Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dinner at Lolitas

Here is my review of Michael Symon's restaurant Lolita. I tried to discreetly take a few pics with my camera phone, but ummm, yeah -- the pics didn't come out so great. It's not me though, it's the camera.... yeah, that's right, the camera! :-)

Yesterday was my husband's and my anniversary -- a whopping 3 years! We decided to celebrate by going out to dinner at a new place. And with my new foodie obsession, we decided to try out one of Michael Symon's new restaurants. For those of you unfamiliar...Michael Symon was named as the newest "Iron Chef" on Food Network's Iron Chef America. He is a native of NE Ohio and owns two restaurants in Cleveland -- Lola and Lolita. Initially, I told my husband that I wanted to go to the fancier of the two restaurant -- Lola. Then he encouraged me to check out the menu to be sure of which restaurant I wanted to eat at. Yeah, for me, I like to try to picture the food while I'm deciding what I want ...it sure helps to know what half of the those words mean! "Merguez"...what? Halibut "morels"... uhhhhh? "Gremolata" -- wasn't that a movie? Okay, clearly I was a little...okay, a lot out of my league here. We decided to try Lolita's instead. I pretty much could recognize everything on that menu! LOL!

Well, we arrived to Tremont, which is a suburb of Cleveland. If you plan on going to Lolita's be aware that there is no parking lot. (I guess if you're familiar with the area or Cleveland in general, you would assume that already.) Anyhow, we parked on a nearby street and walked over. I guess since this guy is semi-famous, I expected a wow kind of entrance and interior, you know, like Hell's Kitchen or something. While the entrance door is very nice, once you step inside, yeah - not so glam! I mean, it's not hideous or anything, it's just not what I was expecting. First, it's very small. My husband assured me that there is a whole 2nd floor above though. Second, there really wasn't much... atmosphere I guess. Like I said, not BAD, just not GLAM!

So anyhow, we decided that since this was a special day and a special trip, we would order one app each, an entree of course, and one dessert each. I'm definitely glad we each ordered our own app. The appetizers are definitely made for just one person. Well, they may be made for two, but with us being so used to hujungous portions at other restaurants, the apps looked perfect for one. Anyhow, my DH ordered the roasted beets as an app, but instead got the dates (pic below). Hmmm, beets -- dates... I guess they sound similar. He didn't complain though and just decided to try something new. He was very glad he did. I took a little taste and was glad for the mix up too! They were wonderful! The dates were very sweet -- almost dessert sweet, but then I got a little taste of pancetta. OMG, it was the perfect balance of sweet and savory -- the sign of a beautifully designed dish! I ended up getting the lamb ribs (which oddly enough isn't on their online menu). Anyhow, the ribs were served with orange segments, fennel (I think) and parsley. Another great balance of sweet with the orange citrus and savory with the perfectly cooked ribs. Yum!

For our entrees, my DH got the gnocchi with pork ragu and I got the linguine with clams. We both LOVED our dinners. The ingredients were expertly put together to create fabulously complex dishes. And I think that's what made the difference for us -- a lot of restaurants have dishes that taste great, but may be kind of one dimensional, if that makes any sense. These dishes had so much more -- you could taste so many different flavors in each bite, with each flavor complementing another. Fab!

For dessert, my DH got the vanilla gelatto and I got the mango sorbet. While the gelatto was good, my DH said it was pretty similar to just ice cream... but really good ice cream! My sorbet was insanely good! I mean, it tasted like they took mangoes, at their peak freshness, pureed them, and then froze them for this fab sorbet. I mean, so many times you get a sorbet that is supposed to be raspberry flavor or strawberry, and then it tastes nothing like the original fruit! This was SO not like that! Very yum!

So anyhow, while we were pretty unimpressed with atmosphere of Lolita, the food was very good. And considering that, the prices are fairly reasonable. I mean, I've paid more for a plate of food at Outback or even Olive Garden, and their food, while very yummy, doesn't reach the complexity of what Lolita has to offer. So I say, if you are in Tremont area, give it a try! I don't think you'll be disappointed.

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