Lola

I blame the Breakfast Clubs for keeping me separated from Lola for so long. I don’t know if it’s because the BCers are more vociferous because they’re up and at ‘em before noon (it’s certainly not the coffee quantities they’re getting because coffee’s an all day beverage in this town), but it’s always the “Ohh, the Greek sausage scramble is magnificent” this, and the “Eggs benedict made me weep, they’re so good!” that, and the “I had a religious experience with Tom’s Big Breakfast–the octopus actually spoke to me” type of gibberish that kept me away. All this hullaballoo over breakfast. Big deal! Everybody knows the breakfast of champions is a cherry Pop Tart and a Pepsi One, why waste money on anything else?

But I’d heard enough and had a great experience at Serious Pie a couple of weeks ago, so decided I could go for lunch/brunch and check it out. No big whoop. Tom actually serves brunch until 3:00 on Saturdays and Sundays, so I was open to giving it a try.

It wasn’t until James dropped me off on the corner of 4th and Virginia that I realized that the Hotel Ändra is attached to the restaurant, and this could certainly explain a bit of the breakfast traffic. It was 1:00 and I hadn’t made a reservation because, well, it was 1:00. Who needs reservations for 1:00 in the afternoon on a Saturday? I did. But, I was meeting a friend for lunch so decided to wait. I believe the total time was about 45 minutes, so not intolerable when dulled by a purple cocktail.

 My friend had the Lola Mary ($9.5), a spicy bloody mary with house-made jalapeno infused vodka. That is definitely not my kind of cocktail, but the olive was tasty and she sure enjoyed it. I don’t recall the name of the purple fizz I had, but it was prosecco with violetta something with a twist of lemon, or yeah. I don’t remember. It sounded like a cool mess of fizzy fun, and it was.

When I came into the place, I’d had every intention of ordering breakfast, even though I didn’t really want it. As soon as I saw that the brunch menu had a section on it called “Lola Spreads” and you could order a bounty of different spreads for $20, I never looked back at the breakfast section. Who on earth would choose scrambled eggs over freshly griddled pita and 1. Tzatziki~cucumber yogurt 2. Kopanisti~pistachio, mavrodaphne (wtf this was, I had no idea) 3. Kalamata~turkish fig 4. Roasted sweet pepper 5. Cauliflower~anchovy 6. Fava skordalia~garlic spread (I’m not a fava fan, but garlic can kill the taste of most)?

They were all absolutely delicious. I was surprised that I liked all of them, but I’d order every single one of them again, with the Tzatziki being just amazing. I love sample-style dishes. Even when I go into pubs that have those samplers of beers, I want to order one just to get a taste of them all, but then I remember I’m not a big beer fan and just feel sad about the lost opportunity. But this sampling of spreads just rocked my world. The pita was fresh with a slight crisp on the outside with a fluffy center. It could’ve been a party on its own. The red pepper was amazing, and the pistachio must’ve had some kind of blue cheese/gorgonzola twist to it. I don’t really care to know, because the mystery in this magic trick is something I don’t care to try and duplicate at home because I know I could never get pita that awesome to go with it.*

Lola offers a variety of kebabs–lamb, chicken, pork, squid, figs & cheese, mushroom, and salmon. I was tempted to go with the squid based on a recommendation from Herschel at Seatown Bistro, but when I saw “honey-harissa” next to the word pork, it was a done deal ($14). I had no idea what “harissa” meant, but it was close enough to “hussy” to work. Who could resist hussy-honeyed pork? Not me, man. (I wiki’d it when I got home and discovered that it was a “Tunisian hot chilli sauce,” but I figured as much–not the Tunisian part–from eating it.)

The skewered pork was slightly undercooked to perfection and the sweet and spicy sauce was awesome. I don’t care how many times I use the word awesome to describe my experience here, either. See those bits of charred pork? Awesome.

The kebabs come with a choice of Jackie’s Greek salad or smashed garlic fried potatoes. We decided to get salad with our kebabs and ordered a side of smashed. The kalamata olives, feta, purple onions, and tomatoes were tossed in a Greek vinaigrette that didn’t overwhelm the ingredients. I could taste every individual flavor with each bite. And that’s when I realized why I was so in love with this meal–the flavors from each ingredient stood out and could have been enjoyed solo, but they also fused so wonderfully together that it was like a Brangelina type of meal. Strong sexy Brad, sulky sexy Angelina, and together it’s just a big sexy pouty fat lip. That you didn’t want to punch in the throat every time you saw their names on the cover of real newspapers.

Dip-a-palooza! Seriously, get over there and get some of these spreads. I’m taking every girlfriend who ever comes to visit me in Seattle to this place, because I don’t know any of them who wouldn’t love it. As I say that, I realize I don’t know if dudes would go as crazy for this type of meal. When I was describing it to James, he wasn’t the least excited to try it. The idea of not returning anytime soon had me more than a little anxiously describing the parts of the meal I knew he would like.

These smashed garlic fried taters ($5) have been cooked (I couldn’t tell if they were boiled or roasted first), smooshed, and fried. How mushy they were on the inside contrasted so nicely with the crispy outside. James would have a field day with a huge plate of these.

For dessert we had the famous bag o’doughnuts ($8). They’re brought to the table in a bag and are shaken and dumped on a plate with a side of mascarpone and cranberry jelly. I know people are crazy about these, but they’re pretty ordinary when you get right down to it, and $8 is a bit much. I wish we had gone with the Pistachio and walnut baklava, but maybe that kind of flavor overload is just greedy.

Little cinnamony bits of fried dough can’t be wrong, but for $8 I can walk across the street to the Dahila Bakery and get either three or four cookies, a slice of coconut pie, or countless other treats. Skip the doughnuts and get bakery treats for the road when you go, man. Trust me on this.

I’ve already recommended this place to half a dozen people who haven’t visited yet, and I’ll definitely be going back. I don’t know if I’ll ever make the breakfast menu knowing those spreads are in the same building, but maybe one day. That I wasn’t overwhelmed by the doughnuts is just a reason to try a goat cheese turnover or that baklava.

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