A coworker recommended Conway Social Club to me recently. I had never heard of this gem, tucked away just above Annie Bailey’s in Lancaster. Alex and I decided to give it a try this past Friday night.
I arrived a few minutes before Alex and wasn’t quite sure where to go. The door is not-quite-hidden, but definitely not something that yells out to you, “here I am!”, which I think is fun. There is a light above the door. If it is green, you go in. If it's red, you need to knock. I waited, though, since I was early and stood in the alcove to get out of the wind. I must have triggered a camera or something, though, while stepping in and out, looking for Alex, because by the time he arrived, a pleasant young man was at the door to greet us. He confirmed our reservations and led us straight up the stairs to the restaurant.
First impressions: the space is darkened, warm, and comfortable. After we were seated, welcome aperitifs were delivered to our table, a nice touch. The menu is simple, with a few offerings in each category. We look for this. I don’t trust long menus with far too many choices. Simpler menus usually indicate fresh food and that is what we found here.
We began with some fun drinks. I had a Yellow Canary and the drink came in a bird-shaped glass. I believe Alex started with the Baker Street. The drink menu looks like a storybook, complete with chapters and a key to the icons in each drink’s description.
For starters, we selected the Cavier (sic) Deviled Eggs, Bone Marrow, and Fall Vegetable Tempura.
The deviled eggs were a treat. I normally do not care for eggs, but I was intrigued. I don’t think I’ve ever seen deviled eggs on a restaurant menu before. The eggs were cooked perfectly. The radish and salmon roe on top of the eggs complimented the creaminess of the filling.
Tempura often runs the risk of being just too greasy. That was not the case here. While Alex wasn’t a fan of the sweet potatoes, I loved them. The mushrooms were my favorite, however. The dipping sauces that came with the tempura, saffron aioli and spicy fish sauce, helped to cut through the oiliness of the tempura batter.
The bone marrow was huge. I’m not sure where they found a mastodon femur, but that’s what it seemed like. The marrow was buttery and delicious. The bread it was served with was the only issue I had with the dish. It had a slightly chemical taste for me, reminiscent of a pan spray. If it weren’t for that, I would be telling you that the bread was delicious.
For mains, I chose the Pan Seared Scallops and Alex went with the Conway Smashburger.
The Smashburger was enormous and cooked as close to medium – as requested by Alex - as is possible for a burger cooked in that manner. It was big and juicy with thick slices of bacon and melty cheese. It came accompanied by a mountain of French fries that it could have done without. The fries had the same chemical taste the bread did, but even if they hadn’t had that issue, there were just so many of them. A smaller portion would have been more appropriate.
The scallops were delicious. They were tender, barely cooked, with a pretty sear. Served with butternut squash purée and a small fennel and apple salad, they hit the spot. That said, Alex noted that it felt like our portion sizes were very unbalanced. Conway Social Club’s menu is presented in a different manner, though, so it seems like plates that are appropriate for starters are spread throughout the different areas of the menu rather than being grouped together.
The pastry we ordered for dessert was made in-house. It was a raspberry tart with what I believe was a shortbread base. The bake on the pastry was perfect. It could have had a little more of the raspberry filling to counter the thickness of the crust. I personally am not a huge fan of sweet things, so this was just a little too sweet for me, but Alex really enjoyed it. We enjoyed it with a glass of an Italian port.
We decided that we will be returning to Conway Social Club and that it would be a fantastic spot for a date or even to enjoy a couple of drinks with a group of friends. The prices are more than reasonable for the quality of the food, which always makes me very happy. We highly recommend this as a restaurant to try in Lancaster the next time you’re in town.