Lola Gaspar NOW

They’re still working out the menu kinks.  That means something like: they don’t have everything available that’s listed on the menu, and their chef and staff have only been working together for a total of twenty-some hours (if that).

These are not excuses.  This is reality.

After being turned away a total of one? two? three? no, four times, I finally take a seat at Lola Gaspar’s bar.  I’m not hungry, I’m not thirsty, I’m not pleased, and I’m quite skeptical (but I am a little horny and they can’t shake that).

Fill, LGFats, and myself attempted Lola Gaspar on Wednesday.  No go.  Some beautiful woman (who I later find out is the sous chef) answers the door and says, “Hopefully Friday.”  I chipperly reply aloud, “Oh, ok thanks,” and secretly say, “Pffff.”

Friday rolls around and LG Fats and I decide to watch Wanted because we’re in the mood for some Porn, Gun Porn.  After watching Angelina Jolie bend bullets and defy all that is gravity I decide to stay in for the night.  “I won’t go there again and experience the tease that is, ‘We’re open. Just kidding,'” I say to myself.  Besides, my turnips need a good trimming and my basil garden a good talking too.

I stay in and pick my butt.

Today’s different.  Since I have work to do I call around midday and ask if they are open for lunch, or are they “just a dinner spot?”  They say they’ll start serving lunch on Monday.  Today it’s just dinner.  And they open around “6, 6:30.”

I arrive close to 7.  Not yet. I go back.  Still nothing.  In between my frustrations and maunderings I go here and there.

I’m rolling with LG Fats tonight and he suggests “supporting The Crosby,” which is bourgeois-liberal for dropping cash at said location.  I agree and we head up Broadway while I try to decide on something other than Chimay and Schneiderweiss to put in my mouth.  It’s not until I finally sit at their bar that I note their sangria jug.  Sangria speaks to me, “Bordeux”–the sangria was my drink of choice during my last heady jaunt through the old country, it sings fruity, fresh, and complex.  But before I open my mouth to initiate small talk the bartenderess says, “It’ll be a fifteen minute wait even for drinks.  We have a private party.”  Rejection again.  I say nothing.  LG Fats and I walk out.  We later agree that they should have either a) hung a note on the door that said “Private Party from Xpm to Ypm,” (which they probably did but, since I can’t read, words don’t apply to me) or b) spent the whole 45 seconds serving us both drinks–it’s not that time-consuming to ladle a jug or pull a tap leaver … and it’s not as though they serve any complicated cocktails or anything (…yet).

After this and that we head back to Lola Gaspar.  The outdoor seating area is bustling.  Half aloud and half to myself I bitch about now being too late, “What if it’s too packed?” (I can’t stand crowds–this makes being a social creature difficult.)  I loathe the possibility of being turned away again.  Nonetheless, we enter.

The interior is pleasantly less packed but still busy.  We sit at the bar and, like East Berliners in late-1989 Germany, we  drink up our surroundings with a skeptical awe.  It’s a good place.  The decor is … fucking fantastic.  During the two hours we killed while waiting for this place to open its doors for the night, we libated and satiated ourselves elsewhere so our enthusiasm for a gastronomical and inebriating experience is, at this point, severely low.

But LGFats and I are good Tipplers: we order drinks.  Then, a while later, we order food–tapas.

Lola Gaspar Menu 1 of 3

It’s several mojitos, tecates (from tap), capirinitas, and sangrias later.  We’ve had the Carne Asada Flatbread and a Quesadilla (both not quite on the menu).*

The Carne Asada Flatbread is an uncomplicated yet unique presentation of something that might otherwise be boring and common, carne asada.  The thin flatbread is topped with goat cheese, and sprinkled with diced tomato and onion; the meat adds heartiness to this otherwise light, flavorful dish.  Goat cheese finds its way into the Quesadilla; it complements the chicken and jack cheese with which it shares a flour tortilla–a combination worthy of several more eager bites.  I’m partial to goat cheese so I don’t mind that it turned out to anchor both items I tried.

LG Fats and I leave somewhere near closing time. Five hours have slipped by while we busied ourselves eating, drinking and discussing “the changing face of orange county”–the relationship between cultural “diversity” and cultural displacement, and the effects of both. We settle on our same ole post-modern anti-reproductive hetero-normative bullshit … . And somewhere in the back of my mind I recall our conversation, just days earlier, that spiraled out of the pages of Richard Rodriguez’s “Brown.”

Our discussion is slightly frustrating and we’re slightly intoxicated. Lola Gaspar fades into the background as we sit side by side turning over and over these issues (of identity, culture, language, city planning, economic and educational disparities) trying to get new and different perspectives on what we think we’ve already thought through.  In fading into the background Lola Gaspar turns into the place we’ve been looking for: some place built on a myth; a place to discuss and disagree, and to drink; some place with a je ne sais quoi that makes it feel slightly more intellectual that its SanTana counterparts; the perfect cocktail of drink, music, crowd, decor and vision.  With the sounds of portishead, joy division, devendra, and etc. Lola Gaspar shifts back into the foreground as we pause to think or take in the scene.

Lola Gaspar Menu 1 of 3

Lola Gaspar Menu 3 of 3

The Lola Gaspar menu, posted above in three parts, is not final and still kink-y.  Their working on it though so give them some time.  For the time being, here are some items that looked and, or tasted fantastic: the flatbreads, tacos, burger, and gaspar steak & cheese.

Lola Gaspar, 211 W. 2nd Street, SanTana, CA; (714) 972-1172; $4-$15.  Not sure what their schedule is yet; you’re best bet is to give’em a ring-dong before you scoot on over. >>UPDATE 6/6/09: Here is their latest menu. The lunch and brunch menus differ.

* We attempted to order the Smoked Queso y Frijoles but, as I say, they’re still working out some menu kinks, and some menu items listed are not yet available.  I’m not a foodie-snob so I don’t care if a place opens without completely perfecting their shtick–besides, in my mind this is all soft-opening phase for Gaspar: the time to correct errors.

Note: I’m not a portion freak so, unless portions are distractingly too small or too big, I won’t mention them.  That said, this place seems to care about quality and might be going for a *tapas* type feel so don’t feel cheated if your steak & cheese doesn’t weigh 20 freaking pounds. We could all stand to lose a few anyways–unless you’re about to break in half, in which case, send me a comment and I’ll personally make you a 20 pound steak and cheese. Word.

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6 responses to “Lola Gaspar NOW

  1. I’m Sold!
    I’ll take a pitcher of sangria and two of you on my lap.

  2. did you notice what other beers are on tap?

  3. Beyond Tecate, there was Pabts, Blue Moon, and some Alaskan beer. I think it was an Amber Alaskan? They also have a full bar. My ambulatory capacities belied their full bar bliss.

  4. Just wanted to add my share about my first visit to Lola Gaspar. First of all, the decor was absolutely awesome. This is definitely a good spot to impress your date with. Whether you pick a cozy little booth or hang at the bar, you’ll surely be immersed with the ambiance here. I tried the street duck tacos and they were quite delicious. The honeycomb butter with the warm tortillas were pretty good as well. I’ll admit that I was still a little hungry afterwards being that the street tacos are known to be rather small, but heck, I’d pay the money to enjoy these again. This only gave me a reason to order more food from the menu, and sure enough, I was impressed once more with the Oaxacan cheese chicken quesadillas.

    Good choice of beers and it’s a full bar so you can’t go wrong in picking your favorite libation!

    Check this place for what it is instead of what you want it to be. Enjoy good food and get in the mood!

    Can’t wait to go back and try everything else on the menu!

  5. Word.

    I recently tried the charcuterie of meats, along with the cheese plate. The meat plate consisted of blood sausage, serrano ham, and a third meat, I forget which though. The blood sausage was very good. Very good. The serrano ham was also quite good. The cheese plate consisted of a spanish blue, a petite basque, manchego, and one other cheese (the name escapes me–I blame all those naughty “chupitos” they like to dole out). I’m partial to petit basque. I actually fucking love petit basque. Petit Basque is “brebis” sheep’s milk cheese made to Basque standards. The texture is tight, it’s slightly oily, and fruity and woodsy in flavor. I sometimes buy it by the wheel from Hi-Times Wine Cellars for twenty bucks a pound (call me colonial). Lola Gaspar gets their quality meats and cheeses from Spanish foods and sundries import store, La Espagnola (in SanPedro).

    I once took a few buses out to La Espagnola. It took about three and half-hours to get there from SanTana, but I was dead set on making the most amazing squid ink paella I could. So I hoofed myself on over to SanPedro looking for black ink sacks, bomba rice, bilbao sausage, and other goods. As someone who doesn’t have a car, I appreciate having access to La Espagnola’s goods through Lola Gaspar. Granted, I could get more bang for my buck if I purchased straight from La Espagnola, but then I would have to dedicate seven hours to getting there and back, and my gastronomical experience would equate to me, naked on my couch, with a remote in one hand and some sausage in the other (not my own); with no portishead, no community, and no reason to be fully or partially clothed. … . And it only takes me about nine minutes to get to Lola Gaspar by foot.

    Oh, and I like their fries: salty and served with paprika mayonnaise–reminds me of Belgium.

    And thanks g-d they’re open on Sundays.

  6. I would go just to see the art!

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