Head to Benjy’s for diverse dining

When you think about the places where you can hang out in Rice Village, you usually think of the many restaurants, lounges, and bars on Morningside Street. That is, until you find out about Benjy’s.

Located on the relatively quiet side of the Village at 2424 Dunstan Rd., it is easy for visitors to miss. However, the experience they have in Benjy’s is something that is hard to forget.

One thing that you will automatically notice is that Benjy’s has two stories. On the first floor, there is the traditional restaurant seating and a kitchen. On the second floor, there is a lounge with tables, along with highly comfortable leather seats.

This lounge also has waitresses†separate from the main section of the restaurant, so you can order your meal and eat while sitting in the comfortable couches in the lounge as well. If you need some fresh air, you can step out to the balcony section that has more tables. The unique design is one Benjy’s strengths.

The restaurant’s ideology is to†feature not only American food, but† French,†Japanese and†Italian cuisines, among others, Benjy’s manager Ryan Landis said.

For starters, the Pacific Rim Caesar Salad is recommended. Afterward, there are many choices, as the menu is very diverse, featuring†everything from French favorites such as crepes to Italian classics such as pizza. The long list of distinct choices spans many ethnic types of food – there is definitely something for everyone.†

Landis also said the brunch menu features the highly renowned Benjy’s Famous Crunchy French Toast, which keeps crowds coming in droves on Sunday mornings. For the night life, the Lounge has a happy hour every night from 4 to 7 p.m. featuring several types of pizzas, among other choices.

Benjy’s is also keeping Valentine’s Day in mind. According to owner Benjy Levit, the restaurant has had a different Valentine’s Day menu for each of the 12 years it has been open.

Levit had good things to say about the several choices on this year’s four-course menu.

"(The menu includes) red wine-braised beef short rib ravioli, which has been a popular item since it started in the fall of 2007, and tamari and mushroom glazed cod, which works well."

But the main dishes aren’t where it stops: the menu includes a dessert.

"(Benjy’s) recently hired a new pastry chef and we’re real excited about his creations," Levit said.

What makes the perfect dessert for the big date?

"Triple Chocolate Seduction with blood orange frappe on the side looks to be a fantastic dessert for Valentine’s Day," Levit said.

But this Thursday won’t focus on all the lovebirds. Levit said Benjy’s is showing love to those who don’t want anything to do with Cupid on Thursday, too.

"The upstairs lounge will be open for those not looking to celebrate Valentine’s Day," he said.

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