LOLO WINE BAR

IT’S ALWAYS EXCITING WHEN NEW RESTAURANT OPENS AND TURNS OUT TO BE GOOD; EVEN BETTER WHEN THAT NEW GOOD RESTAURANT OPENS PRACTICALLY IN YOUR OWN BACK YARD, IN THIS CASE, RIGHT ACROSS SUNSET BOULEVARD FROM JITLADA.

THE DEMISE OF DTLA’S TARTINE MANUFACTORY AND WITH IT THE ALAMEDA SUPPER CLUB IS DOWNTOWN’S LOSS, BUT HOLLYWOOD’S GAIN, BECAUSE ANGELO EMILIANI, IT’S EXECUTIVE CHEF, IS NOW COOKING AT LOLO, A HIP AND FUNKY WINE BAR OWNED AND MANAGED BY LAURIE MULSTAY.

ON THE SITE OF A VEGETARIAN INDIAN RESTAURANT, MULSTAY HAS ARRANGED AN INDOOR/OUTDOOR SPACE WHICH MANAGES TO BE BOTH GRIM AND COZY. THERE IS A SWEET LITTLE BLUE-LIT BAR WITH LEATHER COUCHES AND AN OFFBEAT WINE LIST CONCOCTED BY FRANK FULCINELLI AND JOHN BURNS.

THE DINING ROOM IS, AT PRESENT, A COVERED PATIO, PAINTED BLACK AND WARMED WITH HEATERS. LAURIE TOLD ME THAT DEPENDING ON THEIR SUCCESS, SHE WILL EXPAND INTO THE ENCLOSED RESTAURANT SPACE BEHIND THE PATIO.

ON TO THE FOOD.

IT’S RARE INDEED WHEN I GO THROUGH A MENU IN TWO SITTINGS AND LOVE EVERYTHING I TASTE. GRANTED THE MENU IS SHORT, BUT IT CHANGES WEEKLY, SO THAT A FIRST COURSE SALAD OF GREEN APPLES, CELERY AND CHEESE WAS REPLACED ON A SECOND VISIT WITH BEETS AND ORANGE. AFTER TASTING A BRUSCHETTA WITH HERBS AND OLIVE OIL, I WAS DISAPPOINTED TO FIND IT M.I.A. WHEN WE CAME BACK, BUT THAT MEMORY FADED WHEN WITH THE FIRST BITE OF MY SHRIMP TOAST, CHUNKS OF SHRIMP IN A CREAMY DRESSING ON GRILLED BREAD.

TWO PASTAS SURVIVED THE MENU REVISIONS. I KNOW BECAUSE I ORDERED THE HOUSE-MADE TAGLIARINI WITH MUSSELS, GARLIC AND PERNOD TWICE. THE MUSSELS ARE REMOVED FROM THEIR SHELLS AND TOSSED WITH HERBS AND, I SUSPECT, A SPLASH OF RICH STOCK, TO CREATE A SAUCE WHICH IS LUXURIOUS BUT LIGHT TO COAT THE PASTA. EQUALLY GOOD IS THE TAGLIATELLE WITH ENOKI MUSHROOM AND CULTURED BUTTER.

TWICE, WE ORDERED THE HALF BRICK CHICKEN WITH PANZANELLA SALAD, RADISH AND ANCHOVY. BOTH TIMES THE SKIN WAS CHARRED, THE FLESH JUICY AND FLAVORFUL. A PAN-COOKED SWORDFISH STEAK WAS SMOTHERED IN HERBS, MOIST IN THE INTERIOR.

ONE WEEK SIDES INCLUDED A RAMEKIN OF CREAMED SHELL BEANS WITH SOMETHING CRUNCHY LIKE FRIED SHALLOTS LURKING BENEATH THE SURFACE. GRILLED BROCCOLINI IS SPIKED WITH A LEMONY ALMOND DRESSING.

ONLY TWO DESSERTS GRACE THE MENU BUT THEY ARE BOTH TERRIFIC: TINY FRESHLY-BAKED MADELEINES DUSTED WITH POWDERED SUGAR AND SERVED WITH A LITTLE CROCK OF ORANGE DIPLOMAT CREAM, AND WHITE CHOCOLATE BUDINO WITH PASSION FRUIT MOUSSE AND A CRUNCH OF PUFFED RICE.

THE SOUNDTRACK IS MOSTLY 80S HITS AND BEARABLY LOUD. THE SERVICE IS ATTENTIVE, INFORMED AND EFFICIENT. THE WINE LIST IS BOTH UNUSUAL AND REASONABLY PRICED.

ON MY NEXT VISIT I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO SAMPLING THE CHICKEN LIVER MOUSSE, THE GNOCCHI À LA VODKA AND MAYBE THE NY STRIP, BUT WHO KNOWS, THEY MAY NOT BE THERE. WHATEVER IS I WANT TO EAT.

LOLO WINE BAR

5140 SUNSET BLVD. (SUNSET AND WINONA) (323) 665-5656

PARKING NEXT TO THE RESTAURANT

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