Saturday, February 27, 2010
Restaurant Review- Lippert's
I was confused. New sign, new name at this "deli" in Sequim. It used to be Jean's Deli. Feeling up for an adventure, we went in for lunch. But at lunch it is unchanged. Same family owners, but a new generation taking over.
Changing a successful place in a market as restaurant saturated as Sequim takes courage. The restaurant has a long and interesting history in the area. It was indeed a church, saved from demolition and converted to a restaurant years ago, then moved into town to save it again. It has operated continuously during this time under different owners. During all this a tiny kitchen, persistence, and decent quality has won a loyal clientele of mostly older women, of which there are many in this community. Changing this tried and true, if tired recipe would require a towering conviction to endure the immediate loss of business.
Sadly, Brian Lippert, freshly returned from some success as a US Army Chef, has not yet made his vision clear. On the tables is a card explaining that nothing the old Jean's had is changed, but a "gourmet" dinner service has been added. One wonders if the vision is still in the making, or if the changes are too hard to swallow for the family, budget and customers. If indeed there is gourmet food in the offing at dinner, the balance between the lunch place, the decor, and a dinner menu would be hard to imagine.
The dining room is defined by a variety of dining room tables and chairs, brown kitchen carpeting, odd mixture of photos, rough cedar wainscotting, and the original tall narrow church windows de-featured by blinds.
This is the kind of place you expect to use a wall hung menu, but there are some basic coffee shop style menu sleeves, ours with hair under the plastic, matching a hair on the table. There is an enormous pass window, showing a bit to much of the cramped, old, ill organized kitchen.
Don't get me wrong, I like old cramped kitchens best, just not disorganized or in view! I also love places with furniture picked up second hand and decor done by the family- when it is balance with everything else, like Kim's Cafe I have written about here .
Another prominent feature of Lippert's is the display case at the front door. It is chock full of the kind of clearly home-made desserts you expect in a little place like this. Of course, if you are displaying food so prominently, it better look as appetizing as it is supposed to be. In Lippert's we resisted the urge for dessert, because the appearance was just not up to snuff. The case is kinda dark, and the food is not as well displayed as it can be.
Of course, the main thing is the food. We had a sandwich and soup. The sandwich we usually get is the Gobbler, turkey with cream cheese and cranberry. The turkey is sliced deli meat, the bread is average store bought, the cranberry is just a hint, and the cream cheese is rendered more moist with some mayonnaise, and there is shredded lettuce. This can be a great sandwich, but not at Lippert's. Along with the sandwich we had Chicken vegetable curry soup. Now this was something special! Very fresh, chock full of vegetables and chicken, with a light curry stock that was very complimentary.
The bill for soup and sandwich was right at $12, a fair price in Sequim for lunch for two. My curiosity is piqued about the gourmet dinner- Brian Lippert's bona-fides are real, and I want to know if he is working out a change in the place, or working on keeping it going as is. Balancing common sense business and the ego that drives a chef is a fine process. The result can be rewarding, if done well. We will go back for dinner to check on the development of a new restauranteur.