Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Lolling and lolly-gagging and Lola Rosa.

Where Concordia gets the Green Panther and Crudessence, McGill gets its share of vegetarian food from a quaint little cafe tucked away in the McGill Ghetto. This cafe, as many a McGillian will know, is called Lola Rosa. Dun dun dun...

Lola Rosa was actually my very first venture into vegetarian cuisine waaaay back when I was a wee little lass. Well, if you count 15 as wee. Still, it was back in the day when the menu was drawn up on chalkboards and the choices minimal but ever-changing. Other than the menu, though, Lola Rosa still has the same homey feel to it that it did years ago.

Accessibility - Grade: A-
If you're familiar with the downtown area, then Lola Rosa is really not hard to get to. It's about a 10 minute walk from McGill metro, University exit. Just walk straight up University street and take a right on Milton street.

Service - Grade: A
From what I remember, Lola Rosa is a family-owned business. And I'm pretty sure that the charismatic young man that waited our table was either the owner or affiliated with the owner. In any case, the service that we got here is warm and personal, as you would expect of a family-owned business. The smatterings of conversation we had with the waiter didn't feel forced, and the service was quick and efficient. However, I noticed that while the rest of the waitstaff was also nice, they didn't seem nearly as friendly as our waiter.

Ambiance Notes
If you're looking for a place with a nice ambiance to take a date or catch up with friends, this is not the place to do it. This restaurant gets loud. I almost had to yell just to get my dining companions to hear me. Other than that, the cafe has a very rustic feel about it, with its artfully scratched wooden tables and wooden pretty-much-everything-else.

Food - Grade: B+
It's been a while since I've been to Lola Rosa, and I must say, the food is a lot better than what I remember.


We started off with an order of nachos to split. Oooh boy. We asked the waiter if we should order the full portion or the half portion to share amongst 3 people as an appetizer. I don't know if he misunderstood and thought we were eating it as a meal or what, but he recommended the full portion, which was huge.

Luckily, the nachos were good. The chips themselves are homemade, and are well-seasoned. They're crisp, but dense, and packed with corn flavour. They're topped with sliced tomatoes, peppers, shallots, avocadoes, black beans, sour cream and some sliced beet. All the ingredients were fresh, ripe but firm. The sour cream was already blended with seasonings so that it was tasty on its own. But as good as it was, the three of us only managed to dig our way through about a third of it.

Spinach and three cheese lasagna
Out of all the stuff I've tried at Lola Rosa (which includes the chilli), I've always found the spinach lasagna to be one of my favourites. With a nice, stringy layer of melted cheese on top and creamy, smooth three cheese filling, and spinach whose flavour blends and integrates into the rest of the lasagna, I doubt you'll miss the meat.

The salad caesar salad that accompanied the lasagna was lighter than most caesar salads, but served as a nice counterbalance to the heavy and filling lasagna.

Tomato Pie

As for me, I ordered the Tomato Pie. Yeah, right? Tomato pie? But believe it or not, it's actually pretty good! The pie contains tomatoes, onions, olives, basil, feta cheese, and french mustard, but when baked into the pie, it becomes a mesh of flavours and textures wrapped in a puffy, flakey crust.

Despite all the vegetables in the pie, it was still a little on the dry side. Luckily, the pie is accompanied by the Lola Rosa salad, which contains sliced carrots, shallots, chickpeas, and various other ingredients. It's drizzled with a fruity sweet and sour dressing, which is tangy and light, and makes for a nice side to the pie.

The pie also comes with a side of rice. If you're expecting the typical seasoned rice with butter that you find in the average restaurant, don't; the rice here is a healthy mix of brown rice and other grains, with absolutely nothing else added. I personally found the pie filling enough on its own, and it was too dry to wash down the rice, so I didn't touch much of it.

I've also tried their chilli, which I remember to be a bit flavourless.

Price - $$
Prices here are very reasonable for quality and quantity of food you're getting, which is why it comes to nobody's surprise that there are so many students that frequent this restaurant. The lasagna is priced at $12.50 and the pie is priced at $12. The nachos were $14, but as an appetizer, it was probably enough to split amongst ten people. Most of the other menu items fall within the price range of $10-$15, so I'd say that this restaurant is definitely a good pick for students.

Final Grade: B+
The quality of the food is sometimes a hit-or-miss, as demonstrated by my slightly burnt pie, and my other friend's slightly burnt lasagna (not depicted here), but everything is rustically simple and yet creative enough to compel you to go back and try their other items. I know I will!

Lola Rosa
545 Rue Milton, Montreal
(514) 287-9337
Lola Rosa Cafe on Urbanspoon


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