Having attended high school one block away from The Village, I found myself spending a lot of time along Church Street, especially at lunch time. In all honesty, it is not an area that stands out in my mind as a destination for good food. My high school days may have ended ten years ago, but the culinary landscape of the area really hasn’t changed much over the past decade. The Pizza Pizza where everyone went after school is still there, and the cheapest and “healthiest” option for lunch was Ginger, which is still just across the street. Of course being known more for its nightlife scene, the strip of Church Street between Carlton and Wellesley (respectively) is filled mainly with clubs, cocktail bars, and fast food joints.
When I was invited to Lola’s Kitchen for dinner, I was excited to try an actual restaurant in The Village. Promising the ‘best fresh food in town’ I figured it would a welcome change from what I’m used to eating in the area. What was there to lose?
First of all, as soon as I walked in, I was greeted by this sign. Need I say more? I felt like I was home! Lola’s was speaking my language.
Needless to say we started off the evening with glasses of Sangria. I often avoid ordering Sangria from most restaurants because I find it often tastes more like a watered down juice with a bunch of random fruit thrown in, rather than an actual wine cocktail. Au contraire at Lola’s Kitchen. This glass of Sangria was delicious and you could actually taste the red wine in there. The Lola team admitted that they use a fair amount of wine in their recipes (far more than most places) and I nearly jumped up to applaud them.
Soon we put in an order for a variety of dishes off of Lola’s menu that ranged from the healthy to the naughty. I loved that you could have both.
To start, we (and by we I am referring to me, my brother, and our Fairy Godmother, Lana) ordered the Roasted Beets Salad; a lovely fresh salad filled with large chunks of beets, tangy apples, walnuts and goat’s cheese, mixed with a sweet dijon vinaigrette. The came their house made cider battered Onion Rings served with a side of Sriracha aioli. It’s been a long time since I’ve had an onion ring that actually looked and tasted like a real human made it. These were delicious, and perfectly paired with tiny bits of fresh green onion. I think we could have each ordered a bowl of these onion rings and been incredibly happy.
Since ordering two more individual bowls of onion rings would be a bit excessive, we ordered the Kale Caesar salad instead. Caesar salads are another thing I ten to avoid in most restaurants because they often come drenched in a disgusting creamy sauce the resembles nothing of what a classic Caesar salad should be like. I loved that Lola’s served their salad with a vegan-friendly house made cashew Caesar dressing and crispy organic polenta strips on the side instead of the standard croutons.
As someone who is interested in healthy cooking and eating, I find I often incorporate raw and vegan recipes into my daily diet, but I’m not vegan or vegetarian, and, in fact, I love to eat meat (in moderation). It was very appealing to me to that Lola’s menu was focused on local, organic, and home cooked food that involved vegan options, gluten-free alternatives, as well as meaty dishes. There was a range to indulge in, and something for everyone.
Even though we were told that Lola’s Bowls are some of the most popular mains on the menu, we decided to indulge in our carnivorous cravings and ordered the Braised Short Ribs and Lamb Burger to share. The short ribs were fall-off-the-bone, saucy and moist — just want you want from a plate of good braised short ribs! The burger was hearty but well-balanced with a lovely fresh mint sauce that helped cut through the fattiness of the lamb.
When it comes to their promise of fresh and home cooked food, Lola’s Kitchen certainly did not disappoint. The relaxed atmosphere and friendly staff make a restaurant that’s perfect for hanging out with friends, or even taking the family out for a satisfying and fresh meal at a reasonable price point. From what I hear, they are actually best known for their brunch (which sells out every weekend) and they have recently released a new brunch menu. Obviously, we’ll have to go back!
Thank you Lola’s Kitchen! We left a very happy trio!!