When I first arrived in Singapore in 2013, I had already heard about Lolla after reading a rave review from the New York Times so it was always on my go-to list. Since they don't take any evening bookings, I kept putting it off as I didn't want to risk arriving hungry on a busy Friday and not be able to eat. Two years have gone by quickly and it was time to try Lolla so I got a group of ladies together for lunch the other day. I arrived early and was told that our group of six would be seated at the communal table downstairs. When I said there would only be five of us instead of six and requested if we could sit on the counter instead, the efficient and courteous manager asked some customers who were already seated if they wouldn't mind to move to the corner so she could free up five seats in a row on the counter and seat our group together.
I love sitting on a counter with a full view of the kitchen. It's one of the best ways to enjoy a restaurant, especially solo, since it gives me an idea of what food they serve and the ingredients they use. Lolla was no different - I entertained myself while waiting by watching the chefs prepare and plate several dishes and already making my choices for what we should order for lunch. Lolla serves sharing plates, most of which are bigger than a starter and smaller than a main course. There is a concise menu of meat, fish and vegetables and a few starters and desserts. There are also half a dozen specials on the board and their list of cheeses. The food at Lolla is about showcasing fresh ingredients by cooking them simply.
We started out with toasted sourdough bread ($4) accompanied by Kombu butter ($7) and pureed San Marzano tomatoes ($9). The butter was flecked with Kombu (kelp) which was umami in a single bite and the tomato puree was a take on the Spanish pan con tomato accompanied by sweet roasted garlic. The rest of our shared lunch was served as soon as the chefs plated them, and not in any particular order. We had their signature squid ink pudding topped with yellow-gold lobes of sea urchin (half portion $22 or full portion $42) which we passed around for a rich teaspoonful each. Next came the chutoro (tuna belly) tartar ($42) - large chunks of melt-in-the-mouth tuna belly tossed in a vinaigrette which we ate accompanied with the sourdough toast. Two blackboard specials came next - the roasted lamb belly with edamame and oven-roasted tomatoes ($28) and the candied foie gras ($36) plus the grilled Iberia pork collar ($26) from their regular menu, along with three sides: duck fat potatoes ($13), sautéed cavolo nero ($19) and a tomato salad ($15). The foie gras was creamy, the lamb belly was tender, the Iberia pork was smoky sweet. The duck fat potatoes were crisp, the kale-like cavolo nero was intensely bittersweet, the tomatoes were like fruit candy. This is food that hasn't been played with, just food that's meant to be savored with the simple cooking used to highlight the freshness and enhance the flavors. Lolla is all about back-to-basics cuisine. It's about sitting down with friends over a meal with good wine and great food, yet not letting the food take over the conversation. It's food that doesn't need a long-winded explanation or lengthy description. It's the kind of food I went to cooking school to learn to make. Lolla is my kind of place and I will definitely be back for more.
22 Ann Siang Road, 069702 Singapore
Telephone: +65 6423 1228
Telephone: +65 6423 1228
*Open Mondays to Saturdays from noon to 2:30 p.m. then from 6 to 11 pm. Closed on Sundays and public holidays.
*Walk-ins only for the counter, reservations can be made for the basement communal table.