Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fun Playing With Friends and Small Plates at Lolita

After our delightful Sunday brunch at Luxe, we proceeded to show our friend Cynthia around several Cleveland neighborhoods, including downtown (in full Browns home game mode - she marveled at the ease with which we transversed the downtown mayhem), Asiatown and University Circle. After stopping back home, we refreshed and headed to Tremont and Michael Symon's Lolita for dinner with friends. We stuck to small plates and pizza, and didn't need a single entree to achieve food nirvana.

Bone Marrow
The succulent bone marrow is an ideal start. Rich, rich, rich - but so worth it.

The Big Board
Lolita doesn't make as much charcuterie in-house as it used to, but no matter. We greedily devoured every morsel on this board - the pate at 11 o'clock was the winner, followed closely by a duck confit hiding under the crostini at 12. There was not a loser in sight.

Grilled Shishito Peppers - meyer lemon, feta, bread crumbs, oregano, anchovy vinaigrette
Simply delicious - not too spicy and perfectly balanced (and I "don't like" anchovies, either, but this was delicious). This dish highlighted why Chef Symon is so lemon zest-happy on The Chew - because it makes the food's other flavors pop.

Crispy Chicken Livers - soft polenta, mushrooms, bacon
Cynthia isn't a big chicken liver fan (I'm generally not either), but this plate got cleaned. Again, Symon's team perfectly nuanced the intense chicken livers against the gentle polenta and creamy bacon (and mushrooms, for those who love them). The head chef at Lolita these days is Chef James Mowcomber, who is doing an outstanding job. 

My plate with Chicken Liver,  Polenta and a Roasted Dates stuffed with almonds, bacon, chiles, parsley
My photo of the date plate didn't sing, but the food surely did. The stuffed date is an old favorite from the Lolita kitchen, but it never fails to please with its combination of sweet and savory.

Eggplant Dip with Lemon, Crunchy something (it was delicious) and oiled bread.
Babaganoush on steroids (or was it a Vitamix?). Best. Eggplant. Dip. Ever.

Fried Brussels Sprouts - capers, anchovies and walnuts
Ah, those pesky anchovies again! Guaranteed to please even the avid brussels sprout (or anchovy) hater!

Crispy Pig Tails & Ears - fennel-onion agrodolce, pickled chilies, cilantro
This took the prize for the most "interesting" dish of the evening. Both the sow's ear and it's tail were turned into silk purses, as far as we were concerned. The ear slices melted in the mouth with porky goodness. And the tail?

Crispy Pig Tails & Ears - fennel-onion agrodolce, pickled chilies, cilantro - close up
Simply delicious. Put aside whatever bias you have (and this is coming from a nice Jewish girl from New York) and get this while it's still on the menu. Period. And yes, this is finger food. You hands will get dirty and you will love licking off every morsel.

Pizza - Winter Squash, smoked mozzarella, apples, pancetta, onions, white balsamic.
This seasonal pizza is a worthy choice. I never thought I'd like apples on a pizza, but darned if this specimen didn't change my mind. And so, Lolita followed up most auspiciously on the territory staked out by Momocho and Luxe. Well played, Cleveland (and the Browns even won - ok, it was last week).

Early Monday morning, Cynthia took off for points south (Columbus). But Cleveland did itself proud this fine fall weekend, showing off the variety and quality of food available, at wallet-friendly price points, that made it the crown jewel of Midwest dining. Thank you Cleveland, and thank you Cynthia, for playing. I know that you were well rewarded with fun playing with your food, and that makes all the difference.

1 comment:

  1. Lolita is one of my favorites - thanks for reminding me to visit them again...soon!

    Crystal @EatDrinkClev