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Lola Restaurant and Rhythm and Blues Bar
by Sharyn Jackson
July 9, 2008
15 Watts St, 212-675-6700

Beneath a purple and gold canopy pinned up in the center by a crystal chandelier, an installment resembling a lush and luxurious circus tent, Lola Patrick-Odeen discusses inclusivity and friendship with as much warmth as is exuded by the dark woods and glowing lights in the room. Quotes about the responsibilities of friendship are hand-painted throughout the sprawling, multi-tiered space, and for someone who founded the first gospel brunch in the city 20 years ago (at her original space on 22nd Street), being a beloved beacon in a community comes with such responsibilities. That is why, upon Lola's relocation downtown, Patrick-Odeen and her husband Tom, made the commitment both to continue and expand their renowned musical offerings in a neighborhood they believed valued the arts and diversity as they did. And while the new restaurant, built with a supper club-like atrium lined with banquettes and fronted by a stage for performance, is ready to extend the original Lola's legacy, the interracial couple has faced hardships they never could have expected, including difficulties with music licensing  which have held up the completion of the larger, revamped Lola Restaurant. The couple has made it through most of the hurdles thrown their way, but they are still without a music license. Patrick-Odeen is certain, however, that it will come through very soon and the restaurant will be musical once again. For now, though, romantic ambiance, incredible "Frenchified Creole" cuisine and an exceptionally friendly team are what you'll find at Lola—proof that the Patrick-Odeens have already prevailed.

The menu takes southern Creole and Cajun dishes and interprets them with high-end French technique. The tender, grilled Caribbean Quail appetizer, Patrick-Odeen's favorite, is served with a vibrant mixed citrus and shaved fennel salad, but also sprinkled with the flavors of autumn. A decadent entree that can be shared as an appetizer, the Crawfish Etoufee is a tantalizing puff pastry shell filled with a creamy lobster bisque and delicious crawfish. Salads and soups are also available for starters.

Outstanding entrees include the comforting, buttery Shrimp & Grits, and the Pecan Crusted Rack of Lamb—two enormous, juicy chops served with sweet potato puree and baby bok choy. Other "Frenchified" dishes of the bayou include the Creole Cassoulet (alligator, rabbit sausage, duck and Andouille simmered in a white bean stew) and a dreamy side of Mac-N-Cheese A La Lola, a family recipe made with double-smoked bacon.

Lola is open for lunch weekdays and dinner nightly. With or without live music, Lola is a beautiful space with exceptional food, and an environment welcoming to all. Go there!
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