I had been looking forward to trying Lovitt (1466 N. Ashland) for some time, especially since it was featured in the NYTimes a year or so ago as a nice example of independent chefs making good. I wanted to like it, but I didn't.
First, the room was stifling and completely un-airconditioned. This is unacceptable on a night when the temperature is 80 and the humidity is hovering around the 100% mark. My friend and I were sweating by the end of the meal and I couldn't wait to get out of there. Not a good way to make people feel welcome.
When paying upwards of $20 an entree, I expect some good bread and proper wineglasses, especially when the place advertises as being very BYO-friendly. Neither were available.
I had the dish that many revieweres liked, the "parisian gnocchi with sautéed shrimp & prosciutto in a spicy diablo sauce." It was good, but not overwhelmingly so. The gnocchi were fine, the ham was torn into large pieces and lying on top, and the sauce wasn't hot. The shrimps were small and lost in the sauce. It was a modestly-sized dish served with three small slices of a French roll (finally, some bread!) that did not fill me up.
My friend had the half chicken atop mango on black beans and couscous, topped with cilantro paste. It not bright-tasting or especially interesting. She actually needed to ask for a salt shaker to make the beans and couscous more edible.
We hoped the desserts would redeem the place. I had the chocolate roll cake, which was absolutely standard (actually, it tasted like a Little Debbie-style snack cake). My friend liked the peach pie with vanilla ice cream better, but again it was not outstanding, as the crust was tough and the peaches were not cooked to a fine soft syrupy-ness but were rather hard (probably weren't ripe).
On the plus side, service was friendly and efficient, and the chef, who was visible behind a half-wall, greeted everyone warmly. By the time we left, the place was full, and it seems to be doing very well. The recipes need some work, though, and the facilities need to be improved (the aforementioned lack of air-conditioning, and a single tiny bathroom is in the kitchen, for example -- fine for a tacqueria, but not fine for a place where you pay $50 a head without alcohol).