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« Dinner at The Standard Grill | Main | Class: “Handmade Pasta for Future Chefs" at The French Culinary Institute »
Tuesday
Aug182009

CLOSED: Dinner at LEVANTeast 


  •  Cuisine: French/New American
  •  Atmosphere: modern, spacious, bright
  • Attire: business-casual, trendy
  • Ideal for: 1x1/small to large group seating, hotel dining
  • Must try: Whole Main Steamed Lobster
  • Price: Dinner entrees, all under $29
  • Reservations: Via phone or opentable.com
  • Phone: (212) 796-8040
  • Website: www.hotelonrivington.com/thor.html
  • Location: 107 Rivington St., (at Ludlow St.)

What’s the space like?

Modern and spacious, decorated in haute gothic-chic. Think: Sprawling black lacquer chandeliers, ornate metallic wall-paper, furniture/sculptures with voluptuous curvature, and a vast overhead skylight illuminating (and encompassing) the entire dining room.

How was the service?

Our waitress was adorably patient, kind, and attentive; though we were the only occupied table at the restaurant for ¾ of our meal. Is 7pm too early for dinner on a Saturday night? Perhaps.

Did you drink?

Yes, I had a chilled-champagne flute filled with “Fresh 75,a fruity concoction that consisted of: Mango vodka, passion fruit puree, fresh lemon and champagne. The cocktail was simply delicious, but for $21, it damn well better be!

How was the food?

While I’m still unsure what exactly transpired here, what I do know is that the Hotel on Rivington’s restaurant is under new management. Formerly called “Thor,” I was familiar with its French-inspired menu, and was especially fond of the tuna tartare and steak frites. Thor certainly changed management and chef hands a number of times, but hopefully with a revamped menu (courtesy of Cannes-born chef Laurent Brunacci), new management (under Matt Levine, who is also linked to The Eldridge and Georgica) and a snazzy new name, “LEVANTeast (‘levant’ means ‘lower’ in French; the restaurant is located in the ‘Lower Eastside of Manhattan), this restaurant will flourish.

  • Bread basket & olive oil: Look, I rarely mention a restaurant’s bread basket…Unless it’s over-the-top phenomenal, or just down-right dismal. For a higher-end joint, I was kind of surprised by the bread basket’s lack of excitement. There was nothing wrong with the sliced baguette, but I found the accompanying dish of olive oil (with floating clumps of Lawry’s Seasoning Salt and the saddest-looking rosemary sprig you’ve ever seen) an embarrassing afterthought. What’s wrong with some good ol’ fashioned butter?
  • Whole Maine Steamed Lobster: Could they have made it any easier for this girl from the land-locked corner of Texas? Seriously, had our waitress not informed me that the lobster was de-shelled prior to plating, there’s no way in hell I would have ordered it as my entrée. I’ve worked for my lobster meat once before, and I’d rather not relive the horror (trust me - it involved blood, sweat and tears). An oval dinner plate came topped with the entire shell-less crustacean, white and purple “new” potatoes drenched in butter, lime-green fava beans, grilled ripe peach slices and a small bowl of drawn butter. The snow-white lobster flesh was perfectly cooked and tasted as if it were living just moments before making its appearance on my plate. Paired with a hunk of the smoky-sweet grilled peach, followed by a quick dive in to the savory drawn, the trinity of flavors was triumphant…Especially on a warm summer evening.

What’s pricing like?

In my opinion, LEVANTeast’s food prices are fair for the quality and quantity received. However, I found pricing on the cocktail menu to be outrageous even by Manhattan standards:

  • Fresh 75 (cocktail): $21
  • Whole Maine Steamed Lobster: $28

Will you return to LEVANTeast?

Perhaps, though I wouldn't go out of my way. On my next visit, I’d like to sample the brunch specialties and perhaps the restaurant’s signature burger. I also hear that LEVANTeast is quite the place to be after dark…Now, if I could just find that sugar-daddy to buy me those pricey drinks!!

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