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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.