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Eat small, eat creative at Portland’s Bar Lola

Posted May 08, 2012, at 1:01 p.m.
One of the many dishes on the menu at Bar Lola, located on Portland's Munjoy Hill.
One of the many dishes on the menu at Bar Lola, located on Portland's Munjoy Hill.

Guy and Stella Hernandez left their jobs as architects to open a restaurant — the cozy, artsy Bar Lola, an eclectic eatery tucked away at the top of Portland’s Munjoy Hill neighborhood. It might seem crazy, but the couple believe architecture and food have a lot more in common than one might think.

“People have asked a lot how we got from there to here, but it seems really seamless to me,” said Guy Hernandez, who opened Bar Lola with his wife in 2006. “The process is the same. It’s process oriented, it’s craft oriented, there’s art and design and crushing deadlines.”

At Bar Lola, there are three approaches to ordering. You can have a handful of small plates a la carte or you can opt for the $36 four course prix fixe or the “Feed me” tasting menu at $44. It can change day to day, too, depending on what’s available at the farmers market or from their many other ingredient sources.

“We never want to have too much repetition on the menu,” said Stella Hernandez. “It keeps it fresh and exciting for us.”

There’s a bit of a Mediterranean-American blend to Hernandez’s cuisine — from the oil-cured Spanish tuna and warm Medjool dates to seafood dishes paired with tangy olives or the meltingly tender and savory pork ribs poached in milk. It’s the desserts that really add the kicker to the menu, however. It’s hard to decide from the short but tempting list, but all options pair familiar flavors — chocolate, caramel, sweet cream — with less familiar ones, such as anise, cardamom and orange.

For reservations, call 775-5652. Bar Lola is located at 100 Congress St., just a few blocks from the Eastern Promenade.

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