Tough Tables: Suddenly the waiting list at Lola hardly seems daunting

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For any dining devotee who chafes at the wait for a prime-time table at one of Cleveland’s hot spots, here’s a little business story that puts it all in perspective. (Thanks to chef Mark Wilson, formerly of Grovewood Tavern and Brass Tap Bar and Grill, for sharing this link.) Seems that tiny Talula, 35 miles outside of Philadelphia, is completely, totally, and absolutely booked up for the next year: No tables, no dates, no times. No big surprise, either, when you consider that the spot only seats 8-12 diners each evening at its single, communal table. ... According to the article, “Talula's cuisine is prepared by Bryan Sikora, a 38-year-old Culinary Institute of America graduate who apprenticed under Nora Pouillon at Nora's, the eminent all-organic bistro in Washington. A kind of John Coltrane of the kitchen, he improvises with textures and flavors, making unexpected combinations work with disconcerting justesse. Sikora changes his fare every six weeks to reflect the seasons and his expanding cadre of local growers and producers.” Other notoriously tough tables include Thomas Keller’s French Laundry (Yountville, Calif.) and Per Se (NYC), which are booked solid two months in advance, and DC’s mini-bar, booked 30 days in advance. In contrast, Cleveland’s most heavily booked joint, Lola, has tables available this very evening, and you only have to plan two weeks in advance (until April 19) to snag a Saturday-night seating — although you’ll be dining at 5:15 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. For more available tables, at Lola and 50 other Cleveland-area restaurants, check out www.opentable.com. --- Elaine T. Cicora Read Elaine Cicora's restaurant reviews, food news, and comprehensive dining guide on the restaurant page at clevescene.com.

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