Go Big or Go Home No Longer Applies to Dinner in Portland
by Nancy Heiser
PORTLAND, Maine — Small plates have taken hold as a culinary craze in many cities, but in Portland, arguably New England’s small city most revered for food, they are hot, and we’re not talking temperature. Several restaurants that have opened to some acclaim are offering only small plates, and most are doing so in small spaces too. Don’t come expecting full-blown entrées with trimmings.
But you will eat well. Very well. A couple of these restaurants are already on the national map, garnering James Beard Award nominations.
What’s the appeal of small-plate dining? For one thing, you sample a lot of dishes. And with what these chefs are crafting, that should be your goal.
Read the full article here.
We are humbled (and thrilled!) to have been named Eater Maine’s Restaurant of the Year! We owe a HUGE thank you to our entire Lolita team and to all our loyal customers.
Read all about it here.
Review by Diane Hudson
The open-sesame to Lolita is a simple metal door. Architect Lauren Reiter, whose husband Neil Reiter co-owns Lolita with chef and proprietors Guy and Stella Hernandez, is responsible for the revelation inside. Lighting, colors, and fixtures contribute to a relaxed, elegant experience. There is table seating for 20, with 10 more at the bar.
The centerpiece, an enormous grill roaring with flames (kiln-dried red oak, about a cord a month), is fitted with steel racks that are raised or lowered with a neat little wheel. It’s fascinating to watch and central to Lolita’s experience, “vinoteca + asador”–Spanish for good wine and a specialty in grilling.
There’s a bright red deli slicer. A menu category “From the Slicer” features cured meats, imported and local (jamon Serrano $12 and salumi $6.50 each, or 3 for $18). These include bresaola, crespone, and finochietta, sliced to order. Violino di capra, is a cured meat that translates to “goat violin” because the leg is shaped like a violin. Traditionally, it’s passed around and held like an instrument, each diner cutting meat with a knife-as-bow. Our violino is actually lamb and exudes deep, pleasant flavors.
Read the full review at Portland Monthly
When Stella and Guy Hernandez announced their plans to close their popular, 7-year-old Munjoy Hill restaurant, Bar Lola, last November, they also said they would eventually open something new. Where and what the new restaurant would be, however, was still up in the air.
Together with their business partner, Neil Reiter, they debated various options before deciding on one that was right under their noses. They would move Hilltop Coffee, which the couple also owns, into the Bar Lola space (they own the building, too) and create their new restaurant in the former coffee shop location (that building is owned by Reiter). The two buildings are less than a block apart.
Last week, I met with Stella and Guy in the under-construction space that will be Lolita — the name of the new restaurant. Both were architects before they transitioned into the restaurant business, and they have a keen sense of style, form and function that figures prominently in their vision for Lolita, shared with their architect, Lauren Reiter. Neil Reiter, who has a long connection to the restaurant world, talked with me by phone from his home in Brooklin. Here are the highlights of our conversation.
Read the full interview at MaineToday.com