Monday, March 27, 2017

Taste of Jamaica

I had a mid-day doctor's appointment on the east side last week, and it was just around the corner from a 2017 To Dine Challenge restaurant that I needed to try...Taste of Jamaica.

This casual restaurant gives you a hint of Jamaica in the food, decor, and music. There are plenty of tables, and a couple of booths, but they appear to do a lot of takeout. All of the food is ordered and picked up at the counter and served in to-go containers. There was a lot of foot traffic in and out as we ate lunch.
Mr. H and I grabbed a booth after both ordering the Wednesday special of Jerk Fried Chicken with two sides (after they were out of the Jerk Shrimp I tried to order). I had the rice and beans and fried plantains.
It was a hefty plate of food, and I took half of it home for leftovers. The rice and beans had a great curry flavor to them, and had soaked up some of the sauce from the chicken. The plantains were fantastic, and they would be a must-order for me. I liked the chicken's sauce a lot, but it didn't taste as similar to the jerk seasoning I've had before. As "fried" chicken, it didn't stay crispy at all in that sauce, but it was still quite enjoyable.

I'd say this one was a "win" on the To Dine list!

Taste of Jamaica
5104 Mayfield Road
Lyndhurst, OH 44124

Friday, March 24, 2017

Pearl Road Tavern

Mr. H and I have still been supporting the Old Brooklyn Restaurant Month being hosted by the Old Brooklyn Families Group in March. The second week highlighted restaurants and bars from Pearl Road.

We popped into the Hopp Inn first, for a cold beer and a plate of pierogi. The dive bar has its charm, and the homemade pierogi were actually quite good. They are owned by the same folks behind the Polish Diner in Parma.

Sadly, our second stop wasn't as successful. We popped into the Pearl Road Tavern (a little less dive-y) down the street, for another beer (more extensive list and craft beers here) and some food. We shared the fried shrimp platter with pierogi, and they just didn't even come close to what we'd just had. These claimed to be "housemade" but they tasted as though they came from a box.
We also split a Buffalo Chicken Wrap with steak fries, and it was honestly the worst buffalo wrap I've ever had. It had barely any chicken, very little sauce, the wrap was an odd texture, and only lettuce was included. The wrap was packed with it. I didn't even finish my half, once the chicken was gone. I also love a good steak fry, but these were not it. They were so under cooked that several of them were inedible. What a letdown.

Also, do they have a lot of fights there? From the nature of signs posted around the place, I'm inclined to think so. The status of the women's bathroom was enough to turn me off from this spot as well. That's certainly one place that I don't feel the need to visit again.

Pearl Road Tavern
4370 Pearl Road
Cleveland, OH 44109

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Natural Wines at Bruell Restaurants

Zack Bruell Restaurant Group is introducing a new line of highly acclaimed natural wines at two of his restaurants: L’Albatros in University Circle and Parallax in Tremont. Mr. H and I had the pleasure of attending the media preview last week, to sip and sample an assortment of these wines, and to snack on some expertly paired Parallax bites. Like their famous sushi...
...smoked salmon tartar...
...and tempura vegetables, among others.
Bruell's simplistic approach to food pairs well with natural wines, because they are distinguished by a biodynamic or organic growing process, coupled with minimal technological intervention during winemaking and cellaring. No yeasts, sugars or bacteria are added in the process. Fermentation is spontaneous from natural yeasts and bacteria present on the grape skins during harvest. The only additive can be a small amount of Sulphur for bottling stability. Often, the wines are unfiltered.
Tasting the wines on their own, then with food, and after they had sat for a while changed every sip's experience. These wines are always evolving. Their highly active characteristics make them an ideal pairing with contemporary foods that feature intensive flavors. One thing that I learned was that I've probably had a natural wine before, and just didn't know it.

The only one that I didn't care for was a Chardonnay that we sampled, but here is my favorite white and favorite red from the evening:

  • 2013 Dry Tokaji, Oremas, “Mandelas,” Hungary- crisp, gooseberry, caramelized pineapple upside-down cake $44 (left)

  • 2015 Mouvedre, Dirty & Rowdy, “Familiar Vineyard,” California-fresh strawberries, strudel, limestone $55 (right)

I'll be tracking these down.

Right now, diners can find 14 natural wines at L'Albatros and Parallax on a special wine listing, but they will eventually be integrated into the regular wine list and denoted as a natural wine. All fall at a very approachable price point.

The introduction of these wines onto their menus is part of an emerging movement that has upended an influential group of winemakers, Michelin-starred restaurants and sommeliers throughout the world. The trend has only really taken off in New York City, Chicago, and Portland in the United States. Julian Bruell, Director of Service, wants their restaurant group to be on the forefront of bringing this movement to Cleveland.

Disclosure: I was invited, with a guest, to a complimentary media preview and tasting. All opinions are 100% my own. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Saucisson Opening

The lady butchers of Saucisson opened their doors last week on their brick and mortar shop in Salvic Village!
Mr. H and I stopped by on opening day. Shoppers will find all of their classics that we've grown to love at farmer's markets.
OMG, this lamb terrine pan-fried on a breakfast sandwich was heaven.
But, you'll also now find fresh cuts, like these chops, in the shop.
I also wasn't expecting the cooler of frozen soups!
There are a few tables inside, because they will also be offering a couple of daily specials for take-out or dine in.
They will be open from 11AM - 7PM on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays for now. They use only the highest quality local meats, and have a real passion for what they do. So get out and support them!

5324 Fleet Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44105

Friday, March 17, 2017

Kelsey Elizabeth Cakes

I made the mistake of following Kelsey Elizabeth Cakes on Instagram. I don't even have a sweet tooth, but I found myself drooling over their adorable sweet treats.

We found ourselves in Rocky River to pick out some paint samples two weeks ago, and I caught sight of the Kelsey Elizabeth Cakes shop across the street.
So, when we headed back to the hardware store this past weekend to purchase the final paint, I convinced Mr. H to stop in. We were instantly greeted by this gorgeous, and girly, chair.
They had an assortment of cupcakes, macaron flavors, bars, and cookies. The shop also carries products other than their own, like chocolate bars, etc.

I grabbed a Sea Salt Fudge macaron to snack on immediately. There were about five flavors that I had a hard time choosing between.

Mr. H and I took home a stuffed cookie to share later. It was a chocolate chip cookie sandwich with vanilla buttercream and cookie dough (pictured top, left below). Yes, cookie dough INSIDE of a cookie. The buttercream was a little too sweet for my non-sweet tooth self, but getting to that cookie dough in the center was worth it!
From the posts I see on social media, this shop can handle just about anything, while making it uber pretty. I love the frilly, girly look and feel of not only the shop, but most of her goods.

Kelsey Elizabeth Cakes
20033 Detroit Rd.
Rocky River, OH 44116