Time Out says
Paul McGee brings a worthy tiki oasis to the Avondale/Logan Square border
Lost Lake is not Three Dots and a Dash. But it’s impossible to talk about the new Logan Square/Avondale tiki bar without talking about Three Dots, so we’ll get it out of the way. Both are from bartender Paul McGee, who ran Three Dots and a Dash before departing Lettuce Entertain You group in December to join Land & Sea Dept. (Longman & Eagle, Parson’s Chicken & Fish) to open Lost Lake and future projects for the restaurant group. On the surface, there are plenty of similarities—drinks that double as flower arrangements, lush tropical decor, Hawaiian print–clad bartenders and Americanized Chinese snacks. A couple of McGee’s Three Dots drinks, like Bunny’s Banana Daiquiri and Poipu Beach Boogie Board, even made the trip to Avondale.
But that’s where the similarities end, because one sip of the cocktails tells you McGee is going in a new direction. Where Three Dots was crowd-pleasing, and even the booziest drinks were fruit-forward, Lost Lake is more challenging—and more interesting. Sure, the banana daiquiri is easy-going, but Hula Hips of Heaven has a double dose of agave, with smoky mezcal and tequila providing a strong base for citrus fruits and spices, while the Scotch-based Cocoanut Grove Cooler has a punch of peat smoothed out with pineapple and lemon, plus Batavia Arrack, rum’s Indonesian predecessor. Both are good, but I prefer Pool Rules, perfectly balanced between rum and bourbon, with vanilla and nice warm spices; Tic Tac Taxi, a coconut-passionfruit-rum slushie that debuted at Three Dots’ anniversary party last year; and Lima Lima Scorpion Bowl, a large-format drink that's a fruity-but-dry blend of gin, apple brandy and various fruits.
Occasionally, the drinks don’t quite come together, like Ripples on an Evaporated Lake, which has rum, coconut and amaro, but coffee overtakes the other flavors and the coconut flakes are unpleasant to drink. The daily daiquiri ($8, while the other cocktails are $12) has also proven a gamble, since the rums and ingredients change every day; the one I tried, Flor de Caña 4-Year Gold with honey and lime, was weighed down with honey. But on the whole, the 17-deep cocktail list (which includes four punch bowls) has plenty to explore.
The food side is also worth exploring. At Thank You, a bright, white take-out counter at the entrance to Lost Lake, Gabriel Freeman (Mott St.) is turning out an array of snacks you can order from your server, take to go or, soon, have delivered to your house. If you’ve had at least one cocktail, you should eat something—spicy fried longbeans tossed with Chinese chili paste, greasy shrimp and country ham-packed egg rolls with plum dipping sauce, and a rich bowl of fried rice with pork floss, bacon and egg yolk are ideal to snack on while drinking. But the standouts are a cooling dish of cucumbers with mint and sesame leaves, a take-out container of crisp chicken wings that’s a glorious mess of sambal and soy, and a $3 peanut snack, chewy nubs of black garlic and slices of bird’s eye chili tossed with salty-sweet peanuts, which I’m going to order on all subsequent visits.
Lost Lake is highly stylized, with leaf-print wallpaper, house glassware and neon signs, and if you’re not tempted to grab a stack of bird-print coasters to take home, you’re a better person than me. But the location means it follows the model set by the area's other cocktail bars—great drinks, relaxed ambiance, fellow patrons bedecked in plaids. This is tiki at its chillest.
By Amy Cavanaugh
Posted: Wednesday, February 18, 2015
3154 W Diversey Ave
at Kedzie Ave
Sun-Fri 4pm-2am, Sat 4pm-3am
El: Blue to Logan Square. Bus: 56, 76.