Mini-Review: Lavomatic

I went to Lavomatic with my new neighbor, Ilan, and his girlfriend, Sarah. I didn’t take any pictures because I didn’t want to weird out my new friends by photographing their food. We’ll save that for the second dinner out!

I had seen signs hawking ramps and fiddlehead ferns at Madison’s last weekend, but wondered why I couldn’t actually find any– they’re in Lavomatic’s special this week. I’m sure that wasn’t the reason why, but it was fun to joke with the waitress about it. Sadly, I can’t remember any other details of the special. I think it was locally raised chicken. Someone at an adjacent table got it, and it looked really good.

Our dinner was delayed because they’d almost run out of ravioli, Sarah’s choice, so the waitress brought by bowls of pickled veg (beets, brussels sprouts and carrots) and a variety of olives to tide us over. I’m not the biggest eat-olives-out-of-hand fan, but these were awesome. The medium green ones were reminiscent of avocado– smooth and creamy. Yum! And, of course, I love the pickled beets, and I even enjoyed the pickled brussels sprouts.

Ilan got the salmon with Israeli couscous. Being Israeli, he insisted that it wasn’t Israeli and wasn’t even couscous– probably bulghur wheat– but said it was very good, and the salmon was well seasoned and perfectly cooked.

I had a bite of Sarah’s vegetarian ravioli, which was filled with beets! I love beets, and this was very good, if slightly watery– I don’t think the seal was tight on the ravioli. Very nice flavor, though.

I ordered the braised pork belly, which was served with a beet and potato hash. I need to stop this pork belly habit, or else I’ll have a pretty porky belly myself. This one didn’t quite have the crispy fat that the braised pork belly had at Hugo, but the portion was far more appropriate and the flavor was very good– the cider braise was a wonderful compliment.

We each got dessert– Ilan and Sarah had creme brulee, which they raved about. Ilan particularly liked the mint, and said it was one of the best cremes brulee he’d ever had. I got a pistachio pavlova filled with very tart lemon cream, strawberries and rhubarb. Yum! As the waitress noted, it’s hard to do meringues around here with the humidity, so I was pleased to get one before it got too steamy. Very, very good– it almost replaces the baba au rhum I got last time which is now off the menu.

I’m sure I’ll be back here again: say what you will about JR being spread too thin, I like the fact that he has an affordable restaurant that uses local ingredients within walking distance of my apartment.

Lavomatic on Urbanspoon

  • The Phantom

    I’m with you on beets! I think they are an undervalued foodstuff. (In deference to your guest reviewer I will resist calling them a vegetable, since they are closer to a potato than anything else :-) I’ve had a very good mashed potato and beet mixture for which I need to find the recipe…

    I also hear tell they make a great base for perfume.

    Keep these wonderful reviews coming!

  • Chris S

    I love that pork belly and I love their pickled veggie mixture. Actually got me thinking about trying to do some of my own pickled veggies.

    If you want to make Lavo a REALLY cheap night out or lunch, get their sandwich of the day. I’ve had three different ones now, all very good. Its usually served with a side of those pickled veggies. My meal, with one beer – $13. Now thats a DEAL!

    I agree their olives are great, I’m still trying to figure out what the herb mixture is.

    Suprised the Baba is gone now, it was still at least listed on the menu on Friday/Saturday night (sheesh, I need to kick this Lavo habit, but at $13 for a nice meal with a good beer… I really can’t think of where I would rather go)

  • Julie

    Thanks, Phantom!

    Chris– I know that there’s definitely some lemon. I loved the combination of lemon and olive more than I thought I would. The baba was on the menu last night, I just don’t think they’ve printed up new ones. I was sad, I loved their baba. And I’ll definitely have to try the sandwich. Yum!

  • vudutu

    LOL Had the Pork Belly last Friday, I LOVE the pickled vegs, they come on the chacutrie plate also, FYI, the chicken is free range from Madison’s, Lavo takes the breast and Madison’s sells the rest.

  • Julie

    Vudutu– yep! Saw the rest at Madison’s on Sunday. And the charcuterie platter is to die for– I wrote about it in my first review of Lavo. :)

  • Cin Twin1

    How was the service at Lavomatic? The only time I have been, their service was so lacking it will be hard for us to decide to go back…..

    Our table was not ready when we arrived, so it was suggested by the host to have a drink and go upstairs. By the time, all 6 of us had a drink and paid (hard to do in that little space) we went upstairs. About 30 minutes later the host came back and gave us a “head jerk” which I think indicated that she wanted us to follow her. So we did.

    Our waiter couldn’t answer our questions about the menu, our water glasses were never filled, and I thought the food was ok but not “memorable” if that makes since.

    I am starting to think I lack the taste for French cuisine. I have been to 4 of JR’s restaurants (Lavo, Greenup, Jeanro, and Pigall’s) and have not found the food exceptional. The service however at Pigall’s was incredible. My husband and I were made to feel like a king and queen. Maybe my expectations are too high, or I order the wrong thing.

    I do love the fact they use fresh local ingredients and they are investing in OTR. That alone might make me visit Lavomatic again.

    By the way, anybody know how to cook with those whole artichokes in the produce dept? I usually by canned, jarred, or frozen, but I think you can steam them.

  • Julie

    I’m sorry to hear your experience wasn’t up to snuff. Both of the waitresses I’ve had there were very knowledgeable, and though the hostesses are a bit curt, they reminded me of the hostesses at French bistros. I didn’t mind that so much. I also love French cuisine.

    Artichokes? I like to do the traditional boil-and-eat-with-butter thing, or they’re also good sauteed with some sausage (from Kroeger Meats!) and onions– I did that for Christmas a couple of years ago.

  • vudutu

    Lavo service has been somewhat spotty, we had a young kid two weeks ago, admittedly on Friday prime time, who was clueless. Moat of the time service has been pretty good, still getting to know the wait staff.

  • vudutu

    Chris s, thanks to one of Vals posters I ran across a cook book, Linda Ziedrich’s The Joy of Pickling” check it out on http://www.modernbeet.com/

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