40 W 40th St, New York, NY | Directions 1001840.752894 -73.983446
Neighborhoods: Midtown, Midtown South Central
The name means "place of joy" in Finnish, and the quirky, exotic dishes at this lush hotel restaurant create just that. – The Scene
Set at the back of the Bryant Park Hotel, Ilo is a spare-no-expense, Kubrickesque place, notable if only for the vacuum-packed thrill of staircases walled entirely in pungent red leather. Servers work with obvious pride; they know this is someplace special.
Rick Laakkonen cooks impossibly lush food, deep in arresting textures and spiked with oddball exotics. Sea urchin, percebes and wakame form a pleasing bit of aquatic weirdness called "The Tidal Pool," a dish with dimensions of crunch normally found only in Chinese restaurants. Smoother consistencies prevail in gorgeous entrees like pan-roasted guinea hen with pureed cauliflower and rack of lamb with supple artichokes. Prices are high, but they're in line with the quality of the offerings.
No "ouches" for us!! – Great restaurant, great feeling, great service.
This is a fun, very professional and upscale restaurant.
Ouch. Make sure someone else is paying! – Food was good, if a little over-complex in the conceit of some of the dishes. Ambitious chef striving to differentiate himsel? In this case the result is acceptable quality output from the kitchen, though some of the dishes are too fussy, trying a little too hard. Never mind, points for originality. The main issue here is value, or rather, lack of it. $150 a head is too steep for what we got. My only thought was the restaurant needs to cover a huge rent bill from Bryant park hotel so robs customers to cover it. The staff hassled us like crazy to pay the bill - looking bored and as if we were inconveniencing them. Our group payed two grand for dinner and the staff showers us in attitude. No thanks. My advice - stay away unless you want to overpay and get rude service into the 'bargain'.
Excellent – I am very picky when it comes to food and wine. I have to say that this was simply one of the best, scrumptious, most delicious dinners I have had in a while. Starting with sushimi tuna and salmon tartare, continuing with unbelievably and perfectly made trout in asparagus creamy sauce (divine, melting) and ending with so very tasty chocolate desert and plate of fresh fruit (my date and I had to share our deserts, it was simply irresistable) -- my experience was delightful, and I am definitely coming back for me.
Wine although can't recall a name however $175 a bottle tastes like honey (white) -- PERFECT -- thank you to the server who has recommended it.
TWO THUMBS UP
UNDERvalued! – For these prices, you have got to be kidding me! The environment and ambience, while nice enough, is not deserving of what they're charging. The service was only OK and the hostess was ambivalent, and the food was less than worth it. When you're asking in the upper-20s to mid-30s for an entree (and this was lunch!) and six bucks for an iced tea, you'd better have every facet of the experience nailed, and ILO misses the mark on most of them. Sorry, but for the money, would never go back.
Great Waitstaff – Everybody we encountered was helpful and friendly, no condescension here. We had a great, romantic dinner which was filling and enjoyable. I definitely appreciated the wines "by the measure" allowing you to have a smaller amount of wine and sample more than one if you wanted. The portions were surprisingly generous combined with incredible attention to the details. The Chocolate Tasting was divine.
Ilo-ved it – Really a wonderful dining experience. The menu is well-organized and filled with interesting and delicious choices. The staff was extremely friendly and attentive without being obsequious. And how often do you find a waiter who actually knows what he is talking about when describing all the dishes on the menu AND the evening's cheese selections? My only negative comment is that the attractive dining room is open to the lounge in front, making it somewhat loud; still, a very small minus to a restaurant that is a huge plus.
good gateau – i liked this restaurant. i went during the past holiday season. the octopus with pastina was very tasty. the venison i got was average, the sauce seemed to overpower it and i was hoping to get a bigger portion. dessert was surprisingly good. my date loved her chocolate sampler and i loved my gateau. very very delicious. service was excellent and helpful, they have wines that won't eat your wallet. i would go again. classy chic atmosphere. a little pricey but a nice special occasion restaurant.
Trying but not working – Laakkonen's fusion isn't working for me. I went for lunch and came back disappointed. Foie gras terrine was nothing different from eating foie gras alone. White asparagas with raspberry-vinegarette was pretty good. Not sweet and actually rich!!! The cod cake was good but nothing special. I had hanger steak for entre but it was horrible. The meat was over-cooked and too spicy, like mexican food, taking away the taste of beef. The seasoning might be really good for chicken!! Crepe was okay, and lobster salad was expected. Dessert was interesting, light. Good but not great-no surprises.
Bones in my seafood. – Very cool Hotel.
The jasmine rice was really good. I was enjoying the food until I ate the Red Snapper and swallowed a few bones. Suggestion: Ask them to thoroughly de-bone your seafood.
The dinner crowd was on the old/stuffy side.
I would go back just to have drinks at the bar.
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