Lola Bistro
Cleveland, Ohio           Date of Visit:  04/16/10       

Having enjoyed the original location for Lola in the Tremont area of Cleveland, I was curious how fame and money had transformed her move downtown. Still dark, but much more swanky Lola seems to fit both Chef Symon’s position and personality. Black clad staff float like wraiths through the darkness appearing tableside just when you manage to empty your glass or clear your plate. It even seems they have been picking up some ideas from the right places with little crocks of butter and a superbly attentive service, mirroring other recent experiences, which is in no way a slight. Matter of fact, the past couple of visits have resulted in a better service rating. Clevelanders hopefully know how rare is the opportunity for smaller market cities to have this in their backyard.


In some way he manages to maintain a balance in his maniacal goofiness and growing adoration. If you have never heard his laugh resounding off the walls you are missing more than just food. He appears as passionate about his craft as others are about the attention it garners. It shows on the plate. Knowing him to be a worshiper of the almighty hog, I ordered a complete course of pig, bacon appetizer, chop entrée, bacon dessert. Each bite bringing with it a note of sadness as I know they are doing this every night and I cannot. Drowning out that singular note is a cacophony of freakin' awesome. Everything is impeccable and makes perfect sense, even the maple bacon ice-cream on the 6 a.m. special dessert of brioche French toast. A taste of everyone else’s dinner ensures me that everything is great but I am hesitant and jealous to surrender my plates, certain the pork was the direction to go.

Hard Crunchy Bread

Pear and Beet Salad

Beef Cheek Pierogi
Follow up trips show that mastery of loved ingredients paired with ever changing seasonal ingredients result in a familiar but ever changing experience. My second Bacon Appetizer (yes I know but you try one and then refuse another and then we will talk) was braised resulting in a glistening rich triad which make it a good thing I have dogs instead of hogs. Topped with uniform and delicate cuts of carrot, ginger, apple, and orange is unbelievable. I also get to try the Beef Cheek Pierogi. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Doughy and luscious with a horseradish creme fraiche and wild mushrooms it begins to rival the bacon. Known for odder concoctions in the beverage department (I hear the root beer float kills) local apple cider and cinnamon do a fair Bourbon justice in the Bourbon Cider after the entree. Glasses of Ben Glaetzer, Heartland Shiraz and Michael Pozzan, Cab, Cuvee 12 complimented and scrubbed the palette between courses.
Braised Berkshire "Bacon"

Bourbon Cider with Ohio Cider and Cinnamon

Fettuccini: ala I Can't Believe She Ordered It
  Entree's begin with a surprise...I have been married for over ten years and known her for almost twice that time. It was here I saw her order her first vegetarian meal, ever. Funny. What's up? Then I taste it. She described it as a difficult to comprehend blend of lightness of weighty flavors, perfect for stepping into a warm home after shoveling a driveway. I again repeated the pork with the new chop accouterment. Cheese polenta that makes me sad I didn't grow up with grits and juicy perfect pork again balanced by sweet BBQ onions and chilies.
Smoked Berkshire Pork Chop

The 6:00 A.M. Special...yes it's Maple Bacon Ice cream

Pear and Walnut Baked Alaska
  Desserts consisted of the 6 AM special so I could show you...and the Baked Alaska, which we need to talk about. This is the description. Pear & Walnut Baked Alaska with Oregonzola Blue Cheese, Brown Sugar Meringue, and Roasted Concord Grapes. I had imbibed in the French Toast first when I was offered the second plate. I took a scoop. It was fine. But boring. Ahhhh, a chink in the amour. When someone tells you they are putting blue cheese in a dessert you want to know what it tastes like. Here it tastes like boring ice cream and meringue. Then Steph asks me, did you get the blue...and I realize that I have missed the slices of pear and the circle or Oregonian Blue to the side. I taste again and it proves why I hate these people. Suddenly, the pear is jumping to the front, not just in the slice but in the ice cream, other flavors begin to rush the front of the stage and then rescind. The very ingredient I felt would overpower the dish, when used perfectly, exults other ingredients. This is why I have a website and he has restaurants. I couldn't be happier with the arraignment, I hope he is. It appears national success has not done much to alter the slightly nerdy, kitchen bad-boy vibe that has surrounded Symon for years. It will be to Cleveland’s overall benefit if it never does.



What's Best

What's Worst

  A+ A A- A+ N/A A  
      Can't See, not that
it matters that much...
Any Dead Pig Nothing Horrible Yet    
All Restaurants By Ranking Restaurants By Date These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things Steph's Favorite Things
Home List of Restaurants by City The Ratings What's Rated Random Thoughts