping sauces: a zesty green sauce, a sweet and tangy red sauce, and an incredibly spicy chutney. This appetizer tasted decent but unremarkable, so my friends and I left it mostly untouched as we wanted to save our appetites for more complex and tasty dishes.
As we glossed over our menus, we were first intimidated by unfamiliar names, but the organization of the menu by type of meat and the descriptions made it easy to pick our dishes. We first ordered appetizers, going with the garlic naan and the shrimp Madras, which is
shrimp sauteed in a Madras spice blend with pink peppercorn-mint raita, a yogurt-based condiment that is a staple of Indian cuisine. Just as our garlic naan arrived at our table, we were pleasantly surprised to find Upper School English teacher Dr. Linda Rouse and her family walking into the restaurant. We chatted for a short time, and Dr. Rouse strongly recommended the lasooni gobhi appetizer: crispy cauliflower served in a tomato-garlic sauce. Under her guidance, we added the appetizer to our order. Shortly after, both the shrimp Madras and the lasooni gobhi arrived, both colorful and mouth-wateringly attractive.
As I bit into a Madras-coated shrimp, the flavors of the juicy shrimp and Madras spices burst in my mouth. The dish was slightly spicier than I thought it would be, and although the extra kick was delightful, the yogurt-based dipping sauce that accompanied the shrimp was a welcomed coolant after the intense heat of the shrimp. The lasooni gobhi was especially delectable; it has altered my view of cauliflower from a worse version of broccoli into something that should be celebrated. While the red tomato-garlic glaze makes the dish look spicy, it was actually quite mild, sweet, and a bit salty. Lauren Lynch (‘18) says, the dish was “dank,” and she would give it an “A+.”
After eating so many appetizers, we were stuffed but decided to order main course dishes anyway. Feeling adventurous, I ordered lamb jhalfrazie, which consisted of lamb stir fried in a garlic and ginger glaze with peppers and onions, accompanied by rice. Unexpectedly, I was immediately made aware of the spiciness of the dish as soon as it entered my mouth. However, once past the initial heat, the sweetness, tanginess, and saltiness of the various ingredients danced on my taste buds and left a pleasant aftertaste on my tongue after I swallowed each bite. The lamb, while a pretty muted taste, paired very well with the peppers and onions, which I had not expected before tasting the food.
Claire Powell (‘18) ordered the butter chicken, chicken cooked with onions and served in a tomato-based cream sauce with a medley of spices. The chicken was very flavorful, the spices in the sauce slightly different from those which had flavored my dish. Powell raved that “the dish gives me a new appreciation for chicken.” Lynch also greatly enjoyed her dish, the scallops biryani, made up of scallops, rice, onions, peppers, cashews, and various spices. She remarked, “the scallops are a little chewy, but overall very good. The rice is quite flavorful.”
I would highly recommend Lemon to anyone who wants a taste of high quality Indian cuisine. The price was reasonable; our meal was $72 total for my group’s three appetizers and three full-sized meals. If you plan to go, make sure to bring your appetite, as the servings are generous, and every item on the menu is mouth-watering.
Photos by Ellie Angle unless noted otherwise.