Lola’s opened in 2019 and is a small place that uses menu-less dining. The menu is an oral presentation without prices and only small descriptions. Chef is at one end of the room where he prepares each dish while a couple staff circulate in the room collecting orders. There are 2 seatings but they can’t seem to stay on schedule so our 8:00 started more like 8:30. However it was fun to quiz the diners as they exited the place and find out what they enjoyed. There are 2 small benches out front for a couple lucky waiters. They provide water and one wine-glass per person, but otherwise it is a bring-your-own-beverage with no corkage fee. One other idiosyncrasy is they accept only cash or maybe a local check. There are only about 10 tables so reservations are a must but according to the table next to us, the waitlist does work, as that’s how they got in. Lights are very low with lots of votive candles on the walls and one on each white cloth covered table. Fairly loud music was in the background. The menu changes daily. The food is wonderful with everything cooked perfectly. Without a doubt the best meal I had in Key West and one I highly recommend.
Menu options as I recall
The first plates offered our night were lamb shank, scallop, shrimp diavlo, conch cakes and mushroom ravioli. Main plates were veal with gnocchi, 10 oz filet with Lion’s Mane mushrooms, N. Atlantic swordfish, red snapper with lobster ravioli and batter dipped pompano. Desserts were pecan pie, Key lime pie, baked bananas, chocolate ganache and blueberry crepes. My understanding was that starters range from $20 – $30 and entrees are from $30-50. Desserts were $11 each and are ordered after the first 2 courses, but be prepared to order the first stuff right after the menu is presented.
An amuse bouche was brought out to each diner by the chef, but no explanation or welcome. It was a bruchetta of tomato and mozzarella alongside a slice of salami, cucumber and some white beans. Everything was well seasoned and nicely flavored with an array of textures to chose from on the plate.
The scallops were 3 large ones which were barely cooked and surrounded by an excellent sauce. They were silky and sweet and a lovely start.
The conch cakes were soon to become “world-renowned” according to our server. There were 2 and both were seared to a perfect crisp on the outside which contrasted nicely with the soft chewy center. The sauce was the perfect compliment to them, adding richness to each bite. Scrumptious.
The veal medallions were topped with mozzarella and surrounded by a tomato sauce that also held potato gnocchi. The tender veal was a lovely rendition of a fairly traditional plate. The rich tomato sauce was perfect with the meat and dumplings. It was a large plate and very good.
The pompano was a star though. It was lightly breaded and served with a leek and garlic sauce. The velvety tender pieces of fish were like cheek meat – they were so tender. Underneath was some rice pilaf (made with housemade stock) that soaked up the buttery rich sauce and paired great with the fish and onions. It was absolutely wonderful.
The bananas were baked with sweet caramel on a cream sauce. The bananas were just the right ripeness and the sauce properly sweet and rich. Both desserts were fine endings to a wonderful meal.
Pecan pie was in 2 small pieces highlighted with a caramel sauce. They were rich, sticky and dense with nuts. It was perfect for sharing, even if you really didn’t want to.