Despite the onset of a throbbing head cold, I still can vividly recollect some of the taste sensations we enjoyed from our recent weekend dinner at Da Lolo's Restaurant Francais.
Laurent Brozzone, whose nickname is Lolo, was first drawn by local backers to Park City several years back from the sunny climes of the French coastline. Unfortunately, neither the weather nor business climate lent themselves to a new restaurant.Now, via San Francisco, Lolo is trying again, though his location this time around is a bit more modest than Utah's upscale slopes. Da Lolo's is currently located in East Ivy Place, where several Chinese restaurants have been unable to attract a consistent clientele.
Wide windows line the wood-hued interior. Posters of Lolo's other restaurants decorate one wall, and bouncy French bistro music livens the atmosphere. A glowing rotisserie warms up one side of the quaint dining area.
The a la carte menu features a tempting array of traditional French dishes, including, for starters, onion soup , salade Nicoise ($4.50), escargot a la Bourguignone ($7.50), smoked salmon ($7.50), and moules mariniere, mussels cooked in white wine with garlic, parsley and onions.
The African Queen salad was considerably more ordinary than its cinema namesake. The serving consisted of tomato slices, mung bean sprouts, black olives, kernels of corn and a marinated artichoke heart arranged over large leaves of Romaine lettuce. The dressing, served in a pitcher, consisted of mostly oil; any trace of vinegar was minuscule.
The homemade pate ($4.50) was very good - rich, coarse and flavorful. We were disappointed with the mediocre white bread toast slices that accompanied the generous slabs of pate. I was tempted to race up the road to Pierre's Country Bakery to grab a more deserving baguette.
We sampled three of the half dozen entrees, including a special rack of lamb prepared on the rotisserie. Each represented the skills and experience of the chef more than the earlier courses. The rack of lamb for two ($28.50) was coated with salt, pepper and herbs; served medium rare, it was succulent.
The steak au poivre blanc ($17) was a generous tenderloin, awash in a creamy pepper sauce accented with the flambe of brandy that finishes the sauce. The scampis Jean Baptiste ($15.50) were juicy grilled prawns served with a saffron cream sauce. In both cases, the luscious sauces found their way to the somewhat ordinary rolls, the white rice, and the gratin dauphinois (sliced potatoes in cream with a sprinkle of nutmeg). At one point, we asked for spoons to finish-clean our plates.
Another sparkling addition to the entrees was the simple yet elegant grilled tomato topped with chopped parsley, shallots and sprinkling of bread crumbs that came with the lamb.
Other entree selections include filet of sole cooked in champagne with a mushroom cream sauce ($15.50), coquilles St. Jacques with a saffron cream sauce ($13.50) and chicken curry ($15.50).
The desserts were somewhat uneven. The pear cake was quite dry; however the lemon and apple raisin tart were both nicely prepared. Each of these was a somewhat pricy $4.50. The clear favorite was the mousse au chocolat ($4.50), a mountain of rich, just slightly bittersweet chocolate ladled on a dinner plate. With four teaspoons, we looked like the four musketeers dueling for the honor of the Dauphin.
Other desserts include cherries jubille ($13.50 for two), baked Alaska and ice cream with different fruit, chocolate or caramel toppings. Expresso and capucino are also available.
Da Lolo's is a delightful addition to Salt Lake's dining out scene. Count on the French to continue time-honored traditions of hospitality and indulgent cuisine.
Rating: * * * 1/2
Da Lolo's Restaurant Francais, 2090 E. 3300 South, 467-9616. Open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; from 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Accepts major credit cards and check with guarantee card. Reservations recommended on weekends.