Chefs who try too hard to marry the Far East and West often have curious offspring.

Chefs who try too hard to marry the Far East and West often have curious offspring.

So give credit to Lemongrass, one of the Short North's most established restaurants, which has built a strong following based on Asian fusion cuisine, despite the term's vagaries. Truth be told, a New York strip and egg roll on the same plated could technically fit that description.

The menu covers a lot of Asian territory but doesn't try to confuse the palate with a multitude of competing flavors. In recent years, owners Peter and Chora Vitt have expanded the restaurant and reconfigured its space to a far more comfortable and open conclusion. It's bright and spacious, with clean lines and evenly spaced tables. Tables close to the large windows in the dining room offer a great view of the neighborhood's vibrant pedestrian culture.

Lemongrass' menu is fairly large, with a strong nod to vegetarians. The restaurant takes green beans, firm tofu and carrots and tosses them in a roguish-looking chili sauce that's more mild than hot but definitely too salty ($12). Those seeking a spicier thrill ride can opt for a side of the house-prepared chili paste that has an intriguing citrus dimension.

The lemongrass soup ($5) has lots of shrimp, a small dice of vegetables, cilantro and miniature pasta shells in a broth that has a subtle level of heat that wakes up the senses. Served on the side are two savory, deep-fried bread patties that resemble doughnuts with no holes -- a pleasant, unexpected surprise. They're used again, placed underneath fresh spinach, which is topped with earthy pieces of duck ($19) in a lush gravy whose heat wilts the greenery.

Always a crowd-pleaser, the spring rolls ($5) feature crispy logs of marinated root vegetables and a garnish of tangerine sauce and spicy mustard. The chicken sate ($7) is fairly straightforward -- the grilled breast meat is moist and the peanut sauce doesn't taste like Jif, so kudos to Lemongrass on this one.

The restaurant gets mixed reviews for two seafood dishes. The monsoon shrimp ($16) uses a generous portion of crustaceans over green beans with a mild curry sauce smoothed out by coconut milk. The sculpted scoop of brown rice is a bonus. The "trio" option ($23), three styles of seafood over pasta, isn't as successful. The shrimp are slightly overcooked and the golden-fried crab cake is roughly the size -- and flavor -- of a hockey puck. The sweet scallops and the garlic cream sauce almost save the day, but not quite.

There's a respectable selection of sushi at Lemongrass. One of the designer rolls -- the "rock and roll" ($8) -- offers salmon, cucumber and avocado encased in rice that's formed into a wedge-shaped design. It's very fresh-tasting, with good textural counterpoints.

Servers are generally friendly and knowledgeable about the menu but service can lag at times. Except for the fresh fruit with whipped cream, nothing on the dessert menu is prepared on premises. Still, the teardrop cake ($7) is satisfyingly light, with moist yellow cake stuck with fresh pieces of mango. As for wine, the 2006 White Knight Viognier ($30 a bottle) is sufficiently versatile, with citrus and tropical fruits taking center stage.

What exactly constitutes Asian fusion is open to interpretation, but Lemongrass needs little enunciation. It's neither outré nor overly ambitious, just consistently good. Its longevity is testimony to that.

Pricing: Moderately expensive to expensive

Reservations: Accepted

Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday and Monday

Call 614-221-2325