Monday, October 19, 2009

Restaurant Review: Lola

I've been dying to eat at Lola ever since it opened in the old Eckerd Drugs building at the corner of 11th and Yale. I'm a huge fan of "fresh, local ingredients," and I was eager to add a new restaurant to my list o' "Heights Faves."

The owner, Ken Bridge, has built his reputation through his other ventures: Pink's Pizza and Dragon Bowl Asian Bistro.

I had a hard time dragging my husband along with me because he had heard rumors that it was "overpriced." We've recently been on a frugality kick in our household, and eating out has had to take a backseat. Finally, we went out for a late lunch with our neighbors after the Heights Bicycle Rally and Scavenger Hunt, and they suggested we eat at Lola.

As soon as we walked in, we saw one of my husband's colleagues. Then we spotted one of the key players in the Dia de los Muertos celebration happening at Montie Beach Park who was sitting next to one of the fathers of a student who attends the school I work at.

Oh, how I love living in a small town!

In terms of the ambiance and decor, I appreciated the abundance of natural light streaming in from walls of windows, and I didn't mind the order-at-the-counter action.

As a vegetarian, I wasn't overly-impressed with my options, but I wasn't depressed either. I opted for the Grilled Portabella sandwich with fresh mozzarella, roma tomato, and basil. I was tempted to order the Goat Cheese Crisp Salad with honey pecan vinaigrette, but the sandwich came with "hand tossed fries." Done deal.

Our food came out quickly, and the staff was friendly and helpful.

Of course I dove into my bountiful pile of fries first. Delicious! They have an interesting sweet/salty thing going on. Very intriguing and unique.

Sadly, my sandwich wasn't particular good. In fact, the mushrooms tasted distinctly liked canned mushrooms (oddly enough), and the bread was just okay. I longed for the vegetarian sandwich on ciabatta from Onion Creek (it's cheaper and much tastier, but, alas, it comes with chips or salad instead of fries).

One of our neighbors opted for the interesting "Day After Thanksgiving" sandwich: roasted turkey, cranberry, cornbread dressing, and gravy. The other neighbor got the "Wet Roast Beef Debris" sandwich: sourdough, angus roast beef, and provolone. They both liked their sandwiches enough, but commented that they didn't quite seem worth $11.

I'm sad to say that I won't be standing on any soapboxes to champion the newest restaurant addition to our little 'hood, but I am willing to give it another try. Although $9 seems a bit pricey for a salad, the Goat Cheese Crisp Salad is calling to me, and I'm crossing my fingers that the $7 pancake plate (with any of the following toppings: banana, blueberry, strawberry, peanut butter, and candied pecans) will be delicious.

Dearest neighbors: What do you think about Lola? (Viula, I'm hoping you'll give us a review of your experience once you return from Canada!).


  1. My first experience was not one that makes me want to go back. Service was OK, and the ambience is acceptable, and the food was - just OK. Nothing that makes the place stand-out from other alternatives.

  2. Agree with your review. The food was good (I had a sandwich went I went) but thought it was overpriced. I won't be going back anytime soon, for 2 people to eat lunch, that's almost $30 with drinks, tax and tip...too much for us!

  3. My boyfriend and I have been there twice. Once for breakfast and then for dinner. The breakfast was good, but I too felt it was over-priced. My boyfriend added toppings to his pancakes not realizing the extra cost and was surprised when the bill was totaled. I don't think I would go back for breakfast.
    Now for dinner, I had the Thanksgiving sandwich and my boyfriend had the Roast beef sandwich. We both LOVED our sanswiches and I think the price was fair for the portion. Our meal did take about 30 minutes to come so got pie on the house. Wasn't too impressed with the pie. It was definitely not home-made. I know I will be craving that Thanksgiving sandwich so we will be back for sure!

  4. A friend and I shared the Huevos Rancheros for lunch and we both got enough to eat. They are very nice about sharing and put our meals on two separate plates. A week or so earlier, my husband and I ate there for dinner and ordered the chicken pasta dish and the Goat Cheese salad. We should have shared either of those as there was way too much food. I did bring the leftovers home and it made a nice lunch for the next two days.
    I would give them more time. They seem eager to please and aware their restaurant is a "work in progress".

  5. I guess I should get around to checking this place out. It's just so hard to justify going to get breakfast anywhere that isn't Absolutely Exceptional.

    If it's mediocre then I'd rather cook a 10-cent egg and 5-cent cup of coffee at home.

  6. We'd agree with the rest of the lot on this one. We headed there for dinner soon after it opened. A very polite and friendly staff greeted us and service was quick. Food...yes, it is overpriced and only so-so. I think that they will start to find their groove soon, at least I hope so! It is certainly nice to have a going out to dinner option for families with niblets that is not Onion Creek or Babyhill, er, I mean Berryhill.

  7. Tried it for breakfast recently. The three-egg breakfast with scrambled eggs, potatoes, and bacon was decent but the $11 price tag was unwarranted (I'd expect to pay maybe $7-8 for a similar offering at other local eateries). The cofee was tasty, however the pump pot station was a bit cramped, especially with several people trying to get cofee at the same time.

    We might try Lola again for lunch or dinner but for breakfast we'll stick to Dry Creek or Java Java.

  8. I have been an embarassing four times now and I am optimistic.

    Yes, breakfast is overpriced. For the price, I don't like having to get my own drinks and silverware. However, I like it as an alternative to the usual (Dry Creek) and it's definitely better than 11th Street Cafe. I am ashamed to say I have never **gasp** been to Java Java.

    Lunches have been great. Whether with my family or girlfriends, the atmosphere has been condusive to what we are there for. Counter service is great when you have a toddler with you. It's also nice when you are with friends and want to linger without camping where a waiter needs to make money. I had the steak and onion sandwich once and the roast beef debris twice. YUM YUM YUM. The burgers were well received by friends. However, my hubby was diappointed by the chicken salad.

    Generally, a very welcome addition to the neighborhood.

  9. Another Heights resident agreeing with everyone else. The food is "ok" but a tad overpriced - esp. the breakfast plates. I don't mind the order at the counter option and the service is better than at Dry or Cedar Creek but I don't we'll eat there to often. Given that they tout "fresh and local" I expected more vegetarian offerings.

  10. Had an excellent breakfast at LOLA yesterday. I split the skillet breakfast with my wife and it was more than enough for the both of us. Perfectly scrambled eggs with cheese, grits, and excellent chicken fried steak with the best gravy. All that for $11.00 plus toasted buttery sourdough bread. Biscuits should really be added to the menu- maybe homemade sausage biscuits. The service was friendly and sincere.

  11. Too many Texas (Houston, in particular) eateries are reviewed on the premise of "generous portions", which I find offensive and not a good gauge of what makes a restaurant. Why do people feel that they have to be stuffed in order to give a place a check-plus rating? How about great food, realistic portion sizes, and not being stuffed when you leave? I guess we don't even know what normal portion sizes are anymore...I'm glad Lola is in the Heights occupying that gorgeous old building, but won't go and pay $11 for a breakfast that will stuff me to the gills.

  12. @ Anonymous: "Generous portions" is not the sole criteria I use to evaluated restaurants, but it is one of them. Another way to look at it is "good value for your money." If the portions sizes are small but the price is still high, then I don't feel like I'm getting enough for my money. If the portion size is generous and I'm paying a regular price, then I can take leftovers home and have two meals for the price of one, which I very much enjoy.