Sunday, December 21, 2008

Restaurants: Cafe Lola, Fairfield, CT

Cafe Lola, a "Bohemian French restaurant", opened its doors on Veteran's Day, 2008, in the former location of the Cuban-fusion restaurant, Islas. The Islas owners had outfitted the space with an entire tiki-hut theme, but Cafe Lola's owners were able to see through the jungle. They transformed the space into something quite nice--- a palate of creams, burgundies, and browns, with a few other rich colors thrown in as accents. Collections of wrought iron crosses, gilded mirrors, and sconces decorate the walls. A large, farmhouse-style buffet stands in the center of the dining room and holds the wines served by the glass, and hidden in one of the drawers (as discovered by my four year old), is the delicious bread. Down a few steps is a lower dining area, which features a pillow-lined banquet and the small bar (which is not for sitting, rather serving). This newly renovated restaurant is not quite casual bistro, but not quite fancy, froo-froo French either. It is an atheistically pleasant space which is cozy and inviting.

My first visit was early one midweek evening, when I walked in with my children. The staff was very nice and accommodating, letting the kids choose their own chairs (none of the chairs match--which I love--they are a wonderful hodgepodge of wooden cafe chairs, cane-backed seats, and comfy, upholstered "princess thrones" ). They did not offer a children's menu, but I never like to order from them anyway, so it suited me just fine. However, if your child can't drink out of a regular glass, be sure to bring your sippy because they do not have cups with lids (and their beautiful glassware is very heavy!). Keep in mind that I wouldn't necessarily categorize this as a restaurant for kids, even though I had a great experience with my children. Unless you go before 6pm during the week, or perhaps for lunch or brunch, you're probably better off going with people who won't fight over the princess chairs.

The the menu is pretty straightforward French bistro fare. It is divided into two sections: Petite Plates and Grand Plates. The "petite" section of the menu includes soup, salads, and other classic French starters like mussels, pate, and even ratatouille (which got a big reaction from the kids). The entrees include larger portions of some of the same things found on the appetizer menu (like the mussels and ratatouille), plus other French favorites like steak au poivre, duck breast (with cranberry-orange sauce), and beef burgundy.
On each of my visits, every single dish was delicious. The steak and lamb dishes were tender and flavorful. The chicken and fish dishes were light and delicious. The salads and soups were excellent. Two of my favorites were the "grown-up" mac and cheese (made with thick cut bacon and Gruyere cheese) and the Moules au Curry (curried mussels), which I ordered on a recommendation from my friend Anne over at Yum!

The dessert menu also features all the French classics, but my favorites were Crepes Suzette (crepes with orange zest, Grand Mariner and ice cream, which I thought would be on fire since it said "flambe"---but it wasn't) and the Pot de creme au chocolate (thick chocolate pudding "pots"). Both were terrific. Our friends had the Brioche bread pudding, and judging from their very clean plate, I think it is safe to say they enjoyed it as well.
Cafe Lola is small, so be sure to make a reservation on weekends....because it is sure to become a hot-spot as soon as word gets out!
Cafe Lola
57 Unquowa Road
Fairfield, CT 06824

1 comment:

kronickwino said...

Hi there! I love this place! It's very cozy and the owners / staff are great. Have you tried the Madame Pigalles cocktail? Delish!

Here is a review I posted about Cafe Lola: