Lola’s Cafe: A Chic Eatery in a Supporting Role Provides a Surprising – and Worth Your Time – Performance

Jaclyn’s Pick:

Lola’s Cafe
4952 Dodge St
Fare: Scratch kitchen + bakery
Cost: $72 for three beers, two meals and one dessert
Reservations: Not needed

Greetings, Eaters and Readers!

This pick was a selfish one – I wanted extra time to catch up with Martha before our movie at Film Streams. So what better place than right there in the theater?

If you didn’t know, Lola’s is a chic cafe that sits inside the Dundee Film Streams building. Think lots of hanging plants, candlelight, and marble tables with black and gold accents in just the right places to pull it altogether.

Having been to Film Streams on numerous occasions (we’re members, but more on that later!) – we’ve seen all sorts of patrons here: young couples on a date, students working away on their laptop, pre-movie diners like us.

When you take a cozy seat by the window like we did, it’s easy to forget you’re in a theater. We quickly decided we’d capture our experience and thoughts for the blog, but also that we wouldn’t go through our traditional rating process. If anything, consider this a bonus post telling you about a spot you may not know about – but should!

It’s always delightful when your server brings a plateful of unexpected, crunchy, warm bread. We quickly devoured most of the plate while we sipped on our standard drinks (draft beer and a cider) and waited for our main courses. Martha mentioned it would have been just one step higher on the enjoyment scale if we had a swirl of olive oil and balsamic to dip it in – but the fresh butter hit the right spot, too.

Croque Monsieur ($14) — Hot grilled sandwich of ham, bechamel, gruyere and dijon on sourdough. Served with cornichons and salad

Looking at the menu, my eyes were glazing over with words I didn’t recognize. Guanciale, bagna cauda, farrato. I was worried I may not be cultured enough to enjoy anything.

It’s a very focused menu – and to be honest, there weren’t too many choices that sounded good to me. So I picked what I thought might be familiar to my palate – the Croque Monsieur – which is basically a ham and cheese sandwich, but fancier.

One thing I’m learning about myself is I don’t care for mustard as much as I thought I did (see last month’s take on mustard seeds). And the dijon on this sandwich was no different – I wasn’t a fan. But that’s on me – and the rest of the sandwich was quite good. Toasty sourdough, melty cheese, savory ham. I dug it.

Steak Au Poivre ($26) — Hanger steak in creamy black pepper sauce. Served with roasted hassleback potato.

Martha remembers really enjoying a hanger steak during a previous blog excursion, so despite it’s (probably) higher-than-usual market price – she couldn’t pass up the chance to try Lola’s and compare.

Acknowledging that inflation has dragged its fingers through all things food service and restaurant supply chains – she couldn’t help but chuckle in slight dismay when the plate arrived with about half of a small potato. Thoughts aside on “proper portion sizes” – we both thought the potato was a missed opportunity for the kitchen to be generous and add value to the cost of the $26 plate.

Martha did enjoy the steak and the overall flavor profiles of the entire plate. She does, however, give the aforementioned hanger steak a considerable edge and ranking. (See: our Stokin’ Goat review.)

Chocolate Cake ($8) — Double layer chocolate Swiss meringue. Bonus chocolate chip cookie with sea salt

On their website, Lola’s offered tres leches cake – which is my absolute favorite. But when we looked at the menu in house, it wasn’t there. We asked the server just in case, but still no.

So we got a slice of the chocolate cake instead. And because our server was so nice, she tossed on a salted chocolate chip cookie.

The cake was fine. A few bites for the both of us was enough to satisfy our sweet tooth. But would we get it again? Nah. I ended up eating more of the cookie.

Final bites

As we mentioned earlier, Martha and I share a membership to Film Streams. The theatre is a nonprofit organization that (ahem, clears throat) “dedicates itself to enhancing the cultural environment of the Omaha-Council Bluffs area through the presentation and discussion of film as an art form.” We love seeing the wide range of independent films and better yet, we love knowing the money stays at the theatre and in the community.

Beyond Lola’s menu, there is a concessions stand offering all of your movie time favorites as well as a solid selection of beer, wine, and spirits – all of which you can take with you into the theatre. We would be remiss if we didn’t take the time to encourage you to check out Film Streams and consider supporting this amazing venue. You don’t have to have a membership to enjoy the movies – but it does get you a discount on the tickets and concessions!

We struggled a bit trying to decipher who exactly Lola’s is trying to target. Sitting at a busy Dundee intersection – 50th and Dodge – Lola’s seems to fit comfortably in its supporting role. It’s just far enough from the busy Dundee streets with a dozen food establishments. And most people are not (we suspect) going there for a full or 5-star meal. But if you do need more than popcorn and M&Ms, Lola’s offers an eclectic, fresh, locally sourced menu. From coffee and pastries, to steak and crafty sandwiches, Lola’s menu tries hard to offer something for everyone – including casual movie goers, daytime lunch grabbers and evening cocktail drinkers.

If you forced us to give Lola’s a fork rating, we’d both lean sideways. But we’re not going to do that – because we’re quite sure many people would give them two forks up. Lola’s carefully handcrafted approach is meant for those who appreciate food as a form of art. Admittedly, that’s not us. (Perhaps we’re a little too Midwestern?) But it could be for you – and we think you should find out!

The Good Bite Gals

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