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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Lola

Place:  Lola
Location:  2058 East 4th Street, Cleveland, OH Google Maps

Quick Blurb:
One of the best restaurants I have been too. It was exciting to see a menu with dishes that you don’t typically find in Ohio. Great atmosphere and excellent service. The only thing keeping me from going again and again is the price. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s worth it!

Review:

Appearance:
While located on East 4th, it is more of a side street. No cars can drive through the area and there are a few other restaurants around. Nothing stands out too much from the outside, but once in, the décor is wonderful:  Dim lighting, nice long bar to the side, tables situated on two levels and a lower level “party room” and restroom area.

Staff:
We were greeted promptly and politely at the door. We knew we were early for our 8:15 reservations (we arrived at 7:45) and were prepared to have a drink at the bar in the mean time. Instead, they had our table ready and we were seated promptly.
Our server was polite, patient and willing to help out in anyway. Being our first time in the restaurant, he provided us with the recommendations of the masses and then also his own. We started off with a drink and were never pressed to make decisions. We felt comfortable taking our time and this is something I value when dining out.

Meal:

Appetizer:
My wife went for the popular Beef Cheek Perogies, with wild mushrooms and horseradish crème fraiche. I did manage a taste and, while not being a perogie fan (of the actual outside dough), they were delicious. The beef cheek was tender and tasty. I never had horseradish crème fraiche, but I would like to see more of it.
I went for the Crispy Veal Sweatbreads, with fresh chickpeas, pearl onions, bacon and capers. I haven’t seen sweatbreads on the menu in Ohio and was excited to have them. I had never seen a fresh chickpea before and was shocked to see it was green and had a nutty flavour – very different than the canned chickpeas you are used to – SO much better! The applewood bacon was in pieces and cooked well and the addition of capers just topped off the meal for me. I am quite the fan of capers! I would have a hard time not ordering this again the next time we go, if they have it on the menu still. The night we arrived it was brand new to the menu.

Entrée:
My wife got the Scallops with butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, blood orange, bacon and cilantro. Perfectly seared on both sides, the scallops were sweet and tasty! The dish looked beautiful with the orange of the butternut squash, the green of the sprouts and the red blood oranges. The combination of ingredients was full of flavor but also light on the stomach. My wife was a big fan of the scallops and said she’d be hard pressed to order them somewhere else and enjoy them as much!

I went for the Rib Eye with smoked blue cheese and wild mushrooms. This was one of the most flavorful steaks I’ve had. The mushrooms were extremely good and complimented the hearty steak nicely. The blue cheese was a little too subtle and I didn’t taste much of it – but when I did, I enjoyed it a lot.


Desserts:
My wife went with the “Mint Chocolate Chip”:  Peppermint fudge cake, chocolate chip mousse, and spearmint syrup. The taste of peppermint and spearmint was a welcomed change from the typical minty flavor you get everywhere. The fudge and mousse were rich, but not overbearing.

I went with the Mango Parfait:  mango, lime, cashew, cilantro, and Paulina’s banana bread. What an intense dish. The mango was ripe and sweet. The banana bread consisted of slices of banana with carmalized brown sugar on top – similar to a crème brulee. Talk about being unique.

Drinks:
Martini served perfectly – strait up with a twist.
We each had a glass of the Ben Glaetzer shiraz – lighter body than other shiraz’s we’ve had, but just as intense with flavours of cherry and pepper. Mighty tastey.
I had a second with the steak and my wife went with the Sancerre. You don’t seee Sancerre’s on the menu often. She typically goes with Sauvingon Blanc, but I steered her towards the Sancerre. She was very happy with the choice. Light and fruity, but not sweet. It had an aroma that would keep you just smelling over and over again.

The coffee was nice. I take mine black and it wasn’t very strong, but not watery either – a nice mix.

Prices:
It isn’t cheap. The rib eye was the most expensive at $35. Everything else seemed reasonable for the quality. There aren’t many places you can get a combination of ingredients like these. I love how different it was. The dishes stood out on the menu and on the plate. That’s worth the extra cost to me.

Overall Experience:
A terrific restaurant that I think everyone should try at some point. As I just said, the unique combination of ingredients makes it a fun meal. One thing that I would like to point out when going out for two people – there are a few tables that are situated rather close to one another. We were lucky and had our own table next to a wall. I do not like being seated at a two-person table with another couple within two feet of us. I don’t know how we lucked out, but we did and it made a difference – we felt isolated even though we were in the middle of a restaurant.

You’ve got to give this a go if you’re a fan of eating great food!



Lola on Urbanspoon

4 comments:

  1. I had those exact veal sweetbreads last Friday when I had dinner at Lola with some friends. They must have continued to tweak the dish between when you had it and when I did because I don't remember mine coming with the chickpeas. That being said, the dish was absolutely delicious and the sweetbreads were cooked and served perfectly. And of course, knowing that Lola is a Michael Symon restaurant, the bacon was present in almost every dish I ate. Including dessert.

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  2. That's interesting about the chick peas because the waiter mentioned that the chef was excited that he could get fresh chick peas in stock and wanted to use them with a new dish.

    I checked the menu and it still mentions the chickpeas...somewhat of a shame you couldn't try them out because they are SO much better than the ones you get in cans..I honestly was not a chick pea fan until I had them 'fresh'....

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  3. Now that I look back at my photos, I do see something resembling peas ... they must have been the chick peas. It's a shame I didn't realize what they were at the time. I might have spent a bit more time with that flavor than the predominant flavors of the bacon and the sweetbreads.

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  4. That would be them! Shame you weren't able to appreciate the flavour - they are MUCH better than chick peas that I have been accustomed to.

    Where else have you had sweetbreads before? This was the first time I've seen them on the menu in Ohio...

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