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Disapointing/Infuriating Lola dinner in Cleveland

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elizabethmmm May 6, 2007 06:11 PM

On my parental catch up trip home a few weeks ago I suggested we all go out to a nice dinner. I suggested Lola because the chef had been nominated for a James Beard award this year, and because their one vegetarian option sounded tasty. The dinner was going well until the entrees arrived. The vegetarian risotto with butternut squash and tofu came out as a stacked entree: all the ingredients were seperated. This presentation led me to believe each item could be eaten alone. Not so. Neither the tofu nor the Squash had been flavored at all...possibly not even salted! The dish was kind of ok when i finally mushed everything together, but it was still sub par. I complained to my waitress that the dish was not only poorly executed but it seemed as if the chef had not cared at all about my dish. She replied that he was " a meat guy" and had "begrudgingly put a vegetarian dish on the menu"!!!!

Fine, you don't want to cook a vegetarian meal, then don't put it on the menu at all. I have never felt more insulted in a restaurant than i did then. My parents were willing to lay down a few hundred dollars for this dinner, and in return the chef effectively gave me the bird. I guess I wanted to write this as warning. Lola may be a great restaurant for meat eaters (my parents loved their entres of fish and duck), but to have a chef who could be so blatantly rude to his customers is a sign of not good things to come. Restaurants are in the service industry. It's about pleasing people, not making judgements on their eating habits. That chef, by preparing me a careless meal, said to me that he was willing to take my money but didn't want to put any care into the preparation. Shame on Lola.

  1. s
    sweetpoke Sep 27, 2010 11:58 AM

    You know, I really do have to agree. My husband and I went here on our first wedding anniversary. We were SO incredibly excited as dinner is always a big event to us. I am a pastry chef and he is a foodie.

    Dinner was... just okay. I ordered 4 courses and out of those 4 courses, I cannot say I was wowed by anything new. The pierogi was good, the salad was fine, the hanger steak was decent and the dessert...well, it was soggy. I expected so much more out of a James Beard nominee.

    We are getting ready to make the trip to Cleveland again this week for Wedding Anniversary number 3 and are willing to try Cleveland dinner again. We are excited to try to love Cleveland's food scene once again! If not, we will just stay in Columbus!

    1. s
      seekbestfood May 30, 2010 08:15 PM

      I can not agree with you more. Unfortunately, the meat dish is not that great either.
      I was very much looking forward to have a good meal, especially one from iron chef's restaurant. I had beef Cheek Pierogi as appetizer, the taste was horrible, and I was only hoping for better entries. I had pork shank and smoked berkshire pork chop. As the bartender described, the pork shank does just fall out of the bone, but that's the only thing it does. It does NOT have any taste. The smoked berkshire pork has a cheap BBQ taste, that's also only on the surface of the meat. Overall, it is a big big disappointment for the price I paid or for that matter, for any price I would pay

      2 Replies
      1. re: seekbestfood
        i
        Indy 67 Jun 8, 2010 09:24 AM

        This past weekend, my husband ordered both the pierogis and the pork shank that you're complaining about so bitterly. He shared one taste of the pierogis with me and several forkfulls of his generous pork shank. We both thought these dishes were sublime. Your experience is definitely an example of "your mileage may vary."

        Here are some specifics: My husband's pork shank was expertly prepared and intensely flavored. The meat was tender, moist, and the flavor of the braising liquid permeated completely throughout the meat. The thickness of the dough in the pierogis was well-balanced with the amount of filling inside. The beef-cheek filling demonstrated the same expert braising skill. I wouldn't have been happy eating both of those dishes at one meal since I thought there was a certain sameness to them, but I thought the quality and the flavor of each dish were outstanding, and this is from someone who generally doesn't care for braised meat. (My husband adores well-braised meat so he was thrilled at his two-peat meal. He'll always order dishes like Osso Bucco or Braised Lamb Shanks.)

        Towards the end of the meal, we talked with the waiter about Symons' hands-on involvement in his restaurant. The waiter explained that Symons was out of town for filming the night we ate there, but that Symons would be returning the next day to get ready for a champagne tasting meal on Monday. Based on the quality of our experience -- both food and service -- I think Symons has trained his staff well. In his absence, we still had a superb dinner at Lola.

        1. re: Indy 67
          rockandroller1 Jun 8, 2010 11:44 AM

          Great report, Indy. FYI it's Symon, not Symons. And I agree, the beef cheek pierogi is excellent. I have had it several times and always love it.

      2. e
        emmaleeb Jul 23, 2009 05:41 AM

        Lola rules. I'm going there for lunch today, in fact.

        I think there is alot of hype and people basically force themselves to be disappointed. Not just at Lola, but at any restaurant where there is some claim to fame behind the owner/chef. I believe that people become more critical in that light, for better or for worse. But, if the waitress did make that comment, that is just unacceptable and incredibly rude and she deserves to be fired.

        1. l
          Laureninoz Jan 10, 2009 05:52 PM

          We've been there twice recently and the service sucked. They need to work on it.

          1. d
            Dje20 Jan 8, 2009 11:52 AM

            I have to agree that I was VERY disappointed with my meal at Lola in Cleveland. I had heard some good things so I figured I'd give it a try. I got a salad with pecans, gorgonzola, and raisins, and it was mediocre at best. The size really wasn't the issue, but rather the fact that the dressing tasted and looked like plain olive oil. I found this to be a common thread at the table - the restaurant doesn't like to dress up their dishes with flavorful sauces/dressings, so this made the dishes pretty dull. I had the duck for the entree and regret not sending it back. I understand that duck might be better on the rare side, but this duck was hardly even cooked! I had spit out a number of pieces because they were pure raw meat, and the stringy-ness made the extremely raw pieces unchewable. Also, there was hardly any accompaniment to the dish - a few veggies on top - but everything suffered from lack of taste, even the edges of the duck that were actually cooked. I ended up leaving a couple pieces of duck on my plate even though it was expensive and I was still hungry. The lack of taste and the inability to chew the meat made me give up. My fiance had the walleye and that was mediocre as well - the spaetzle accompaniment to that dish was probably the best item I tried of the dishes at the table. Anyway, I gave up after the entrees and didn't try desert. My fiance and I had Cheesecake Factory the night before and were much more pleased with our meal. I would not return to Lola's or recommend it.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Dje20
              uhockey Jan 10, 2009 05:30 PM

              I'd NEVER suggest it was worse than the Cheesecake factory, but I was also very disappointed with everything but the pork and the polenta.

              The bread service, desserts, and over-salting of many of the dishes was poor and the service was garbage. I wrote an extensive review.

            2. e
              ejolsz Dec 3, 2007 05:56 PM

              Just thought I'd share my recent visit over the weekend following thanksgiving. had a wide selection of dishes (i had the pork chop, incredible, someone else the ribeye also great and someone else the trout also good) Standouts of the meal were the pierogi which is really a great dish and the surprise was the apple/pear salad which was simple but came together as much more then the componenents. Always get the chacuterie when at a symon local, excellent as always (lolita usually has more). I wasn't a huge fan of crab gnocci, it was fine but wasn't up to the par of the other dishes or my personal pref maybe? lastly I had the 6am special which is truly fantastic, and yes i guess having bacon in ice cream might give vegetarians the heads up on the place, but sorry that he didn't deliver on the dish.

              9 Replies
              1. re: ejolsz
                h
                HKFanatic Apr 23, 2008 07:32 PM

                I just want to point out Michael Symon's opinon about tofu, "Tofu really has no place in my kitchen" That was lifted straight from his Iron Chef bio when asked what ingredient he avoids.

                1. re: HKFanatic
                  nsxtasy Apr 24, 2008 07:31 AM

                  Hmmm... I was just reading this topic and got most of the way through before realizing that most of it was posted May through July of last year. So I won't belabor the points made, as everyone has probably moved on. I will make two points, though.

                  1. Any place in the world can have a server who makes an unfortunate remark that the diners find offensive. I've seen similar stories posted about some of the finest places in cities everywhere. When this happens, it is almost always a reflection on one individual employee and his/her lack of tact and care in responding to a situation (and yes, that's ultimately the responsibility of the management there). It is not excusable; however, it is also almost always not representative of the restaurant, either. If something really bothers you that much, you really should take it up with a manager on the spot. You can also send an e-mail to the restaurant after the fact. Well-managed restaurants will respond personally and appropriately. I know this from personal experience.

                  2. I ate at Lola during this same time period last year. It was one of the very best meals I had all year, a year in which I dined at some of the very best restaurants in the country, at home in Chicago (Avenues) and out of town (Le Bernardin in New York). The food, the service, the atmosphere - everything at Lola was simply spectacular. I'd love to have some of those veal cheek pierogies! And the mascarpone strawberry shortcake dessert. And...

                  1. re: nsxtasy
                    NancyH Apr 25, 2008 07:29 AM

                    Nsxtasy - have you heard about Michael Symon's double-barreled great news? He's the new host of Dinner Impossible on FoodTV. And, he's opening a new, meat themed restaurant in Detroit to be called Roast.

                    1. re: NancyH
                      s
                      Spynman Jul 13, 2008 12:40 PM

                      It is a real shame that Michael Symon has moved away from his restaurants. We were in Cleveland on a business trip and had lunch at Lola's and dinner the following night at Lolita's. They were both very dissappointing meals, the worse being the seafood pasta at Lolita's that had so much salt that it was uneatable.
                      We eat out so much but I have never been moved to write a blog on any restaurant as much as this one. It could be the fact that there is a false sense of hope in having a great meal by a recognized chef. Our problem is that we based going to these restaurants solely on the fact that Michael Symon has a high profile. Well the truth is he has left the building a while back because any chef would have thrown out the cooks who put out some of the dishes we had.
                      On the positive side the choice of wines are excellent and at least Lola and Lolita's management should be commended for that.

                      Definetly a pass when in Cleveland!

                      1. re: cheeseguysgirl
                        NancyH Jul 14, 2008 11:09 AM

                        I just celebrated my birthday at Lola Friday night. We sat at the Chef's Table and watched the kitchen sling beautiful food all night. Every dish we had was prepared perfectly and service was terrific as always.

                        I blogged the specifics with photos here: http://funplayingwithfood.blogspot.com/2008/07/even-more-fun-playing-with-birthday.html

                        Our party of 6 ordered dishes from every aspect of the menu (pork, beef, lamb, fish). Although Michael Symon wasn't in the house, Executive Chef Derek Clayton and Pastry Chef Cory Barrett were in the house, and Derek ran the line with the same attention to detail as Michael does.

                        I haven't been to Lolita for a couple of months, but the last time I was there, our food was delicious (the pizza crust was a tad overcooked, but the soft shell crab topping made up for it). That visit is documented here: http://funplayingwithfood.blogspot.co...

                        As Cheeseguysgirl said - did you bring your issues to management at the time? I've never known them to be anything but gracious. Perhaps you were just disappointed that you didn't get to meet the "celebrity chef"?

                        The first photo below was my entree Friday night: Lamb Loin Chops, Merguez, Cous Cous, Fava Beans. The second photo is my entree from my last Lolita visit: Pappardelle - Jamison Farm Lamb, English Peas, Mint, Olives, Feta. Both were delicious!

                         
                         
                      2. re: NancyH
                        s
                        Steamers Oct 3, 2010 04:05 AM

                        Detroit? Cleveland? Is he on a mission to hit the worst cities in the U.S. I am guessing he is not sure of his skills and can be guaranteed no competitions in dead cities like those two.

                        1. re: Steamers
                          JanPrimus Oct 3, 2010 08:20 AM

                          Maybe he is just not a douche bag and has not forget where he was from. While Detroit and Cleveland have both seen better days...they both have very robust Culinary history.

                          1. re: JanPrimus
                            b
                            boagman Oct 4, 2010 03:05 AM

                            True. There's a darned good *reason* people in Detroit area are fat. ;)

                            Besides, why go to the same places everyone else has gone? There's something to be said for those willing to pave the way through the wilderness, isn't there? They're usually rewarded with low(er) rents, grateful patrons and host cities, and even more: differently available local food that can be taken advantage of the same day, rather than waiting for shipping.

                            At least in Detroit, Roast seems to be doing *very* well. Don't know why success would be anyone's shame!

                          2. re: Steamers
                            uhockey Oct 5, 2010 03:47 AM

                            Both cities have a deep musical and artistic culture - just because they are "blue collar" does not mean they lack for the arts - why should the culinary arts be any different?

                            I'd additionally note that Cleveland, especially, is an up and coming dining city.

                            I didn't like Lola. I very much liked Roast. Simon is a good chef and decent restauranteur - but like others have said, does NYC really need another restaurant?

                            http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                  2. a
                    AMFM Jul 14, 2007 06:42 PM

                    that said i'm here to join the throngs who note the outstanding dining scene in cleveland. so if you're visiting there are tons of good options besides michael symon. he's wonderful but just because he's the most famous doesn't mean he's the only great chef.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: AMFM
                      s
                      sarapeater Jul 16, 2007 12:10 PM

                      we have time for one dinner and one sunday brunch. in between we're at a wedding. beyond Lola/Lolita, what do you recommend? something that's uniquely Cleveland or something that will knock our socks off

                      1. re: sarapeater
                        NancyH Jul 17, 2007 07:21 AM

                        I do not have a large knowledge of Sunday brunch places, but I have 2 suggestions: 1. fire, on Shaker Square, has Sunday brunch and all of their food is extraordinary. They rely heavily on the farmer's market and it shows. They have a tandoori oven and do wonderful breads with it. 2. Make it lunch on Sunday (after 1pm) and go to Carrie Cerino's in North Royalton. Try the Spaghetti Carbonara (Blue Eggs and house-made guanciale), Norcian Lentils with spicy guanciale, anything with Berkshire Pork, Veal, or pasta, Gnocchi and, if you call in advance and ask, you might be able to score a Blue Egg Ravioli!

                        Dinner choices abound - we are most blessed with fabulous restaurants. In addition to Lola/Lolita, I would recommend Parallax and Fahrenheit (also in Tremont), Light Bistro or Momocho (Ohio City), the abovementioned fire and Carrie Cerino's, Moxie or Red the Steakhouse on the east side, and there are others, depending on which direction and how far you are willing to go from downtown.

                        If you get a chance, go to the Velvet Tango Room in Ohio City for a cocktail and some music!

                        1. re: sarapeater
                          s
                          stuart Jul 17, 2007 11:34 AM

                          Something that will knock your socks off? That's the way a chowhound asks for recommendations! I'm going to go through some of my old posts and tie them to the restaurants' records in the Chowhound places database. You can click below to find some of my previous comments on these restaurants.

                          For brunch, I would go to Lucky's.The menu on their website is out of date but I think it's close enough to give you an idea of what they offer. The only other brunch choice I would suggest would be fire. I believe the menu they have posted online is current. I ate brunch there recently with a large group and everything looked fabulous. But if you want to spread your dining around to more than one restaurant I would recommend dinner at fire and brunch at Lucky's.

                          For contemporary American food with attentive service, fire and Moxie stand head and shoulders above any other restaurant I've been to in Cleveland. They compare well with the best restaurants in other cities. I follow all the local reviewers and have eaten at all the trendiest spots but I've been coming back to fire and Moxie for years. In fact, these two restaurants just keep getting better.

                          If you're looking for a different style of dining then I would recommend:
                          Pacific East - Sushi and Japanese food. They recently added a Malaysian menu. The owners are Malaysian. I've had a half dozen things and they've all been great. It's our only Malaysian restaurant and it's one of our best Asian restaurants. It compares favorably to the Malaysian restaurant that I visited in New York which was supposed to be the best Malaysian restaurant in the city and also one of the best "cheap Asian" restaurants.

                          Shanti's Kitchen - Great Caribbean food. Call to make sure they're done remodeling. Mostly carry out. Only two small tables.

                          El Tango Taqueria - Great Mexican.

                          Siam Cafe - Great Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese. Really. In addition to several great dishes that I recommended in an earlier thread, I'd like to add: charbroiled beef over vermicelli, beef noodle soup with shrimp wonton, ham hock, Siam scallops... The menu goes on for pages. Nothing is bad but much of it is phenomenal.

                          -----
                          Lucky's Cafe
                          777 Starkweather Ave, Cleveland, OH 44113

                          Siam Cafe
                          3951 Saint Clair Ave NE, Cleveland, OH 44114

                          Fire Food & Drink
                          13220 Shaker Square, Cleveland, OH 44120

                          Moxie Restaurant
                          3355 Richmond Road, Beachwood, OH 44122

                          El Tango Taqueria
                          14224 Madison Ave, Lakewood, OH 44107

                          Shanti's Kitchen
                          4818 Turney Rd, Cleveland, OH 44125

                          Pacific East Japanese Rstrnt
                          1763 Coventry Rd, Cleveland Heights, OH 44118

                          1. re: stuart
                            a
                            AMFM Jul 17, 2007 12:19 PM

                            haven't been to Lucky's but have heard good things but I'd second fire for brunch. it's lovely.
                            Dinner is well taken care of above! enjoy. if you need day things the botanical gardens and university circle (home to the museums) are nice - and of course the rock hall is a fun one time stop.

                            1. re: AMFM
                              s
                              sarapeater Jul 17, 2007 12:52 PM

                              thanks to everyone. I'm not really a brunch person but that's what will work with our outbound flight. I will report back...

                            2. re: stuart
                              m
                              mrnyc Jul 18, 2007 12:05 PM

                              stuart as an aside for ny i hope you did not mean PENANG, that is a gringoized chainlet and mediocre. if there is a best malaysian resto in nyc i sure have not found it yet. i like malay food, i like my roti canai and other staples, but the few places i have been to out here are just ok.

                              1. re: mrnyc
                                wleatherette Jul 18, 2007 02:38 PM

                                have you tried skyway on allen? delicious.

                                1. re: wleatherette
                                  chinacat1969 Dec 1, 2007 06:45 PM

                                  Sorry you had a bad experience...I just ate at Lola in September 2007 and could have been happy to make it my last meal. Waiter was awesome, champagne was awesome, food was magnificent, met Mr. Symon (what a qt-pie), dessert (soup and sandwich!) oh-my--goodness....I just wish you could have tasted what I did. Sigh...I will be back.

                        2. s
                          stuart Jul 13, 2007 09:08 AM

                          Since this thread has percolated to the top of the board, I thought I'd take the opportunity to add Lola and Lolita to Chowhound's new Places database.

                          -----
                          Lola
                          2058 East 4th Street, Cleveland, OH 44115

                          Lolita
                          900 Literary Rd, Cleveland, OH 44113

                          1. g
                            gourmanda May 12, 2007 07:42 AM

                            I'm really surprised that even meat-loving Michael Symon would put out such a poor dish, but obviously he did. It's too bad, since a great chef should be able to create great entrees, whether meat-based or not. Probably you should have taken your cue from "their ONE vegetarian option sounded tasty".... Not a promising sign at all. That being said, I'm not surprised by the waitress' reaction. The few times I've eaten at the original Lola or it's current incarnation as Lolita, I was under-whelmed by the wait staff to say the least. Something about the attitude, a weird mix of overly-friendly and haughtiness.

                            I'm sorry you did not enjoy your dinner at Lola, but please take what others have mentioned to heart. Cleveland is filled with many, many wonderful restaurants with fantastic chefs putting out fabulous food (and wonderful servers serving it too!).

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: gourmanda
                              s
                              sarapeater Jul 13, 2007 07:00 AM

                              not to resurrect (or start) an argument but...anyone want to tell me the dif btwn Lola and Lolita? I know the orig Lola became Lolita but can anyone tell me which one I should visit if I only have time for one meal while in the Cleveland area? And why, of course
                              thanks

                              1. re: sarapeater
                                NancyH Jul 13, 2007 08:32 AM

                                You can see both of their menus at their website: www.lolabistro.com

                                Lola is more "high end" in both ambiance and menu. Lolita started as a "small plates" restaurant emphasizing Greek food, but it didn't sell well in Cleveland, so the menu has retooled a couple of times. Chef Matt Harlan runs the Lolita kitchen.

                                The quality and service at both restaurants is superb, but they are very different. Lolita is more casual and lower priced. Portion sizes are great at both places. Both places use Jamison lamb exclusively. Lolita has more of the charcuterie and "working class" food (fried smelts, fried pig ears, mac and cheese) whereas Lola is more upscale (even the Beef Cheek Pierogi is artistic).

                                So - it really depends on your taste and your budget. Lola is now open for lunch, btw. I've been to both and I don't think you can go wrong with either.

                                1. re: NancyH
                                  s
                                  sarapeater Jul 13, 2007 08:54 AM

                                  thanks. that's really helpful

                            2. wleatherette May 8, 2007 07:13 AM

                              the waitress should have handled your complaint better. that said, i think it's a bit hysterical to claim that the chef "gave you the bird" and was "making judgements" on your eating habits. personally, i thought it was a relief to see a vegetarian dish that wasn't a throwaway pasta or a plate composed of side dishes.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: wleatherette
                                e
                                elizabethmmm May 9, 2007 09:40 AM

                                Hysterical, well, perhaps a little. All I meant to convey was that, at one of the few upscale and forward thinking restuarants in Cleveland, I would expect a better experience. I would expect a well prepared meal. My parents both got meals they really enjoyed, and I just wanted the same. The idea of complaining to a waitress is that they can fix your dining issue. They are the emissaries of the kitchen. My waitress, in effect, threw up her arms and said, yeah, this is not a restaurant meant for vegetarians. I found that insulting, not becuase the waitress was candid, but because I felt duped. I was led to believe that every dish coming out the Lola kitchen would be given as much attention as the next and this was just not the case. If you make a concession and put a vegetarian item on the menu, which it seems like Michael Symon did by including the risotto, make it be as spectacular as everything else that comes out of your kitchen. Yes, he didn't put a lame pasta primavera on the menu, but I'd take a well made pasta primavera over a poorly made risotto.

                                1. re: elizabethmmm
                                  l
                                  luckygirl Jul 19, 2007 07:53 AM

                                  elizabeth,

                                  I think that you have expressed the experience and your frustration quite well. I don't see your post as a slam or an over-reaction.

                                  The response you received from your server is unfortunate, actually inexcusable in my book. That is not the response you should have received in any restaurant let alone a place on the level of Lola. I empathize with your felling of having been flipped the bird based on the server's response. I hope that s/he was incorrect in their assertions that basically the kitchen isn't that concerned with what it serves to vegitarean diners. BTW, based on my experiences at Lola and Lolita I have to believe that your server was way off base in her response to you.

                                  I'm sorry that your experience there wasn't better. I have had both very poor and very amazing experiences there. I particularly feel your pain because my very poor experience there was made exponentially worse by the way the server and manager handled the issues. The service problems indicate a lack of training IMO and that is not what I want to have to write off or deal with from a finer dining establishment. Service is an intregal part of the dining experience.

                                  I think we have a good number of forward thinking dining establishments in Cleveland. I hope that on your return trips you will give some of them a try. I also hope that you give Lola a call and let them know about your experience. No, you shouldn't have to be the one waving an issue flag, your server should have handled the situation much differently but since s/he didn't call the restaurant and talk to the management. They really do care.

                              2. c
                                CircusMom May 7, 2007 03:18 PM

                                Elizabeth,

                                I took my In-Laws (one who is a vegetarian) to Lola not too long ago. My mother-in-law had the same problem! She thought it was just her, but now that I have seen your review, she will feel much better.

                                I have been to many wonderful places, and Lola has wonderful food and service for the most part. BUT, in this instance, they failed. It is sad, really.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: CircusMom
                                  c
                                  CircusMom May 7, 2007 07:55 PM

                                  I have to make something very clear, the portions of every dinner I have had at Lola were more than fine. The portion was not the problem with my mother-in-laws meal (and I don't think Elizabeth mentioned a problem with portion size, either). It isn't really coincidence that more than one person had the same problem with the same dish at the same restaurant. It is just a problem with the dish itself.

                                  I will rave about other dishes cooked at Lola, because they are wonderful. That doesn't discount the dish that isn't as well constructed, that just so happens to be a vegetarian dish. Everyone has their own opinions, and I just wanted to chime in to let Elizabeth know she isn't the only one that was less than satisfied with the dish.

                                2. NancyH May 7, 2007 09:29 AM

                                  I am sorry, Elizabeth, but I cannot imagine any Chef in Lola's kitchen not caring about your food. I have been there three times since they re-opened downtown, and I have sat at the Chef's Table, where I and my companions watching the kitchen throughout our dinner - you can see the passion everyone back there puts into the food. We could even see the pain on one chef's face when a steak came back "too rare" and he had to fire it longer! We saw the care that went into everything, from presentation to service.

                                  How long ago was this incident (you indicate "weeks")? You say you have never been so insulted in a restaurant as you were then - but did you ask to speak to a manager when this happened? Yes - the server should have gotten the manager if you weren't happy, but again, having seen the management at Lola in action, I am sure that, had you asked for the manager, they would have offered to get you something else and/or take the item off of your check.

                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: NancyH
                                    7
                                    7senses May 7, 2007 09:50 AM

                                    This restaurant is unfortunately the best Cleveland has to offer?. The portions are very small, You must ask for the Entres to be explained or you will be surprised, and not in a good way. . Go to Sans Souici or Baricelli Inn for fool proof Nirvana

                                    1. re: 7senses
                                      NancyH May 7, 2007 12:53 PM

                                      At the risk of sounding like the Lola cheerleader (and I have no stake in this place other than that I enjoy it!) - I must disagree with 7senses. I have found the portions at Lola to be very reasonable in size, as demonstrated by my photos at http://nancyheller.evite.shutterfly.c... and the 3 attached photos. Even though Lola is using premium ingredients like Jamison Lamb, Curly Tail Farm Pork and local produce, we have even had leftovers (that hangar steak in one of the photos was a marvelous lunch the next day - and what part of "Beef Hanger Steak" on the menu needs to be explained?)! But I do not go to a restaurant like Lola expecting a bag of leftovers - I expect portions to be sized so that I can enjoy appetizer, entree, side or salad, and maybe a bite of dessert, without being stuffed.

                                      Lola is a restaurant that is designed for Chowhounds - sophisticated ingredients in sophisticated preparations at fair prices, with the option to eat more "ordinary" if you wish. It bothers me to see it bashed so anonymously here when it does not deserve it.

                                      I can't speak to Sans Souci because I've never been there. I will agree with 7senses that Baricelli Inn is also very good, though I don't think their portion sizes differ from those at Lola. Both Lola and Baricelli are wonderful dining destinations in Cleveland.

                                      I think Lola is one of Cleveland's best restaurants, based on the food, pricing and service. Each time I've been there, every item from appetizer to dessert has come in a serving large enough to share among at least 4 people. And Lola's desserts are absolutely heavenly - I could go there just to eat a dinner of dessets!

                                      Nancy Heller, Cleveland Ohio

                                       
                                       
                                       
                                      1. re: NancyH
                                        e
                                        elizabethmmm May 9, 2007 11:10 AM

                                        Dear Nancy,
                                        I understand you being bothered by my post. Let me explain. I live in DC and I frequent a classic neapolitan pizza place called 2 Amys. I often feel that I am the chearleader for 2 amys when on chowhound. However, I do recognize the place has some faults. For one, their fried risotto balls are dry. A few days ago I witnessed a couple ordering the risotto balls and the waiter making the informed suggestion that the table also get an order of marinara, given that the balls can tend to be dry. I love this restaurant but it is not perfect. However, what I always get from the place is a genuine sense that care has been put into my meal. Yes, it is, all totalled, usually a 30 dollar meal, rather than the hundred dollar one I got at Lola, but it is not the price that I value so much as the quality and the feeling that I am a customer that the restaurant values.

                                        You, as a Lola fan, should be more distrubed than I with my reason for complaint. I'm freely willing to admit that a restaurant can have an off day or an off service or just one off meal, and maybe I just got unlucky. I find it entirely possible that the risotto is usually a good dish and that on just one night something went wrong. I truly hope, for the sake of cleveland chowhounds, that this was the case. Maybe Lola was understaffed or they were training someone new or they had some mad rush right when I ordered. I understand, being in the food business myself, that things happen in a restaurant and mistakes get made. A restaurant kitchen is a hot, cramped, intense place to work. I think it is entirely acceptable for a kitchen to send out a few flops every night, simply because people are not perfect. What I do not think is ok is having a customer's complaint be dismissed. However petty, however particular, a complaint indicates that the customer is unhappy in some way, and the job of a good restaurant is to address the problem. Replace the meal. Get a different meal. Comp the meal. A free drink. Something. Something to make it clear that the restaurant wanted to do its job and provide a pleasurable experience to the customer. This is where Lola failed. My waitress, while sympathetic, did nothing to fix the situation. If a manager was involved in any way, I had no knowledge. I guess, in the end, what really got me was that my not great dish ruined the meal for my parents also because of how my complaint was dealt with, or rather, ignored.

                                        It is insulting to be treated as if you know nothing about, or are insignificant to, a restaurant. That is my complaint with Lola. You are lucky to have found a restaurant you love in a city with not too many options. In the spirt of Chowhound, I posted my true account of my experience at Lola, definetely with the intent to express my shocked displeasure, but also to make others aware that they could get this sort of indiferent treatment at Lola. Or they could, in your experience, get great treatment and have a great experience. This forum is about sharing what is thought, known, tasted, felt, smelled, experienced at all with food ad restaurants. You may not like hearing this news about Lola, but it is true and so Lola does deserve this one criticism.

                                        P.S. My father and I shared the "Rainy day in Cleveland" and it was only ok.

                                        1. re: elizabethmmm
                                          wleatherette May 9, 2007 11:54 AM

                                          not many options? i've always considered to cleveland to be a great town for eating, and i actually look forward to visiting.

                                          1. re: elizabethmmm
                                            m
                                            mrnyc May 9, 2007 02:58 PM

                                            sorry you didn't enjoy your food. the waiter banter i just shrug off. for you i'll say this story. i once ordered a drink at the old LOLA and the waitstaff person told me she never heard of the drink and there was no such thing. instead of getting insulted, like i think i mildly felt inside, well not really i just thought it was very amateurish and unprofessional to argue with a customer like that, but instead of getting mad i just laughed and asked her to talk with the bartender and let me know. well, what do you think happened then? my negroni came -- made perfectly - lol ( i was on a kick of having one of those before dinner for awhile)!

                                            so i am surprized you didnt take your complaint to management. speaking up really does work at LOLA. doesnt make up for the remarks or the food, but really your bugaboo about the food is by far the bigger issue to me than service (i really don't care about service that much myself, i forgive a lot, but thats just me).

                                            one other thing, hold on there with your pricing. your $30 meal at your dc place was you. your $100 dollar meal at LOLA was you and your 'rents. at least i sure hope you didn't pay $100 for a bowl of rissotto w/o us hearing about the rarest of truffles or at least a nice bottle of wine!

                                            1. re: mrnyc
                                              e
                                              elizabethmmm May 10, 2007 07:57 AM

                                              No no, it was about 300 for three of us...Appetizer, entree, dessert, coffee, a nice bottle of wine, and tip.

                                              1. re: mrnyc
                                                d
                                                DistrictSelectman May 13, 2007 01:44 PM

                                                FYI, 2 Amys is a pizza joint; I used to live across the street from it. I never, ever, spent $30 in there.

                                          2. re: 7senses
                                            wleatherette May 7, 2007 02:36 PM

                                            are you kidding, 7senses? the portions at lola are enormous.

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