By R. H. Lannen
The Lake House Bar and Grill may not be directly on White Rock Lake, but it has the persona of a relaxed, waterfront restaurant. The atmosphere is calm, and the staff is friendly and attentive. When I arrived, I walked straight through the restaurant and past the massive wrap-around bar and headed for the spacious patio behind the restaurant. On a crisp fall evening, there are few better places to sit and enjoy a beer or craft cocktail than the deck at the Lake House. The bar is well stocked with local beers and even a few infused liquors and with plenty of TVs around to enjoy the game, it makes it easy to stick around for more than a drink or two.
Beyond the bar’s short and creative drink selection, the restaurant offers a brand-new menu that is quite broad and slightly confusing. The range falls somewhere between bar food and an attempt at formal dining. The menu offers everything from nachos to flatbreads, to fish and steak plates.
My date and I begin our meal with one of the most intriguing-sounding appetizers I have ever ordered, the Candy Jalapeño Toast. It consisted of toasted sandwich bread, smeared with a layer of cream cheese, and topped with house-made candied jalapeños. While the taste of the spice and cream cheese always pair well, this is a dish probably best enjoyed after a few drinks rather than before our meal.
In addition to the toast, we ordered the Black Mussel and Spanish Chorizo special (pictured) the restaurant was running for the evening. The mussels were abundant and prepared well. However, the sheer amount of chorizo in the broth made the whole dish unbearably salty, and the toast smeared with what tasted to be store-bought pesto did little to help.
For our main course, my dining companion ordered the chicken, which was listed on the menu as “Fried Paper Breast,” as to which I am still unclear of the meaning. The dish turned out to be nothing more than chicken fried chicken and brown gravy priced at almost $20. The chicken was juicy with a thin and crispy breading, which stood up well against the generous amount of sauce. The broccolini served with the chicken was untrimmed and unseasoned, tasting just as bland as mac and cheese that also accompanied it. I, however, ordered the trout topped with lump crab and served with roasted cauliflower and greens, another special for the evening. The first thing I noticed about the dish and potentially the most concerning, was that it was not trout, but a piece of salmon fillet. After repeatedly being called trout, I was confused about whether this was a miscommunication from the kitchen or server.
The skin on the salmon was chewy and soggy, which I may have overlooked if it hadn’t been served skin side up. The pile of crab atop the salmon was not only strange but unnecessary. The crab itself tasted so overtly fishy, leading me to question the freshness. In the same vein as the fish, the “roasted” cauliflower was soggy and served lukewarm, and the greens were undercooked and in short supply as if added as an afterthought to try to justify the dish’s $25 price tag.
For a place that so strongly presents itself as a coastal fish restaurant, every seafood dish seemed to miss the mark.
In the future, I will plan to avoid the chef’s specials and stick to the staples like the nachos and flatbreads. The Lake House should double down on what it does best, being a fantastic neighborhood bar with a kind and conscientious staff who always make you feel at home.
The Lake House Bar
7510 E. NW Highway
4-10 p.m. Sun.-Wed.
4-11 p.m. Thur.-Sat.