Best Restaurant Reinvention


Three cheers for Mike and Liz Symon, Cleveland's First Couple of Culinary Cool, and their success in transforming their trend-setting, award-winning Lola into the equally ebullient Lolita. Though the menu has gone from contemporary American to rustic Mediterranean, and the current ambiance is less alt-chic and more taverna, the changes are merely skin-deep. Beneath them, Lola's "good bones" remain firmly in place. Smartly conceived dishes now range from house-cured salumi to Greek yogurt panna cotta. Breathtaking flavors abound in such bite-sized mezes as fried smelt and roasted beets. And most important, the fun-loving spirit that invites each diner to feel like a VIP is as irresistible as ever. How did Nabokov put it? "Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta." Yeah, it's kinda like that.