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Lola--Tom Douglas's new Greek restaurant in Seattle

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Lola--Tom Douglas's new Greek restaurant in Seattle

Tom Armitage | Aug 2, 2004 03:53 PM

My wife wanted me to caption this post “D for Douglas.” My preference was “When less is more.” Either caption reflects our basically negative opinion of the food at Tom Douglas’s new Seattle restaurant, Lola. The restaurant serves Douglas’s interpretation of Greek food. Greek food is a relatively uncomplicated cuisine (as contrasted with, say, Chinese or French cuisine). At its best, it presents fresh ingredients prepared in a simple, straightforward way that focuses on relatively unadorned flavors. Fish, fresh from the sea that morning, cooked in a wire basket over natural wood charcoal, supplemented only by a squeeze of lemon and a splash of olive oil. Meltingly tender, intensely flavorful roast lamb, sans any fancy marinade or sauce. The intense perfume and taste of garlic in that great Greek national treasure, skordalia. These are my memories of eating in Greece.

My wife and I started our experience at Lola with all six of the “Lola Spreads” served with grilled pita. In general, we found that they were “dumbed down” and lacking in flavor. The smoky eggplant wasn’t smoky and didn’t have much eggplant flavor. The skordalia was wimpy on the garlic. The roasted red pepper spread was bland. The best of the spreads was the bright and tangy tzatziki. We had one Meze, the red wine braised octopus with pork belly. I’m always excited when I see a chef combining pork and seafood, and I was looking forward to this dish with great anticipation. I’m sorry to say that I wasn’t crazy about it. There was just too much going on taste wise. I wished for a much simpler treatment, like the octopus I remember eating in Greece--charcoal grilled, smoky with charred bits here and there, served with just some lemon and olive oil. In the U.S.A., I had a similarly simple preparation of grilled octopus at the Monterey Fish House in Monterey, California. In Seattle, I like the octopus at Harvest Vine a lot more than Tom Douglas’s version at Lola. Following the Meze, we had two Kebabs. The first, lamb tongue with a summer Lady peach glaze, was tender and nicely cooked, capturing the delicate flavor of the tongue. I’m not sure that the sweetness introduced by the peach glaze is the right note for the tongue but, if actions speak louder than words, I didn’t leave any of it on my plate uneaten. The best dish of the night was the squid kebab with crushed chili and chermoula. The squid was tender and the flavors and spice were well balanced and gave just the right accent to the squid. Our final dish of the evening was a tagine with goat, shallots, and dates. It was extremely rich and too sweet for my taste.

I also thought the wine list was weak. I selected a Spanish rioja that was a good match for most of our food, but I’d have liked a better and wider number of choices.

There aren’t yet a lot of Chowhound posts on Lola, and I realize that my assessment is even more negative than Thee Trouthole’s rating of 6/10. Based on my experience, I won’t be going back to Lola again soon, except perhaps to give breakfast a try. There are too many other Seattle restaurants that serve better dinner time chow.

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