The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene.
The flavors are still singular at Lola, Great Neck’s Asian-tinged sophisticate. But the format has come down to earth a bit. Earlier this year chef-owner Michael Ginor’s 3½-star restaurant switched from an all-small-plates menu to a more conventional one featuring appetizers and main courses.
Chef de cuisine Kwaku Boah said that the change was prompted by regular requests from dinner guests “looking for a burger or a regular entree.” So he and Ginor looked at the small-plates menu and “kept all the bestsellers as appetizers.” The 10 that made the cut ($12 to $16) are followed up by six entrees ($22 to $36), among them salmon with quinoa, braised fennel and preserved-lemon yogurt and a Painted Hills strip steak with marble potato confit, spinach and Bearnaise sauce.
Lola doesn’t stop with entrees, though. There are also three “from the farm” selections that feed two: roast Hudson Valley chicken with cauliflower couscous ($42), Hudson Valley duck with braised cabbage and truffle polenta ($65) and whole roasted Hudson Valley foie gras with creamy polenta, cranberry and pears ($85).
On a recent evening we ordered three appetizers and the kitchen hit them all out of the park. The Lola Caesar, Caesar-dressed shredded romaine beneath a crisp Parmesan tuile, was clean and bright; Korean fried chicken with honey-soy-Sriracha glaze was deeply, darkly delicious. The codfish tacos with Thai flavoring were exemplary, and managed the trick of containing very hot fish and very cold pickled vegetables.
For our entrees, we seriously considered ordering another round of appetizers, but instead split the duck for two. The sliced breast was rosy and tender, legs cofit-ed into tender submission, the whole thing reclining on a bed of truffled polenta that served as sauce and starch. This duck for two easily could have served four.
Lola is at 113 Middle Neck Rd., Great Neck, 516-466-5666, restaurantlola.com.