Lola's Mexican Kitchen
Lola's Mexican Kitchen is the trendy new eatery on Bedford Street. It's located directly across the street from Butterfield 8 (I refuse to capitalize the "u") and happens to be owned by the same person. Butterfield 8, of course, is that bar that constantly blares obnoxious techno music, creates a false illusion of exclusivity by half-filling the place so that the line spills out into the street, and doesn't allow customers under 23. File that under "foreshadowing."
I've never been inside Butterface, (whoops - Butterfield), but Lola's felt a bit like it would be owned by the same person, especially judging by the less tan version of Ronnie from the Jersey Shore working the front desk. Still though, the atmosphere is pretty cool. Dim lighting, exposed brick and unstained wood surround you, giving the place a cozy feel.
As usual, my first move was to glance at the taps. Right away, a green Dogfish tap handle caught my eye. I have to say I was pretty excited - I was expecting to be stuck with my choice of watery mexican beers (which of course occupied most of the remaining taps). 60 minute IPA it is!
With Dogfish on tap, tortilla chips in a folded-over brown paper bag and salsa on the table, what could go wrong? (File that under "even more obvious foreshadowing"). Munching on the chips, we perused the menu, and by the time we were ready to place our order, the bag was empty. We asked the waiter for another round - "Sure, it will be right out," and continued looking over the menu. It wasn't very large, but it had all of the expected Tex-Mex favorites. Salads served in a taco bowl, burritos, tacos, enchiladas and a few "house specialties". I quickly narrowed my options down to either a burrito for $16, or chimichanga (deep fried burrito) for $16. Of course, as we all know, deep fried always wins.
My chimichanga was golden brown and came loaded with beef and cheese, and a side of rice and beans. As I dug in, I realized that only one thing could make it better - hot sauce. Since none was in sight, I asked our waiter for some - extra hot, of course. "Sure, It'll be right out," He replied. 20 seconds later I was soaking my chimi in the hot stuff (insert your own joke here). I must say that it was a pretty slammin' chimichanga, and because of its substantial size, I had some leftovers to take home. Things were going great! (File under "super-duper obvious, any-minute-now foreshadowing").
And that's when things took a turn for the worse. The food was great, but it was the bill that left a bad taste in my mouth. First, they charged us for three Margaritas when we only had two. Not a big deal - we told the waiter and he fixed it. But the extra drink charge made us look further into the bill. They charged us a dollar for chips, and a dollar for salsa. They charged $5 to replace the chicken on an $11 salad with five shrimp (twice what it costs at most places) . They charged $2 for the hot sauce. What kind of crap is this!? This was a TEX MEX restaurant! Chips, salsa, and hot sauce should be a given. And if not, we should have at least been advised that these things were going to cost extra. The table of two next to us received the same portion of chips that we did to start, so why not give two portions of chips to a table twice the size? And they're REALLY going to charge $2 for a few spoonfuls of hot sauce at a MEXICAN restaurant, with already overpriced food? Have you ever been charged for soy sauce at a Chinese restaurant? Or crushed red pepper at a pizza place? Or ketchup at a diner? I don't think so.
Take Rio Border Cafe in Norwalk, for example. The entrees are about three bucks cheaper, on average (and still delicious). There's two bottles of hot sauce on every table, free of charge. Unlimited chips and salsa. AND, if it's your birthday, you get a free T-shirt, fried ice cream and a sombrero. So there.
The money wasn't going to make or break us, but it was the principle. I let the manager (the Ronnie look-a-like) know my thoughts on the matter, but he didn't seem to care. "Oh, yeah," he said. "I'll remind the waitstaff to let people know that those things cost extra". After the nine dollars of hidden fees (nineteen if you count the extra drink) I felt like I had just been fleeced by a late night infomercial.
So there you have it. Good food, but I certainly won't be going back.