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Food Reviews: LAVERNE OF GREAT NECK

Long Island Pulse Magazine
Author: Richard Jay Scholem
Published: Monday, November 21, 2011
http://www.lipulse.com/

Things are looking up at 9 Cutter Mill Road in Great Neck. Until a few months ago, the deservedly short-lived Bangkok Station occupied this storefront. Now that space is where Laverne of Great Neck, a Japanese, French-Fusion and Thai restaurant, has set up shop. Laverne began life in Westbury, then closed about two or three years ago before popping up again in the center of Great Neck. It represents a huge improvement over the former tenant. Its diverse Asian and European dishes create an agreeable culinary coexistence.

The unpretentious Laverne, with its bare tables, sushi bar, dark-wood walls punctuated with a band of silver and gold tile, serves everything from pad Thai, sushi and sashimi to steak frites and coquilles St-Jacques. Despite a few French possibilities, Laverne could be mistaken for a Japanese restaurant.

Though fewer, the Thai, French and cross-cultural preparations give a good accounting of themselves. The steak frites ($19), for instance, is a true fusion dish at a time when that term is often thrown around carelessly. The superior sliced sirloin steak is combined (and enhanced) with an addictive Asian sauce. Unlike restaurants that serve various standard ethnic dishes and call them fusion, Laverne really fuses two different cuisines. Just below the steak listing is a noodle section that offers great values and substantial portions. Among them are commendable versions of pad Thai ($10), Thailand’s signature dish, Kwyatio pad gai ($10), a stir fry of thin, crispy noodles with chicken, vegetables and lime leaf and drunken noodle ($11), broad rice noodles, basil, onions, bell peppers and chicken, shrimp or tofu. Pay no attention to the red peppers next to their listings signifying spiciness. While all three are tasty treats, there is not a hint of heat or kick in any of them. Not every dish was absent of heat, though. The commendable, big (and I mean big) tuna sandwich ($13) supplied the promised spicy tuna. Yet three non-spicy seafood selections were among the best picks. Try the Paradise crab meat ($11), a lovely layered meld of salmon, avocado, scallions and baked king crab; the flaky, fresh almost floating on air Chilean sea bass ($22); and the medley de coquillages ($28), a colossal plate full of excellent shellfish.

Among the starters sampled were a standard array of fresh sashimi ($10), a predictable lobster salad ($10) of lobster and fruit flecked lettuce, flying crab ($14), a fortuitous mix of shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, avocado crowned with a tender whole soft shell crab tempura napped in a sweet sauce and magret de canard ($14), a starter that sounds French, looks Asian and tastes good.

Oh, yes, for an authentic French appetizer, target coquilles St- Jacques ($11), soft, buttery scallops in a nest of thatched, deep fried noodles.

Meals at Laverne begin with complimentary, thin, crisp, delicate sweet potato chips. Pairing them or most other dishes with honey ginger tea is also a good idea (although I only drink hot tea when I’m ill, this brew was a hit).

Western desserts dominate the sweets. We tried the small, but light, tangy, full-flavored key lime pie ($6.95) with its graham cracker crust and plenty of real whipped cream; the moist, tender Caramel apple tart ($6.95) featuring crisp, ripe fruit; a light grease-free portion of banana spring rolls ($5); and a so called Thai chili molten chocolate cake ($6.95) that’s a commendable but standard version (forget the Thai chili business).

Although there are few food failures at Laverne, the fried ice cream ($4.95) qualified as one. Its rubbery dough wrap stuck together preventing diners from eating manageable, small bites. Additionally, diners should not expect knowledgeable wine service or all the dishes in each course to arrive at one time.

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Laverne of Great Neck, Great Neck, NY

The Restaurant Fairy
Author: Malini Sood Horiuchi
Published: Wednesday, June 6, 2012
http://www.therestaurantfairy.com/

Laverne is a relatively new Japanese, French-Fusion and Thai restaurant.

Located in Great Neck, an area that has relatively staid culinary choices; Laverne attempts liven up palates by offering cuisine with some oomph.

The food is surprisingly good. The menu offers a nice variety of well thought out dishes, which are attractively presented by super-friendly servers.

What I loved most about this place is the passion that lies behind it. The forces behind Laverne are a group of young, really enthusiastic young men who have a dream.

This is the kind of place that you really root for to do well and thats what I'm doing.

Go for it guys…I wish you all the best.

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Review: Laverne of Great Neck

Long Island Restaurant News (LIRN)
www.longislandrestaurantnews.com

Everything about Laverne of Great Neck was a bit of a surprise. Walking down Cutter Mill Road in Great Neck you could easily walk right past the restaurant billed as Japanese French Fusion and Thai . But truly, it would be a shame to miss.

Ah, I was thinking the same thing: "What on earth is Japanese French Fusion and Thai?" I was baffled too by the description but after dining at Laverne recently I reached some (much needed!) culinary enlightenment. The space is simple. There's a casual and quaint feel to the room, that's modestly decorated. The sushi bar is set up in the back of the dining room and there's nothing pretentious or showy- a single candle flickered on every table.

At first, the menu is overwhelming. The exotic cuisine sweeps continents and our server was happy to fully explain the restaurant's concept and offer us suggestions based on our food preferences. After a little Sake (they also serve beer and wine) we seemed to feel less dizzied by our dish options and decided to just go with the flow… What struck me instantly was that the prices were modest. For instance, appetizers range from about $5 (like pan-fried pork dumpling) to $14 (glazed duck breast), the sushi bar starters are $8-15, sushi or sashimi $2-3, Thai cooking dishes range from $10-15, and chef's specialties start at $15 and peak at $28.

You understand the French influence almost immediately. Stylized plates (traditional Japanese presentation is simple), creative sauce reductions (like the use of truffle oil) innovative flavor blends, interesting colors and textures, and dishes that were not so much "cooked" but rather "carefully crafted". There's the concept, now let's talk food.

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3 stars of 4


Review of Laverne of Great Neck (9 Cuttermill Road)

Great Neck Eats
www.restaurantsingreatneck.com

If you haven't heard of Laverne of Great Neck you're not alone. As of the date of this writing, it's only been open under this name for four days. You may know it better by its previous name: Bangkok Station. It had only been open under that name for only a few months, my guess is that the owners wanted to expand beyond just being a "Thai Restaurant". They have since added Japanese and "French Fusion" fare to their menu. More on that below.

Laverne is located at 9 Cutter Mill Road, the site of the old Empire Kosher Roasters / The Wok. When the new owners took over the space, they completely redesigned it. Whereas before that space had a "cafeteria" feel about it with bright orange chairs, when they redesigned the space for Bangkok Station they completely overhauled the decor. Now, the decor is much more understated and elegant in its simplicity. Yellow and red track lights overhead provide good lighting. The one new thing I noticed since the days it was called Bangkok Station is the addition of a sushi bar in the back.

Now with Daruma, Chez Kama, Matsuya, Carousel, Sushi Palace, Hinata, Naru, Masago, and others I probably missed, Great Neck probably has more sushi restaurants per capita than just about any city in the world. Does it really need another one? This is definitely a case where you can't have enough of a good thing.

I was intrigued by Laverne's reinvention as a Thai, French Fusion, and Japanese restaurant. In all honesty, the only "French" dishes I see on the menu of entrees were a Filet Mignon and a Rib Eye steak. For the appetizer, there were a few other "French-like" choices, including cajun shrimp, black mussels, and a duck breast appetizer. I ordered the duck breast, which reminded me of a mini "duck a l'orange". The duck breast was cut into large chunks which were prepared very well, juicy and with a subtle duck flavor. The sauce was a sweet and tangy fruit sauce made from oranges and raspberries, and carefully cut wedges of fresh orange completed the presentation. I was disappointed that my plate didn't include the "puff pastry" mentioned in the menu, though.

Whenever I go to a new Thai restaurant, I always order the Pad Thai. To me, that's the barometer to test one Thai restaurant versus another. Bangkok Station's pad Thai easily ranked among the best I've had, and happily Laverne continues the trend. The noodles are dry, the way they should be. Their pad Thai is of the "yellow" variety using a fish sauce base (not the "red" variety based on tamarind juice–or more commonly here in the United States, ketchup–blech!). The flavor is excellent, not overpoweringly fishy as other restaurants tend to make it. They mark the dish as spicy in their menu, but the last time I came I found it not to be spicy at all. Because we really, really like my heat, we asked them to make it extra spicy. They came through (and happily, my water glass was never empty, the server did a great job of making sure it was always full).

I was eager to try the "Japanese" part of the menu, so I asked the server which sushi roll was the most popular. Without hesitation he said it was the "Big Tuna Sandwich". He even said that people have ordered it, and then ordered another one for home. We decided to try it. We were not disappointed.

The roll consisted of spicy tuna, avocado, and fish roe, topped with little green sliced hot peppers that gave it a nice kick. The presentation was beautiful–they did look like little "tuna sandwiches" with outer "slices" of rice (peppered with red caviar and black and white sesame seeds), and between them the spicy tuna and avocado. The spicy mayo on the side makes an exquisite dipping sauce, and you top off the meal with a side of "chips" made of sweet potato.

With so many sushi restaurants in Great Neck, I think the successful ones are going to be the ones who differentiate themselves, whether with their freshness, their service, or their creativity. As far as creativity goes, I really like the things I'm seeing out of Laverne. When we went on a Sunday night it was pretty quiet, and we noticed the owner sitting at a table at the end of the room working with the sushi chef on taking photos, probably for a new menu or ad campaign. The server asked if we'd like to sample a new dish (not on the menu yet) they'd just photographed called "sushi pizza". We were treated to the dish you see here–with fresh tuna, three kinds of roe, spicy tuna, and avocado, all arranged beautifully on, of all things, a tortilla chip! It's this kind of fun that makes me want to come back to Laverne again.

As for the service, it was excellent. The server smiled, was extremely helpful, and always made sure our needs were attended to. When we entered and exited the restaurant, the server and the management were very kind to us (and no, they had no idea I'm a blogger). From early indications, I think Laverne is one of the bright new entrants to the Great Neck scene.

4 stars of 5

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Restaurant Review - Laverne of Great Neck

About.com
Author: Linda Tagliaferro
Published: Monday, November 21, 2011
http://www.about.com/

On Cutter Mill Road, Laverne of Great Neck offers a wide variety of excellent choices of Asian fusion cuisine. Set in a cozy, casual atmosphere with soft lighting and soft music, the restaurant features dark-toned tables surrounded by deep-hued, paneled walls, with an occasional adornment of glistening tiles.

The meals are an exquisite blend of the best that Japanese, French and Thai have to offer, all beautifully presented by friendly, attentive waitstaff. From a variety of sushi to meat, fish, poultry and vegetarian options, there is much to choose from at this dining venue.

You're in for a treat when you dine at Laverne of Great Neck. The prices are moderate and the tastes are superb. The hardest part of your dining experience will be choosing from a vast array of tasty offerings.

Appetizers run the gamut from Cajun Shrimp sauteed with Laverne's special blend of Creole seasonings to Beef Tataki seared with creamy yuzu and shoyu reduction

My husband and I had lunch at the restaurant and he enjoyed the Magret de Canard appetizer. The slices of meat were pan fried and served with a rich complexity of flavors in the sauce, which included hints of orange and raspberry, and were served with strawberries. It was accompanied by a mesclun salad with balsamic reduction.

I opted to start with the Coquilles St. Jacques, a staple of French cuisine, but prepared with an Asian twist. The scallops were tender and served in a delicate, shell-shaped crust, complemented by a sweet yet piquant sauce that included soy, sake, mirin and more.

For my main course, I ordered an entree with shiitake mushrooms, scallions and bamboo shoots topped with a savory Thai Style Garlic Sauce. The meal can be served with chicken, beef or shrimp, but I asked for tofu. Although the soy product was not on the menu, the chef accommodated my request.

The restaurant offers a variety of beers including Sapporo, Bluepoint Toasted Lager, Brooklyn Chocolate South and more, as well as Redbridge, which is gluten free. Wine is served by the glass or bottle and their list includes Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pino Grigio and more.

One of the highlights of Laverne of Great Neck is the presentation. Visitors who order dragon rolls will be presented with their sushi in the form of a sinuous dragon, ready for the eating.

The dessert menu does not disappoint. I enjoyed the Banana Spring Rolls with just the right amount of sweetness in the deep fried bananas, while my husband had the Key Lime Pie, a tart yet sweet lime custard on a graham cracker crust, topped with fresh whipped cream.

There are also other sweets including the gluten free Green Tea Temptation, which features a green tea-flavored white chocolate mousse with chocolate almond meringue, and the Caramel Apple Tart, filled with golden raisins and served with a dollop of vanilla gelato.

4 stars of 5

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Laverne of Great Neck-- East meets West

Long Island Fine Dining Examiner
Author: Barry Kay
Published: Monday, January 16, 2012
http://www.examiner.com/

Laverne of Great Neck is an intimate & unique dining venue in the heart of Great Neck. Although diminutive in size, it offers an amazing array of excellent multi-cultural asian cuisine.  The restaurant on Cutter Mill road looks like one of the many generic store front restaurants in the area. However, once you enter you first realize the true asian ambiance that the restaurant offers. The main dining area is somewhat narrow and has both table and banquet seating and a sushi bar in the rear of the restaurant. We were greeted by Steve Alexander, a youthful, knowledgeable and pleasant partner in this relatively new venture. Steve acts as a host greeter at Laverne and spent time explaining his love of asian food, and the various types of cuisine offered. Laverne of Great Neck offers Japanese, French Fusion and Thai and based on my experience, all are equally good.

We started our meal off with Cajun Shrimp,  made with a special spicy Laverne sauce. . Hot and very enjoyable.  Next we tried a house specialty Tuna Tataki- Seared and served with ponzi and a special sauce.  A small plate of edamame, Japanese soy beans were placed on the table warm and salty to snack on between courses. Miso soup a traditional mild japanese soup made with scallions and seaweed was also served.

Japanese Sushi/Sashimi are a big favorites of mine and we were offered a virtual corncupeia of fabulous and very delicious sushi and sashimi: tuna roll, salmon roll, avocado roll, yellowtail roll, spicy salmon roll, california roll, alaskan roll, shrimp sashin, fluke, crabstick, tobika, and squid.  Sushi Heaven! Gyoza, pan fried pork dumplings were also served and enjoyed.

Last but certainly not least we tried an amazing filet mignon in a creamy porcini mushroom sauce served with seasonal vegetables.

For dessert we tried a homemade style Key Lime Pie made with a graham cracker crust and keylime custard topped with fresh whipped cream, and Banana Spring rolls- Deep fried bananas that were simply out of this world.

Congratulations to Steve and his partners on bringing new meaning to Fusion dining.

Laverne of Great Neck offers reasonable prices, delicious food, and a fun atmosphere.

4 stars of 5

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Mon-Thurs: 11:00am - 10:00pm
Fri & Sat: 11:00am - 11:00pm
Closed Sunday

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