BY ALL APPEARANCES, Bar Lolo should be packed. It's a handsome, pop-modern, high-ceilinged space, well-designed and comfortable to relax in. But it's not packed, even though the menu is deep with intriguing Spanish-Basque tapas, the service is professional, and the drinks look sexy in the natural light.
The smallest of Bar Lolo's plates are well-executed, cheap drinking snacks. A double-shot of heirloom tomato gazpacho ($2) is a fine puree of fresh fruit, with a crunchy crouton and a little well of rich olive oil floated in. The banderillas ($4) are five bite-sized skewers of green olive, Basque piparra peppers, and mild white anchovy filets, vinegary, salty, and cool. The stand-out of all visits was the simple dish of potato chips with sea salt ($4), garnished with a generous dash of fried sage, rosemary, and parsley.
The food quality at bar Lolo is high at the low price points but, as the complexity and size of the dishes grows, so does the chance of disappointment.
Bar Lolo would be a beautiful place for a meal if a critical eye were turned on its more ambitious offerings, and its Alberta neighbors would finally have a late night option for sophisticated dining. For now, it is best suited to a happy hour-type outing.-CHRIS ONSTAD
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Happy Hour Info: Tues-Fri 4-6pm. $5 House wines, $4 Bar Lolo sangrias, $3.50 Local drafts, $5 Bar Lolo Margaritas, $2 off select tapas