Foodie In Training

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Lola Bistro

I loved the idea of Michael Symon. A Cleveland guy who loves his hometown, loves cooking (his slogan is "live to cook"), despises vegetarians, and is passionate about all things meat (especially pork.) He's become somewhat of a celebrity- winning the Food Network's "The Next Iron Chef" and now a regular on "Iron Chef America". He also did a season of "Dinner Impossible" and soon will have his own show featuring farmers and their food. He was also featured on the Cleveland episode of Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" on the Travel Channel. He has two restaurants in the Cleveland area, Lola Bistro downtown on E. 4th St. and Lolita in the Tremont neighborhood. he also recently opened a Restaurant in Detroit called Roast. As much as I love the idea of Michael Symon and admired his personality and talents on TV, I've never tried his food. So when Erin asked where I wanted to go for a celebratory lunch on a Friday a few weeks ago, I said, without hesitation, "Lola".

Why were we celebrating? As Erin mentioned, I passed the bar. The simple fact that I passed a test that about 1,000 other people in Ohio passed isn't too exciting. (That's right, 1,000 new Ohio lawyers). Even considering it was a grueling 3 day essay and multiplechoice test, the mere fact that I passed was not the reason I was so happy. I prepared for the bar by taking a class for 1 month and then studying all day every day for another month. When I saw my name on the Ohio Supreme Court's website, the reason I couldn't stop grinning was because I didn't have to do any of it again. Ever. I was done with standardized tests. I finished a journey of becoming a licensed lawyer in Ohio that took the better part of 4 years of my life. Just to think starting in October of 2004, I have:
- studied for and took the LSAT- applied to about a dozen law schools and accepted into a handful
- endured 3 years of law school- applied for the bar exam: which lasted a full year and a half, including a detailed background check to every place I've lived, worked, and any run-ins with the law
- graduated law school
- studied for the bar
- passed the bar.
I honestly believe anyone could do any and all of these things. But it is one hell of a commitment, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone that wasn't certain they wanted to go through it.

Enough about that. Onto Lola: 
The Restaurant has a trendy and sophisticated feel. Yet, still casual. The sleek decor lacked the pretension that could easily be associated with an "Iron Chef's" flagship restaurant. The kitchen was wide open, surrounded by a bar, allowing diners to watch their creative and inspired food cooked before their own eyes. The waiters wore jeans and buttondown tops in Symon's signature solid and cool black with simple ties.

Erin and I started with Beef Cheek Pierogies, a Michael Symon staple, served with a horseradish mushroom sauce. Basically, this was the most delicious ravioli I've ever had. It was a doughy noodle-like savory pastry stuffed with tender beef cheek. We also had the charcuterie of the day. It was plate of cured and smoked meats, featuring some homemade salumis served with homemade pickles and onions and mustard.
I probably could have ordered anything on the menu and been happy, but I decided on a Pastrami sandwich for lunch. The meat was cured right there and topped with more of those homemade pickles, onions and mustard on rye. Simple, yet far superior to your average deli
 sandwich. Erin got a seasonal cauliflower soup and a salad*. With a reasonable bottle of pinot grigio, we were both happily satisfied and ready to continue to celebrate, which we did. Now, we got two appetizers and a bottle of wine, but a filling lunch for two at Lola could cost about $20.

It was a great lunch. Still, it only made me want to go back and try more of Michael Symon's food. Next time we'll go for dinner, if we can get a reservation. And we'll be sure to blog about it.

*Hey all, I could resist talking a little bit about my meal at Lola.  My cauliflower soup was amazing! Beautifully simple, the soup was silky and smooth with a little nutty flavor and every now and then you would get a sweet bite with a golden raisin.  My salad was also great, nice and light.  The greens were dressed in a tangy vinaigrette with a nice crunch from the red peppers. 


*Kelly* said...

YAY for passing Lawyer Kelsey!! We are so happy for you and Erin!!

Ryan said...

Thanks Kelly.

A couple quick things I forgot about the meal. On the charcuterie- there was a sliced duck breast that was amazing- you can see it on the upper left hand corner of the plate in the picture- fatty and wonderful.

I also forgot about my salad- a simple mixed greens salad with walnuts that were "candied" yet not overly sweet and blue cheese.