Lots of friends told me before I even stepped in the door that Lola’s, the new restaurant inside the Dundee Theater that took over the old Kitchen Table space, is taking a page out of the La Buvette playbook.
If you read this site, you know La Buvette is my favorite restaurant in the city (and maybe the world) so I arrived at Lola’s with a fair amount of trepidation.
Here’s the thing, though: Those people? They are kinda right.
Lolas nailed several parts of the La Buvette code: dim lighting, appealing atmosphere, homemade bread, lots of wine and a killer cheese plate. And where it differed, it differed in ways I appreciated.
The restaurant shares the lobby space with Film Streams’ Dundee Theater, but the space feels separated, mostly thanks to a new, highly inviting lighting scheme. That soft ambiance (the kind of glow that makes a diner feel good about herself) paired with a dining room at least half full and a night time view of Dodge Street traffic felt warm and appealing. It’s much improved.
Charcuterie, greens, small plates
The menu is divided into thirds: charcuterie, greens and small plates, and we tried one of each.
The vegetarian board comes with cheeses, yes, but also delicious antipasti-style vegetables; we got eggplant, carrot and several types of root vegetables, along with beets, pickles, nuts and olives. The only thing I missed? A bit of jam or fig spread to add a punch of sweetness to each bite.
Small complaints aside, it’s a great cheese plate, and I consider myself an expert in such things.
The bread is all made in house, and we tried the hearty brown bread, the tender baguette and the complimentary focaccia, which diners get during happy hour, and liked all three quite a bit.
I spotted the menu’s roasted vegetables, an array of organic vegetables tossed with chimichurri sauce, and instantly wondered: Could it be the return of my beloved roasted vegetable salad from the long-shut French Bulldog? It’s close. This new version feels inspired by the old one, which was tossed with a garlicky pesto. Lola’s roasted vegetables let the quality and flavor of the vegetables themselves shine through; at the end of the day, you have to appreciate those kind of pure, delicious ingredients.
We also sampled a house-made, hearty boar sausage served atop a plate of soupy, nicely seasoned lentils and braised kale. On the night we visited, when temperatures hit the single digits, there’s nothing like a bit of wild game. I’m joking, of course, but that tasty sausage disappeared quickly and its deep flavor satisfied.
One other thing: the portion sizes at Lola’s are entirely reasonable. I took half my vegetables home; Matthew finished his sausage and lentils without feeling too full.
We were mid-dry January during our meal, so I didn’t sample the wine (staff was more than happy to bring me a soda water with bitters, though.) The list, though, looks interesting in spite of its size, and I know I’ll be back to sample some of what it offers.
I like Lola’s. I like it quite a bit. And though nothing will ever steal my heart from La Buvette, Lola is doing a pretty good job of giving Omahans another cozy, comfortable, pleasant wine bar to sit a spell and enjoy a meal.