Righteous Food In Great Neck

Chef Reinhard Stihl

Lamed Vav, 20 South Station Plaza, recently opened in Great Neck. Its name derives from the Talmud, in which it was stated that at all times there are at least 36 righteous people in the world. In the Hebrew alphabet, “Lamed” is the 13th letter and “Vav” is the sixth letter. After dining there, you could easily come to the conclusion that Lamed Vav is one of the 36 righteous restaurants on Long Island.

Lamed Vav is the concept derived from owner Alex Levine and manager Reed Goldstein. Levine is also the owner of Brasserie Halevi, in Cedarhurst. Astute foodies will recognize Goldstein as the former owner and manager of the legendary Angelo and Maxie’s Steak House, in Manhattan. Both have teamed together to bring this fine Kosher restaurant to fruition. The cuisine, according to Goldstein, can be described as “Continental,” with a definite French influence. The chef is the gregarious Reinhard Stihl, a native of Austria. He studied six years at the Bad Leonfelden Hotel and Restaurant School. His first job, after graduating, was serving three years with the royal family of Saudi Arabia. He then worked, for two years, at the Ritz-Carlton, in St. Moritz, Switzerland.  Chef’s last place, before arriving in the U.S., was at the Hotel Sacher, in Vienna. Stihl is also a classically-trained tenor and delights in entertaining his customers for special occasions.

The menu at the 120-seat Lamed Vav is best communicated as eclectic. You will definitely find something that suits your taste. Appetizers include a diversity of salads, such as steak, quinoa, citus, and salmon.  Other appetizers include marinated olives, fettucini, and a Hungarian soup. Entrees entail salmon, chicken, steak, and pasta. A wide selection of wines is available, to complement the active bar. The first night we dined, for appetizers, we ordered the vegetable risotto and the tuna tartare. Both were delicious. The vegetable risotto is such an abundant dish that I recommend either sharing it or taking half home. The reason is that you will want to enjoy the rest of the meal. For entrees, we had the steak poivre and the pecan-crusted trout almondine. An ample selection of vegetables is available to accompany these DSC04149dishes. We savored these offerings. However, the “piece de resistance,” in my opinion, was the bisquit roulade with banana mousse. This is one of the most unique desserts I have ever tasted. At our return visit, we savored the French onion soup, which arrived in a homemade bread bowl. We also delighted in the salmon with grilled vegetables (zucchini, carrots, eggplant) and the burger. That night, the special dessert was pastry puffs with soy, garnished with cranberry sauce. Chef Stihl takes particular pride in his pastries. Other dessert offerings include the chocolate souffle and vanilla berries crepe. Additionally, Lamed Vav offers a children’s menu that will keep the future customers very happy.

As a dedicated restaurant-goer, I usually find conversing with the chef to be fascinating. Cooking glatt kosher does not present any particular challenges to Stihl, because, as he explained, “Kosher recipes are similar to Austrian food.” Stihl informed that he will gladly take special orders, with 24 hours advance notice. He particularly enjoys the preparation of Beef Wellington, which is sometimes a nightly special.    The restaurant offers a separate and private area for meetings. Off-site catering is also available. There is also the anticipation of jazz entertainment on Sunday evenings.

The addition of Lamed Vav is a definite asset to the Great Neck restaurant scene. Whether or not someone may be kosher, good food is undeniable.

The delivery of the plates to the table may take a little extra time, but this is indicative that everything is made fresh. The waiters were all very friendly and are knowledgeable and helpful. Plenty of street parking is available, particularly after 6 p.m.

In the very near future, Levine anticipates the opening of his kosher bakery on Middleneck Road. Reinhard Stihl should be ready for extra duty as he will be the baker for this establishment. Fine pastries, bread, and challah will be offered. There will also be upscale coffee, soup, and paninis. Lamed Vav is open Sunday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday, sundown to midnight; closed Friday.

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