After finding success in Shuangjing and Sihui, Lily’s has brought its family-friendly diner concept to Sanlitun. Hidden behind the East Avenue apartments on Xindong Lu, their new location doesn’t draw in a lot of foot traffic (we found diners only occupying a handful of the dozens of tables spread out throughout the sizable space). High ceilings, white walls and scant decor make the place feel particularly empty – any trace of down-home comfort has long left town.
The menus are on iPads, which is a nice novelty that makes it easy to over-order. Each table only gets one tablet, so come with friends and you’ll have to wait your turn. With two people, this is less of an issue than it would be with large groups or kids. Once you’ve made your selection, submit the order with the tap of a button. Voila! Except fifteen minutes later, we were left with no server in sight. Technology couldn’t make up for the human element; our faith in the system waned.
Once you’re past a few ordering glitches, the menu offers a broad range of Western-focused options. Nosh on everything from pasta and pizza, Tex-Mex, burgers and sandwiches to more gourmet options like rib eye and salmon. The Ross Mums Wrap (49RMB) – which was featured on the specials board on our visit – is Lily’s spin on a chicken Caesar wrap, with feta and black olives tossed in the mix. The vegetable burrito (45RMB) contained the usual fillings – rice, beans, vegetables and hot peppers – and came with guacamole, salsa and sour cream side dips. Both dishes were filling, but forgettable. They weren’t good enough to build up a desire for dessert – especially as our ordering ordeal was still fresh in the mind.
Judging by their fleet of bikes, it looks like Lily’s plans on focusing its business on home delivery. This is definitely a smart move: while the food won’t have us going out of our way to return, we can see how Beijingers will embrace the convenience of solid but unexciting dishes delivered to their door after a long day at the office. Just like Annie’s, it’s ideal for when you just can’t be bothered to get out of bed.