We at ELV love zydeco music almost as much as we hate jazz. So one of the many good things about posting a review of Lola’s – A Louisiana Kitchen is our staff gets to go on-line and play a little Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys.
Of course, your tastes might run more to Geno Delafose and French Rockin Boogie, and that’s a-okay with us.
Just like most of the food at Lola’s is. Not all of it mind you, but enough that you can eat well while getting your N’Awlins food fix, and while listening to some piped-in Creole sounds.
There are hits and misses on the menu here, but the pluses far out weigh the minuses. If it’s authentic spicing you’re after, head straight to the New Orleans Style BBQ Shrimp. At sixteen bucks it’s the most expensive thing on the menu (besides the steaks), but also the best — good shrimp over a mound of rice bathed in a sauce that brings serious, multi-leveled heat. Almost as good is the Bronzed Catfish and Grits — nicely blackened (not burnt) and accompanied by a less-fiery mushroom ragout.
Likewise they do a nice shrimp remoulade here, that’s a bargain at nine dollars. The only flaw we found with the etouffee was it it wasn’t enough sauce “smothering” it (etouffee means “smothered”) and it seemed mighty tame for this Creole staple.
The gumbo (a yardstick to measure any New Orleans eatery by) is good, not great — once again being too tame and gringo-friendly for our taste buds (but possibly just fine for yours). Upon first trying it, we told Lola we thought the roux wasn’t dark enough, and low and behold, on our next visit, she made a point of telling us she had darkened it. As any Louisiana cook will tell you, a properly darkened roux is the backbone of Creole and Cajun cooking. Creoles make theirs lighter for more subtlety, while Cajuns get it darker and richer — the better to load it up with mouth-searing spices.
Less successful is the jambalaya — a mound of gummy, under-seasoned rice with a couple of lonely looking andouille sausages strewn on the top. It wouldn’t make the cut in any Luziana restaurant we’ve ever been too, and bespeaks some less-than-careful cooking that turns up occasionally here.
We also weren’t taken with the stringy, gravy-light, beef debris sandwich, or the doughy, crawfish “pies” that seem to contain precious little of the little critters. Those seeking a crawfish fix will do better with Lola’s “crawpuppies” that contain the best of two worlds — fried cornmeal and plenty of fresh water crustacean.
Of the desserts we’ve tried, the bread pudding is the clear winner.
There are many reasons to praise Lola and what she’s doing here. It’s locally owned, friendly, open for lunch and dinner, casual, not too expensive and not your typical steak, seafood, salad, chicken, and pasta joint. We wish the seasonings were more aggressive and the quality more in line with what you’d get in the Big Easy, but for a new neighborhood restaurant, in a part of town that’s starving for one, it is plenty good indeed.
And no matter what you order, it all goes great with a little Clifton Chenier.
Of our four meals here, none of them came to more than $60 pour deux.
LOLA’S – A LOUISIANA KITCHEN
241 West Charleston Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89102