First Look at Lolita

Update: Lolita is now open 11AM-11PM, every day except Tuesday 

My Paloma with Marcona almonds and mussels snack plates

When Bar Lola closed last November, but the owners, Guy and Stella Hernandez, said they were still committed to running a restaurant on Munjoy Hill, the rumors started flying. Eventually, it came out that the coffee shop a block away, that the Hernandez's also own, would move into the Bar Lola space, and they would open a new restaurant in the coffee shop's space. I was a little confused by the move, but now that I've had a sneak peek into Lolita, opening next week (tentatively Wednesday), I understand. 

Lolita is Bar Lola-esque - it'd be silly to say it's completely different - but bears no resemblance to the former Hilltop Coffee. We were all amazed at the space's transformation; who knew it could look so spacious and modern in there? 

Lights by friends at Inspired Wire

I loved to sit at the bar at Bar Lola and have a drink and dessert. Lolita embraces that casual air and spreads it throughout the entire restaurant. Most of the space is bar seating, with banquettes and two-top tables along the wall. A low-slung table and bench create more casual seating in the front window. 

The menu has a variety of snacky, small plates and a few entrees, plus of course, the $90 porterhouse for 3 that commenters flipped their shit over in the Bangor Daily News. On the night of the press preview, I sampled the burrata with lemon zest and aleppo oil, on wood-grilled sourdough bread. It was delicious (I mean, obviously). 

Other toasts ($4 each, or 3 for $10) include local mushrooms with thyme and garlic confit, and steak tartare with capers and shallots. Little glass pots of spreads include chicken liver mousse; salted cod and chorizo (pictured above, upper left); and whipped ricotta. 

This pork tonnato ($14) seen above accompanies other medium plates such as bucatini with ramp pesto, squid ink spaghetti, and heirloom beans with pork belly and duck confit. As a twitter friend pointed out, the menu does not encompass too many strictly vegetarian options, but if you're a pescatarian you'll be alright. I assume the menu will change frequently. 

Below is the asado with fingerlings and salsa verde (a large plate, $24) with which any carnivore would be thrilled. The steaks are grilled on the asador, or a wood-fired grill, in the corner of the bar. It has a manual crank operation to raise and lower the grill grate. This mechanism is also echoed in the meat slicer that sits next to the asador - I watched Guy crank the slicer to shave off thin, salty pieces of jamon Serrano. 

Lolita will be open from 11am to 11pm; hopefully they'll have happy hour specials, as their wine list is extensive (it's printed on a page as large as the menu you see below). Look for Lolita to open next week; they're aiming for Wednesday, but maybe before that a "walk by and maybe they'll be open" kind of way.