Lola, the foodie temple opened by Van Roberts in 2000, gives chefs a broad platform on which to strut their stuff. Maybe that’s why, whenever a chef departs, much gnashing of the teeth ensues. Alumni have gone on to Iris (Matt Bresnan), Kitchen 1924 (Edward Mendoza), and most recently Seventeen Seventeen (David Uygur).
Talented though they may be, the credit goes to Roberts, an artist himself with a generosity of spirit, eager to enable the creativity of others. (That goes for the front of the house, where he retained much of the service staff from Barclays, the previous tenant in this stately old house.)
The new head chef is Gray Henry, who was promoted from sous chef. He’s continuing in the vein established by Uygur, employing well-chosen but nonstereotypical ingredients in a juxtaposition of rustic and refined.
Tai snapper, from New Zealand, came with a “pirlau”—like a stew—of fava beans and artichokes, pristine yet sensuous, and snapping fresh. Pork belly consisted of golden-brown slabs, like the thick-cut bacon it was, with deep-green asparagus tips and a tangle of tender spaghetti squash in a savory-sweet cider sauce. Chilled cucumber soup was a broad, smooth expanse of pale green cucumber essence and cream.
It isn’t just foodies who love Lola. Winos appreciate Roberts’ passion for the grape, as seen in his sophisticated wine list and savvy practice of decanting bottles. He doesn’t overbook the tables, allowing you to sit there as long as you like. That graciousness extends to customers, too.
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