December 28, 2009

Michael Symon's Lolita in Cleveland, OH

Well, for the first time since I started this little blog 'o mine, I let almost two weeks lapse between posting new content. I had intended to do some updates with all the time I had while visiting family in Cleveland, OH during the holidays, but laziness begets laziness and I spent my time eating, drinking, keeping kids from killing each other, and drinking some more. Lots of good food and wine during the week, perhaps I'll get my act together and post more about that later. For now, a review of Lolita in Cleveland, a place I was glad to finally get to visit. My brother-in-law had been a few times and had arranged to get us there a couple days before Christmas.

Lolita is one of several restaurants in the Cleveland area owned by Food Network's Iron Chef Michael Symon. Lolita is tucked away on a quaint street corner in the Tremont neighborhood just outside downtown Cleveland. It's a tiny little place, with an open kitchen beside a wood burning stove and cozy little bar, it has the feel of a causal neighborhood joint. It felt homey the moment I walked in the door.
I didn't take a ton of a pics, but here a few with some commentary.

We started off with a few Hot Dirty Birds. The Dirty Bird was basically a dirty martini with a shot of tabasco, but I needed to represent...
For starters, we opted for a couple orders of Roasted Bone Marrow. Veal bones, split open and roasted with scallion butter, and grilled bread for spreading. The roasted bone marrow was heavenly. Salty and gooey, fully of buttery and meaty goodness. We gobbled them up in a hurry. The 2006 Rosso Piceno Boccadigabbia (50% Montepulciano/50% Sangiovese) was really a nice match here. Decent buy at $30 off the list.

The Big Boy-We also went for an order of the Big Boy-an eclectic mound of meat. Everything here was tasty; especially the house cured duck prosciutto.There was also some nice sopressata and pancetta, and a delicious palate-cleansing pickled fennel.

I won't review every entree that was passed around the table, but they were all strong and executed flawlessly. I had a tasty butterflied and roasted chicken with braised fennel, tarragon, and olives that has renewed my love for fennel. It was tasty. My brother-in-law ordered a killer pork chop with poblanos and almonds over mashed butternut squash.

Each entree comes with the choice of one side. The sides are served in these personal pots that I've seen used before, but now am now interesting in getting for home use once again. They are too cool.

The side dish pictured above is a Symon specialty: Deep Fried Brussel Sprouts. I don't quite know how he does it, but these were insanely good. (I tried it at home, mine were just ok). Imagine brussell sprouts transformed into something akin to salt and vinegar potato chips. The sprouts get crunchy, then doused in capers, anchovies, balsamic, garlic, and other goodies. It's a great dish.

All-in-all, Lolita was a kicking experience. Everything I tasted was excellent and exuded personality and flavor. If I lived in the area, I'd be there. A lot.


  1. Man, that all sounds great, especially The Big Boy. The deep fried brussel sprouts sound tasty too, something even Homer could get excited about. Mmm...deep fried...[insert food here]...[sounds of gurgling drool]...

  2. Thanks Kevin. It was a great night out. A haven for meat lovers, for sure.

  3. I spent a lot of time in Cleveland in 2008, and ate at both Lola and Lolita. The beef cheek pierogies at Lola were probably the best thing I tasted all year long. Lolita's more casual but had a fun wine list with things like Nero d'Avola.

    If you get back up there check out Bar Cento/McNulty's Bier Markt which is run by Symon's friend Jonathan Sawyer. More of an upscale pub, but seriously awesome food.

    Happy new year!

  4. Benito-Thanks for the comment. We decided on Lolita over Lola as we were a big group and wanted a but more casual spot. My brother-in-law lives in the area and is a fan of Symon's places. Symon hs a new burger and shakes joint, too, called the B-Spot (I think). Looked good, too.
    Thanks for the tips!

  5. I saw Michael Symon on Bourdain's Cleveland show before all the Iron Chef pomp and circumstance...seems like a guy I'd want to hang out with and who cooks the way I want to eat (and can't, at this post-December weight). While I know he didn't cook the food, it looks like his crew didn't disappoint.