Dinner at Lola, the Restaurant (Dallas)
In Dallas for a legal conference, three of us went to Lola for dinner.
The restaurant, as is obvious to anyone who has read these reviews, is in a house somewhere in Dallas (hey, I live in Berkeley -- what do I know from Dallas neighborhoods?). The courtyard, with soft music playing through recessed speakers is welcoming, and the house itself -- with its hardwood floors, subtly painted walls and candlelight -- is warm and inviting. So far, so good!
The menu is a prix fixe arrangement, charged by the number of courses you order -- two courses, $36 (who orders only two courses???); three courses, $43; and four courses, $49 -- with some special selections, such as the seared foie gras, earning a $5 supplement. So far, so good!
I started off with a salad of bitter greens, with a fried egg, pancetta and more, with a light and delicate vinegrette. Delicious. Moved on to the seared foie (served with brioche, cippolini and pancetta), which was truly superb -- delightfully complimented by an excellent glass of 2005 Domaine des Bernadins Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise. For the entre, I opted for the chicken, which I was surprised to find was a quarter (I was expecting a half -- don't know why, exactly, but there you go). That said, it was a delicious chicken.
My wife had the same salad, the sweetbread ravioli, and duck -- which was a bit too rich. And our friend had the butternut squash soup, the foie and the Scottish salmon.
The salmon and the foie were both excellent choices. While the other dishes were delicious and well made, they lacked that certain "spark" that makes the dish -- and ultimately the meal -- truly memorable.
The wine list IS indeed extensive, but there are several bargains on the list -- if you know how and where to look. The bottle of 2000 Mount Eden Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir from the Santa Cruz Mountains was not only quite reasonable in price, but quite extraordinary with our meal!
The service was efficient, proper, yet somewhat cool -- though that could have been the individual waiter, rather than the restaurant itself.
"Would I go back" is always the key question to ask. For me, the answer is "yes" -- I enjoyed our evening there -- but it's a place I could easily forego if someone I knew/respected/trusted came through with a recommendation for a place "you have to try."