The Young Professionals Party (take a peek at my recap article for Miss A), a fundraising benefit for Silver Hill Hospital, took place at the lavish LAVO in midtown Manhattan. LAVO is a trendy eatery and lounge that caters to the young and affluent. In reviews of the nightclub, there were mentions of it being a place to see and be seen or a stop on a tourist’s must list. There is also a LAVO in Las Vegas, where my friend ate and gave rave reviews. But lunch and dinner would not come cheap, as appetizers start at $16, entrees range from $21 for the most basic pasta to expensive $95 specialty steaks, and even the trimmings ring in at $11.
Well, at this charity event, I was able to get a little preview of what LAVO restaurant has to offer, other than the beautiful staff, luxurious décor, and the brand.
The passed hors d’oeuvres ranged from the shrimp cocktail on a wooden skewer to the more substantial kobe beef meatball mini sliders. The little sliders were a single tiny meatball placed on just as tiny ciabatta like bun, topped with a flourish of parmesan. They looked refined, an upgrade on comfort, but in the end, not as delicious as hoped. The tuna tartar on a crunchy crostini was fresh and light. Its taste did not linger, and proved to be a fine display of technique. LAVO also served up single butternut squash ravioli on a darling plastic Japanese soup spoon. The filled pasta was fresh and felt homemade, but also invoked fall feelings and flavors, with a little zing from the sauce that the parcel was nestled in. Various brick oven pizzas cut into polite squares swung around the bar, just as quickly as the champagne and white wine. My favorite bold bite was the upscale take on Caesar salad. The crunchy crouton was layered with a small amount of the restaurant’s well-known Caesar salad, and then topped with a thin, but substantial slice of rare steak. The steak was tender and not over cooked, seasoned just enough to go with the creamy garlicky flavors of the salad. The balance of the different textures was impeccable and left me wanting more (especially from the other appetizers).
Dessert also came out in full force. As a self-proclaimed sweet tooth, I took it upon myself to at least see every dessert the beautiful staff was serving. There were baby cannoli dusted with crushed walnuts and creamy filling dotted with chocolate chips, though they were not as heavy or rich as typical cannoli. The inner filling in the crunchy shell, was more akin to whipped cream than dense spiced sweet ricotta. Adorable tiramisu cups also made their way around the nightclub; tiny plastic cups filled with a moment of mild cream, studded with mini chocolate chips and topped with a cookie. Even the coconut macaroons crowned with rainbow sprinkles were a shade short of the homemade variety. The tiny cubes of the restaurant’s raspberry panna cotta cheesecake were light and not as sweet as expected, more of a savory creamy feeling with a small drizzle of tangy raspberry. I also saw mini profiterole looking pastries, filled with chocolate creams or custards, delicate and meditated. The only dessert I saw, and now regret not tasting was the messy oreo zeppole. It’s presentation and probability for sticky disaster made it a non-contender for me, even though it is unique and appealing, just perhaps inappropriate to be passed around at an event like this.
All in all, the passed appetizers and mini desserts looked much prettier than they tasted. Each bite was well crafted with aesthetics, balance and subtle sophistication, but somehow flavor was lost. The quality of the party nosh was apparent, as each taste was luxurious and refined, but perhaps the moment, setting and mass-produced element, limited the wow factor of the food. I was far more impressed with the beauty of the staff than the petit hors d’oeuvres.
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