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February 18, 2005

Get a Life 2-18-05

"I think I am in love with this omelet," my friend Caitlin confided to me over our intimate breakfast at Lula Cafe Thursday morning. If you are going to confess your love for an omelet, this one is a prime candidate for your affection. Filled with wilted rapini, garlicky brioche croutons, and herbed goat cheese, this dish is, well, a real dish.

Can you really be in love with food, though? Lately, I love maraschino cherries, and my love for caramel is unconditional. This said, I don't know that I'm in love with any particular fare. I have seen love enough to know that it entails an absolute preoccupation that often involves sleepless nights and—in the case of the unrequited variety—puffy eyes and unsent letters. I cannot imagine pouring out heartfelt emotions to eggs Benedict.

Lula in Logan Square does offer some enticing options, and pairing them with a few too many cava mimosas or blackberry bellinis could escalate your relationship with your brunch entrée from casual to passionate. Waking up to a warm plate of brioche French toast topped with candied fennel, berries, and creme anglaise could be your dream come true; the ginger miso sauce on the tofu scramble or the dried-cherry-and-almond granola could be your idea of heaven. What's more, Lula's offerings are as pure and unadulterated as true love, with the café seeking out organic ingredients from local sources.

The dinner menu offers plenty of options as well. For starters, Lula's offers its take on the quesadilla, which is stuffed with chevre, queso fresco, spinach, and shiitake mushrooms. Main dishes include a variety of eclectic pastas and sandwiches, and every Monday the chefs prepare a three-course prix fixe meal made with the freshest ingredients at the reasonable price of $24.

Beyond the cuisine itself, Lula's sets the perfect environment for your love affair. The decor succeeds at being "done" without being "overdone." The environment is well planned, with sleek blue chairs bordering chrome or copper tables and orange diner-style chairs perched on a cobalt-tiled stage. The place has a SoHo air that keeps it sleek and chic without even the tiniest bit of pretension. The classic styling of the metallic taupe ceiling and the flower-filled vases mix nicely with the simplicity of the menu and souvenir buttons by the exit. After dining, you can leave wearing your heart (and a new Lula pin) on your sleeve.

Maybe my conception of being in love is too confining. Maybe—to paraphrase Soft Cell—my vision of love has been so "tainted" by the weight of unrequited confessions and meaningful stares that I cannot realize the joy of a pure and simple human relationship. Maybe, in the words of Bon Jovi, the drama and trauma of affection between two people just "gives love a bad name."

Others I know have come to grips with being in love with things. Just that afternoon, my friend John confessed, "I don't tend to fall in love with inanimate objects, but I could have a long-term committed relationship with my TiVo. I could give up going to the movies. Not that the TiVo would even have to know about it, though. I could be sly."

Maybe for now, Lula's can fulfill my craving for love. The real, interpersonal thing is out of my control. Unlike my two friends, I have not settled on the perfect object of my affection yet. All I can say today is, "Oh, prosciutto scramble, I love you. But I'm not in love with you."

Lula Cafe

Address: 2537 North Kedzie Boulevard

Phone: (773) 489-9554

Website: www.lulacafe.com

Directions:

Via CTA: CTA bus #55 Garfield Westbound to the Green Line. Transfer to the Green Line towards Harlem to Clark/Lake. Transfer to the Blue Line towards O'Hare to Logan Square.

Via car: 90/94 West. Exit #47A Fullerton Avenue. Turn left onto Fullerton. Turn left onto Kedzie Boulevard. Lula is on the right.