Lola Bistro & Wine Bar 900 Literary Road, Cleveland; 216-771-5652.
A squat little building on a gritty street corner, jammed with leopard prints, candles, and a bustling bar, wherein performs an award-winning chef and high-school wrestling champ with a grin that can melt granite: This is Lola, Michael and Liz Symon's tremendously hip little Tremont restaurant. People are often inclined to describe the place as "so New York!" But we don't think that's true. To our mind, this welcoming, creative venue is what Cleveland is all about. The vibe? Exciting, but relaxed. The menu? Sophisticated, yet playful. The food? Precise, yet powerful. Somewhere within that tangle of yin and yang lies the secret to the Symons' success and a hint as to Cleveland's culinary future. It's not going too far to suggest that Lola helps set the standard for what a modern American restaurant -- whether in Chicago, New York, or the Napa Valley -- has to be. And here it is, right in our own hometown.