Midwest Living Review
You probably won't see celebrity chef Michael Symon if you go to Lola Bistro, his flagship restaurant at the heart of Cleveland's East 4th District. But that doesn't mean that it's not his food you'll be eating or his dining room you'll be eating it in. Everything about Lola reflects Symon's culinary style and personality. (First hint this isn't your typical fine-dining experience: rather than chef's whites, the cooks wear auto mechanic style garb.) Symon is a total carnivore, which feels just right in this meat-and-potatoes town. At Lola, there is no shame in wanting a big heaping pile of protein for dinner -- especially if it's pork. The Frito Misto appetizer ($12) includes sumptuous pork belly, skinny pork ear and crackling seasoned with chilies. If you love bacon, you'll inhale this. Smoked Berkshire Pork Chops ($28) are so tender and flavorful that it's hard to believe they have any relation to the notoriously dry "other white meat." If you've left room for dessert, try the 6 a.m. Special ($9) -- French toast and bacon ice cream. Not a fan of food that once oinked? An arugula-topped goat cheese onion tart ($10) dazzles. lemon mousse ($9) pairs a meringue cookie with lemon curd, caramelized grapefruit and crystallized mint for a tart, tingly treat. Lola's mix of outstanding food with a stylishly casual atmosphere attracts a varied crowd: special occasion couples, girls' night-out groups, pals grabbing a civilized bite before the big game. The common denominator is energy. You walk in and know in an instant that everyone is excited to be here.