By Robert Yost
(SEATTLE, WA)-We always stay the night before and after a cruise in the port city of embarkation and disembarkation. So for our recent Seattle based Alaska cruise on Holland America, we looked for a fun, affordable boutique property in the city. We stayed at the Hotel Andra, which is an excellent boutique hotel in downtown Seattle and comes highly recommended. The lobby is chic while at the same time warm and welcoming. Front desk staff are great and the rooms are spacious with sleek and attractive interior design. The original building’s interior was virtually gutted and redesigned to ultra modern standards. Location is everything and the Andra is well within walking distance of downtown shopping and tourists attractions like the Pike Place Market. We loved this hotel and look forward to staying their again before or after our next cruise departing from Seattle!
Lola (find the menu and information at www.TOMDOUGLAS.com) is located directly next door to Hotel Andra, at 2000 b 4th Avenue, Seattle, WA. This property and restaurant is ideal for the cruise traveler making the pre or post night stopover. No need for finding another restaurant, spending money on cabs- your terrific hotel and fine dining experience are next store to each other in downtown Seattle.
The uncomplicated decor at Lola is not terribly Pacific Northwest, but warm with light woods, dark leather booths, a very high, dark ceiling, the ambience overall exudes a hip vibe but is not pretentious. Pendant light fixtures suspended from the ceiling emanate a soft gold glow, setting the right mood.
For our dinner on July 28, we started with the Lola spreads-little bowls of tzatsiki, roasted sweet red pepper, cauliflower with anchovy, and our favorite-a blend of kopanisti, pistachio and mavrodaphne, served with freshly griddled pita bread. These are all delicious. We decided to drink a large carafe of Lola red wine. This is a special blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet franc, and merlot made exclusively for Lola by the Chinhook vineyard in Prosser, WA. We found this to be a great pairing from appetizer to entree. After the spreads, we moved onto some grilled Spanish octopus. This is prepared with pork bellies, basil, tomatoes, corn and yogurt. We found the pork bellies gave a definite substance to the dish which was unexpected and appreciated. This cuisine is definitely hearty fare, and I was very impressed with these starters. The main courses we selected were Anderson lamb shank and Grilled pork brizoles. The lamb shank was to die for-slow cooked so the meat fell off the bone, and served with luscious roasted peaches, substantial herb cous cous, and delicious fried Walla walla onions. We devoured it leaving an empty bowl. Actually I accused my dining partner of eating all the fried onions which were especially good. The pork brizoles (chops) were also outstanding with wa bing cherries- so purple they look like beets-, tarragon, collard greens, and the Walla walla onions again, this time smoked. Both dishes are large portions, in fact, Lola staff will advise you to consider ordering one entree per couple. We definitely could have eaten just the one entree-of course we didn’t! The entrees at Lola are a la carte and I definitely recommend ordering sides. We tried the sweet corn, green beans and the garlic potatoes. All three are wows. If you forced me at gunpoint to pick a favorite, I might go with the corn. It is served on the cob in manageable pieces and is just so delicious with butter, traces of lemon- out of this world. The potatoes are unlike any I have had anywhere. They must be boiled, smashed, fried-they are amazing and the garlic breath is worth it.
Unbelievably, we decided to order dessert and went with the plum tart with cicely ice cream and the traditional loukamades (Greek donuts). The tart was crunchy, light, just perfect and contrasted well with the heavier, traditional loukamades. Our server, Rochelle, who was excellent-ask for her section-mentioned the restaurant proprietor, Tom Douglas, owns a farm outside of Seattle, which is the source of many herbs, fruits, and vegetables. It’s obvious the farm to table approach is happening here. For a hearty pre or post cruise dinner, CruiseGourmet.com highly recommends Lola for dinner. The restaurant is also opened for breakfast and lunch and appears to have a large crowd of locals as well as tourists.