First Bites: Lolita vinoteca + asador

Though this trio of food trucks in the Eastern Prom beckoned to me, I decided to give one of the new [brick & mortar] kids on the block a try. Well, new-ish? Guy and Stella Hernandez have followed up their wildly popular restaurant Bar Lola with a reincarnation of sorts called Lolita, located in the same Munjoy neighborhood just a few doors down. I had eaten at Bar Lola a couple of winters ago and meant to go back, but I never got the chance to see what else they had up their sleeve before they closed up shop. I thought the Lolita space was intimate, but not to the point where it feels like you’re dining on top of one another. It filled up quickly while I was there, but I did not find myself competing with excessive noise to speak with my server.

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Under the Toasts, Pots, Snacks section of the menu, the items are$4 each OR you can mix-and-match any three for $10. I ordered two toasts: the steak tartare with shallots & capers and the mushroom with thyme/garlic confit as suggested by my server. For my third, I ordered a pot of the salted cod with chorizo. I poorly handled my ratio of cod to carbs and ran out of bread, but I had no second-thoughts about just diving in with a fork on the leftovers. Maybe not the largest portions, but certainly no shortage on savory earthy flavors.

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Obviously tooting my own horn here, but I will always hold Vena’s Fizz House as the standard for mocktails in town. That being said, I was still thrilled to see a seasonal non-alcoholic offering on Lolita’s drink list and this particular beverage was an impressive entry in the temperance arena. The bartender whipped up a concoction of lime juice, cucumber, and ginger beer. Definitely had a great kick to it which lingered at the back of the throat.

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While the grilled peaches with hazelnuts & arugula weren’t available that evening, there were still plenty of viable menu options. The two that stuck out were actually substitutions. The squid ink spaghetti was replaced by spaghetti with pine nuts, bottarga (fish roe), currants, and anchovy. The marinated octopus dish was replaced by a summer squash & zucchini salad also with bottarga, lemon, and pecorino cheese. My only concern was the inclusion of the bottarga in both dishes. I did not want to eat them back to back if their flavors were going to be too similar. I could not have been more wrong about the flavor profiles. The citrus in the zucchini salad dominated the palate. Overall a very light and refreshing dish, really appropriate for the summer season. The spaghetti went in another direction. It was warm and comforting, fluctuating with each bite between salty and sour sensations.

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Summer squash & zucchini salad with bottarga (fish roe), lemon, and pecorino cheese

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Spaghetti with pine nuts, bottarga, currants, and anchovy

Overall, I was very pleased with my meal at Lolita and I’m looking forward to another visit. Lolita offers an attractive space, warm attentive service, and solid food. I will make good on this promise of returning and not allow opportunity be squandered as I had done with Bar Lola!

~NOMaste

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