Informal excellence

Lola & Kuba is a cozy suburban restaurant serving simply good food

Lola & Kuba (photo credit: GIL AVIRAM)
Lola & Kuba
(photo credit: GIL AVIRAM)
For the past seven years, the energetic owner of Lola & Kuba has been welcoming diners to her friendly neighborhood restaurant in the southeastern corner of Hod Hasharon. Proprietor Dana juggles parenting three children and managing a successful restaurant with the exuberance of a hostess who is clearly passionate about entertaining, whether it is six days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner, or at special all-you-can-eat events advertised to her community of Facebook followers.
The interior of the restaurant has a homey feel, with rustic furnishings and tables of many sizes. There is also an al fresco area, partially enclosed in winter that is occasionally dressed up with white tablecloths.
Lola & Kuba may have the vibe of a place that serves familiar comfort food – and indeed, many of its classic dishes fall into that category – but the chef boasts a pedigree earned in prestigious fine dining establishments. Chef Shlomi trained in restaurants in Europe, as well as under celebrity Chef Yonatan Roshfeld in Tel Aviv’s Herbert Samuel.  
The alcohol menu lists only two specialty cocktails (NIS 44), so it was simple enough ordering one of each. As impressive as both refreshing drinks – the Lola Garden, gin and tonic with dill, cucumber and basil, and the Spicy Passion, tequila with passion fruit, lemon and chili – were the non-plastic recyclable straws. 
We also appreciated the fact that, although the international wine list is rather limited, all wines are available by the glass.
As we perused the menu, we snacked on the bread that is baked fresh daily in-house – a seeded, multi-grain sourdough mini-loaf (NIS 29) that is so popular for breakfast that it is liable to sell out by dinner time. 
The food menu is not divided into sections, per se; rather, there is soup (NIS 39) and a list of main courses (NIS 52-92), followed by groupings of four salads (NIS 52-68), two sandwiches (NIS 39/42) and three children’s menus (NIS 35). There are plenty of vegan and vegetarian options, of which the star is the antipasti platter – practically a meal in its own right, featuring a large assortment of roasted vegetables (and optional non-vegan extras, like fried egg, French cheese, or lamb prosciutto).  
Since there were two soups on the crisp winter evening of our visit, once again we selected one of each. Both the French onion, with Parmesan crostini, and the soup du jour – root vegetables, with Jerusalem artichoke chips – were tasty and hearty. 
We asked Dana to tell us which were the restaurant’s most popular dishes, and were delighted to learn that two of them had already made our short list: blackened chicken and savory knaffeh. (The third was giant schnitzel with buttery mashed potatoes.) 
The blackened chicken was actually blackened pullet (pargit), served with roasted potatoes and green beans. The boneless chicken was seasoned and cooked just right: not overly spicy, while remaining juicy and flavorful. The two side dishes were just as good: the potatoes had crispy exteriors and fluffy interiors, while the al dente green beans were dressed with a zesty aioli that really made them interesting.
The knaffeh, meanwhile, was like a Middle Eastern version of a Greek spanakopita: a delicious pie of potato, spinach and feta cheese, wrapped in crunchy strands of kadaif rather than phyllo pastry. The warm, addictive entrée was served with a cold, nicely herbed tomato salad and a ramekin of yogurt. 
Desserts, rather than being listed on a menu, are on display: three kinds of mousse in a refrigerator case, and tempting baked goods on cake plates. We sampled an excellent cheese mousse with strawberry topping, a decadent chocolate-halva pastry, and one that stole the show: Snickers mousse with salted caramel -- like the candy bar in a jar.
Lola & Kuba
Not kosher (although closed on Shabbat)
Sun-Thu: 8 a.m.-10 p.m.
Fri: 8 a.m.-1p.m.  Closed Saturdays
Mevo Kedem 5, Hod Hasharon
Phone: 053-942-6802 or 09-835-2312
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.