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Lola & Lolita (Cleveland) Reviews & Discussion


RagallachMC
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It was fun to watch everyone enjoy their pig. It was too porky for me, but there's always something good on the menu.

The heirloom tomato salad was very nice, and I could live off that garlic dip. The grilled pita is perfect.

Bummer about the window, but it was nice smelling the hot grill down the street. The pig roast is such a great idea. Maybe we could talk Matt into throwing a few shrimp and veggies on there too? Or an Ahi tuna steak would be even better!

It was nice to talk with Michael about his travel and culinary adventures.

Thanks for the pictures - great as usual!

What a nice evening.

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  • 2 weeks later...

We went for "Pig Roast, Round 2" last night - and it was even better than Round 1 was!

Knowing that a large portion of food was coming for the main event, our table of 7 went lightly on the appetizers. Several folks indulged in oysters on the half shell, with "Love" sauce, which they announced were divine - I passed, since I prefer my oysters cooked. I did photograph them, however:

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We also shared a portion of the Almond and Garlic Dip, which remains the popular favorite!

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Bob and I shared the Heirloom Tomato and Mozzarella Salad:

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But the star of the evening was the Pig. The presentation, in two hot metal pans placed atop a cutting board, was gorgeous:

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The Pig was roasted simply, and served with a fabulous au jus made from last week's pig, and topped with cilantro, sliced peppers and slivered almonds.

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On the side - melt-in-your-mouth fresh sweet corn cooked in cream and topped with fresh cracklings:

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Better than Grandma's grebenes, but definitely not kosher!

Dessert - you have to be kidding me! Actually, two orders of Chocolate Pot De Creme made their way around the table for a sweet ending. It had a perfect combination of chocolate (which I can take or leave, but my hubby is addicted to), caramel (which I am addicted to) and salty nuts, topped with freshly whipped cream. And, it is light as a feather, which was important after we gorged ourselves on pork.

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Michael Symon was in the house, and gave us a preview of the new menu, which Lolita will start introducing next week. The newest feature will be a variety of pizzas. And the Big Board will be back! And the Pig Roasts will continue - Chefs Michael and Matt are busily experimenting with ways to keep using the Pig Roaster in inclement weather - lucky us!

Edited by NancyH (log)

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

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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We went for "Pig Roast, Round 2" last night - and it was even better than Round 1 was!

Knowing that a large portion of food was coming for the main event, our table of 7 went lightly on the appetizers.  Several folks indulged in oysters on the half shell, with "Love" sauce, which they announced were divine - I passed, since I prefer my oysters cooked.  I did photograph them, however:

gallery_21337_4972_40246.jpg

gallery_21337_4972_71954.jpg

We also shared a portion of the Almond and Garlic Dip, which remains the popular favorite!

gallery_21337_4972_20918.jpg

Bob and I shared the Heirloom Tomato and Mozzarella Salad: 

gallery_21337_4972_81399.jpg

But the star of the evening was the Pig.  The presentation, in two hot metal pans placed atop a cutting board, was gorgeous:

gallery_21337_4972_72477.jpg

The Pig was roasted simply, and served with a fabulous au jus made from last week's pig, and topped with cilantro, sliced peppers and slivered almonds. 

gallery_21337_4972_155861.jpg

gallery_21337_4972_71637.jpg

On the side - melt-in-your-mouth fresh sweet corn cooked in cream and topped with fresh cracklings:

gallery_21337_4972_3138.jpg

gallery_21337_4972_24316.jpg

Better than Grandma's grebenes, but definitely not kosher!

Dessert - you have to be kidding me!  Actually, two orders of Chocolate Pot De Creme made their way around the table for a sweet ending.  It had a perfect combination of chocolate (which I can take or leave, but my hubby is addicted to), caramel (which I am addicted to) and salty nuts, topped with freshly whipped cream. And, it is light as a feather, which was important after we gorged ourselves on pork.

gallery_21337_4972_86095.jpg

Michael Symon was in the house, and gave us a preview of the new menu, which Lolita will start introducing next week.  The newest feature will be a variety of pizzas.    And the Big Board will be back!  And the Pig Roasts will continue - Chefs Michael and Matt are busily experimenting with ways to keep using the Pig Roaster in inclement weather - lucky us!

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Lolita is introducing a new menu next week. The big news is that they will be serving real Neapolitan style pizza. :smile: That wood-fired oven is going to be busy.

Matt and Cory did the Verace Pizza Napolitana certification training, and they'll be following the AVPN standards. I can't wait to try it!

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Four of us returned to Lolita last night for the Pig Roast and to begin to work our way through the new menu. Lolita is back to her roots - smaller plates, small prices, and a selection of items you won't find elsewhere in Cleveland (and probably not at too many places outside of Cleveland).

First, the bread service has changed. We were started with these lovely Pretzelly bites:

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We ordered four new starters for the table. The start of the quad for me was the new Beet Salad with Honey, Ricotta, Almonds and Orange Zest - the dish sang with flavor and the contrasts between the sweet and savory were perfect:

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I adore Beet Salads, and this was one of the best ones I've had.

Running an almost impossibly close second to the Beet Salad was the Grilled Lamb Sausage, which had just the right balance of heat and smoke, and was served with Mint, Shaved Fennel, Oven Dried Cherry Tomatoes, and a lovely dollop of Yogurt:

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We also enjoyed the creamy yet crispy Chicken Livers, plated over soft cheesy polenta with wild mushrooms and speck. Lolita seems to be in love with polenta these days, as it is also offered as a side dish (the cheeses are marcarpone and parmesan):

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Chicken Livers have never been my favorites - but these were very different than the liver I remember from my childhood. Polenta was the perfect foil for the rich meat, and the bits of speck really helped turn this "sow's ear" into a silk purse!

Finally, the only dish that did not rock for me (though the others at the table liked it) was the Crab Hummus, garnished with red onion and cilantro and served with delicious grilled flatbread:

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I thought that I would really like this - but it just didn't work for my palate. Oh well, not to worry - there was plenty more great food to come!

And here he is, folks - the star of our show:

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After watching the "No Reservations - Cleveland" show the previous night, there was no doubt as to what all four of us would order - hello Mr. Pig!

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Tonight's porcine platter included Sauteed Escarole, Garlic, a large chip of crispy skin, and simply perfect house made Onion Rings. And my platter had a little extra goodie from Chefs Michael and Matt - I was the lucky recipient of Mr. Pig's tail this evening (as Tony Bourdain noted the night before - such a shame that there is just one per pig!):

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I'd never tasted this delicacy before - very crunchy, very fatty - kind of like a pork fat lolly pop. Yum.

Dessert? You gotta be kidding me! But two of our tablemates actually had room - one ordered the Pot de Creme pictured above, and one ordered the Strawberries with Balsamic and Sorbet:

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Way to go, Lolita - and next up, we need to sample the new pizza! Although the new pasta dishes look awfully tempting too! And the Braised Pork Cheeks with Roasted Onions, Chilies and Parsley is something I simply must have . . . . stay tuned!

Edited by NancyH (log)

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

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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I was part of the group that tried out the new menu tonight. All I can say is that the pizza lived up to my expectations. :wub: Wow!

Oh, and the rest of the menu has been reworked in a major way. Several new apps and a bunch of meat and pasta dishes we didn't even try. (Gotta go back!) The Chicken livers, the beet salad, and the roasted dates are all standouts. The creamed corn and polenta sides are amazing. The new menu is a hit with this crowd!

A couple of snapshots and then off to bed.

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A classic Neapolitan pizza. Tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil. The tomatoes were slow-roasted to bring out their flavor. The crust was perfect.

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The creamed corn and polenta side dishes. Both were heavenly.

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I need to get my post in here before NancyH and Edsel post their FABULOUS pictures of our adventure tonight at Lolita.

When NancyH mentioned that Lolita had a whole new menu, I was absolutely ALL IN for trying it out. Our reservations were for 7 PM, but I got there a little early, had a lovely vodka martini with some feta-stuffed olives and had a chance to check out the new menu. "Wow!" is all I can say. The menu is split between starters, salads, pizzas, pastas, entrees, and sides. Immediately some of the items started screaming out at me. The crispy chicken livers. The duck prosciutto pizza with the blue egg. Roasted beet salad. My mouth was watering with anticipation.

When all of us got there, we decided to order some starters to get us, well, started. :biggrin: We ordered the roasted beet salad, the crispy chicken livers, the roasted chicken wings, the roasted dates and one of the cured meat boards (smoked berkshire pork prosciutto). Chef Symon surprised us all with a tribute to NancyH's devotion to her hometown meatball pizza by sending out a lovely rendition to the table. It was divine. The meatball was a mixture of pork and veal and just melted in your mouth. The pizza itself was that perfect combination of crispy and chewy. It had just enough of the char from the pizza oven to add that really special taste. Divine.

Our starters came out in two rounds and we absolutely devoured them. Growing up I absolutely hated beats. To this day, the smell of canned beats sends my gag reflex all a-flutter. But these beats were absolutely delicious. Sweet and delicate and tender. Ummm. Paired with some slivered almonds and a cheese on top (for the life of me I can't remember which kind, but the salt from the cheese totally complimented the sweetness of the beets). If my mom could only taste how beets are *supposed* to taste. But I suppose she came from a time when people didn't know any better.

All the dishes were winners. The roasted dates had an amazing sweetness to them, but still wasn't too overpowering. The wings were served in a rather spicy sauce, but when paired with a little bit of the beets or the dates was a perfect match to cut through some of the spice. And the flavor of the wings was killer. With a nice cold beer, I could've easily polished off a plate or two just by myself.

The REAL winner for me were the crispy chicken livers served over a bed or polenta and mushrooms. Words cannot describe the balance. Crispy. Creamy. Salty. Earthy. Ok, I guess I DID just use words to describe the balance. I'm glad there were six of us at the table, because I could've easily polished off an entire plate full of these. Then again, I am a total sucker for a good chicken liver and baby, these delivered.

Finally, we finished off our starter portion of the evening with the berkshire pork prosciutto plate. This consisted of generous mounds of cured meat, what appeared to be a dried cherry chutney, some leeks, and some crostini. Really, really delicious. Again, Chef Symon and crew have managed to balance the salty, the sweet, and the savory to produce something that just tantalizes the senses.

Next we went whole hog (sorry, no pun intended) on ordering the pizzas. We ordered four of the six pizzas available on the menu. Let's see, there was ...

* Margherita -- cheese, basil, and oven dried cherry tomatoes

* Anchovy -- pickled white anchovies, garlic, and arugula

* Duck prosciutto -- duck prosciutto and the infamous blue egg

* Soprasetta -- cheese, basil, and soprasetta (kind of like a spicy pepperoni, but WAY better)

They were ALL fabulous. I actually liked the anchovy one, but not necessarily enough to eat an entire pizza to myself. I am torn on my favorite. It's a toss up between the Margherita and the Soprasetta. The one thing I really enjoyed about all five pizzas (don't forget about the one inspired by NancyH) is that they each had their own character. Simple, but well though out ingredients. Each pizza having no more than four or five things on it. And the effect that the pizza ovens had on the crust was just amazing. I know a good crust when I taste it, and this one met my standard.

Finally, we did corn two ways. We ordered the polenta with mascarpone cheese and the Ohio creamed corn. Simply delicious. I personally felt that the polenta was at the edge between perfectly seasoned and oversalted, but the Ohio creamed corn was amazing. I will say that the texture on the polenta was perfect -- creamy and sort of falling off of the spoon. No grittiness at all.

Finally, for dessert, four of the six of us had the chocolate pot de creme. If you've never had this, you MUST try it. Between the silky bittersweet chocolate pot de creme and the salty caramel that adorns the top, this is a killer dessert. With a nice cup of unsweetened coffee, this was a perfect way to balance sweet, bitter, and salty.

We never even got to other parts of the menu, but I can tell you for certain that the nice thing about this menu is that you can structure your meal in so many different ways, depending on the crowd and your mood. I can completely see doing an entire meal of just little starters. Or maybe a started, a salad, and a pasta. Or ... well, you get the picture.

Hats off to Chef Symon and all of his crew for coming up with a delicious and most compelling reason to visit Lolita over and over again. I know that I'll certainly be going back again for more.

(edited to fix misspellings)

Edited by tino27 (log)

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I'm convinced that anyone who claims to dislike beets simply hasn't had them prepared properly. :biggrin: I've had beet salads several times at both Lola and Lolita. The presentation has varied (the most memorable being the one with pork belly "croutons" :smile: served at the Slow Food dinner last year), but they all had one thing in common. The beets were slow-roasted to bring out their natural sweetness. Nothing could be further from that musty canned-beet flavor....

The new menu is terrific - I really need to get back to Lolita to try some of the pasta dishes and mains we didn't get to. Liz Symon is working on revamping the wine list as well - not that it needs it. Lolita has a terrific selection of wines by the glass.

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Yes, we did eat at Lolita two nights in a row - a fortuitous result of Edsel's employer sparing him a business trip this week. Tuesday was for Pork - but Wednesday was for Pizza!

Edsel, Tino and our friends Kay and Lana convened at Lolita, where we were warmly welcomed by Michael and Liz Symon and Matt Harlan. I wondered if they thought we were kidding when we told them as we left Tuesday that we'd be back on Wednesday, when our wonderful server Sue surprised us with a special pizza, which Michael created just for me (and which, he emphasized, is not on the menu (though it might be, if there was a demand for it!)) - a Meatball Pizza! Those of you who have followed my Cleveland quest for New York-style pizza at this thread, know that I was raised on NY pizza topped with sliced meatball. Although Michael has sworn me and my camera to silence on the whole pie - I don't think he'll mind if I tease you with a slice:

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Oh - what a wonderful way to start our Lolita pizza odyssey - the meatball on the pizza is the same veal-pork meatball that is now an Entree - light and fluffy from braising in Tomato Broth, it is normally served in brodo with Fontina, Pancetta and Pine Nuts, with the diner's choice of one of six sides. And the crust - thin with a little crunch, but tender and chewy - not exactly New York Style (which is really a bastardization of this Neapolitan style) but completely satisfying.

Before diving further into pizza-land, we had to share some appetizers. The Beet Salad and Chicken Livers were as wonderful the second time around as they had been the first time.

We could not resist the lure of the mostly house made salumi, and opted for the Berkshire Prosciutto, which was served with three relishes - fennel, mango and cherry, and leeks? (help me out Kay, you who took copious notes all evening), and crostini:

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Another winning choice is described on the menu as "Roasted Chicken Wings - cilantro, chilies and lime." These were the best darn wings I've ever had - marinated and sauced in a delightfully spicy concoction that did not overwhelm the chicken flavor, but left hands and mouth tingling, and topped with strips of pickled green and red Jalapeño pepper:

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The Plate

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The "Drumstick"

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The, um, "other" part of the wing

Our final appetizer perfectly complimented the heat of the wings - Roasted Dates stuffed with almonds, garlic, pancetta (are you really surprised?) and parsley. The word "sublime" was coined to describe food like this - velvety smooth and creamy, though with bite from the accouterments, richly flavored and just sweet enough:

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Once she tasted the Polenta under the Chicken Livers (which of course sopped up a lot of flavor from the topping), Kay had to try the Polenta Side dish on its own - and while we were at it, we couldn't pass up the fresh Ohio Sweet Corn with Cilantro and Chili side:

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Ohio Sweet Corn - A Beautiful Thing

Liz Symon describes the dish below as a dish flavored with Cilantro for people who don't like (or can't digest) cilantro - it is cut very finely to lend an extremely subtle tone to the dish, which, by the way, is plate-licking good.

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Usually, cheesy polenta is mostly cheese and not much polenta. As Tino said, this Polenta was right on the edge with its saltiness - but was otherwise perfectly balanced between corniness and cheesiness - with a little sugar and cream, it would make an awesome dessert!

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However, just as the star of our show the previous night was Mr. Pig - this night belonged to Pizza!

First - a blank canvas awaits the artist's caress:

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Next, fully loaded with its toppings, it is fired like fine pottery in Symon's Inferno:

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The result looks almost too good to eat:

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Tomato, Fresh Basil and Olive Oil Pizza

But as my friends can tell you (and as you can tell from looking at me), the way food looks (good or bad) has never stopped me from eating, and this pizza was so amazing that I didn't stop for a slice shot.

Our next pie was Anchovy - oregano, garlic, and olives:

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I have always found anchovies a little too fishy for my taste, but I was determined to try these. Edsel commented that they were cured in vinegar rather than oil, which makes a lot of sense, considering how oily anchovies are to start with. I actually ate a couple of bites with the anchovies before I passed the remaining fillets to Kay, who was delighted to receive them. While I can't say that I loved them, it was like good Bleu Cheese which I will always taste and appreciate, even if it's not my favorite flavor. I'm glad I tried them - I could tell they were top quality. Based on Edsel and Kay's feedback, anyone who likes anchovies will love this pizza (and the pizza was darn tasty without the anchovies on it):

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The most luxurious pizza we experienced was the one topped with Duck Prosciutto, a fresh Blue Egg, Goat Cheese and Rosemary. Words fail me:

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For those of you who have been lucky enough to sample Dominic Cerino's Blue Egg Carbonara - imagine it on Pizza, with duck flavor:

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The Yolk Awaits It's Magic Moment

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Ahhh - That's Better

But we were not yet finished - we decided to try one more pizza - topped with Sopressata, Basil, Buffalo Mozzerella, Tomato Sauce and Olive Oil - Bravissimo!

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As you can see - there is a sprinkling of red pepper on this pizza as well, lending a bit of pleasant heat to the pie. A perfect ending.

Well, an ending for Bob and I - our companions actually still had room for Pot De Creme! That one is pictured a few posts above.

We couldn't believe that this was only Lolita's second night of full scale pizza making - the crusts were perfectly crisp and minutely charred, with a tender bite and expertly proportioned toppings. Lolita's pizza is simply fabulous.

Next - we'll need to sample the new pastas and entrees. And we would enjoy the company of EGulleteers - so feel free to PM me if you'd ever like to join us!

Edited by NancyH (log)

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

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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  • 2 months later...

The new menu at Lolita just keeps getting better and better! Bob and I dined there last night with White Lotus, Edsel and tino27. I avoided duplicating photos of items posted above, but there were some items that deserve a rerun.

First - we shared with Chef Matt (and Chef Michael, who stopped by the restaurant shortly before we sat down for dinner) a beautiful Linus-O-Lantern carved by my office's receptionist for us - since we were spending Halloween at Lolita, it seemed appropriate to share it!

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We ordered some appetizers and pizzas for White Lotus to sample. She raved about the stuffed dates, which are truly heavenly, and the Wings, also photographed previously. We cleaned our plate of fried pig ears, which were amazingly crisp and almost light - just returned to the menu - and which are accompanied by the most perfectly pickled, yet still crispy vegetables:

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We also enjoyed the Warm Olives appetizer, which was a first try for all of us:

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We shared two pizzas:

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Tomato Basil

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Duck Prosciutto and Blue Egg - "Before"

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Duck Prosciutto and Blue Egg - "After"

We were almost too full to continue - but we were determined to finally crack the "entree" section of the menu. We ordered two, which also entitled us to two sides. We opted for the creamed corn, which even at this late date is amazingly sweet and toothsome, and the polenta, which is cheesy-corny perfection (both of which are shown above).

First entree:

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Braised Pork Cheeks, Roasted Onions, Chili & Parsley

This dish wasn't really spicy, but had deep and tasty flavors.

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Roasted Chicken, White Beans, Arugula, Oven Dried Tomato and Salsa Verde

We would not normally order chicken out - but this was no ordinary chicken! Sourced from a local farm, it had rich flavor and perfectly crispy skin.

Chef Matt then asked us to sample and comment upon a "work in progress":

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House-made Tagliatelle with Beef Cheeks and Mushrooms

I am always a sucker for homemade pasta, so this dish made me very happy. I hope it makes the menu!

We still need to try the lasagna and the hangar steak - and those Pig Roasts are still happening every Tuesday, weather permitting!

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

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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Another great dinner at Lolita! I love those pig's ears. Unfortunately I think they were only back as a special, not part of the regular menu.

The pizza is even better now. I think they've perfected the crust - just the right blend of crispy and chewy. Matt and Cory completed their AVPN training, so I guess the official certification is in the works. Regardless of any formal "blessing" from the certification board, that pizza is amazing.

The beef cheek tagliatelli is delicious. Matt mentioned that they will probably have it on the special "family style" menu on Sunday. They've been celebrating the Next Iron Chef competition with a special menu. I guess it's quite the festive atmosphere. :biggrin:

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  • 2 weeks later...
How often will I get to have a full Iron Chef menu prepared by the same people who competed on ICA?

More often than I thought, it would seem. Or at least I hope they'll be recreating the ICA menus at Lola or Lolita. Starting with the "Battle Swordfish".

WOOHOO Iron Chef Michael Symon! :laugh:

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  • 1 month later...

<Center>

New Year's Eve dinner at Lola.

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<hr>

The Menu

Amuse Bouche

Lamb Tartare

with Olives, Citrus and Greek Yogurt

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First Course

Lobster Bisque with Crispy Bacon and Poached Lobster

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or

Potato and Truffle Soup with Chives and Garlic Confit

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Second Course

Sweet Potato and Crab Salad with Grilled Corn, Bacon and Aioli

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or

Grilled Quail with Salsa Verde and Blackberries

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Intermezzo

Lemon Creme Fraiche Sorbet

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Third Course

Swordfish Sous-Vide with Fennel, Dill, Mint and Cucumber

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or

Soft Polenta with Crispy Mushrooms and Marscarpone

(no-one at our table tried this one, but we heard it was outstanding)

Fourth Course

Grilled Swordfish with Chorizo

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or

Roasted Venison with Parsnip Puree and Roasted Carrots

(Hopefully NancyH got a decent picture of this one)

Fifth Course

"6 a.m. Special" with Bacon Ice Cream and Brioche French Toast

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or

Warm Chocolate Cake with Peppermint Ice Cream

(Again, counting on NancyH to have a good picture :smile: )

or

Selection of Artisanal Cheeses

(We didn't try this one, but someone at a neighboring table said the cheeses were excellent)

</Center>

I'll have to collect my thoughts a bit before posting my impressions. Suffice to say, it lived up to my (very high) expectations.

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Happy New Year, all! Camera Number 2 to the rescue!

What a delightful time the three of us had last night (together with a few hundred others who partook of the Iron Chef Dinner). Bob and I arrived early, about 5 before 6pm, for our 6:30-7pm reservation. Since Lola's doors were not yet opened, we stopped into the lovely Wonder Bar. Bob had a beer, and I enjoyed a Poire Martini, made with Grey Goose Poire, Amaretto, Simple Syrup and Fresh Lemon. As an aside - this place looks fabulous in its own right!

We met up with Edsel and got our seats at Lola - front and center to the kitchen! They were just beginning to gear up with the Amuses and the kitchen began to hum. I hope Edsel got better kitchen photos than I did.

We began with a wine that was so perfect for the both the nature of the evening, and all of the food we were served, that we ordered a second bottle when the first ran out without even looking again to the wine list.

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Black Bubbles Sparkling Shiraz

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Bread Service

The butter was soft and creamy and delicious with fresh bread. I will confess right here that I did, indeed, play with my food and clean my plate with bread not once, but twice (the crab salad and the Grilled Halibut plates were too amazing to leave any over!).

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Lamb Tartare Amuse

I could not imagine that raw lamb could melt in the mouth as this did - and the yogurt topping was perfect with it.

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Potato and Truffle Soup with Chives and Garlic Confit

A word here about our server, Robert, who is a truly wonderful and professional server. We've enjoyed his service before, but he was really on his game last night - he picked up on our manic food energy and ran with it! As we started to discuss sharing tastes of the soup - there he was with extra spoons for us! He followed up with extra silver and small plates later in the meal, so we could each taste anything on the table that didn't belong to us!

I enjoyed my taste of Edsel's soup - less of an "explosion" of truffle than I experienced at Alinea - a more gentle sensation. Since truffle often equals mushroom to me - I appreciated the gentle taste which was silky smooth.

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Lobster Bisque with Crispy Bacon and Poached Lobster

Having eaten this bowl of soup - I now understand the Vita-Mix (which Michael Symon is a spokesman for, and which some of my food friends have sung praises for - heck, it got a write up in today's Cleveland Plain Dealer). I have never before experienced such a finely pureed soup - it was like eating liquid essence of lobster, with Michael's bacon and lobster pieces almost a bonus to the exquisite, rich broth.

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Grilled Quail with Salsa Verde and Blackberries

Husband Bob and Edsel both enjoyed this course (though Bob gave me a drumstick and a berry) - succulent, tender and amazing, as was the sauce in was plated with.

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Sweet Potato and Crab Salad with Grilled Corn, Bacon and Aioli

A perfect salad. Warm crab - with not a hint of off smell or flavor - just crabby sweetness caressed by sweet potato and corn that sang with flavor for this time of year in Cleveland, plated over an Aioli that offered a flavorful, yet mild range of spice - as noted, this plate was practically wiped clean with bread before I let Robert remove it.

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Lemon Creme Fraiche Sorbet

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This was our first taste of Pastry Chef (and EGulleteer) Cory Barrett's amazing talents this evening. I never think "creamy" when I hear "sorbet" - but this was so much more than sorbet, though not quite ice cream. And the fresh lemon resounded through and truly cleaned the palate for the amazing goodies to come.

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Swordfish Sous-Vide with Fennel, Dill, Mint and Cucumber

I think that Edsel got the better photo here, but I have to show it again - it was fantastic! Though the fish certainly tasted like the bold fish Swordfish is, the Fennel, Dill and Mint were perfect foils, and the sous vide preparation left the fish mellower than you might expect. Oh - and I'm sure that if you liked cucumber, you'd find that a perfect touch also. I was amazed at the beauty (if not the taste) of the perfect tiny squares of cucumber - what poor soul was assigned to cut these all day?

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Roasted Venison with Parsnip Puree and Roasted Carrots

Again, Bob favored meat over fish, to our advantage since we all got to taste it. The venison was buttery tender and cooked perfectly medium-rare. But the item we raved about the most was the pureed parsnips - what an amazing preparation of a mundane winter vegetable! It had the texture of perfect mashed potato, without the starchiness and with more flavor.

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Grilled Swordfish with Chorizo

This dish was simply perfect. The Vita-Mix was evidenced by the creamy smoothness of the tomato-based sauce, which picked up amazing smoky flavors from both the house-made Chorizo and the Grilled Swordfish itself. I tried to clean this plate, but simply ran out of room. The disappointment for me in this dish is that it was originally supposed to include swordfish collar - which was raved over by the judges on Iron Chef America, and is not a delicacy one encounters often.

While dessert was being served, Michael Symon stopped by our table, and explained that the swordfish collar he received was not up to his standards - so he refused to serve it and indeed pitched it. I've had a lot of sub-standard fish and seafood products in my life, so I truly admire any chef who does this. I hate being told "but it's supposed to taste like that."

The desserts were served with a complimentary glass of bubbles.

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"6 a.m. Special" with Bacon Ice Cream and Brioche French Toast

This dish just keeps getting better. I didn't remember that it had slices of fresh apple between the French toast and the ice cream, but it was perfect. Cory also stopped by our table, and mentioned that he made the ice cream with bigger chunks of bacon for this special night, and adjusted the toast to accommodate for the evening's mass production.

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Warm Chocolate Cake with Peppermint Ice Cream

What can I say besides "yum"? As Edsel said, the artisan salt together with the ice cream and warm chocolate cake were a delectable combination.

I'm sorry - I can't even consider a cheese plate when Cory is in the house!

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Freshly Baked Raspberry Filled Macaroon

As if we were not already stuffed - each table received a plate of these warm little gems to complete the repast. The nuttiness resounded through my palate and the fruit filling was a most excellent addition to these cookies, which were light but rich at the same time.

There's not much more that I can say about this meal, except thank you to Edsel for joining us. It was a truly fabulous culinary experience. And the jazzy-contemporary band, which started playing after we finished our entree course, was a delightful and festive counterpoint for the evening. It got us in the mood to party!

We parted ways with Edsel after dinner (he lives Westside and we live Eastside), but decided it was too early to call it a night. So we rang in the new year with about 100 people packed into the Tavern at Blue Canyon in Twinsburg. We danced to the music of Jack in the Charlie (yes - THAT Jack in the Charlie) and had a furious balloon fight/volleyball game as a huge net of balloons was loosed at the appropriate moment.

Happy 2008 to all!

Edited by NancyH (log)

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

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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Nancy and Edsel thank you so much for sharing the pictures! That is probably one of the most incredible meals I have ever drooled over. That lamb tartare and swordfish in particular looked amazing.

I am especially jealous because my new year's eve dinner consisted of what was supposedly beef stroganoff in economy class of a Continental Micronesia flight. I do have to admit that the brownie for dessert was quite good. I would have traded it for even just a nibble of that bacon ice cream though.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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nsxtasy, you may have noticed a certain "Iron Chef" theme to the menu. :hmmm: So, no pierogies on the New Year's Eve menu. The pierogies were on the menu at the cleveland.com forum lunch on Friday:

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I also got to taste something that isn't on the dinner menu:

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The Fried Bologna Sandwich. It's a huge slab of house-cured bologna with pickles, cheddar cheese, and topped with a fried egg. Classic Michael Symon - take a seemingly humble food and make it spectacular.

More pics on Flickr if you're interested.

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I also enjoyed this wonderful lunch. I've got my photos on my blog, Fun Playing with Food and perhaps tomorrow I can post some here (they are on my computer at the office).

The fried bologna is worth the price of admission, and the burger damned special! And if that crab gnocchi dish is on the menu - get it!

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

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

Now that the Lola and Lolita threads have merged together, it might help to point out to anyone not familiar with Michael Symon's restaurants that we're talking about two places here. :wink:

Lolita

900 Literary Ave. in Tremont

Lola

2058 E. 4th St. in Cleveland (downtown)

I've got to get back to Lolita - I'm overdue for a visit. :smile:

EDIT: Removed some thread-admin comments.

Edited by edsel (log)
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