The rumor mill had it that Lo-Lo’s Chicken &Waffles was packed from the day it opened, and no wonder.
Crowds in a restaurant’s early days aren’t an uncommon occurrence, although these reportedly were bigger than most. People tend to be drawn by curiosity, wanting to be the first to report to their friends, or just general excitement that a new place has opened in the neighborhood.
All of those apply in the case of Lo-Lo’s, which is in the once-rocking but now slower-paced Best in the West center at the intersection of Rainbow and Lake Mead boulevards. But I think there’s something else at work here as well: We’re clearly in a simpler time as far as restaurants go — more casual, less ceremonial — and a place that uses such a homely dish in its very name has great appeal right from the beginning. Yes, we’ve gotten more sophisticated about our food, broadened our tastes considerably, but with wars and political rhetoric producing uncertainty on all fronts, good ol’ Southern comfort food is a kind of a refuge.
We were off to a good start with the fried green tomatoes ($5), not as much of a rarity in these parts as they once were but not exactly easy to find, either. This version was worth driving across town for: thick, tender slices in a sturdy cornmeal-based breading, resting on a bed of greens to lift them out of grease that wasn’t actually there, with a sort of remoulade sauce on the side for a touch of contrasting bright flavor.
In the case of the chicken-fried steak dinner ($14), the kitchen had taken a classic dish and amped it up a couple of notches with sauteed pepper, a bit of kick in the breading and a gravy that was creamy but still somewhat light. This one came with a decent corn muffin (a little on the dry side, but we appreciated the kernels) and two sides, for which we chose some superlative sweet potatoes, creamy soft with just a touch of sweetness, and fried okra, crunchy and grease-free.
But being in a chicken-and-waffles place meant one of us would be having chicken and waffles, and Lo-Lo’s definitely offers enough variations and combinations of those to ensure something for nearly anyone. For us, it would be the indulgent KK’s ($15), two waffles with three pieces of chicken, grits and eggs. And what we were served would do any Dixie grandmother proud.
Waffles: Slightly crispy on the outside, not quite custardy on the inside.
Chicken: Light on the seasoning but with plenty of flavor and a perfectly golden, shatteringly crisp crust. We got two pieces instead of three, we guess because we’d asked for white and one of them was a fairly good-sized breast.
Grits: Just fine.
Eggs: Up as ordered, and sprinkled with cheese and grits for a bit of a bonus.
But no Dixie grandmother would ever have allowed this to happen: The entire KK’s platter was cold. Not nearing-room-temperature warm, but my-eggs-have-congealed cold.
When this sort of thing happens we tend to speculate, and our guess here was that either the chicken-fried steak wasn’t ready as expected or they’d somehow forgotten it. At any rate the waffle platter was left to languish, we’re guessing not even in sight of a heat lamp. But if you worked in a kitchen, would it not seem to you that cold eggs are something that would be particularly unpleasant? Our server seemed like a newbie, but didn’t any of the cooks notice this? The minute or two it would’ve taken to cook two more eggs and scoop out the grits, etc., would definitely have been worth it.
But instead the dish was served cold, and that was unfortunate, because there is much to like about Lo-Lo’s, including the streamlined, simple decor (in a former Tony Roma’s, if memory serves) and the pleasant, efficient service from our sweet little server.
But cold eggs? Yeah, not good.
Las Vegas Review-Journal restaurant reviews are done anonymously at Review-Journal expense. Email Heidi Knapp Rinella at email@example.com. Find more of her stories at www.reviewjournal.com and follow @HKRinella on Twitter.
Lo-Lo’s Chicken and Waffles, 2040 N. Rainbow Blvd. (at Lake Mead Boulevard); 702-483-4311
The essence: Expansive menu of comfort-food favorites that are mostly prepared well, but cold eggs should always be a deal-breaker.