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The Tasting Menu at Louro
May 1st, 2013 by donuts4dinner

Having first met Chef David Santos at his home supper club, Um Segredo, I felt a sense of pride when he opened his first restaurant in Manhattan’s West Village, Louro. As he sold out his Monday night themed dinners (like the truffle feast) and received a star from the New York Times two months in, I was already telling people that “I knew him way back when”.

The restaurant is a little bit of everything: a rustic floor and seating, nature-inspired lighting, and black and white photos of highbrow book collections. The food is on the fancy side, but the service makes you feel comfortable. I get the feeling that Dave’s tasting menu varies from night to night like the Per-Se-trained chef he is, but here’s the five-course, $65 chef’s tasting from the night my boyfriend and I visited recently:

Louro Tasting Menu, NYC

Louro Tasting Menu, NYC
homemade flatbread and Portuguese “butter”

The Portuguese “butter”–actually lard–is basically reason enough to ever visit Louro. Chowhound even wrote an article solely devoted to people’s devotion to it. In the Um Segredo days, it was a gloopy, drippy, melty concoction. Now it’s a homogenized spread that actually stays on your bread. I’m not saying I like it one way or another, but it’s all grown up now and is certainly ready to be jarred and sold commercially. (Hint, hint.) The bread was just as ridiculously fluffy/crunchy as ever.

Louro Tasting Menu, NYC
seafood fritters, smoked paprika aioli

So much flavor, and not any one standout “this is definitely scallops” flavor but a meld of the whole sea, clean and fresh and bright. They didn’t even need the tangy sauce for me, and I live to cover up natural flavor with sauces.

Louro Tasting Menu, NYC
piri piri shrimp

Super spicy thanks to the piri piri pepper with the most perfect texture. I have to admit that I’m somewhat squeamish about touching shrimp tails still (and let’s not talk about the heads), but I could eat a lot of these. Like, a lot a lot.

Louro Tasting Menu, NYC
green asparagus

My extremely observant impression of this: “very fresh for the most part but then sour pickled something”. You’re welcome. The mushrooms were salted and the whole dish was chilled.

Louro Tasting Menu, NYC
white asparagus, sauce gribiche

I love when a simple dish really wows. Not that sauce gribiche is so simple, but presenting this white asparagus so purely made it seem more important and almost meaty, like a piece of steak. I loved the grainy texture of the sauce against the cool, tender asparagus. It was like eating a really good tartar sauce. With eggs.

Louro Tasting Menu, NYC
sepia

The cuttlefish is a freaky animal, but it’s a pleasure to eat a singular thing like this with no bones/veins/any of the freaky stuff you find in land creatures. The sepia has a natural light oceany flavor that was compounded with grilling, and then the richer bacony flavor and bitterness of the greens created a contrast.

Louro Tasting Menu, NYC
uni, crispy pork belly, yuzu, shiso, togarashi pickled cabbage

My boyfriend said he was worried that pork belly was too easy–bacon makes everything better–but we didn’t care once we tasted the fresh brightness of the uni against the richness of the pork. The spicy/sour cabbage cut its fattiness, and with the bright citrus, this dish became one of the lightest pork preparations I’ve had. But with just enough of that uni iron flavor to make things interesting.

Louro Tasting Menu, NYC
mackerel, pineapple, hearts of palm

Sour and sweet thanks to the pineapple and the onion, which for me, made the dish. Crispy skin and that tender but hearty hearts of palm texture.

Louro Tasting Menu, NYC
walleye, hominy, onion ring

So meaty and spicy with so many textures, from the crunchy onion ring with its delicate batter to the hominy, which was like eating a mixture of pasta and popcorn.

Louro Tasting Menu, NYC
spring vegetable pasta

I don’t know why Dave’s pasta is so good. I half-expected this to be a pasta course simply for a pasta course’s sake, but this and the tagliatelle were two of the most memorable dishes of the night. The peas and garbanzos were so super fresh and al dente against the creamy, rich cheese.

Louro Tasting Menu, NYC
octopus bolognese tagliatelle

Cheesy but not enough to hide the tang of the tomato, with the thinnest pasta and just the right amount of chewy texture from the octopus. I expected this to be on the seafood side of the flavor spectrum, but it was much more land meat than ocean.

Louro Tasting Menu, NYC
pork belly

Tender, oniony, and homey, like it was from a recipe passed down by your mom. The best part were the nuts that added to the crunch of the crust.

Louro Tasting Menu, NYC
steak

I loved the bold flavors of this, the intense spice of the peppers and chilis. Tender and rare, with hearty crushed potatoes.

Louro Tasting Menu, NYC
pain perdu

I don’t really remember what was going on with this bread, because I was too focused on the amaretto cookie, which was suuuuuper buttery. It was perfect with the texture of the ice cream–just a little grainy, like the best homemade ice cream is.

Louro Tasting Menu, NYC
white asparagus ice cream, strawberry compote, shortbread crumble

The funky, fresh taste of asparagus with the cold and syrupy sweet strawberry chunks and a crumble for texture. This isn’t for the faint of heart with the asparagus flavor so evident and unexpected in ice cream, but Chef Santos seems to love to present a little challenge at the end of the meal (see: foie gras doughnuts).

Louro Tasting Menu, NYC

I won’t rate this since I’m too biased toward Chef Santos’s cooking, but I can tell you that this is the best food I’ve had from him. He’s never been one to shy away from bold flavors, but these dishes were even bolder, even more complex, even more complete than what he was doing at his supper club. Clearly the new kitchen and the hands in it suit his ambitious style, and I plan to be so much of a regular at Louro that they get tired of seeing me.

Louro
142 West 10th Street
New York, NY 10014 (map)


10 Responses  
  • Erin writes:
    May 1st, 20134:49 pmat

    Looks amazing! I wasn’t sure what cuttlefish looked like and then I googled it and now I regret it a little. Don’t think I could handle asparagus ice cream, but I love the use of in-season ingredients!

  • caropal writes:
    May 1st, 20136:01 pmat

    I would eat all of the things.

  • Mrs. Bachelor Girl writes:
    May 1st, 20139:02 pmat

    I can get behind any meal that offers asparagus two different ways.

  • Alex writes:
    May 2nd, 201310:24 amat

    Looks more like a 8-10 course meal, no? Is this actually what you get for the 5 course tasting, or was this extended due to knowing chef Santos?

    • donuts4dinner writes:
      May 28th, 20139:30 amat

      You’re right, it was more like eight courses. I honestly haven’t seen anyone else’s review of the Louro tasting menu yet to know if this is normal or not, but knowing Chef Santos, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was. Even at his home supper club, he was always serving amuses and pre-desserts and coffees.

  • han writes:
    May 8th, 20134:58 pmat

    ahhh i didnt realize his breadbasket would be that FLUFFYBREAD.
    i need to visit.

  • NYC Restaurant Reviews » Food Photography for Real writes:
    May 15th, 201312:00 pmat

    […] probably tired of hearing about my love of Chef David Santos’s food, so instead I’ll just brag about myself and how one of my photos from his restaurant opened […]

  • foodiemom10583 writes:
    May 21st, 201311:11 pmat

    Katie,

    On your recommendation and based on your gawwww-geous photos, we had dinner here tonight. We were a party of four: Husband, son, sister-in-law from Circleville, and me. I mean, if you love it, how could another Circleville gal resist? Yeah, she loved it, too.

    The lard butter was awesome, really rich and porky, but bright from the arugula, spinach, and spring onions (I think). Spouse and I split the baby lettuces and roasted porcinis. The accompanying cipollinis can be used instead of methadone, they are so addicting. Son was happy with the carrot salad, but the scent of balsamic reductions from the plates surrounding him was a little too intense. Me? I could lick that stuff off of a NYC sidewalk after the St. Patrick’s Day parade. He’ll learn.

    We each had a large plate: Two fabulous strip steaks with pickled blueberries (Wha?? Yah!!), greens, and cornbread puree; one suckling pig, a brick of delicious porky bits bathed in piquillo pepper sauce; and the sesame-crusted cod that honestly should’ve been called “baconfish,” it was so smoky and delicious.

    I have no idea how the Cherry Coke dessert was because son didn’t share. The rest of us had the beignets and fell in love. The addition of the peanut butter in a deep-fried dessert brought up the topic of the deep-fried fantasies at the Circleville Pumpkin Festival. We decided to follow sis-in-law there in October.

    Katie, I love you. Thank you for making me look way cooler than I am with your wonderful recommendations.

    • donuts4dinner writes:
      May 28th, 20139:26 amat

      Best comment ever? Certainly the one that most makes me wonder why you’re not writing a blog of your own. Does this mean we might possibly MEET at the Circleville Pumpkin Show come October? I’m taking the whole week off from work, as usual, to make sure I can eat a stromboli and an apple dumpling at least three of the nights. (My cousin won 1st attendant in the Miss Pumpkin Show pageant last year; isn’t that adorable?) I’m under the impression that you and I are the only ones who feel this sort of passion for cipollinis, but maybe we can bring some along and have the deep-fried Oreo booth bread ’em and oil-bathe ’em for us.

      • foodiemom10583 writes:
        May 29th, 20131:55 pmat

        OMG, how awesome would it be to meet up there?! As addicting as they are, is it legal to transport cipollinis across state lines? Can we ask the fried Oreo guys to put our fried cipollinis ON A STICK??!! Girl, you’ve got my head spinnin’!


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