A Fetching Place

I don’t have a dog, although I’m seriously thinking of adopting one now that I’ve eaten at the three-week-old Lillies On 17th (815 West 17th Street), the “Spanish Bistro and Bar” in a 100-year-old home just around the corner from the Blue Bird Bistro.

The restaurant may be the first in the city to encourage dog owners to bring all their pooches, though the dogs are required to stay in one of the venue’s two outdoor patios. It even provides complimentary dog biscuits.

“We’re planning, in the spring, to offer doggie tapas,” says co-owner Latrelle “Trelle” Osteen, who named the bistro after the late Lilly, her beloved terrier mix. Osteen and partner Lynn Richardson are former airline attendants; Richardson retired from TWA after a long tenure, and Osteen was laid off in July 2003 after 35 years working in the skies. She probably feels comfortable in Lillies’ tiny dining room, which is hardly bigger than the first-class cabin of a 747. It has only four tables, but each is draped in white linen. Two windows are complete with a painted TWA jet flying off in the distance.

I haven’t sampled the tapas, which Lillies serves from 4:30 to 7 p.m. every Wednesday through Saturday, but I did share a fantastic lunch one afternoon with my friend Jennifer. We were seated next to a large shelf generously appointed with canine-related gift items — Doggles (eyewear for fashionable mutts), herbal dog shampoos, a “Doggie Doorbell” (“When he’s got to go, he’ll let you know”).

Osteen brought us cups of organic Sumatran coffee and suggested two of the lunch menu’s sandwiches: a hot panini stuffed with Boursin cheese, ham and sliced green apple; and the Lillies version of a caprese tramezzino, with fresh basil, tomato and mozzarella on grilled bread from the nearby Fevere Bakery. We were happy we took her advice.

Even better than the sandwiches (which arrived on antique china) were the desserts: creamy pumpkin gelato served in a tiny hollowed-out pumpkin, and Chocolate Sequoia Mousse, named for the ribbon of “wood-grained” white-and-dark chocolate that encases the silken mousse.

On Friday and Saturday nights, Osteen and Richardson serve $22 pre-fixe suppers (reservations are required), and on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. there’s a $12 brunch.

I’ll be going back for dinner and brunch, because even without a dog, the place is something to bark about.

Categories: Food & Drink