Back when it debuted in Tremont more than 20 years ago and again when it was reborn on East Fourth in 2006, Lola was often described as “trendy.” It was a term of endearment, for sure, denoting Michael Symon’s low-fuss elevation of familiar dishes like the pierogi or cured meats that helped put those neighborhoods and Cleveland on the culinary map. But still, it irked him — pissed him off, really. “ ‘Trendy new restaurant Lola,’ ” he scoffs. “Trendy, trendy, trendy!” Almost 22 years later, Lola has proved it’s more than a fad. “I’m happy being that comfortable pair of jeans now,” he says. Which seems like the most understated way ever to describe the restaurant that coaxed us into trying bone marrow ($26) or house-made wild boar salami and duck pastrami on a charcuterie board ($29). Lola’s beef hanger steak ($35) with pickle sauce, chiles and Lola fries (oh, those fries) tastes so indulgent it has even made us re-evaluate our life choices. But don’t think Lola doesn’t have any tricks left. “I’m always enthusiastic and I try to surround myself with people who are equally or more enthusiastic than me,” he says. “That inspires me every day.” Symon is excited about dishes introduced by executive chef Jake Micale such as the roasted sunchokes ($12) with celery root, Gruyere, pickled mustard seeds and black truffle, and the lamb sausage ($14) with chickpeas, olive and feta that plays to Symon’s Greek heritage. “We don’t have to be the new current place,” he says. “But we still want to be your favorite place.” 2058 E. Fourth St., Cleveland, 216-621-5652, lolabistro.comTry this:
Don’t worry, those jeans will still fit (probably), after one of pastry chef Summer Genetti’s creative desserts, such as the peppermint pattie ($11) with white chocolate-peppermint mousse, brownie, dark chocolate sorbet and Pernod gelee.