the dining room at lola jean's giveback coffee photo by david kovaluk

Review: Lola Jean's Giveback Coffee in Southampton

Lola Jean’s Giveback Coffee
, sister restaurant to neighboring Russell’s on Macklind, is an inviting cafe with a mission: the restaurant donates all proceeds to nonprofits like Big Brothers Big Sisters. But that’s not the only reason to go. 

the dining room at lola jean's // photo by david kovaluk

A bright mural of lemons backdrops the laid-back, kid-friendly space, and, on warm days, the back patio teems with patrons. The menu is as fun and approachable as the decor, featuring well-executed takes on classic lunch fare prepared by chef-owner Russell Ping. It’s tempting to linger all day.

breakfast burrito at lola jean's // photo by david kovaluk

Breakfast Burrito
Served all day, there is no reason to miss the plump breakfast burrito. Along with fluffy scrambled eggs, it’s stuffed with a mound of rich carnitas cooked overnight in a southwestern rub, shredded and brought to crispy heaven on a flattop. Pickled jalapeno and serrano peppers add tartness and a hint of heat, while a chipotle-lime aioli and shredded white cheddar bring a zesty, creamy element. The hearty burrito is wrapped in a thick flour tortilla and seared on a panini press.

Braised Chicken Thigh Baguette
Moist, tender chicken braised in white wine with celery, onion, rosemary, thyme and garlic is the centerpiece of this outstanding sandwich. The sumptuous, shredded thigh meat is piled high on a hot and crusty baguette along with a slice of melted Swiss and finished with a generous slather of house-made aioli and a rich green olive tapenade – the ideal pair for the delicate chicken.

the chopped salad at lola jean's // photo by david kovlauk

Chopped Salad
This is the superstar of Lola Jean’s menu. Thick pieces of bacon are generous and flavorful, fresh cherry tomatoes burst with snappy perfection, nutty toasted sunflower seeds warm you like sunshine and a hard-boiled egg adds substance. But the real workhorse is the basil vinaigrette – a fresh and flavorful amalgamation of basil, honey, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and olive oil that seeps onto every delicious forkful.

Roasted Turkey Sandwich
Served cold between two massive slices of country white bread, this is a straightforward and delicious turkey sandwich. Ping has fun with the house-made aioli, which offers a tinge of sweetness from powdered sugar added to imitate Miracle Whip. The rest of the sandwich is textbook: giant slices of moist turkey, a huge cut of gloriously red beefsteak tomato seasoned with just the right amount of salt and pepper, and a crisp layer of iceberg lettuce.

the new york strip loin sandwich // photo by david kovaluk

New York Strip Loin Sandwich
New York strip loin is roasted medium-rare, then sliced and seared on a hot flattop for this carnivore-pleasing sandwich. Layered with white cheddar, sweet pickled shallots and a creamy, rich horseradish Dijon on Breadsmith sourdough, the sandwich is buttered and finished on a hot panini press.

The Downside
This popular spot is absolutely slammed Saturdays and Sundays, making getting a table nearly impossible. It can also be hard to make a carryout order over the phone – I’ve let it ring without anyone picking up and been left on hold until the call disconnected. Weekday afternoons offer a much better chance to sit back and enjoy this vibrant, easygoing cafe.

Matt Berkley is a longtime critic for Sauce Magazine.