Stephen Starr’s LMNO and its Baha Mexican menu and design lands in Philly’s Fishtown.
Beyond the bustling block of Middle Child Clubhouse and Goldie on N. Front Street – the ghostly border of Fishtown and Olde Kensington – sits another new hot spot with its own sizzle and staged-tight crowd: LMNO, Stephen Starr’s fresh Baja Mexican culinary concept. Wound through with a low-ceilinged, yet open spacious design mix of custom live-fire grill areas, a large, lounge-y restaurant component, an art gallery, a bookstore, and an intimate music venue.
Designed by Serge Becker, the man behind New York City’s The Box and La Esquina, LMNO’s look is equal doses Malibu and Manhattan cool combined, a Stephen King-Shining-like showbizzy maze of minor architectural marvels (nice skylight, especially at night) and spicy Mexicali temperatures. The Front Street space under the El was previously an auto dealership. Vroom.
Actually, walking through the wall-less divisions of LMNO, whisked through to your table with a stop for a handsomely curated cocktail – made mine a tequila or two, a Let’s Do This cold brew, chipotle, amaro, smoked espresso salt and Tequila reposado – was like quickly coursing one’s way through Goodfellas: that fast-paced Scorsese scene where Ray Liotta and Lorraine Bracco freely move through the bowels of the Copa’s backrooms.
The taste-heightened twists on Starr’s new LMNO”s authentic Baja-inspired menu? That’s a much slowwwwwwwwwwwer, low ride. Mexico City native and Executive chef Francisco Ramirez is the king of LMNO’s semi-open kitchen and live fire grill that puts out multiple meats for house-made tortillas and tacos, served classic and dirty crispy-style on housemade blue corn and, or masa tortillas. There are seafood tacos and vegetarian options, but, give me a break, everything from the pork adobada asada waffle fries to the surf and turf tostadas to the carne asada tacos and the suadero of slow cooked brisket are fleshy meaty juicy pleasures. The Birria Dirty tacos of chile-braised oxtail were also a decadent delight.
Though the guac and chips appetizer is a complex plated wonder (just ask for one, tiered sauces and all), the larger “to share” dishes are a thrill, plain and simple. Here, whole grilled sea bass or tender lamb shank, is not so much for sharing, but rather enjoying all on its own for yourself.