Review: 41379 Heartlake City Restaurant

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When the summer wave of Friends sets was announced, 41379 Heartlake City Restaurant caused some of the most buzz. Not only does it contain collectible food pieces (some of them new), but many felt that it was reminiscent of 10027 Breezeway Café. When Huwbot in his infinite wisdom selected 10027 as a Random Set of the Day, I took it as a sign that I should review 41379 first from this summer's Friends sets.

The outside package shows the Italian restaurant from the front - actually, I'm surprised the set name isn't "Heartlake Italian Restaurant”. The general structure does seem similar to 10027, though there are definitely more details in this year's version. The back of the box shows the set from the review view as well as several vignettes for stories that can be played out with the set. Inside the box there are five numbered bags, a 16x16 baseplate in brick yellow, an instruction book and a small sticker sheet.


Minidolls

There are three minidolls included in the set - Emma, her seems-to-be boyfriend Ethan, and Lillie, owner/chef of La Locanda. Emma's torso is new to this set, and she's dressed for a maybe-date with Ethan in a pink top with a pale pink filigree pattern. She wears a chunky necklace and a long beaded chain to go with the top. We've seen her pale blue skirt with dark blue shoes before, from last year. Ethan's torso is new this year but not unique to this set; he wears a forest green hoodie with a white t-shirt underneath. Lillie's torso is also new to this set. Her chef's jacket has some terrific detailing on the front with a double row of buttons and a red scarf tied around her neck. Lillie's hair and hat are also new to this set and look great, with her chef's hat perched over her dark brown hair.

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Of course there are cute animals in the set - in this case, two cats. Emma’s cat Chico is here, looking as adorable as ever in dark grey with a white heart patch on her chest. We’ve seen the other cat before who apparently lives at the restaurant; I remember its debut in 41333 Olivia’s Mission Vehicle. This is my favourite Friends cat and I’m very pleased to see it make a return in this set.

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The completed model

As is not unusual for Friends models, there are a couple of smaller builds to go along with the main building. The first of these is something that you usually see behind a restaurant, a dumpster.

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As is also not unusual for dumpsters behind restaurants, this one has been the target of graffiti. In this case, the person responsible is the Heartlake City graffiti artist, Prankzy. As evidenced by the heart drawn on the dumpster Prankzy (who is also known as Ethan) seems quite smitten with Emma.

The dumpster also serves another purpose - while it may represent leftover food for the humans, it apparently serves quite well as a dinner buffet for the resident restaurant cat and Emma’s cat Chico.

View image at flickr

The other ancillary build is a rather expansive salad cart. In addition to greens and dressing there’s fruit and bread, and something that could be either pudding or soup.

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A moped used for the restaurant’s deliveries is included. When not dining at the restaurant, Emma and Ethan take turns on delivery duty. Helmets are include for both of them. I like that Emma’s helmet piece includes her dark pony tail, while Ethan rocks a tinted visor on his helmet

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The front door of the restaurant is in a lovely breezeway under a couple arches in one of my favourite LEGO colours, cool yellow. Just inside the door is a small foyer with a greeting stand, compete with menu, as well as a fire extinguisher. I’m not quite sure why the fire extinguisher is placed here - I’m guessing there no room in the kitchen?

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

Diners have their choice of dining outside in front of the restaurant or climbing a flight of stairs to make it to the next floor. All of the seating choices are outside, as the remainder of the inside of the building is taken up with the kitchen and the washroom. Here we see chef Lillie hard at work in the kitchen, working on what looks like a burger as well as spaghetti and meatballs. Those of you who are fans of LEGO food pieces will love the new spaghetti and meatballs piece - no stickers needed here. The stove section is easily removed to allow for more space for play, or perhaps to place the salad cart instead.

View image at flickr

The kitchen is also equipped with a stone pizza oven accessible from either side, and there’s a full pizza included. While not new, I don’t think you can ever have enough LEGO pizza pieces.

View image at flickr

I learned from a presentation that a Friends set designer gave last year is that girls love to have bathrooms in their sets. This set does not disappoint with a bathroom located adjacent to the kitchen. Being as this is a public place, it’s shown as a unisex bathroom. The door is decorated by a large sticker of an irregular size (accounting for the door knob), which I found to be a little challenging to apply with the extra ends.

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One choice for diners to enjoy their meal is in the front of the restaurant. There’s a table set for two, and makes for a good spot for Ethan and Emma to hang out. You can also see some additional details of a chalkboard menu and a lamp in the background.

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Another dining choice is up the stairs along the front and side of the building, to another table setting for two. This time dinner is included with another spaghetti food piece.

View image at flickr

This is area is covered by a lovely arbor that has grape vines growing. I really like the attention to detail that the designer has put into this area and I love the grapes hanging from the vines to give it a true Italian Restaurant feel.

View image at flickr

The rest of the upper floor of the restaurant is given over to details of the tiled roof and the restaurant sign. This is somewhat unusual for Friends buildings as typically every space is given over for rooms. However, I like the emphasis on building a roof and using several colours for the Mediterranean tiling. The final result looks fantastic.

View image at flickr

A large sign announces the name of the restaurant - La Locanda - or literally, “The Inn” in Italian. The details on the sign are provided by a larger sticker.

Looking on the backside of the sign, we can see that Prankzy has been hard at work again, but this time he signs his work. Some of his supplies are close by.

View image at flickr


Overall thoughts

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I did find this set to be very reminiscent of 10027, albeit this set has a lot more detail. I always enjoy additions to the LEGO food world. I wonder why this set wasn’t described as an Italian restaurant, as it seems pretty clear that’s what it is.

There are lots of terrific details in the set for running a restaurant and plenty of opportunity for play. I also like that some of the boys in the Friends world are starting to get their own distinctive traits, with Ethan aka Prankzy. (I wonder if Banksy is aware of his LEGO competition?).

I think this may be the perfect Friends set for all those people who “don’t like Friends sets because they’re all pink”. There’s nary a pink piece to be found in this set. What’s more, the colouring is fantastic and I really enjoy the predominant use of cool yellow for the structure. This could easily fit into a City environment without any colour modifications. In fact, this could fit a need for some City enthusiasts as that particular line has not had much in the way of restaurants in recent years.

But alas, many of those people won’t take a second look at this set because some of the packaging includes that dreaded pink colour. Considering the versatility of the set and the price point (624 pieces, $59.99, 59.99€, £54.99), it’s their loss.


Many thanks to the LEGO Group for providing a copy of this set for review. All opinions expressed are mine.

37 comments on this article

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By in United Kingdom,

Absolutely love this set - I’ve already got two. Yet another friends set that is filling a gap in the City market for realistic everyday sets, and this time with a minimum of pink for which I am eternally grateful. Would have adored this as a kid so I hope many girls nowadays do too!

Those roof tiles and grapes are a highlight for me too. I look forward to them coming down to a reasonable price on Bricklink so I can tile a whole roof...

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By in United States,

I love this set! I don't really collect Friends the way I do themes like Ninjago, Lego Movie 2, or Elves, but every so often a set jumps out at me and goes straight on my wish list, and this was one of them. I love the overall build as well as the little character details provided by the stickers. The parts selection is really fantastic too, including several recolors (like the dark purple "grapes", white double half arches, and red, orange, and magenta roof tiles) that go a long way toward evoking the familiar feel of an Italian restaurant.

The only real complaint I have about this set is that there's not really any natural place to put the well-stocked salad bar. Some past Friends buildings have had the lower floor of the interior extend back beyond the actual walls that support the upper floor to create more space for play, but here the floor only extends one module back from those upper floors and pretty much all of the interior space is used up by other features.

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By in Canada,

Bathroom door looks fancier than the front door

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By in United States,

That tiled roof is the best. I need some of those...

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By in United States,

Such a great set—and a great review, too! Though I think it’s probably a lasagna she’s making, rather than a burger.

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By in Germany,

A very neat-looking set with tons of great detail. Can't believe how good those grapes are.

One thing, I think the other food item in the kitchen is supposed to be a portion of lasagne, given that it's square and the restaurant is Italian.

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By in Germany,

Why is this not a city set?

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By in Portugal,

i consider this one an absolut must buy for the City line collectors. I learned to pay attention to these Friends sets, sometimes i find them very useful.

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By in Belgium,

"girls love to have bathrooms in their sets"
I can confirm this. When I first showed Downtown Diner to our daughter (who was 7 at the time), the first thing she said: "But dad, where's the toilet?"

I loved this set from the moment I first saw it. I haven't bought it (yet), because we both love 41311 Heartlake Pizzeria so much!

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By in Singapore,

This set is $100 where I live, which isn't a good deal at all. Shame, because this is a fantastic set, at the right price. I'd been looking forward to it since it was revealed... until the price was revealed on launch day.

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By in United States,

I love the design of Friends sets what I don't like is the color scheme. The typical purple and pink doesn't fit with the rest of my City sets.

However, this set is fantastic and is the one Friends set from the new wave my wife pointed out that she wanted (because it wasn't bathed in purple and pink). Purple is my wife's favorite color but that doesn't mean she finds it appropriate in a Lego set.

EDIT: You don't mention it, but "Locanda" is Italian for inn or tavern.

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By in Germany,

This is such a nice set, too bad I'm not into the mini dolls. Why can't City sets be like this?

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By in United States,

Great set. The layout, architecture, colors, details and pieces. I love the tiled roof, so creative. I've never seen the ice cream piece used that way. So clever! Wow, because you can pass the piece off as ice cream, grapes, berries, popcorn, and smoke.

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By in Germany,

@yamaki What's stopping you from switching out the minidolls for minifigs? Maybe some plates need to be removed as well to reduce the height of the counter and the table to be more realistic.

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By in United States,

Woah, woah, woah, WOAH!

Black helmet and black visor? Can we say Blacktron is back?? Ethan may very well be the beginnings of Blacktron--I smell an origin story! You read it here first, folks! Oh man, I wonder if that makes Emma the Blacktron queen...

(Also, 10037 is typo'd a few times as 10027 in this article.)

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By in Canada,

I just want to point out that Emma's cat Chico is a tomcat. Review has his gender mixed up.

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By in Russian Federation,

@MeganL review view? May be REAR view?

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By in Switzerland,

My daughter is no more interested in Lego Friends, but I think I will buy this set for me.
I love it.

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By in United States,

Olive Garden in disguise! ??

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By in Germany,

This set, like the pizzeria a while back, fits in the City world nicely, thanks to the subdued colour scheme (at least for a Friends set). It's a bit on the expensive side, but at a discount this is very interesting. Thanks for the great review.

I never knew there was a re-release of 6376.

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By in United States,

This set really reminds me of the Paradisa - one of my all time favorite themes.

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By in United States,

Great review! I do have a slight correction — Lillie's hat/hair combo isn't quite new to her, since it appeared with the same colors but a different Element ID on the Minifigures Series 17 Gourmet Chef.

Also, the calico cat's name is Vega and I'm pretty sure she belongs to Vicky, since she appears in the announcers' booth alongside the other two racers' pets (Stephanie's dog Dash and Mia's rabbit Twister) in 41352-1 The Big Race Day. Although it's also possible that this one is meant to represent a generic calico cat — after all, it's not unusual for even named LEGO Friends animals to reappear in later sets with different names.

I agree with @TeaWeevil and @Rob42 that the stack of square plates/tiles probably represent a lasagna, given the Italian theme of the restaurant and menu.

There are so many levels on which I love this set. First and foremost, it's a brilliantly authentic and distinctive looking portrayal of an Italian restaurant, using lots of novel building techniques and color combinations to depict its clay roofing shingles, hanging grapes, pizza oven, signage, and rustic old world architecture. It also manages to include substantial play value while making for a more complete display piece than the open-sided 41311-1 — which itself demonstrated a lot of the same design strengths.

The set as a whole has stronger romantic vibes than pretty much any previous LEGO Friends set, not that I mind that at all! The spaghetti dinners enjoyed from a shared plate on each table as well as the pets in the alleyway both remind me of the Italian restaurant scene from Disney's "Lady and the Tramp". But it is not overwhelming, nor does it diminish either character's individuality, which is certainly appreciated.

I also love that this set has a strong feeling of synchronicity with the theme's storyline as portrayed in the "LEGO Friends: Girls on a Mission" TV series, such as referencing Ethan's street artist alter ego Prankzy as well as Emma and Ethan's mutual crush. Prior to the 2018 reboot, the LEGO Friends sets were obviously referenced in the storyline, but the reverse was rarely true aside from references to the main characters' defining interests.

Since last year, though, I get a real sense that even with plenty of allowance for open-ended play scenarios, the sets and storyline are being developed more in tandem, a shift we have also seen in other media-supported themes like LEGO Ninjago over time.

A subtler detail I can't help feeling impressed with is the table setting, with cutlery clipped into place on a red folded napkin on either side of each table. It's certainly a bit of a bummer that you can only have a knife OR a fork lying on the table in this fashion, but I can't think of any space-efficient that could have been fixed in a System build other than printing the cutlery directly on a 1x2 tile, which would have reduced the play value.

It's a bit peculiar that the building instructions tell you to put the unused kitchen accessories like a hand mixer and a spare knife and fork into the dumpster. It's certainly an effective way to keep those accessories from getting lost/misplaced even though they're not really used in the build, and also a good way to fill the dumpsters up more without adding more elements to the inventory, but they're hardly the kind of things you'd expect to see in a restaurant dumpster!

Besides all the strengths of this set as a complete model, I also appreciate Lillie's face print (reused from Alicia in the Stephanie's House set), since I missed out on its previous appearance and feel that with its blue eyes and copper-ish oval framed glasses, it's maybe the best option for if I ever decide to make a mini-doll version of my sigfig!

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By in United States,

@TomKazutara : While I'd love to see City buildings with this level of detail, distinctiveness, and playability, I definitely prefer this model as a Friends set. It really encapsulates many of the Friends theme's strengths, and also suits the narrative of the LEGO Friends characters. What's more, it's a beautiful addition to Heartlake City as a whole.

@SirZed : I don't think even the countertop height should be an issue — it's pretty normal for kitchen counters to be around two bricks tall regardless of whether they're intended for minifigs or mini-dolls. In fact, the countertops of the Breezeway Café set linked at the beginning of the article are a plate taller than these, as are those in the Parisian Restaurant modular building!

In general, I find the vast majority of scaling concerns between minifigs and mini-dolls tend to be overstated. The main issue that tends to require any sort of conversion between minifigs and mini-dolls is vehicle seating arrangements, since mini-dolls require more room for their feet when seated, while minifigs often require more room for their arms (particularly if seating two figures side-by-side).

@Guachi : Thank you for the translation of "Locanda"!

From my experience, LEGO Friends is far from as overwhelmingly pink and purple as it's often perceived. But it does stand out from other themes in that it basically uses them just as freely as other parts of the color wheel, whereas in themes like City, Creator, or Technic, pink and purple rarely appear as a major part of any set's color scheme, no matter what it depicts.

I honestly admire the theme both not opting for a generic "pinkwashed" color scheme like the Paradisa sets of my childhood did, but also for treating pink and purple by the same standard as any other color. It's all too common to hear people question whether the purple parts in a set like 41337-1 are truly necessary. But who would even question the necessity of those same parts if they were bright red or bright blue?

When you think about it in those terms, it's much more shocking how scarce pinks and purples tend to be in other themes like City, Creator, and Technic than how common they are in LEGO Friends or Elves. Those colors encompass a pretty substantial slice of the color wheel, after all!

@ra226: To be honest, as much as I love Ethan having that black helmet in this set to represent his "Prankzy" alter ego (and also, of course, for road safety), I am a little bummed that it's not as vividly decorated as in the animated series, since that speaks so much to his street artist identity! I suppose that would be over budget for this set, though.

Here's a quick screencap I grabbed to give a sense of how elaborately decorated his helmet is in the animated series: https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/48925369482_3c953e5b9c_z.jpg

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By in United States,

Of course it’s lasagna! Why didn’t I think of that? Thanks, @TeeWeevil and @Rob42!

@Guachi - I do mention the translation, but obviously not in a spot where anyone noticed!

@Aanchir - as you probably guessed, I usually go by element ID to see if something is new (as my memory isn’t that great). I also did recognize Vega, but since Vicky hasn’t been featured this year I thought it would be best to keep the calico kitty anonymous :-)

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By in United Kingdom,

I purposely searched this set on bricks n pieces a month ago and bought 5 parts from it including the purple ice cream elements, lovely set aswell but I think heartlake has enough cafes, Ice cream shops and juice bars now it needs ap library, pharmacy and a bank... lego Take note!!

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By in United States,

@MeganL
You mean 10037 Breezeway Cafe, not the 10027 Train Shed! Lol

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By in United Kingdom,

@legoavengers14 great idea, a library would be amazing - and more likely to come in friends (Olivia maybe?) than City. Fingers crossed!

@vader11 agreed, it reminds me of Paradisa too but really just in the sense that it’s how “girly” sets should be done, with detail and charm.

@yamaki/@sirzed yep, it’s really not that hard to swap out the dolls to whatever you prefer. I personally adapt a lot of friends sets despite using yellow minifgures everywhere in my city, and the only issue is that they don’t look very healthy in contrast to the cool yellow walls of this set!

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By in United States,

@MeganL: great review, but you forgot to mention the best part: it comes with a built-in, logical means of getting from one floor to another! IMO, such architectural features are too-frequently forgotten in sets that don’t cost a morgage payment.

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By in Australia,

It's clearly a romantic hang-out spot. Even the cats are on a date.

But Emma and Ethan on a pseudo-date is kind of cute. And I like that one of the Friends characters has a secret alter-ego as a law breaker.

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By in United States,

I think it's pretty logical that one of the Friends is a known lawmaker - such a lifestyle is probably much easier here than in Lego City, where Ethan would undoubtedly be locked up in one of the many police stations! As far as I'm aware, Heartlake City doesn't have a police force (certainly not one as omnipresent as City's) so he is probably pretty safe.

Very nice review, it seems like a lovely set!

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By in Switzerland,

Great review! It's definitely on our list to add to our Lego city (with my son). He really loves restaurants and food stalls etc. As you say, the only sad thing is that this set will be overlooked by many, especially boys since it's in the Friends theme. My son is not so bad with this issue and once it's out of the box, I know everyone will play with It!

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By in Australia,

So that's where the spaghetti and meatballs tile is from (I have a couple on the way in a Bricks & Pieces order because they looked cool and didn't actually realize they were from a Friends set :)

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By in Poland,

Another proof noone should focus just on One theme.
Amazing set.

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By in United States,

20% off on Amazon US right now...kinda tempted

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By in Greece,

Nice set, great pieces!

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By in United States,

@BovineBrick: In the "Girls on a Mission" animated series, Heartlake City has a mounted police department, and Olivia's mother Laura is one of its officers. But she tends to be pretty lenient with nonviolent juvenile offenders (much as some police officers actually are and a lot more really ought to be in real life).

And frankly, even the LEGO City police don't seem to spend much time dealing with those types of petty crimes, seeing as most of the time they seem to have their hands full with bank robbers, smugglers, prison escapees, and jewel thieves! In fact, I think there have been only one or two sets that showed LEGO City police enforcing run-of-the-mill traffic violations like breaking the speed limit.

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