After my wife read the Jan. 1 NYT Times article that mentioned Lovitt among restaurants that feature a solo chef, I was nearly instructed to make a reservation. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Norman Six runs Lovitt, which is located is in the same quaint space as Wendy Gilbert's former Savoy Truffle and Kismet. The small restaurant is BYOB and has about 30 seats.
We arrived Saturday at 8 p.m. and were immediately seated to a table in front of the kitchen 'window' cut-out. While there was no "Curb Your Enthusiasm" chef-cursing going about, I did spend too much time watching the Six go about his business.
With a small number of tables around, you are also forced to hear multiple conversations about. At least three other tables told either our server or Six when he came out of the kitchen: "I read about you in the New York Times and had to come in." I couldn't offer a chuckle as we were among that demographic.
While Six is the only chef presiding over the stove, he does have an assistant who plates some dishes and helps with other tasks.
Service was very efficient and unsophisticated. With only eight or so tables, one person serves all the tables. Ask for a recommendation, she'll give you a list before leaving you with "you think about that for a moment" as she heads off to the kitchen or another table.
The menu is basic, with eight options for a first course (appetizers, salads, soups) and about eight choices for your entree.
For starters, my wife went with the avocado salad that featured a couple leafs of romaine lettuce, red onion and a few slices of ripe avocado under a citrus vinaigrette. While my wife seemed please with her choice, I thought the dish was missing something -- perhaps some blue cheese crumble, dried cranberries or another ingredient that would add a layer of complexity. But then again, this place isn't all that complex.
I went with the tenderloin crepe, which is four slices of tenderloin wrapped in a tomato-flavored crepe (more of a flour tortilla, really) that sits on a bed of arugula with a balsamic reduction. Unfortunately, the dish didn't do it for me, perhaps because the tenderloin was cooked beyond medium.
Though disappointed with the appetizers, we were pleased with our entree selections. My wife enjoyed the maple-glazed salmon that was served with a shredded squash and zucchini. The salmon was nicely prepared and had good flavors thanks to the maple-glaze.
I devoured the Parmesan gnocci with diablo cream sauce, grilled shrimp and prosciutto. Enjoy the pillowy potato as I do, this was an easy selection. The handful of shrimp were tender while the sauce had the right balance of 'heat' and cream. At the same time, the prosciutto didn't add much to the dish.
The three dessert options are read by the server. If you think that a restaurant with a solo chef wouldn't serve outstanding desserts ... then you'd be correct. Despite this thinking, we went with the gingerbread cake accompanied with poached pears and vanilla ice cream, and also the apricot crisp with vanilla ice cream. Neither was good and I'm still wondering if the actual crisp drowned in all the apricot-flavored syrup.
All in all, we'll probably go back to Lovitt's. If nothing else, my wife had an enjoyable time and I can always order the gnocci without the prosciutto. And who really needs dessert.
1466 N. Ashland
* Open Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun; will add Wed in the Spring