Friday, July 22, 2016

Chef Gala Winner

Happy Friday! Well, Cleveland made it through the RNC, it's about to be the weekend, and that deserves some celebrating. Let's announce the winner of the two tasting tickets to the 2016 Chef Gala to benefit Autism Speaks...

Congratulations to Dan! Please check your email, and claim your tickets by Monday or a new winner will be selected.

If you didn't win, you can still purchase tickets here.

Thank you to everyone that entered the giveaway, and to Autism Speaks for the opportunity. Now, go enjoy the weekend and get out and support our local businesses! Many of them took a hit this week. But, congratulations to Cleveland for keeping it classy, safe, and beautiful.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Plum Cafe and Kitchen

Mr. H and I popped in to the newly opened The Plum Cafe & Kitchen on Saturday night. After almost three years in the making, I think it was worth waiting for.
The patio was packed, but we were quickly seated in the main dining room. With tons of light pouring in, and the crisp white everywhere, it was almost as good as sitting outdoors.

The interior is getting rave reviews, as is the food. With the stark white, sleek lines, subway tiles, exposed brick, and playful features like the pineapple wallpaper, it's easy to see why.

But, we were there for the food. And some cocktails. The important stuff.

I started with a Bird '86 ($9) with green chartreuse, pineapple, lime, and velvet falernum. It was beyond delicious!
The menu changes often, depending on the local products they receive at this farm-to-table restaurant. The dishes are designed to be shared, so the plates are served family-style and are on the smaller side, encouraging sharing and sampling multiple things on the menu. Just how Mr. H and I like to eat.

We decided to share the Tomatillo Picadillo & Puri with cilantro rice, cauliflower, smoked olive, raisin, and vegan lime yogurt ($10).
A flavorful tapenade. We did enjoy it, but it was a little hard to eat without using our hands, and pretty messy.

Next up, Rabbit Merguez Sausage with crispy hominy, baked cheese, and grilled piadina ($12).
The sausage was crumbled on top, and again, the dish had wonderful flavor, but required some digging in with our hands and it got a little messy.

Lastly, we shared the Smoked Ohio Raised Pork Shank with carrots, yogurt pudding and alcaparrado jam ($23).
The star of the show. This dish was exceptional, and I'd head back there just to get it again.

They also have a great lunch menu, a beer and wine list, and three rotating seasonal beers on tap. Their patio backs up to the Platform Brewery patio, and you can even walk through a gate directly into Platform. The Plum is open Monday - Saturday from 11AM - 1AM.

Another great addition to the up-and-coming Lorain Avenue area, and one that we'll certainly revisit.

The Plum Cafe & Kitchen
4133 Lorain Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113

Monday, July 18, 2016

Ticket Giveaway: 2016 Cleveland Chef Gala

The 3rd Biennial Autism Speaks Cleveland Chef Gala on Saturday, August 6, 2016 is just around the corner.  Chef Gala is a unique culinary extravaganza with all proceeds benefiting Autism Speaks to help change the future for all who struggle with autism spectrum disorder.
The event, hosted by The Chew’s Chef Michael Symon with Special Guest Bobby Flay will honor Shari and Michael Goldberg for their tireless support of Autism Speaks over the last 10 years.
The evening begins with a cocktail reception highlighting close to thirty renowned Cleveland chefs preparing one-of-a-kind dishes. After the reception, all guests will be treated to a sit-down dinner featuring an interactive dinner preparation by Iron Chefs Michael Symon and Bobby Flay. This year's event will be held at the Cleveland Convention Center.

The Cleveland chef line-up for the cocktail reception is impressive. You can check it out here.

Tickets to the event include two drink tickets, complimentary valet, tastings from the Cleveland chefs, and family-style service during the interactive dinner demonstration. The general admission tasting tickets, for $250 each, are still available online here, but they do traditionally sell out.

But, it's your lucky day, because I am giving away two general admission tasting tickets to the 2016 Cleveland Chef Gala. Just use the Rafflecopter form below for multiple ways to enter. Don't forget that you can tweet daily for additional entries. The winner will be selected on Friday, July 22nd. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. It is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Mr. Wright is the former vice chairman of General Electric and chief executive officer of NBC and NBC Universal. Since its inception, Autism Speaks has committed more than $550 million to its mission, the majority in science and medical research. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 100 cities across North America. On the global front, Autism Speaks has established partnerships in more than 60 countries on five continents to foster international research, services and awareness. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit

I attended this event two years ago, and it was a gorgeous evening filled with great food, a unique setting, and a special cooking demonstration that was quite entertaining to watch. Chef Symon brings his Cleveland charm, and hearty laugh, to the stage. This is one culinary event that you won't want to miss, and for a very worthy cause that is near and dear to many. 

Disclosure: I was provided with four general admission tasting tickets to this event in exchange for this giveaway and a post-event review. All opinions stated are 100% my own. Images was provided by Autism Speaks. 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

10 Dining Destinations in Cleveland for the RNC

The 2016 Cleveland Host Committee and Destination Cleveland, and really all of Cleveland, are preparing to welcome visitors from across the world to our city for the Republican National Convention this week. Visitors are encouraged to engage with our city through social media, by using and following the hashtag #AskCLE. There is even an #AskCLE headquarters set up in Downtown.

To help visitors navigate the booming Cleveland dining scene during the RNC, here are my top 10 dining destinations (close to Downtown) that you really shouldn't miss. I left out some of my favorite locations that I know are already booked for private groups all week.

1. Sokolowski's University Inn- Cleveland's oldest family-owned restaurant, located in the heart of Tremont. This James Beard "American Classics" winning restaurant serves up Polish and Eastern European cuisine with views of the Cuyahoga River and the downtown skyline. Lunch is served Monday - Friday, and dinner is served on Friday and Saturday. I recommend the Pierogi.

2. Flying Fig- Located in Ohio City, just across the bridge from Downtown, this staple of the Cleveland dining scene has one of our city's best chefs at the helm. Chef Karen Small is dedicated to locally sourced product, and artful preparations. I recommend the Tempura Green Beans.

3. Momocho- Also in Ohio City, this restaurant has been featured on the Food Network for its modern Mexican fare. Don't miss the Cucumber Margarita!

4. Dante- Located on Professor Avenue in Tremont, this gem is a highlight on a popular "culinary row" in Cleveland. Guests enjoy quite the culinary, and visual, delight as they dine in a former bank building. I suggest the Linguine alla Carbonara. You can also step downstairs for high-quality sushi from its sister restaurant, Ginko.

5. Slyman's Restaurant- A retro breakfast and lunch deli known for their corned beef sandwiches. Don't be thrown by the simple diner atmosphere, it's a well-known Cleveland classic that even locals stand in line for.

6. Superior Pho- In the mood for Vietnamese? Many feel that they have the best Pho and Banh Mi in town.

7. Mitchell's Ice Cream- Stop by the Ohio City headquarters for an after-dinner scoop of homemade ice cream. Personally, I love the Toasted Pistachio and Caramel Sea Salt, but they always have great seasonal flavors as well.

8. Urban Farmer- Located in The Westin on E. 6th Street in Downtown, I personally think that it's the best steakhouse in town. Try the NY Steak Tasting for something different, and don't miss the warm cornbread served in a tin can.

9. Flip Side- A local Cleveland hamburger chain. You can soak in the newly developed The Flats on the East Bank of the Cuyahoga River in Downtown, while enjoying locally sourced burgers, like the One Red Door Burger (crispy shallots, melted brie cheese, and a date and applewood bacon aioli).

10. Barrio- Custom-made tacos, designed by you. The local chain provides diners with a checklist of taco toppings, and you build your own creation. Wildly popular across Cleveland, this casual restaurant is now open for Friday lunch and weekend brunch, in addition to daily dinner hours. I suggest using the Stoner tortilla as your base.

Honestly, I could go on, and on, and on about the Cleveland dining scene. Oh wait, that's what I do on a weekly basis. It's kind of my favorite topic to talk about. I encourage you to utilize my Search function, or scroll through the list of restaurants and neighborhoods reviewed on the right-hand side of my blog.

RNC visitors- use #AskCLE all week long as you explore our city. Enjoy your time here!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Cleveland Dining Bucket List

In 2013, I shared with you my "Cleveland Bucket List" of things that I still wanted to do, see, and eat around our city. I've ticked a few off of the list, but still have many to go. But, I've been thinking recently...what's on my Cleveland DINING Bucket List? 

Over the years, there have been events that I've wanted to attend, dishes that I've desired to try, etc. So, here's the list that I've been working on. It includes a handful of items that were originally on the list that I've now experienced, and several more that I still need to do.

Cleveland Dining Bucket List:
- Schedule a private 21-course tasting dinner at Dante in Tremont
- Complete the official Tour de Bruell by dining at his 6 signature restaurants between Memorial Day and Labor Day
- Eat a Polish Boy at Hot Sauce Williams
- Attend the annual Reggae Brunch event at Park View Nite Club
- Attend a Gospel Brunch event at House of Blues
- Order Le Burger (hand-ground beef burger prepared tableside) at EDWINS
- Attend a Gourmets in the Garden event at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens (June - August)
- Attend a Culinary Vegetable Institute dinner event in Milan, Ohio
- Order the Caneton de Rouen à la Presse (pressed duck for two) at EDWINS
- Participate in the new AsiaTown Food Tour Series
- Attend a Fifth Quarter Dinner event at The Greenhouse Tavern
- Dine at Chez Francois in Vermilion 
- Order the Roasted Pig's Head at The Greenhouse Tavern
- Attend a Plated Landscape Dinner from Spice of Life Catering Co.

I had fun putting some thought into this.

What's on your Cleveland Dining Bucket List? What dish, restaurant, or event is quintessential Cleveland?