Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Lola

is one of my favorite of Superstar Chef Tom Douglas' many fine Seattle restaurants. Although I usually find myself at his other restaurant Palace Kitchen sitting at the Bar, Kevin & I were in Seattle, shopping on a recent Sunday and decided to try Tom’s new pizzeria Serious Pie but it hadn’t opened yet- so we walked over to another of Tom's restaurants, Dahlia Lounge (also not yet open ) ...but right across the street located next to the chic modern Hotel Andra, Lola beckoned.

We took 2 seats at the bar. Our Bartender Guillermo grabbed us a couple of Manny’s Pale Ales and we began studying the menu of Meze and the delicious looking plates being consumed all around us.

The negotiating began:
Hmmm how about the House-cured Gravlax I asked? (I love home-made gravlax). Or the Lemony Rice Dolmades? What are Dolmades Kevin Asked? It means wrapped in grape leaves, I explained.

Oooh wait—They’re still serving breakfast Kevin noticed (it was almost 5pm)…They have really good spreads like their minty feta, I answered. That Greek fig spread with Kalamata is yum. And the griddled pitas are really good here… I reminded myself.

What about some Kebabs of Lamb Kevin said? Yeah that sounds good. You love Squid, I replied. Yeah... but what is Chermoula? DEE-licious was my snappy reply. It is a cumin-y lemony middle-eastern spicy marinade garnish for fish—you’ll love it! Ok let’s get that too!
Ok- so we told Guillermo to order four dishes: Gravlax, the minty feta spread, and the Lamb & Squid Kebabs.

The chicly dressed woman several bar stools to our right laughed at how many dishes we ordered. Her dining companion seemed to be the New York Times. (I think she thought we over-ordered). Kevin offered-up to the bar in a loud voice: My friend writes a Food Blog. We like to eat a lot of dishes so he can blog about it. All heads in the bar including Guillermo’s jerked around and faced us.

Everyone stopped eating. Forks stopped midair.
A large woman sitting across from us asked, You write a food blog? I nodded without answering hoping not to make verbal confirmation. A swift but subtle elbow into Kevin’s ribs hopefully left a bruising reminder that this is supposed to be a sort of under-the-radar effort at anonymity.

Thank God the food began arriving. It was beautiful. But I began to realize Chic Lady might be right--the portions here are generous. Out came the camera. Photos had to be taken. I could see the other customers staring as I arranged the plates. It felt awkward. But once I began to taste the food the awkwardness melted away, as the delicious flavors held sway.
The pita and feta spread arrived first. They were griddled brown & warm and crunchewy. The feta, by nature dry and crumbly- has been whipped smooth and luscious with the addition of Greek olive oil, and lots of fresh chopped mint and it's delicious.

Now the gravlax. This was the only dish that disappoints. Maybe it was cut from a sockeye, or coho--both less-fatty salmon. I like my gravlax silky and fatty. It could also have been over-cured and cut too thickly and not on the bias, which contributes to a poorer mouth-feel on the tongue. The toast and cream cheese, the garnish tomatoes, red onions & capers are fine. [See my RECIPE for Gravlax below]

Next arrive the Lamb Kebabs. I did not need the Yogurt sauce simply because the Lamb was sensational and didn't need anything else. The lamb’s garlicky marinade & inherent gamy nature didn't need something tangy to run interference--unless I guess you don't like the flavor of good lamb. Delicious! The Greek Salad accompaniment was chunky and refreshing. I want this salad again in Summer on someone's patio-kicking back on a hot summer day. The tomatoes were unusually good this early in the season on this cold Spring day, and the cucumbers brought the first taste of summer to my tongue. Bring on Summer I am ready!

The Squid Kebab was the highlight of the Meal. After eating Squid grilled whole on skewers I asked Kevin-- will we ever want to eat fried Calamari again ever?? Not me. This is sensational we both agreed --and the chermoula amazing. The sauce kept our lips tingling for more. The squid, both charred and tender, caramelized and burnished the flavors in ways that a fryer never could. Simple & Brilliant!


Walking out, we notice the cozy booths...This ambiance really would lend itself to a long leisurely breakfast or brunch. Maybe that chicly dressed woman in the bar slept in, and was reading her morning NY TIMES...do you think? We smiled at the thought, and conspire to come back soon for breakfast.

LOLA'S
2000 4th Ave
(corner of 4th and Virginia)
(206) 441-1430

·
breakfast Monday through Friday from 6:00 AM to 11:00 AM
·
lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 AM to 4:00 PM
·
Dinners are served Sunday through Thursday from 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM and Friday and Saturday from 4:00 PM to 11:00 PM
·
late night menu is available Sunday through Thursday from 10:00 PM to 12:00 AM and Friday and Saturday from 11:00 PM to 12:00 AM The Bar remains open until 2:00 AM
·
brunch is served on Saturdays and Sundays from 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Server: Guillermo

Minty Feta Spread $3.50
Lamb Kebab $13.
Gravlax $15
Chermoula Squid Kebab $13.
Manny's Pale Ale 3@$5
Tip $12
Total: $77.50 [incl tax]


GORDON'S RECIPE FOR GRAVLAX:


When I make Gravlax I take equal parts SUGAR, SEA SALT, CRACKED BLACK PEPPERCORNS (one cup each) PLUS (4 cups) CHOPPED FRESH DILL
Rub some of the blended spice mixture lightly into the flesh of the salmon filet (left whole) pin bones removed taking care not to damage the flesh (salmon skin-side should be slightly scored barely through the skin, on the bias, to allow juices to escape).
Take remaining spices, blend with the dill and completely “bury” the salmon top and bottom with the dill spice mixture. Cover with plastic wrap. Set the whole half salmon filet in a pan large enough to accommodate it, and set another pan on top of it. Not set a couple of Gallon milk jugs on top of the pan and distribute the weights evenly on the pan to weight the pan unevenly on top of the salmon. Every day, unweight the salmon and flip the filet over, then re-weight it. You will see the salmon start "throwing" liquid as the salt/sugar brine starts extracting liquid from the salmon flesh.. Depending on the size of the salmon filet you may need to only cure the fish for a day or two, or up to 3 for a fairly large fish. When cured, remove and scrape away the mixture, from the flesh. You do not need to wash the flesh just brush it gently to get the majority of the salty sweet pepper dill mixture off the flesh.

Carefully slice the flesh with a thin slicing knife as thinly as possible taking care that you always see the knife through the flesh of the salmon transparently through the flesh (that will be the proper thinness, and transfer slices to plates. Refrigerate the filet whole and slice only what you need.
Notice in the photo how shiny & silky the flesh appears, also notice the angle the thin slicing knife is held to the filet. The slicing motion should be a very gentle back & forth with very little pressure pushing forward. (almost like you are drawing a bow across a violin with similar long even strokes.)
If a forgotten bone is encountered-- stop at once-- as the cured flesh will easily tear and ruin several thicknesses of future slices.
Remember, you always want to be able to see through the thickness of the flesh of the salmon to be able to see the knife, as you slice. Too thick of a slice of gravlax is unattractive to eat. It comes across in the mouth as rubbery once the fish is cured.
(besides it is a waste, and is unattractive for presentation purposes).
A good way to serve the gravlax is with chopped diced sweet or red onions, capers, fresh dill mayonnaise, or crème fraîche and good toast. And for a splurge, caviar. And of course, good Champagne.

...Will last about 5-6 days held in the coldest part of the refrigerator.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

The food looks wonderful. Love your blog Chef G.
Pegsterdtown

ChefGordonNaccarato said...

thanks, Pegster for reading. Have eaten at Lola at least 3 times. It never disappoints, and is always crowded with a good-looking crowd of hungry happy satisfied diners. Give it a try!

Anonymous said...

Gordon,
Glad to see that your blog is not full of the blowhards that are on Ed's blog. This here is what it should be a blog about great food!!! As for that horrible Rivit I believe he attacks people as a whole because he cannot see that nose to spite his face. Sad that somebody is so bitter and takes delight in others misfortunes. I will be there right behind you to defend you and your establishment. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
Pegsterdtown