Every now and then we are lucky enough to come across a restaurant that is an unexpected surprise, where the food is something special and the prices are wallet friendly. Brasserie Halevi, located on Central Avenue in Cedarhurst and under the supervision of the Vaad of Five Towns, is such a place. Attractive, reasonable, with great service and most importantly, excellent food, Brasserie Halevi definitely makes our short list of places we want to revisit.
Located in the heart of the Five Towns, owner David Levine has worked hard since the restaurant’s opening in May to refine the menu in order to not only attract customers but also keep them coming back for more. From a visual perspective, Brasserie Halevi beckons from the very first moment you walk in the door, with a crisp black and white color scheme, chandeliers that straddle the line between elegant and funky and three levels of seating adding lots of visual interest to the space. The mirrored bar at the front of the restaurant is fully stocked with an excellent selection of both bottled and draft beers, scotch, cognac and bourbon and an enticing array of cocktails were both creative and visually appealing.
One of the best perks of writing about restaurants is that we often have the opportunity to taste a broad sampling of menu items and the chef at Brasserie Halevi kept up a steady stream of food to our table. We shared five appetizers on our visit with each one so delicious that we cleaned the plates on every one. A trio of lamb lollipop meatballs were beautifully presented and were perched atop an artistic drizzle of sriracha aioli that had just the right amount of kick to it. Each of the three fried ground lamb balls on our plate was served on a mini skewer, adorned with a grape tomato, a cucumber slice and a totally fabulous square of lamb bacon.
The Thanksgiving eggroll, available on the menu all year round, sounded like a clever idea, but we had to wonder whether an eggroll packed with roasted turkey, chestnut stuffing and purple mashed potatoes would really work. Thankfully, the answer was a resounding yes. Served with small crocks of gravy and wonderful homemade cranberry sauce, the turkey was appropriately moist and the sage accented mashed potatoes were well seasoned, making the Thanksgiving eggroll an excellent appetizer that I would happily order any time of year.
We tasted two vegetable-based soups: the cauliflower squash honey soup, a crowd favorite, and the corn chowder, a weekly special. Both were thick, flavorful and extremely enjoyable, with yummy little roasted vegetable nuggets adding an extra dose of flavor and texture. The poached pear salad was truly special and beautifully presented, an artful display of judiciously spiced grilled poached pear slices, heavenly chunks of roasted butternut squash, assorted leafy greens and toasted walnuts. The truly fabulous balsamic dressing, thick enough to cling to the salad, without being overpoweringly vinegary, was the finishing touch that elevated this salad from great to outstanding.
While all the appetizers were quite good and well priced (between $10 to $13), our favorite by far was the duck ravioli. More of a pot sticker than a conventional ravioli, they were substantial, well done and accompanied by a liberal serving of a stellar truffle sauce that was so incredible we made sure to thoroughly coat every bite of ravioli in the sauce so that we could enjoy just how well the two components of this fabulous dish complemented each other.
Instead of a traditional main dish, our friendly and knowledgeable waitress Jennifer brought us a large sampler plate that was literally a protein lover’s dream, featuring a tantalizing assortment of entrees that included short rib ravioli, sweetbreads, braised lamb shoulder, rib steak and duck breast. The short rib ravioli, glazed with a pear sage sauce, was more of a traditional ravioli than the duck version we had enjoyed earlier and was stuffed with meaty goodness. The sweetbreads, lightly prepared and beautifully paired with sliced mushrooms, were excellent and flavorful while the slow braised lamb shoulder was so tender that it practically melted when you touched it with a fork. The rib steak topped with fried onions was soft, succulent and delicious and the duck breast was amazing and perfectly done. While we enjoyed all of the entrees, it was the incredible pumpkin risotto accompanying the duck breast that stole the show, quite a feat on a plate filled with fabulous meats. Entrees were reasonably priced, with most in the $20 to $35 range for pasta, chicken, veal, duck, lamb, steak and the Halevi burger.
Brasserie Halevi’s pastry chef did a nice job with the desserts. Our large platter of treats was filled with an assortment of sweets and baked goods, all of which were prepared in house, which was very bad news for our respective diets. The whipped cream topped Mississippi mud pie was heavy on the chocolate and a chocoholic’s dream while the chocolate mousse captured that same cocoa flavor but in a lighter, creamier version. Both the apple crostada and the pumpkin pie were appropriately seasonal, lovely choices for those looking for a non-chocolate dessert. All were tasty and less sweet than typical desserts, perhaps to highlight the intrinsic flavors of the ingredients used.
Every plate at Brasserie Halevi was beautifully prepared, served with a smile and was truly enjoyable. Whether you are looking to throw a party in their downstairs party room, which can accommodate approximately 40 people, to host smaller event in the restaurant itself or are just looking for a pleasant night out, Brasserie Halevi is a place that is definitely worth checking out.
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600 Central Ave, Cedarhurst, NY
Vaad of the Five Towns