Lola review (Cleveland)
Had a wonderful dinner at Lola last week with 5 friends. I think everyone was pleased with what they got and it was a great dinner overall.
As it was my 2nd visit, so I wanted to try some things I hadn't tried previously. I still don’t feel I've tried everything I want to, good thing I'm going back again soon.
We were given the house amuse bouche of smoked salmon "parfait" – small shot type glass of salmon mousse topped with horseradish crème fraiche – I could taste shallot and chive as well - even though I don't like salmon, this is a very cute, tasty amuse and I enjoy eating it for something different.
I started with the Bibb salad – hydroponic Bibb lettuce in a garlic-cream dressing with small croutons and shaved parm. Like a light version of a Caesar, this was a tasty, light starter. Other starters at the table included the foie gras sausage with cheddar-beer soup shooter, the charcuterie of the day, which was a lamb sausage, the onion soup, which was served in a crock with blue-cheese biscuits on the side, and the walleye croquettes.
I wanted a lighter/smaller total meal, so I ordered the beef cheek pierogi app as my entrée. It was exactly enough food for me – two small sour cream-dough pillows filled with wonderfully tender and flavorful beef cheek, topped with wild mushrooms and a light cream sauce. Two people ordered the ribeye steak which looked to be a hearty, lean cut (at least 8 oz), was done to the proper temp and topped in a savory brown sauce. The overall impression of the steak was so positive that it was said by 2 people at the table that they liked that steak better than what they've gotten at "Red" in Beachwood, which is supposed to be the best steakhouse in town, so that's a great endorsement. The steak was presented on it's own plate and accompanied by a side of the famous "Lola fries" – fresh, small-cut pomme frites dusted with sea salt & rosemary and served in paper inside a silver soda fountain cup. The fries were so plentiful they were enjoyed by the whole table. One friend ordered the lamb shank entrée which appeared to be cooked to fall-off-the-bone goodness and topped with a sprinkling of feta, and another got the halibut, which was served with roasted tomatoes, fennel and olive tapenade. Another adventurous diner got the squab which was pronounced delicious and was topped by a juicy slab of foie which was shared with the table, (yay, friends!).
Many of us saved room for dessert. I ordered the "Dark Day in Cleveland," a small scoop of Guiness-stout infused ice cream next to a small, rich chocolate cake with a molten center (another diner got the same but with a plain vanilla ice cream). Two others got the "6am Special;" 2 small pieces of french toast topped with a scoop of maple-bacon ice cream, one of Cory's best desserts in my opinion. One friend enjoyed the sliced pear dessert which was prepared in a brandy sauce with gorgonzola and walnut cake with a side of pear sherbet.
All in all, a wonderful time was had by everyone and we all enjoyed having a great meal in such a beautiful setting. Everyone thought the restaurant was just beautiful and we found the staff to be friendly, well-informed and attentive.
Thanks so much for such a detailed post about your experience! I am eager to get back there but Lolita is definately still my fave.
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our meal was outstanding. starters: bibb salad, beef cheek pierogies, and walleye croquettes - all delicious. the pierogies were so flavorful, and the croquettes were served on a pool of thick corn chowder that complemented perfectly.
mains: ribeye, lamb shank, and sturgeon (served with white beans, escarole, and lamb sausage). i was really torn between the squab and the sturgeon, but the latter won out as i rarely see it on menus (unless it's smoked) and had fond memories of a similar dish at lola in tremont. again, everything was fantastic. in the minor annoyances department, the ribeye which had been ordered medium-rare arrived blue (as in totally raw and cool save for the beautiful char), but it was replaced as quickly possible and our very sweet waitress comped our after dinner coffees as a result. we weren't expecting anything, so that was a nice touch.
unfortunately, 3 apps and 3 mains meant that we were too stuffed to make any headway on the dessert menu. we split the turtle sundae, served with cubed chocolate cake and salted pecans - a perfect sweet-salty indulgence. this is what the chocolate-caramel bread pudding at blue hill should be.
i agree with rockandroller that the space itself is impressive. they did a beautiful job with the design, though i think they've got a bit of a noise issue. the thing that surprised me was the atmosphere itself. perhaps it was because we were there on a friday night, but the crowd was very loud and seemed very liquor-oriented. i spent the latter half of the meal trying to ignore the woman seated directly behind me, who was cackling and frequently peppering her loud remarks with variations on the classic four-letter words. lest i sound like a bluestocking, i should mention that i swear like a fishwife much more often than is appropriate (or probably necessary) - but not when i'm out for a spend-y meal. although i'm going to go back for the xmas holidays, it's going to be on a weeknight. this is an amazing restaurant, and i want to be able to enjoy the experience to the fullest.
If you enjoyed Lola you may be interested in Michael Ruhlman's excellent book, "The Soul of a Chef," which discusses the original restaurant and the chef/owner as one of the main topics.
I was there Thursday night and we had a perfect dinner... we couldn't stop tasting each other's food, the service was efficient and friendly, and I can't stop thinking about the next time I will get to go back!
I am not normally a dessert person, but we were having so much fun that we decided to take a look at what was offered, everything was so pretty you felt guilty eating it... until you took a bite!