In an era of sad desk salads and protein bars gobbled on the go, the Lexington is going retro: The St. Paul standby is bringing back the martini lunch of yesteryear.
Lunch service at the Lex launched last week and is offered Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The menu features a selection of supper club-style appetizers (think relish plates and shrimp cocktail), soups, salads, sandwiches, and entrees like a smoked chicken pot pie and steak and fries.
“We’re starting out simple, and then we can build,” says executive chef Jack Riebel. “It may be more ambitious than we need, but we wanted enough stuff so that people would come.”
Riebel developed the lunch menu with the Lexington’s new chef de cuisine, Antonio Murry. An alum of Smack Shack, the Oceanaire, and Chowgirls Catering, Murry is brimming with enthusiasm for his new role. He’s especially excited about a couple of the more innovative items on the lunch menu: a deconstructed seven-layer salad and the “Full Monte,” a riff on the classic deep-fried Monte Cristo sandwich.
Both selections are well worth lingering over during lunch hour. That seven-layer salad inverts the usual toppings-to-lettuce ratio, with a mound of bacon, blue cheese, avocado, crispy onions, hard-boiled eggs, pico de gallo, and a few token leaves of romaine for balance. The Full Monte felt like a carnivore’s inspired take on dessert: Layers of ham and gruyère are wrapped in puff pastry and served with a side of blueberry jam.
The menu isn’t all extra-hearty meat-based fare. A marinated baby beet salad balances earthy beets and crisp arugula with a tart buttermilk chevre and spiced pistachios. The spritely pasta primavera is a satisfying vegetarian option, featuring house-made noodles, spring onions, peas, and a refreshing dose of fresh herbs. Other menu standouts include the smoked salmon deviled eggs garnished with everything bagel seasoning and a velvety lobster bisque.
And then there are those martinis: diminutive two-ounce, $5 cocktails for diners who might actually have to head back to the office and get some work done. Opt for gin or vodka, add an olive, and lunch like it’s 1955.
1096 Grand Ave., St. Paul