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Brunch boards, Italian nachos, cocktails and more at new Ann Arbor pop-up LaLa's

The three-year-old restaurant Standard Bistro and Larder is transforming into a new concept starting this week with weekend dinner and brunch service

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

Chef Allie Lyttle is reopening a popular Ann Arbor restaurant this week with a new, more casual concept. 

The Standard Bistro + Larder — a high-end French restaurant with a focus on hospitality and wine and an in-house butcher shop — closed when the pandemic hit in March. Now it's reopening as a new concept, LaLa's, which is starting Friday as a pop-up with limited hours. 

Allie Lyttle is executive chef at the Standard Bistro and Larder, which is transitioning into LaLa's, a more casual concept.

The executive chef, who took the reins at the Standard last year, hopes this summer pop-up series, officially called LaLa's at the Standard, will transition to the permanent concept in the future. 

With spacious indoor and outdoor dining areas and a commitment guest safety as well as staff safety and happiness, Lyttle is hoping LaLa's will offer guests a dining experience that feels right. 

"I haven't been in a restaurant in four months either," she said. "We're trying to give our guests an experience like the one we would want to have, and also make them feel a little bit normal when nothing feels normal."

"I feel like most people get comfort and they get a sense of familiarity or just normalcy from food," said Lyttle, who has cooked professionally for about 15 years. "I think being able to provide something that is still going to be chef-driven, it's really high quality, but in a more relaxed way, I hope it gives people somewhere where they can feel they can exhale." 

Uncle Sal's nachos at LaLa's are made with fried wontons, Italian sausage, Alfredo, pickled peppers, tomato and green onions.

For those dining in, LaLa’s at the Standard has tons of space. Even at half capacity there’s room for about 60 guests on the patio and about the same number inside. They’re all spaced 6 feet apart, chair-to-chair, said Lyttle.

Lyttle, who has pink hair, loves vintage Pyrex glassware and describes her cooking style as "fresh and funky," has developed a menu that is modern and fun, with a lot of fusion dishes and items for many diet types. She named this new concept after the nickname her younger brother gave to her when they were kids. 

For dinner, served Friday and Saturday evenings, LaLa's will have staples like a burger, a fried chicken sandwich and a wedge salad, along with inventive things such as Italian-style nachos made with wonton chips, sausage, pickled peppers and Alfredo. One appetizer is a cheese board with pimento and pickles made in house, served with seasoned saltines. 

Chicken-fried cauliflower is on the menu at LaLa's at the Standard in Ann Arbor.

A vegan comfort dish Lyttle is excited about is the chicken-fried cauliflower served with creamed spinach and mashed potatoes. 

The dinner menu also has family-style carryout orders that have to be ordered the week ahead, like a pasta bake with red sauce, sausage and cheese and served with chopped salad and garlic bread for $50. 

LaLa's weekend brunch is good for the couple who can't decide what to order. Each week the "brunch board" will offer a smattering of that week's menu. The opening weekend's brunch board offerings are brown sugar sausage, scrambled eggs, strawberry cheesecake pancakes, barbecue tots and fresh fruit. 

"It's basically like a sample of brunch, because when I go out to eat I want to order 15 things but I don’t want my bill to be $200. For $18 it will feed two people comfortably," she said. "We have a brunch bowl which is grits, and fried chicken and gravy and eggs and it’s just, in my opinion, the perfect hangover food."

Speaking of hangovers, LaLa's will also have dinner and brunch craft cocktail menus, with the latter also serving mimosas and bloodys by the carafe. 

LaLa's at the Standard is at 5827 Jackson in Ann Arbor. Call (734) 263-2543 or visit lalasannarbor.com to view menus, make reservations or order carryout online. 

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mbaetens@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @melodybaetens