Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; closed Sunday.
Atmosphere: Informal and friendly; continental menu.
Price Range: Soups and salads from $1 to $3.75; entrees from $4.25 for fettucine to $10 for broiled sirloin; desserts from $1 to $1.75. There is no children's menu but half-portions can be ordered.
Credit Cards: American Express, Master Charge, Visa.
Special Facilities: Plenty of parking in the shopping center lot; accesible to the handicapped; no high chairs, but the restaurant probably is not appropriate for toddlers anyway. $120
Lily's is a promising little bistro that opened in Reston this past winter. It has the feel of a neighborhood restaurant, the kind of place where people might find themselves returning again and again. The reason, apart from out-of-the-ordinary food at ordinary prices, is the exceptionally friendly service. Patrons are treated to a personal attention that is unusual in this day of monotonous claims and fast-food havens.
During our visit, Lily herself stopped by our table twice, first to say hello and later to ask how we liked our dinner. She stayed to chat, saying that there were some changes she and her husband plan to make in the decor, which still bears traces off the previous occupant, an Italian restaurant and pizza carryout. We noticed that she spoke to each diner, and at the table nearest us took the time to describe several dishes to two undecided youngsters.
In outward trappings, Lily's is Gallic -- taped French ballads, menu written in French, fresh flowers in Perier bottles. The owners are from France. However, the chef, who was formerly at the Mayflower Hotel, is Hungarian, so the fare covers an international spectrum, including some American favorites.
The evening we were there the entrees ranged from eggplant parmigiana to beef stroganofff. There was also a nice selection of cold dishes, such as salads Nicoise, artichoke or avocado vinaigrette and eggs mayonnaise, which we look forward to sampling this summer.
The quality of the food we found to be uneven. Some of the dishes were very good indeed, others so-so.
The chef's pate, $2, that we tried ffor starters, was bland and a bit dry. But the onion soup, $1.75, was everything that onion soup should be -- gobs of onions in a rich broth hinting of garlic, topped with a thick layer of stringy melted cheese.
The fettucine a la creme, $4.25, was the best we've ever had in a restaurant. The noodles were cooked a touch beynd al dente, and then tossed in a sauce of heavy cream, butter and freshly grated parmesan cheese. Our 10-year-old had a half-order of fettucine, a generous serving for $2.25.
We also ordered chicken cordon bleu, $7.50, which was satisfyingly stuffed with melted cheese and thin slivers of ham. It was accompanied by a lovely grilled breaded tomato and rice that was well seasoned and cooked just right. We were delighted that the vegetables had been prepared with as much care as the main course.
Our 6-year-old, who preffers plain cooking, decided on an assorted cheese plate, $1.95. With three different kinds of cheese and a salad of fresh fruit, it was the right choice, although a bit too much for her to finish.
For dessert, high marks went to the cheesecake, $1.50, gooey and rich but not too sweet. The apple strudel was a disappointment. Although it was dark and warm and sprinkled liberally with powdered sugar, the pastry was soggy rather than flaky, probably from reheating.
Dinner for the four of us came to $31.06, including tax and tip. While we enjoyed the meal, we did note a few things that could be improved. The lack of a bread dish was rather inconvenient. Also, the bread, which had spent too long in a plastic bag, did not match up to the food it accompanied. And, to nitpick, the brie in the cheese plate was served straight from the refrigerator rather than at oozing room temperature.
Whatever. Lily's is trying very hard and is off to a flying start.