The area around the Cathedral is full of good restaurants and draws the crowds like cathedrals used to do. La Lola is a restaurant that looks like a trendy bar, which is because that is what it becomes when people finish their suppers. At lunch-time however you can sample experimental cooking for a mere 15 Euros, although admittedly that doesn’t include the three bottles of wine that are explicitly written into my reviewing contract.
The atmosphere is light, the music seductive, the décor minimalist with startling red and white polka dot walls. (I don’t really know what ‘minimalist’ means, but it makes it sound as if I know a lot more than I do).
The first thing Antonio, one of the owners who set up La Lola, asks you is what you’d like to drink, and so you know you’ve come to the right place. He then brought me a couple of prawns reclining in a delicious spicy sauce on a bed of grated prawn crackers, preparing my palate for what was to follow.
The staff is young and attentive and seem to cover the nationalities of various continents. The food, when it arrives; (and here there is no hurry, they actually prepare the food with care rather than heating it up on the microwave), is nouveau cuisine, attempting to stimulate your sensory organs rather than just extend your waistline.
For the first course I chose a wild mushroom salad with spicy Riojan sausage and the contrasts of flavours certainly made every mouthful a challenge.
For the second course I went for the scallop with wild rice, spinach and other unidentified green bits. Again, each ingredient complemented the others and all retained their own flavour. The rice was very well prepared, the grains so separated they seemed to have argued.
For each course there were two other dishes, all of them inventive and sounding inviting; unfortunately I was dining alone that day and couldn’t poach from legitimate owners and my attempts to taste other diners’ dishes were neither extraordinarily successful nor particularly welcome.
For the dessert there was no choice, nor need there have been; it was a two part assault on the senses, with a kind of brownie cake with ice cream on the one tongue and what seemed to be wild strawberries in a liquid that contained ginger and passion fruit juice on the other. Divine; even if astronomically difficult!
I was offered a free liqueur at the end, but declined, having to teach that afternoon; as it was I fell asleep in class so it wouldn’t have mattered anyway.
If it hasn’t staggered off to the left somewhere, La Lola can still be found at Calle Subida del Toledano in the shadow of the Miguelete Tower, with a pleasant terrace outside which is thankfully free of traffic.
Telephone: 96 3918045.