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Lola & Lolita (Cleveland) Reviews & Discussion


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Great review & pix, Edsel.  How many people were there?  Was it a lively crowd?

I think it was about forty guests, plus lots of Lola/Lolita folks. The upstairs is pretty cozy, so we had quite a crowd.

I'm guessing that it was maybe two-thirds Slow Food / one-third Food Forum, but I didn't know everyone who was there. And yes, it was a lively crowd! :biggrin:

I see that stuart_s has posted some pictures on his flickr page.

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Edsel - I wish I could say "fear not, I am here to save you" - unfortunately, I didn't do much better with the first dessert course! I don't have much to add to Edsel's descriptions - the food, wine and company was simply fabulous!

This is my take on the first course, which I think was my favorite (and Matt says it is on the regular Lolita menu!) - Heritage Pork Belly prepped and fried such that the pork fat melted in the mouth like Belgian chocolate, while the flesh gently "crunched" together with a lite nutty crunch from the pistachios; the beets were almost secondary (I said almost :biggrin: ) but packed huge flavor in little bitty veggies:


The honey-glazed scallop became even more delicous when I dipped and swirled each bite in the simple honey sauce adorning the plate:


I marveled at how they managed to serve 43 people house made raviolis all cooked to perfect al dente texture. The rabbit filling was interesting and the brown butter mated perfectly with the honey to finish the dish:


The pork loin course came from local farmer Ed Snavely. I've had his bacon before, but not other cuts - wow! I gave my husband permission to make the traditional (for his family) pork loin with sauerkraut for New Year's Day - but only if he gets the pork from Snavely!


Alas, the "white on white" overwhelmed my limited photographic skills on the next course:


Finally, even though Cory wasn't in the house, Edsel and I commented on how his signature ran through the final dessert course - the "cream goat cheese" - which was this close to ice cream -- ended the meal perfectly.


The emphasis was not only on Lucy's Ohio Honey (www.ohiohoney.com), but locally produced or sourced ingredients. A wonderful evening, indeed - thank your to Matt, Michael, Liz, Cory and everyone else who helped to make it happen.

"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" 

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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Another EGulleteer had the marvelous Lamb Edsel mentioned - a huge serving of perfectly prepared meat


And - lest anyone doubt the quality of the kitchen and staff behind Michael & Liz - they were not in the house last night, but if you weren't sitting in the kitchen, you wouldn't know it - everything from food to service was executed perfectly.

:biggrin: That other eGulleteer would be me -- the lamb shank was absolutely delicious. Fall off the bone, it was so tender. It was served with a lamb jus, a roasted eggplant ragout and some creamy goat cheese. The goat cheese did a great job of bridging the richness from the lamb shank and the acidity from the ragout.

I was also the one who ordered the roasted beet salad ... it was absolutely delicious. There were two types of beets in the salad, and while they were both sweet and delicious (and decidedly un-beet-like), one was like eating candy, it was that sweet from the roasting process. It was served with more goat cheese and some walnuts.

I'm also looking forward to finally trying Lolita this Friday as well. There are 8 of us going, and we are all looking forward to trying the brand new menu. Hopefully we can get some fantastic shots of the new menu and put them up for others to see.

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Lolita switched to a new menu this week, so of course we had to check it out.

The "small plates" section is gone, but some of the favorites (like the smelts) have been moved to a "Sides and Snacks" selection. Several of the appetizers are new, including a sensational smoked / cured seafood board. We also tried the "naked ravioli" (gnudi), shrimp, and sweetbreads. The shrimp had a nice porky flavor (I think it was guanciale), and the sweetbreads were served with a delicious reduction sauce. We drank an Alsatian rosé cremant with the apps.

I had gnocchi with a highly seasoned bolognese sauce. Others had a fresh pasta dish, seared scallops, and a "Fred Flintstone" steak. Wines were an Italian red (Valpolicella?) from the Veneto and an Oregon Pinot. One was complex and tannic, the other light and acidic. The wine list has been expanded. Previously all were from the Mediterranean, but there are now California and Oregon wines as well. They still have a very extensive selection of wines by the glass, which is great when dining solo or when people have divergent tastes. The member of our party who doesn't like red wine simply ordered a glass of Chardonnay instead, so everyone was happy. :smile:

The "small plate" desserts have been replaced by somewhat larger portions. My memory of what we had is a bit fuzzy :blink: but I recall that there was a delicious stewed apple dish, a créme brullée, and chocolate mousse. I suspect that they have decided to move to a more familiar palette for the desserts at Lolita, leaving the more daring stuff for Lola downtown. I still like the "small plate" idea , but they've got to go with what the (majority of) customers want.

We didn't bother with pictures of the food. You've probably seen enough of our fine photography. :wink: I did have to snap a picture from the street, showing a nice Tremont touch of seasonal decoration. (The actual Christmas Story House is in Tremont).


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  • 2 months later...

I see lola's and Lolitas website is up and runnning. Nice job by Micheal, Liz and Doug The site is easy to navigate and gives you all the info you need. Good pics as well. Can't wait to back to Cleveland and see the changes at Lolita as well as the new Lolas Nice job as usual!

lolabistro.com Sorry I don't know how to give a direct link :huh:

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  • 2 weeks later...

I attended a dinner at Lola last night celebrating a friend's birthday. The organizer of the dinner arranged with Lola's FOH manager Doug P. to offer us a prix-fixe menu with two choices for each course.

Slow Roasted Beets

Lake Erie Goat Cheese,

Arugula, Honey, Walnuts


This is somewhat reminiscent of the dish served at Lolita for the Ohio Honey dinner (but without those totally awesome pork croutons). Slow roasting really brings out the natural sweetness of the beets.


Smoked Lobster Salad

Red Pepper, Cliantro, Lime, Papaya


This was split into two side-by-side presentations. Lobster medallions on a papaya puree and a sort of seviche-like preparation of claw meat with zippy pepper-lime-cilantro seasoning. There was also something crunchy (jicama?) in the latter. Both were wonderful, and the pairing worked really well.

Foie Gras Sausage

Beer & Cheddar Soup, Turnip Kraut, Brioche


This is a terrific treatment of one of the standard "luxe" ingredients. It's unmistakably foie gras, but serving it as a sausage gives it a fun twist. Sausage, kraut, mustard and bread. Remind you of something? :biggrin:



Butternut Squash, Braised Oxtail, Barley


One of the reasons to dine in a really great restaurant is to enjoy scallops done right. Big, gorgeous, plump scallops seared to caramelized perfection on the outside, moist and tender inside. The accompaniments heightened the enjoyment, but seriously you could just plop one of these suckers naked and unadorned on a plate and I'd be happy. :wub:

Striped Bass

Jowl Bacon, Spaetzle, Brussels Sprout Leaves


Everyone who had this dish raved about the spaetzle. The fish was good but might have been cooked just a wee bit past the optimal point. The spaetzle-bacon-sprouts combo was perfect, and really could stand on its own without the bass.


Venison Loin

Parsnips, Apple, Pomegranite


The venison was tender and not a bit gamey. I think the crisp, sweet julienne of parsnip made this dish.

"6 A.M. Special"

French Toast, Maple-Bacon Ice Cream, Caramelized Apple


Of all of the desserts that Cory Barrett has done in Cleveland, this one has drawn the most comment. I think it's the novelty factor. Yes, you can taste the bacon. And yes, it really is a yummy dessert. :laugh:


Pear-Ginger Float

Pear Sorbet, Ginger - Lime Soda


Little bits of candied ginger give this a spicy kick. I've never had a dessert at Lola or Lolita that I didn't enjoy. Add this one to the list. The sugar cookies are a nice touch.

Many thanks to Diane to organizing this party, and to the staff of Lola for making it such an enjoyable evening. And Happy Birthday Beth!

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Happy Birthday Beth! Wish I could have been there for the party as well as the meal!

How often does the menu change? Do you think that bacon ice cream will still be there in July?

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"


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How often does the menu change? Do you think that bacon ice cream will still be there in July?   

Hi Kris! I think that the menu at Lola changes a bit more slowly than the one at Lolita (no hope of keeping up with that one! :wacko: ).

The "6 A.M. Special" dessert was on the menu even before Lola opened. Ruhlman had it at the friends-and-family pre-opening dinner. I think it's likely that it will still be around by the time you're back in town. Maybe Cory will see this and comment.

Whatever the menu is when you are here, I'm sure the desserts will be great!

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Hi Edsel,

Thanks for taking those wonderful pictures! Everything was perfect for my Birthday. The food at Lola was delicious, the service was top notch, and I was so happy to be with all my friends. The night was so special to me, and it turned out to be one of the best nights of my life. Thank you Edsel, and to everyone else who joined us, for sharing it with me!

Kris, thanks for the birthday wish!


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About the 6a.m. dessert... i don't see it coming off the menu any time soon. The dessert menu can change at anytime, and often does. In fact a new one is on special right now and might go on menu next week. The bacon ice cream thing seems to be a favorite of many, and it isn't seasonal in any way, so i think it will be there until we or the diners get tired of it.... but it's bacon, who gets tired of that?

Cory Barrett

Pastry Chef

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Wow, this sounds terrific. I live in WA state now, but am from NE Ohio and will be returning for a visit this summer, how early do we need to make a reservation? And though this may be off-thread, what is the Heartland Celebration? Where and when? Does anybody know if Johnny's Room 24 is still open (I think it was in Mentor)? Ohioans love great food, I can hardly wait. Thanks in advance for the info. :smile:

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I took some business colleagues to Lola for dinner last night before the Cavs game. Everyone loved what they had. I decided to try a couple of new things as I've tried just about everything I want to try at this point, so I got the fresh bacon & poached egg app and the squab entree. I asked about the squab as I was worried it would have a lot of little bones and the server said it only had 2 bones (true) and that it was kind of like duck breast, which I love.

The bacon/egg was innovative as heck and lovely, though I like an egg done more than over easy but that's splitting hairs. The bacon was WONDERFUL and nobody at my table had ever seen fresh bacon before, and the frisee with it was a great, crunchy compliment. However the squab was really surprising. It was very, very rare, like really, really rare red meat, almost blue in the middle. Kind of like seared tuna, which I don't like. I'm not into rare stuff and have only recently gotten my amateur palate to the point that I actually like "medium" steak instead of mid-well, so this was quite a surprise. I have to admit I was squeamish about eating bird that's prepared at such a rare temp, and I couldn't finish my entree. The texture was kind of weird since it was so rare. Other than it being so rare I did like the taste and everything with it was great (what's not to love with a big slice of foie?) but I probably wouldn't get it again. Just wanted to throw that out there for people considering this dish so nobody else is surprised. Or maybe it's just me. I am an Ohioan, after all. :)

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And though this may be off-thread, what is the Heartland Celebration?  Where and when?

The Heartland Gathering is a (roughly) annual gathering of Heartland eGulleteers. At last year's gathering in Ann Arbor, the Cleveland crew expressed some interest in hosting the next event, and we're all waiting breathlessly for an announcement of the details. :wink:

Tammy's Tastings

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And though this may be off-thread, what is the Heartland Celebration?  Where and when?

The Heartland Gathering is a (roughly) annual gathering of Heartland eGulleteers. At last year's gathering in Ann Arbor, the Cleveland crew expressed some interest in hosting the next event, and we're all waiting breathlessly for an announcement of the details. :wink:

Laurie B and I are plotting on this - a new thread will be started with information on the 2007 Heartland Gathering very shortly!

"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" 

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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  • 1 month later...

4 of us joined White Lotus, who is visiting Cleveland this week, for a wonderful dinner at Lolita. Let me start by complimenting the service we received. Unfortunately for us EGullet-types, Cleveland did not "get" the wonderful ethnic-small plate concept that Lolita did last year, so Lolita was forced to make some menu changes. Nevertheless, they were happy to accomodate our desire to maximize the number of tastes by ordering everything for sharing.

We started with an assortment of salumi, which is now listed under the "Share Plates" section of the menu. Everything except the proscuitto is made in-house - and it was all fabulous! The salumi's were plated with crostini, pickled fennel and a fruit relish that contrasted sweet with mustard seed! I am relying on White Lotus - who took copious notes as the items were explained to us - to identify the various items:


I think this was lamb salumi (made from Jamison Lamb - oh my!):


I believe this was duck salumi - sliced so thin you can see the board through it!


This was falling apart-good!


I believe that this was fennel:


Again - a salumi sliced board-viewing thin and delciously delicate:


The relish:


My own personal summary, if you will:


A new section on the menu is entitled "Dips" - and there are four to choose from. We opted to sample three (the Roasted Pepper, Feta & Olives will have to wait for another visit):


Smoked Eggplant:


White Bean & Anchovie:


I found the Anchoive flavor a little strong for my taste, but the others loved it!

This was my favorite - Almond & Garlic:


The dips were served with warm, fresh pita bread:


Next, we moved to the "Starters" (and one "Sides and Snacks") - and our server happily brought us fresh plates and silverware so we could share!

White Lotus did the honor of breaking up the fresh poached egg atop our Warm Spinach Salad with Bacon and Mushrooms:


While White Lotus tossed the salad, we passed around the Crispy Pig Ears and the Crunchy Pickled Vegetables served with them. No jokes about silk purses here - these pig ears were divine!



Our last Starter was also outstanding - Grilled Octopus Salad with Red Pepper, Garlic and Almonds:


I hope Edsel got a better photo of the Octopus - I was amazed at how good it was - I'd never before encountered octupus that wasn't too chewy to be palatable - this octopus melted in the mouth and explained why some people love octopus so much! The octopus pieces are the black on the outside-white on the inside cylindrical-looking things. The bitter greens in the salad offset the caramelized octopus and the sweet almonds to perfection and the dressing brought it all gently together. Yum.

Up to this point, we had been talking as if all five of us would order an entree (or in one case, a starter to act as an entree). Thankfully, our server had patiently let us order each course as we went. Since we were starting to feel full (and we had to save room for some of Cory's desserts), we decided to order three entrees and share them. The choices, and the quantity, turned out to be perfect!

Chef Matt had mentioned to us earlier that the Tea Hills Crispy Chicken (plated with grilled cherry tomatoes, cipollini onions, and pancetta vinagrette) was outstanding, a surprise because "who gets excited about chicken"? We took him up on it, and were very glad that we did!


Someone who was there - help me out - was that a bed of polenta the dish was served on? It was "corny" "creamy" and perfect with the other ingredients.

White Lotus expressed a preference for pork products, so we got the Gnocchi Bolognese - tender puffs of goodness surrounded by braised pork, guanciale and veal, and topped with tomato and cheese - a touch of heaven on a plate:


Last, but in no way least: Jamison Lamb Steak, with Arugula Salad, peppers, feta and Fava:


We couldn't quite finish it all, but we were determined to have room for dessert! And it was so worth it!

I had never before had Cory's Warm Olive Oil Cake, with raspberry puree and cheese on top - it was differently wonderful:


But sometimes, the simplest things are the most extraordinary. Bearing witness to this theory - sliced strawberries in a pool of balsamic vinegar, speckled with fesh mint, with a dollop of strawberry sorbet and a crown of cream - the cookies were almost unncessary, until they were tasted with the vinegar soaked into them. I do believe that someone licked this plate!


It was our pleasure to show off some of Cleveland's best to a visting E-Gulleteer! Thank you to Michael, Matt and everyone at Lolita for helping us to enjoy a night to remember!

"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" 

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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I was a huge fan of the small plates but the new menu looks fantastic. I really want to try that octopus salad!

I have a feeling I am going to spending a lot of money on food this summer... :biggrin:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"


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Two oopsies:

First - the Olive Oil Cake - that is not Raspberry, it is Rhubarb. It is still very tasty!

More important - I forgot to mention that White Lotus does not drink alcohol, and she doesn't care for pop. She asked Lolita to make her lemonade - and they put it together for her lickety-split (sorry we didn't take a photo of it - it looked gorgeous). She commented that it was perfect!

"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" 

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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  • 2 months later...

We managed to dodge the nasty thunderstorms to make it to Lolita this evening. The place was already packed at six o'clock. Stormy weather won't keep us from enjoying a good night out. :biggrin:

The pig roast lived up to my expectations. Tonight it was served with onion rings, Swiss chard (from the garden behind the restaurant), and a demi-glace made from pork bones. The meat was smokey and tender, and there was plenty of crisp skin as well. I wish I could make it to Lolita every Tuesday to see what Matt does with the pig roast next. :wub:

Michael and Liz Symon were in the house tonight - Michael just returned from his "secret mission" he can't talk about. :raz: We had a great chat with Matty before the kitchen got revved up for the evening, and with Michael and Liz after dinner. Lolita is such a cool place.

A couple of snapshots of dinner:

various apps - smoked seafood board, three yummy dips, crab "tater tots"


The pig roast, Swiss chard, and onion rings:


The lights had been dimmed by the time I got to dessert, a lemon semifreddo with fresh berries and basil syrup, so no picture of that. The basil flavor is wonderful, and the berries are perfect this time of year...

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Fierce thunderstorms and three inches of rain could not stop either our intrepid band of diners from traveling to Lolita, or Chef Matt from roasting his pig!

Here is the pig roaster, which filled the sidewalk in front of Lolita with the most enticing smell:


Unfortunately for Lolita, putting it under the front awning during the rain proved a bad idea; a window pane cracked from the heat. Luckily, Liz said they found a replacement pane in the basement, that has apparently been there since they opened.

The food, as Edsel said, was wonderful. First - the dips. Almond and Garlic, in front, was spicy with garlic-ness, the Smoked Eggplant, which is the darkest one, had wonderful flavors and the White Bean and Anchovie was surprisingly palatable to me, even though I'm not an anchovie lover.


I did not partake in the smoked fish platter, which looked divine, so as to save room for the Pig Roast:


I'd only had the Crab Tater Tots once before, and I just had a craving for them:



But let's face it - we were really there for the pig! And what a tasty pig it was!



Every week, Chef Matt does a different presentation of the pig. The Swiss Chard and Onion Rings were perfect accompaniments last night. Matt says that the pig roasts will continue for as long as the weather co-operates. Another reason to love living in Cleveland!

Edited by NancyH (log)

"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" 

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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