I had dinner at Loi last night and although some dishes were good, I was disappointed overall, especially after reading a number of reviews about how terrific the food is.
First, the space is essentially the same as it was at Compass with the large bar area in front and a rather cavernous room at the back, with additional tables set up on a platform along the back wall. There was a good-sized, more-or-less private, room off to the left that I guess would seat maybe a dozen people. (It’s been too long since I’d been to Compass, so I don’t recall if that room existed in the past.) For some reason, people weren’t seated at the tables along the back wall; it may have been that they wanted to make the main dining room look busier (and it was fairly busy last night). The noise level was moderate.
A nice variety of pita, toast, and a slightly sweet biscuit were brought to the table with olive oil and a yogurt dip. There’s a selection of special cocktails. I ordered something that sounded interesting with bourbon, ginger, and honey in it that turned out to be no more than drinkable.
For appetizers, two of us split the grilled octopus and the sweetbreads. The octopus was charred, but didn’t seem to have been actually grilled and was so tender as to not seem like octopus and it didn’t, on it’s own, have much flavor. It was served with a sweetish onion relish that was okay, but not the best complement for the octopus. The sweetbreads were crispy and well prepared, but weren’t served with the sauces listed on the menu. One person had the grilled shrimp and another had the soup of the day, which was some variation on avgolemono. Didn’t try either and neither person commented one way or the other.
Two of us shared the fish in salt crust. You had a choice of either sea bass or red snapper, and we chose the former. It was presented in its crust then was removed to a side table to be filleted. The filleting job was less than expert, and we ended up with pieces of fish on our plates rather than one whole fillet. The fish tasted decent, but was overcooked. When we mentioned it to the waitress after dinner, when she asked how we liked our meal, she said we should have sent it back and ordered something else. It hadn’t been that bad; it just wasn’t as well prepared as it should have been. It was, however, served with grilled vegetables (a large mushroom cap, and a slice each of eggplant, zucchini, and red pepper) that were quite good.
Another person had the vegetarian moussaka, which she said was good but didn’t comment further, and I don’t remember what the fourth person had.
We ordered two desserts: one was galaktoboureco--pastry cream with phylo--that was entirely uninteresting and the other some kind of Greek cheesecake thing that I didn’t taste.
Service bordered on haphazard. It seemed to take a long time to get our drinks. When we asked for assistance with the wine list the waitress said she’d send over the manager; it took him so long to get to us, we thought perhaps she’d forgotten. And when he did finally come over, he wasn’t as informative as we would have liked. I didn’t see the list, so can’t comment on it.
The chef, Maria Loi, made a perfunctory stop at the table as we were paying our bill, but didn’t really seem to want to hear what we had to say about the food. She just spoke about how committed she was to the restaurant and the neighborhood.
I’ll go back because it’s right around the corner from my apartment. And I think that if you order carefully, and the kitchen is on it’s game, you can have a pretty good, if somewhat pricey, meal. It’s only been open about three months. Perhaps they’ll get their act together. I certainly hope so.
Boredough posted a short review of Loi about a month ago on a pre-opera thread that I’ll link to here (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8249... ). She seemed to have had a better dining experience than I.
208 W 70th St, New York, NY 10023
I've had a few plates at the bar with a vegetarian friend and for the most part liked everything. I haven't tried any meat or fish though. Our server gave us a complimentary galaktoboureco which I found pleasant enough, perhaps because it was free.
Thanks for your detailed review.