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Jan 23, 2014 11:14 AM

Louro at the moment: review + photos

Louro has been open in Greenwich Village for over a year now and is still surprising me with its robust flavors every time I go. Sometimes I’ll be sitting at a happy hour spot closer to home, and I’ll think, “Yeah, I could be at Louro right now instead, but what’s the big deal?” And then I’ll actually go to Louro and am like, “Why have I been wasting my life?” Chef Santos has let me come photograph his food several times, so I didn't Louro a score so as to avoid looking like a shill, but I thought you might want to see some photos of what's going on there right now.

• Whiskey in the Jar: Irish whiskey, grapefruit, ginger, spices

I went with five of my friends, so we basically ate the entire menu. But first we started with many, many rounds of half-price happy hour drinks. This was the table favourite.

• beef tartare, caraway sauce

Off the menu and so bright with those pickled onions but then also earthy and pungent with that caraway spread. Caraway isn’t the first spice I think of for anything, but I loved seeing Chef Santos use it in a non-Indian, non-Middle-Eastern context.

• heirloom carrot salad, miso

This was a special the night we visited, and THANK GOD, because this is my favourite thing at Louro. I encouraged my entire table to get it, and everyone outright ignored me. Not that I blame anyone for scoffing at carrots, but these are not only incredibly visually beautiful but also unexpectedly Asian-flavored. I never even thought I cared that much about miso until I had this dish for the first time. And then there’s the rice wine vinegar, the mirin, and the scallions. Incredibly, the New York Times just published the recipe for the heirloom carrot salad this week, so now I’m going to be eating it every night at home when I can’t get to Louro. Every night, I said.

• bone marrow, mussels, red curry, crisps

This had the same flavor as a big hunk of steak but melted in my mouth even more.

• piri piri shrimp

My other favourite thing at Louro. The chili is so surprisingly spicy that I feel like its name is an onomatopoeia you might see in a comic book. “Piri piri!” the superhero shouts as he delivers a one-two punch to the villain’s gut. It somehow manages to not overwhelm the shrimp at the same time, though. It seems so simple, but it’s so simply perfect.

• smoked tomato soup, pork grilled cheese

I had made grilled cheese the night before for my roommate/landlord/former co-worker/boyfriend, so I asked him how mine compared to this one, and he had to very, very gently put me down.

• lobster larb salad, chopped lobster, bibb lettuce, thai dressing, cilantro, peanuts

I’m not sure what to think of this. The common thinking with lobster is that it should be broken down as little as possible, right? But we were Googling larb as we were looking at the menu, and it’s a minced meat salad that’s apparently the national dish of Laos. So I guess you either mince the lobster or you’re not making larb. This was super, super spicy and herbaceous.

• pork & beef ragu, anson mills polenta, Parmesan

Wish I had tried this.

• biscuits & gravy, soft poached duck egg, duck sausage, gravy

Really, really wish I had tried this.

• gnocchi Parisienne, cipollinis, wild mushrooms, Parmesan, thyme butter

I only tried one of these little pillows, but I’m convinced they were more gnudi than gnocchi. All cheese, not enough flour to even matter. Just how I like it.

• octopus bolognese: hand cut tagliatelle, goose pancetta, parmesan

It’s been on the Louro menu for as long as I can remember, and for good reason. It’s like beef bolognese but with a little chew from the octopus and then the deep flavor of the bacon as contrast.

• lobster lasagna

I love Chef Santos for throwing us a little extra lobster here and there, but most of us thought that this lasagna was so good on its own that the lobster didn’t even matter. Take THAT, ocean.

• kibby goat & falafel, cucumber, parsley, lemon mint cream

I actually met this dish one afternoon while taking pictures for the Louro website and haven’t stopped eating it since. The combination of the super-light cucumber and rich goat is too much for me to resist, and I could have the minty sauce on just about anything, including my own hand.

• The Hemingway: key lime curd, gingersnap crumble, vanilla ice cream, toasted meringue

I only tried a bit of the lime curd, and it was not shy about the lime.

• A Walk in the Woods: pine needle & porcini ice creams, pine nut puree, maple “dirt”, Maine blueberries

I needed to have this just for the pine needle ice cream, and it was everything I wanted it to be. i.e. like chewing on a forest. The maple dirt was crunchy and sweet and as if I’d stuck a tap on a crispy tree. I love that a restaurant that’s partly food the way your mama makes it can also put out a dish this wild.

All of the photos in context are here:

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  1. My son had the carrot salad the last time we were there. He finished it before we had a chance to try some. It certainly looked lovely, though.

    1 Reply
    1. re: foodiemom10583

      I'd do everything in my power not to share those carrots, too. That's why I tried to convince all of my friends to order the dish for themselves!

    2. Great review. Do you have more details about the happy hour?

      2 Replies
      1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

        $4 beer, $6 wine, $8 cocktails
        A complimentary plate of small tapas-like bites when you order drinks. When they have them in, they also do $1 oysters. 5:30-7:30pm, I don't think they do the late night happy hour any more.

        A relatively recent article describing it:

        1. re: fooder

          Oh wow. That's great. Thanks for the article. This is even more motivation for me to get there; I've been meaning to and I can't pass that up!

      2. If you like pine... go to Pegu Club as the Douglas Fir Gimlet is on the menu right now.

        1 Reply
        1. re: kathryn

          Thanks for the heads-up. That sounds delicious. And the pear-in-the-bottle is so neat!

        2. Nice photos. good review. The octopus bolognese is my favorite dish at Louro.
          Was the lobster larb spicy?
          Everytime I have the piri piri shrimp, the sauce tastes great but the shrimp have an "iodine" taste to them.

          6 Replies
          1. re: foodwhisperer

            I had shrimp larb when I was there the other night, it was delicious and pleasantly spicy, but toned down from Thai spicy.

            1. re: foodwhisperer

              Thanks! Someone in my group has to get the octopus; we can't resist. Maybe we're a bunch of wimps, but the three of us who tried the lobster larb thought it was incredibly spicy. Delicious, though. I had the piri piri shrimp again last night but didn't notice an iodine taste. How strange.

              1. re: plumpdumpling

                I'll be there this weekend. I look forward to a great meal.

                1. re: foodwhisperer

                  Let me know when your here. Would love to say hello.

                  1. re: chopjwu12

                    I was just there tonite. Decided I couldn't wait. The menu was different on many dishes, compared to the OP. So maybe they change it everyday and leave their core dishes.
                    I had the bone marrow for the first time, it was delicious. I don't know what it was mixed with , tasted like a bit of cheese maybe. It was well balanced and better tasting than straight up bone marrow.
                    The octopus bolognese was as good as ever.
                    The shrimp piri piri was great. The shrimp were much improved over my past experiences. They were not iodiny and they were a bit larger than previously.
                    The oysters from Martha's Vineyard were delightfully plump and so delicious.
                    The gnocchi dish was a good dish.
                    The venison over cauliflower and pickled cherry tomato( i think) was fantastic ( photo attached) the portion was big, it was perfectly cooked. It was up there with the best venison I have had.
                    The potato soup with suckling pig was amazing.
                    The desserts were great, the "walk in woods was my favorite" but we had them all. We ordered a la carte, had 10 courses, the bill with drinks $80pp. I'm stuffed.
                    The food is better than ever.

                    1. re: foodwhisperer

                      One of my friends had the venison the other night, too, and we were blown away by the texture. So unbelievably tender. I think the chef said it was from Australia; it was clear he tried a lot of venison before settling on this one.

                      The desserts were so good the other night, too. I love the pine needle ice cream, but the "vanilla" ice cream on the Hemingway was my favourite. It tasted like toasted marshmallow to me.

            2. Thanks for the great review and especially the pics. You didn't even mention a bunch of my favorite dishes on the menu now:

              #1 might be the uni with grapefruit and truffle, with great mizuna tempura. A spectacular combination.

              It sounds that you, like me, tend to stick toward the left side of the menu. But the last time I was there, we tried the prawn hot pot, and it was fantastic, especially the vegetables. Chef Santos has been experimenting a lot with kimchi, and I think this has been his most successful execution (others had eaten all the prawns by the time the pot came to me).

              The farro salad is as good as ever, and one of the best uses of parmesan cheese in a non-Italian context I've seen.

              The pumpkin salad is something I wouldn't have ordered on my own, especially when the carrot salad is available, but as usual, I would have been wrong. Great textures and flavor.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Dave Feldman

                I went back again last night and still didn't hit all of the dishes you mentioned! Mizuna tempura sounds so interesting, and I've been dyyyyying for the farro salad but keep choosing something else at the last minute. I got to try a bite of the pumpkin salad last night and also loved the skate, but the hot pot is so out of place on the menu that I've always wrinkled my forehead at it. Glad to hear it's not to be missed! I think the menu is changing really soon, so hopefully I get back before it goes away.

                1. re: plumpdumpling

                  My partner had the prawn hot pot and I tasted it. It was delicious and not extremely spicy.

                  I should mention I had the braised calamari and it was a wonderful dish.

                  1. re: rrems

                    Thanks for weighing in! Looks like I doubly have to try it.

                    1. re: rrems

                      Thanks for your comment. I had my eye on the braised calamari, too.