Lola in Great Neck has remade itself, with a more casual style, more moderate prices ... More »
Brilliant, volatile, high-risk, Michael Ginor's Lola rockets into Long Island like a comet.
For Ginor, forceful foie gras purveyor and globe-trotting gourmand, it's a haute fantasy in small plates and big flavors. Ginor, president and co-founder of Hudson Valley Foie Gras, also runs Tel Aviv eatery, a kosher mezze-merizer nearby on Middle Neck Road. Here, the restless restaurateur and co-chef Itay Skoropa put on an extravagant show.
Their stage flaunts exposed brick and polished wood, tropical flowers and exotic ingredients. TV screens quietly deliver art-house movies. But demanding diners glance only occasionally at a DVD of Cocteau's "Beauty and the Beast" or Olmi's "Il Posto." They're already in for a double-feature of dreamy compositions and coming-of-age drama. Lola is a performance.
Ginor's menu changes daily but always is a playful, audacious experiment by someone who can and will take chances. His "grand plates" for two-plus naturally include a whole roasted foie gras. There's a slightly less-rich, dry-aged rib-eye steak with bone-marrow flan; and whole roasted duck with Brussels sprout leaves that are threaded with chicken cracklings - both excellent.
Tasting plates: a perfect baked scallop in roe-flecked sauce; the "tandoori inspired" venison chop with apricot chutney; a velvety block of braised short rib with Thai red curry and coconut-creamed black rice; the savory fricassee of cipollini onions, mushrooms, chestnuts, haricots verts.
The adventures continue with pan-seared foie gras paired with truffle-honey glazed cipollini onions, roasted chestnuts and sweetbread nuggets; and kabocha squash soup surrounding an island of Parmesan custard, floating herbed gnocchi. Sundaes deliver tastes from chocolate-espresso-vodka to black currant and blood orange.
Ginor's poutine takes the Quebecois combo of sauced French fries and cheese to rarefied excess with foie gras and black truffle. Miso-minded preparations of butterfish and cod, and amaretto-pumpkin ravioli overdo sweetness. More curious than clever: "hot dog" with kimchee; heirloom tomato ice cream, yuzu-cream napoleon; the warm doughnuts.
THE BOTTOM LINE