I had been to Lola’s twice. Once in 2007, the evening before a ten day road trip, and once about a year and a half ago for a birthday party. Both times my impression was the same: it is good, but by no means extraordinary. So when friends wanted to go there the other night, I was ambivalent.
The restaurant is nicely decorated and tables are (shockingly) not too close together, service is friendly and the food is good. In some cases, the food was
more than just good. The watermelon and feta salad, with tomatoes, olives and balsamic was outstanding. Juicy and refreshing watermelon, tangy feta cheese and salty olives all add up to a perfect bite. I started off by sharing an order of the portabello tacos with my friend. The thing is, I really like tacos, so I think you could take just about anything, wrap it in a tortilla and cover it with sauce and cheese and it would be good.The mushrooms were no exception. Pickled onions gave the tacos texture and an added dimension of flavor.
The main courses range from meat (veal porterhouse, anyone?) to fish and chicken with a couple of vegetarian options for good measure. The branzino was fresh and perfectly cooked, although a bit overly fennel-y for my taste. Of course, I don’t love fennel, so anything more than a tiny amount is going to be over-fenneled, in my opinion. The veal porterhouse was tasty, the mushrooms and sauteed spinach worked really well, too, and although my friend thought he had the best entree, I would disagree. The chicken Milanese was actually fabulous, and I don’t usually even like chicken all that much. Pounded thin, breaded and topped with an arugula and parmesan salad, it was light, refreshing and juicy.
We brought one bottle of Radio Coteau Las Colinas Syrah, 2006 with us ($15 corkage) and bought a bottle of Vietti Nebbiolo, 2010. If you are going to bother to have a wine list with decent wines on it, you should also list vintages. While I agree that it is a pain to reprint every time a new vintage arrives, and most people don’t know the difference anyway, there are plenty of people that do care.
Overall, the meal was quite good. Would I go back? Yes. But there is something lacking in the overall “wow” factor. Lola’s is located at 2032 Harrison Street in downtown Hollywood.