I took my brother to Lavagna tonight. I'm not sure the meal was quite as great as the last time I ate there, but it was quite good, and my brother and I were both very happy.
We started with the carciofi al forno, which I liked so much last time, and it was excellent again. We also had a special appetizer, a lobster salad, which was quite good; my brother had a slight criticism, that the lobster was slightly briny. I agreed that the lobster was not quite the best possible exemplar, but it was pretty damned good, and we both liked the dish. For our main courses, we both chose the pepper-coated tuna, which was also coated with fennel seeds and other wonderful things, and came with an excellent mixture of tomatoes, pignoli, some green leafy vegetable, etc., along with a separate layer of frisee with a nice vinaigrette. We both agreed that the tuna was a really fine dish - excellent fish perfectly cooked, great sides, beautiful presentation, strong pepper taste. I got wine by the glass, a good-tasting, somewhat smoky Spanish red recommended by the waitress. For dessert, we got the chocolate with hazelnut slices et al. that I got last time. My brother rated the food easily 3 stars and perhaps higher on a 4-star scale, and thought the only difference between this restaurant and a place like Bouley Bakery was the level of decor and service, and the slight but, he argued, noticeable difference between the quality of more expensive and less expensive ingredients. I can't compare since I haven't been to Bouley in years.
My brother, however, took his girlfriend to Bouley for lunch on, I think, Thursday afternoon. Since this is a second-hand report, I won't go into great detail, except to say that they found the $35 menu de degustation a bargain, especially because the staff brought out several freebies, and they found the staff extremely polite and helpful. They also loved the food. Considering all the horror stories I read on this board a few months ago about sometimes nasty service at Bouley Bakery during busy dinner hours, perhaps the lesson to be drawn from this is that the best time to go to Bouley Bakery is for lunch on a weekday.
Back to Lavagna for one note: Be aware that they do not seat parties until they are complete, and plan accordingly.
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