Lola ArtworkLola

4th & Virginia
206 441 1430

UPDATE: 31 Oct 2008 - We were back at Lola a few days ago, and, if anything, it has gotten even better. The squid skewers with chermoula was rich with garlic and coriander. The squid was perfectly grilled, and we could even taste the spot of ouzo they poured on the hot plate to give the final touch. This time we had their pita bread, and we were transported back to Astoria, if not all the way back to Greece. We liked Lola back in 2004, but now it has gotten even better. (By the way, Lola serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, so it is perfect any time of the day.

One of the things we noticed after moving to the Northwest was a relative dearth of Greek restaurants. In the Northeast, and even parts of the South, it is easy to find a half decent souvlaki or spanikapita. Of course, really good Greek food is harder to find, and out here the finding is even harder, so we are relived to report on our visit to the latest province of Tom Douglas Seattle empire, Lola.

Lola is right across the street from Dahlia Lounge and  it seems to be the lobby hotel for some boutique hotel that we didn't get a chance to explore. This location is important because it means that Tom Douglas himself can drop by just crossing the street from his offices, so we expect Lola to get better and better, not that it isn't quite excellent already.

Greek food lends itself to small plates and lots of sharing, and Lola encourages this. There is a nice big menu with both little plates and big plates. We skipped the various things that go with freshly grilled pita bread and went straight for the kebabs. We had the special of the day, delicious dark duck meat in a slightly sweet red wine sauce and meltingly tender chunks of lamb tongue with a fruity peach glaze. Both kebabs were wonderful, and we barely scratched the surface. If you want Greek-Northwestern fusion, you could go for troll caught king salmon or wild Pacific prawn kebabs.

Our favorite dish might have been the red wine braised octopus. We love octopus, and properly marinated as it was at Lola, it is both chewy and tender. Of course, Tom Douglas topped it with a strip of grilled, fresh pork belly which is five times better than bacon and filled out the dish with superb roasted baby  potatoes. We aren't sure of what gave the dish its dark, slightly salty flavor, though we suspect that there was some squid ink or cuttlefish in the sauce.

Our final appetizer was the skordalia. We weren't in the mood for pita bread, so we ordered the skordalia with roasted beets, and we have to say that they were simply excellent beets. The Northwest has the best root vegetables in the United States. Idaho is famous for its potatoes, but the region also produces seriously flavorful beets, turnips, parsnips and the like. At Lola, they take full advantage of this fact.

Having whetted our appetites, we turned the big plates. Every Tom Douglas restaurant has a burger, and a great burger at that. At Lola, it is a lamb burger, perfectly grilled, just a touch rare, and topped with tomatoes, onion and pickled green peppers. It was served with socca-like chick pea fries. We also tried out the olive oil braised rabbit stew with lemon and artichoke hearts. The rabbit was light and tender, and it went well with the herbs and accompaniments, but it was the slightest touch underspiced. Ah well, Lola is still new and Tom Douglas is based right across the street.

Craving comfort food, we went for the Grandma Dot's Greek spaghetti. Simple spaghetti preparations are popping up all over. This version was al dente and must have been pan fried briefly since it had a pan fried noodle texture, but the flavors were of butter and olive oil and salt. Order this dish and a glass of red wine if you've been having a bad day. It's better than Prozac.

We finished our meal with Greek dough balls and deep fried feta cheese fritters. These were good, but the real payoff was the honey and pistachios that these were served with. They were probably the best pistachios we've ever tasted. We let some of the fried stuff go back to the kitchen, but we scraped our plates.

All told, we had an excellent meal. It was the BEST Greek food we've had out west, bar none. The restaurant still has a few rough edges. There is no Greek coffee, and only two Greek wines, both hearty and delightful, available by the glass. The hours are excellent. They serve all day, and dinner starts at four o'clock.

It may not be quite as good as Molyvos in New York, but Lola is already great, and our guess is that it is just going to get better as Tom Douglas continues exploring the wonders of Greek cooking.

Review: 6 September 2004

FOOTNOTE: Grandma Dot's Greek spaghetti reminded us that we hadn't tasted our own Greek Pasta in quite some time. Our dish is based on the Greek pasta served at the Fountain Cafe in Port Townsend, so if you're interested, follow this link.

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