Sunday, April 13, 2008


One of the "Tom Douglas" family of restaurants in downtown Seattle

Downtown Seattle is bursting with lunch spots, but when we reached Lola, we didn't feel the need to go any further. Warm and inviting, the restaurant has a breezy Mediterranean feel to the decor, modern wood lit by wrought iron hanging lamps. Red neon over the bar gives the place a touch of "lounge" feel. When you walk in, you're greeted by a friendly hostess and taken to a pleasant table, clean and bright.

One of the appetizers is a choice of six spreads, served with warm pita bread. We chose the kalamata-fig spread and asked our server what would pair well with it. She suggested a mint-feta spread to go with it. They arrived quickly with a pile of fresh pita bread, which didn't have much seasoning of its own, the better to let the spread's flavors come through. We loved the kalamata-fig: the sweetness of the fig melded well with the sharp olive flavor. The mint-feta spread was good on its own: quality feta with a good bite and a nice undertone of mint, but it was best when paired with the fig spread, just as our waitress suggested.

For a main course, we split the lamb kebabs with Greek salad. The staff graciously split the plates for us, and in fact they were terrific all around, offering to bring us more pita bread, checking up to make sure we were okay. Lamb is one of those things that's tricky. It's easy to make it too tough, or gamey, but it should have some taste of lamb. The kebabs were perfectly tender, and the savory red wine sauce complemented it well. The Greek salad was the real surprise. There's a lot of flexibility with Greek salads, too. You can have soggy cucumbers and bland olives, underripe tomatoes and flavorless feta, and too often, restaurants will make up for that with overpowering dressing. Here, the cucumbers were crisp, the olives juicy and tangy, the tomatoes and feta perfectly ripe, and the dressing supportive without overpowering the other flavors.

It's a good place for a leisurely lunch. The food takes a little while to come out, and it's definitely worth it. If you want to enjoy your lunch, this is the place to go. And ask for a "Lorade" when you do--our server, Lori, makes a lemonade with a splash of cranberry that has been named for her now. It's that kind of friendly touch that puts Lola a cut above the other wonderful lunch destinations in downtown Seattle.

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