After many many years of friendship online, my friend April was making her way to Cleveland from LA. We were going to be meeting in person for the first time. It's a momentous occasion! One I really wanted to do in style. So when I found out she was staying in downtown Cleveland I asked if she would want to have lunch at Michael Symon's restaurant Lola Bistro. "Don't kill me, but who's Michael Symon?" she asked. Hmm. Well I was just about to scratch that idea when I thought, she won't know of any other places or chefs in Cleveland either so let's just go for it! So after a quick walk through Tower City Center so we could purchase our newly released, The Runaways DVD, we took a short drive around Cleveland and then came back and walked to Lola's.
We arrived around 2:15 pm and the sign on the door says that lunch is served until 2:30 pm. I figured that was that, they weren't going to want to seat us now. How wrong I was! We were greeted at the door by a very friendly hostess who happily showed us to a table. She even asked where we'd like to sit and since the kitchen is open, I asked if we could sit near there so I could watch the goings on.
Both April and I were only planning on having a light lunch so we first got to enjoy some of the delicious bread and butter that was brought to our table. I'm kind of bready, so I'm always happy to see bread put on my table.
After looking over the menu, April chose a Greek Chopped Salad and I chose to have a salad and half sandwich. The salad was Bibb and Watercress Salad (it also has gala apple, oranges, chives and hazelnuts... they had me at hazelnuts - and um, hold the oranges of course!) with the Grilled Rosemary Ham and Cheese Sandwich (grilled ham with rosemary, reclette, whole grain mustard on French bread and pressed in a Panini press).
I know it's just a salad and a panini, but it wasn't just your run of the mill salad and panini! The salad was scrumptious, truly. In my book, you can't go wrong if there are hazelnuts in involved. And the dressing was light and flavorful.
The sandwich certainly seemed like more than half to me! In fact, I took half of my half home. And believe me, Nick was not sad to "have" to eat it later. The rosemary was perfect, the bread crisp on the outside but not at all hard, the ham and cheese were lovely and the mustard was just right. Yeah, I liked it.
I loved that my sandwich was packed in a cardboard box. Very often when taking home leftovers, I have to specify to the server to bring it to me wrapped in a napkin or foil or something, anything other than that horrible bulky Styrofoam container. I don't want them, I don't want to dispose them and wish restaurants would stop using them.
And then what happened? Our server told us that they had Chocolate Pots de Creme with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream for dessert. April and I looked at each other and said, "sold!" We shared one, and O.M.G.
What an amazingly lovely capper to a delicious lunch. Thank you sir, may I have another?
So a beautiful lunch, with a beautiful friend, on a beautiful day in Cleveland. What could be better?