Lazy Ox Canteen
Polenta – roasted mushrooms, creamed greens, yellow curry oil
Pig Ear Chiccharones – pickles, tomatillo salsa, harissa
Croque Madame – ham, gruyere cheese, fried egg
Rice Pudding – cinnamon, caramel, crumble
Butterscotch Budino – salted caramel, whipped cream, cookie
Reportedly having fallen off since its heyday, but still a spot on my map for the few remaining signatures of Josef Centeno’s tenure, Lazy Ox was selected for lunch largely as a matter of convenience…a generally terrible reason to dine anywhere, and no different in this instance. Several years departed from hour-long waits it was just moments to noon when I arrived at the heavily wooded L-shaped dining room and as the only person present both then and 75 minutes later I’d suggest it is fair to say Lazy Ox is hurting for business. Treated to lackluster service that clearly did not know the menu, and later tried to charge me “dinner prices” in a maneuver I’m not so sure wasn’t intentional, my meal began with a small bowl of creamy polenta teaming with rich flavors of the earth and admittedly impressed by every aspect of the dish round two would fare nearly as well, each bite of crackling pork almost entirely greaseless with levity found in bold salsa plus fiery harissa. At this point happy to see the food has remained competent with little knowledge that my meal was about to be ruined by unannounced ballpark-quality mustard slathered on a croque madame, suffice it to say I was not amused by the chef’s reinterpretation nor the fact that I actually had to suggest it be stricken from the bill. Nearly walking out until I recalled why I came in the first place it was with two desserts that my meal concluded and with the oft-photographed rice pudding pasty and flavorless it was only the budino that proved worth the wait, though it’s not as if this cribbed concoction cannot be found elsewhere with a far better experience alongside.
RECOMMENDED: Pig Ears, Polenta
AVOID: Croque Madame, Rice Pudding
TIP: More than once trying to confiscate the menu from me despite my verbal request to hang onto it I almost feel bad assuming the worst of waitstaff trying to upcharge at lunch, but that certainly seemed to be the case. With the heralded ‘specials’ board of past years relegated to a few boring items available only at dinner these days and an empty dining room even during ‘cheaper’ lunch hours one must wonder just how long Lazy Ox can keep limping along until it finally shutters.