Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week: Lunch at Michael Symon’s Lola Bistro

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As I featured last week, this week is Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week! It’s practically Christmas in this household – let the celebration of food begin!

Once presented with our dinner options, Hans quickly made a selection and I quickly made dinner reservations for this Friday evening. But I hoped to sneak in one additional visit in before the week was done. Luckily for us, both the hubby and I had off President’s Day so we decided to enjoy the day together starting at Michael Symon’s Lola Bistro on East 4th Street:

(picture source)

From their open table site: Celebrity Chef Michael Symon, along with Executive Chef Derek Clayton, lead the culinary team at Lola… Symon is a two time nominee for “Best Chef Great Lakes”, by the James Beard Foundation, winning that honor in 2009. Symon has also been recognized in Food & Wine Magazine’s feature “Ten Best Chefs in America.” In the heart of Cleveland’s E. 4th St. neighborhood, this “local jewel” features stunning decor and sustainable American cuisine.

We chose Lola for a few reasons, but mainly because I could easily pull together a gluten free lunch based on what was being offered on their Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week lunch menu. We arrived for an early lunch at 12:00PM and settled into a booth as I tried to warm up with a cup of tea.

Our kind waiter was fabulous about helping me make a selection based off my gluten intolerance. After some consideration, Hans ordered off of the DCRW menu while I made a slight variation and ordered off the regular lunch menu.

While it was on the DCRW menu, I started with the Spicy Tomato Bisque with blue cheese and chives:


There are a million tomato bisques out there, and this one is better than average. Good flavor, well seasoned with a nice chuck of blue cheese to mix in along the way, I was happy to warm up with this huge bowl of soup.

From the DCRW menu, Hans started with the Mixed Greens salad, with endive, radicchio, spinach frisèe, blue cheese, almond, cranberry and balsamic dressing:


Once I saw some of the greens on the plate, I got worried: Hans gets picked about some of those “scarier” looking green varieties! But he happily enjoyed his salad, saying he liked how the blue cheese amplified each bite. The salad was perfectly dressed with the balsamic dressing – something I always appreciate.

For his main, Hans ordered the Grilled Cheese sandwich with smoked gouda, arugula, apple and prosciutto on French bread with rosemary Lola fries:


How do you go wrong with the combination of gouda and prosciutto? Needless to say, Hans loved his sandwich. He actually slowed down to savor every bite, so I know this was better than the usual sandwich options around town!  The rosemary fries were just as fabulous as I remembered them to be. I asked our server to bring out the regular ketchup and the house made spicy ketchup so both Hans and I could enjoy them. That spicy ketchup had the perfect amount of kick to take the French fry experience to the next level.

For my main, I ordered the Spinach Salad from the regular lunch menu with watercress, fennel, oranges, beets, goat cheese and pumpkin seeds:DSCN2886

I requested the dressing on the side, as usual. I appreciate Michael Symon’s use of goat cheese in his dishes. I love me some goat cheese, and there was the perfect amount to bring everything together in this salad. I loved the combination of all the ingredients, especially the inclusion of the beets and the fennel.  I was very happy to make this selection & take our waiter’s recommendation.

LONG STORY SHORT: We happily dined as the restaurant started to fill up for their lunch hour rush. By the time we left a bit before 1:00PM, the main dining room had a great buzz about it. Our server had mentioned he was happy to get into Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week because it was the official kickoff to business getting busy again. What a great benefit of the Downtown Cleveland Alliance program: driving local residents to deserving businesses in a great town.

We had a nice lunch at Lola Bistro that day and I would definitely return again for a business lunch or a romantic dinner in the future. I encourage you to do the same, perhaps this week I honor of Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week. As Michael Symon said on Monday via his social media feed: get out of suburbs and get downtown!

With another reservation on the books, you have another Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week post coming your way – SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO!

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  1. Kali says:

    Where are you guys going on Friday? Some of my high school friends and I decided to enjoy restaurant week Friday night also, but haven’t decided on where yet. I’m having trouble picking because I can’t eat some of the options on every course pretty much everywhere.

    • admin says:

      We were planning on going to Johnny’s but the snow is forcing a cancellation of our plans. Here’s hoping we can sneak in dinner Sunday evening!

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