Last night I tried the three-course fixed-price menu at Lola. At $35, this is a great way to sample the refined-exotic 3½ -star cuisine of Michael Ginor, chef-owner, and Itay Skoropa, executive chef.
Two options are offered for each course, and so my pal and I were able to try everything. She won the appetizer round, with a silky soup of kabocha squash surrounding a hillock of Parmesan custard and punctuated with browned nubbins of herbed gnocchi. I liked that my “Lola Caesar” salad was made with whole baby romaine leaves, but the dressing seemed more buttermilk-y than Caesarean and I wasn’t wild about the sweet sauce (was it the date honey that I know Ginor has a thing for?) drizzled over the proceedings.
I loved my my ras-el-hanout-and-black-trumpet-mushroom-encrusted snapper in a white-wine emulsion, which I subsquently learned was the creation of Amos Hayon, the talented Israeli-born chef who is responsible for much of the Moroccan flavor over at Ginor's other restaurant, Tel Aviv. (There isn't, as far as I know, a Moroccan restaurant on Long Island which makes Hayon's North African stylings even more welcome.)
But, once again, my pal’s exemplary entree triumphed: duck two ways (confited leg, seared-rare breast) with potato mousseline (extremely rich mashed potatoes) and greens.
Dessert was a bit of a letdown. A sundae featured house-made chocolate ice cream that was too gelatolike in its richness to benefit from hot fudge. The “just-baked still-warm chocolate pie” had a tough crust and a filling that seemed more uncooked than appealingly molten. Both confections, though, were very generously portioned.
While we ate, we grooved to the song stylings of the Nurk Twins, two members of the Beatles tribute band the Liverpool Shuffle. After a set of '70s soft rock (Eagles, Al Kooper, America), the duo launched into a string of midcareer Beatles hits (“You Won’t See Me,” “The Two of Us”), and it was difficult not to sing along. Lola has live music every Thursday night, and the Nurk Twins will return next week.
Lola is at 113A Middle Neck Rd., Great Neck, 516-466-5666.
Mike Ponella and Joe Refano, the Nurk Twins, perform at Lola. (Newsday Photo / Erica Marcus)