Chef-owner Michael Symon has received national attention from food and wine critics, but he stays true to the Cleveland roots with creations he describes as "urban comfort food." Popular choices include the smoked-lobster salad with red pepper and papaya, the bone-in rib eye with morels and potato puree, and, at lunch, the macaroni-and-cheese dish with fresh rosemary, goat cheese, and roasted chicken. Fish and game are first-rate, and the desserts are out of this world. There's also a second location downtown at 2058 E. 4th Street.
Sep 18, 2013
My spouse and I dined at Michael Symon's Lola Bistro in early September 2013 on a Saturday evening. (The restaurant is not open for lunch, nor is it open on Sundays.) We made a reservation a few months prior using the Open Table reservation system. (Without a reservation on a Saturday night, diners were quoted a wait time of 2 hours and 45 minutes.) This restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating. There is a large roomy bar and entry area
towards the front of the building, with tables and the open kitchen to the rear of the building. Had we know ahead of time that the kitchen was open, and that patrons could sit at the chef's bar to watch them work, we would have definitely reserved two of those spots, but they were all reserved on the night that we dined. As it was, we were seated at a regular table adjacent to the bar service area, which was a bit disappointing because we had made our reservation SO far in advance (3.5 months ahead of time), so we doubt any other diners beat us to the more preferable tables. The restaurant space is large and cavernous and a bit noisier than we would have liked, but the atmosphere is chic and sophisticated. The restrooms are located on the basement level, although there is a small elevator to assist those with mobility issues. The basement level also contains a small private-function room. On the night that we visited, a wedding reception was being held there. The food was fantastic! The bone marrow appetizer, although at $25 is twice the price as what we have ordered in other restaurants, is totally worth what they charge! Lola presents the most interesting plating and presentation of bone marrow that we have ever seen - it is actually removed from the bones (so you don't need to go digging with a tiny spoon), and the marrow is presented on a wooden cutting board accompanied by at least six different garnishes (two were sauces such as buttermilk and bacon), and the other accompaniments included sea salt, red onion, lemon, and herbs, along with thin slices of bread. The pork belly and crispy pigs ear appetizer was also outstanding - the amount of both items were plentiful, and were served atop a watermelon and feta salad. For entrees, we ordered the lamb heart and the corn agnolotti (filled with corn, light corn broth, and fresh-cut corn kernels), which were both delicious! We shared the deconstructed key lime pie for dessert - as beautiful as it was tasty! Our waiter was terrific, as was most of the staff that we dealt with on the night that we dined (everyone except one female bus girl, who was surly and sullen and made us uncomfortable just looking at her unpleasant face. It was clear that our waiter loved his job and that he loved food, and he was excited to explain the menu options and choices to us. We had an excellent meal at Lola Bistro, and next time we are in town, we will have to try Chef Symon's other restaurant, Lolita.
Apr 1, 2010
It's actually called Lolita now but this is my favorite of Michael Symon's 4 locations. It is also my favorite Cleveland restaurant as well. I love the Lamb Steak entree. The fresh fish and pizza are always tempting too. But my favorite thing is ending with the cheese board that offers 4 local (and unusual) selections that change regularly along with a jam spread and honey. And then there's the French 75's and Hot Dirty Bird Martinis on the drink
menu too. Lolita is more edgier in its selections than Symon's flagship Lola. The kitchen is open so with the right seat, you get quite a show of the chefs preparing everything. Parking is only on the street which can be tough in Cleveland winters but Valet service is available. The place is on the small side and reservations are essential as it fills up quickly. There is a small bar to one side that offers a few extra food selections over the restaurant menu as well but that crowds up even faster than the restaurant.