LOLITA COCINA & TEQUILA BAR, 230 MILL STREET, GREENWICH
[Chris couldn't join me for a trip here, so he graciously allowed me to guest blog. I think after this, our resident Mexican food snob will have to make an appearance in Greenwich!]
Lolita had a lot to live up to Thursday night. Not because I’d been a loyal patron of That Little Italian Restaurant, which the trendy, upscale Mexican joint replaced a couple of weeks ago. No, because it took me nearly 45 minutes to get to Byram from Old Greenwich after a tractor-trailer overturned on I-95 in Mamaroneck and then, after I’d gotten off at Exit 3, traffic crawled up Delavan Avenue.
Well, I have to say the place met, and in some cases exceeded, my expectations. When I called my friend Karen to tell her I was still crawling along the highway, she grumpily reported there was a 45-minute wait for a table. I figured I’d probably kill some of that in my car, though luckily when I got there she’d found out from the hostess that there was a communal table near the back that had plenty of free space. First score of the night.
Lolita was designed by the CB5 Restaurant Group, creators of the late Bleu on Greenwich Avenue (you know, the place with the crazy bathroom where the door fogged up after you closed it?), so everything was perfectly choreographed, from the fruity sorbet served over dry ice they send to the table to “cleanse your palate” before the meal (honestly, I expected our waiter to bust out a guitar solo) to the surprise when we got our check. I’ll get to that later.
I was a little disappointed that they don’t serve sangria by the glass, only the pitcher. Instead, I opted for a Tropicale margarita, which comes with guava puree. Karen had ordered a drink at the bar before I arrived, and told the bartender to surprise her with something to take away the pain of being stuck in traffic. She wasn’t sure what was in it, but reported it was delicious. If I had ordered their signature Lolita margarita, it would have been prepared tableside. Yes, this place is very “dinner as entertainment.”
But, in spite of all the clever gimmicks, the food is very tasty. The gratis chips come with two kinds of salsa as well as chipotle-flavored crema – which this place likes [A lot]. All three were excellent. I ordered the blackened grouper tacos, and the fish was tender and flavorful, not too spicy, and it wasn’t overloaded with the chipotle crema. There are also pepitas, or pumpkin seeds, that make the tacos a little more toothsome. While we contemplated the grilled corn as a side, we instead got the iron pan corn bread with roasted garlic sauce. It was heavenly: perfectly moist, and the creamy garlic sauce added a nice touch. You could tell it was bad for you.
Karen got the only loser dish, at least for her. She’d asked the waiter if the quesadillas with jalepeños were too spicy, and he assured her they weren’t. When she bit into them, she said she felt like she’d “burned her face off.” She told me she wasn’t usually a wimp about spicy food, and got a side as her entrée, the verde rice, with cilantro crema and jack cheese. It tasted like Mexican risotto, a thumbs up.
Stuffed with cornbread, we decided we didn’t need dessert, though I was really tempted by the buñeolos, a crunchy cinnamon-sugar tortilla, with cinnamon ice cream and chocolate sauce. We definitely didn’t need it, though, because along with the check [which was fairly reasonable] our waiter presented us with a huge tangle of green cotton candy. I think it was apple flavored, and apparently they change it up every week, with a strawberry-lime one coming soon. Or this might have been the strawberry-lime. I’m not sure.
This seems like a nice addition to Byram, which is becoming quite the culinary destination. I will be back, if only to try the lobster enchiladas. They’re also serving brunch on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., which they’re billing as “Sunday School.” Very clever, Lolita, very clever.
I did attempt an iPhone photo of the cotton candy, but the restaurant was very dark and the picture is definitely not worthy of the LBC.
A NOTE FROM THE LBC: Much as I wanted to join Lisa for a trip to Lolita Cocina, I couldn’t [for some reason that now seems trivial in light of the good food I missed], but I quite like the idea of having actual writers do some of the heavy lifting for my blog. Keep up the good work.