Monday, June 20, 2016

Old Brooklyn Summer Cinema

As Mr. H and I continue to picture our future in Cleveland, we are leaning towards staying in the Old Brooklyn neighborhood. His family's business is here, it's affordable, accessible, and a real up-and-coming neighborhood. We just need to find our "forever" home, and the inventory is limited.

In an attempt to connect with and support my neighborhood, I joined the #whatsyouroldbrooklyn Social Media Ambassadors program with the Old Brooklyn CDC. If you follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook (all @BiteBuff), you'll start to see highlights from our life in the neighborhood.

Like last Tuesday, when the Cleveland Summer Cinema kicked off. Each Tuesday, through August 9th, Loew Park will feature a movie, farmers market, Green Machine food truck, and Platform Brewing beer tent.
After riding our bikes over, Mr. H and I browsed the local goods, purchase some unbelievable strawberries, sipped on a local Platform brew, and had a little picnic on a blanket as Trivia kicked off.
We enjoyed a Chicken Quesadilla, grilled garlic scapes in soy sauce, and Green Machine Grilled Cheese from the Green Machine food truck. They will be the exclusive food truck all summer long.
With the longer summer days upon us, the start of the movie was just too late for us this time, so we headed home before it started. One of these days, I'll stay, because that HUGE screen is awesome. If you live close by, check out the Summer Cinema in Old Brooklyn each Tuesday. Next up...Minions.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Gyro Spot

I was sooo excited when Mr. H heard that the former Fergie's in Parma was opening as Gyro Spot. We'd been in mourning since it closed. It was hands-down the BEST gyro in Greater Cleveland.

A co-worker of Mr. H's had stopped in to the new bar, and reported back that the gyro was just as good as he remembered. Sadly, it's not true.

Mr. H and I stopped in there on Saturday. The renovated bar and kitchen space is much improved. Lighter, brighter, open, and more seating.
We perched on some bar stools, right in front of the main event.
I was salivating at this point.

I didn't need a menu...
...bring me a gyro!

Immediately, we could tell that the "original Fergie's recipe" that they were boasting on their website is a lie. The sauce was thicker, chunkier, and didn't come close to the wonderful tang that the original had.
The meat was nicely seasoned, and had a lovely crisp to it from the rotating spits. However, Fergie's was allllllll about the sauce, and this sauce? Not the same. Also, my pita was slightly stale and immediately split when I picked it up (after eating quite a bit of the meat off this plentiful sandwich first).

This gyro may still be a step above others around town, but it's no Fergie's. Maybe they'll tweak the sauce, and it'll improve? One can hope, because I'm still jonesing for an original.

Gyro Spot Bar + Grill
5587 Ridge Road
Parma, OH

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Punch Bowl Social Cleveland

One thing that I'm loving about the new development in The Flats is that you can make a whole night of entertainment within walking distance. For us, that has included stops at Punch Bowl Social on several occasions.

I was already familiar with the place, having stopped in there for both pre and post-dinner drinks and games. The monthly CLE Dinner Club outing had also given me a taste of the menu several months ago. But, when they reached out to me to see if I would be interested in partnering for a review, I wanted to take them up on it to really experience the "three prong approach" of Eat.Drink.Social.

Armed with two friends, we started off the evening right, with one of their signature punches. I went with the bourbon-based The Bachelor's Bowl.
I've almost always ordered one of their punches, and I can say that they go down easy.

With drink in hand, we got a full tour of the facility, which can be hard to take in when it's a busier weekend night. I noticed things that I hadn't seen before, and I finally got a peek at the upstairs area. Which includes this giant Scrabble board!
The upstairs would be perfect for a private party, with plenty of gaming options, a bar, and karaoke room. They have four bars total, and plans for a fifth once the rooftop patio opens. That space alone will accommodate up to 300 guests (150 seated), with stunning views of the river and Downtown.

Then, it was time for some food. I did notice that the Executive Chef was a change since the CLE Dinner Club event we attended. They are a scratch kitchen, making everything in-house, except for their bread and desserts. The desserts are coming from Luna Bakery on the east side of Cleveland.

The meal started off on a high note, with these fresh biscuits and jam. I'm glad that there weren't more.
We decided to share the Stuffed Creminis with taleggio ($9).
And Deviled Eggs ($6). Two standard classics that were easy to share.
I had a really hard time choosing my entree from the appetizing menu, but I settled on the Very Serious Grilled Cheese ($12).
With gruyere and goat cheeses, poached pear, and quince...this is an "adult" grilled cheese on steroids. My only wish? The ciabatta needed to be grilled a bit more to hold up to the gooey insides. Otherwise, this was a fantastic sandwich, and I'll be adding some poached fruit to my homemade ones in the future.

The Cubano ($13) was another hit at the table. The mustard cream was a real standout there. Just a bit more toasting on the bread needed here as well, but an excellent choice and the "reason" that our server started working there. Their version of Chicken and Waffles ($16) is too sweet for my personal taste, but a shot of local Pope's Hot Sauce was the perfect addition to the dish. The waffle itself had great texture.

They are sourcing a handful of products from local Cleveland vendors, and many others from the home of the original Punch Bowl Social, Denver. Which is always a good thing.

In a complete food coma, it was time to play some games. Aside from classic arcade games, you can choose from things like darts, shuffleboard, bowling, table tennis, Foosball, karaoke, and more.
Our choice? Bowling!
Let's just say that two of us combined still didn't touch the score of our winner, but we had lots of laughs (and gutter balls). One thing that I discovered...they have "bumpers" and you can actually set the lane to put them up only on certain players. Great for families, or me.

So, while you can make a whole night of it down in The Flats, you can even do that at just one stop at Punch Bowl Social. Also, it's totally family-friendly before 10PM, and they are running a summer special where kids can bowl for free on Monday - Wednesday from 11AM - 2PM. Breakfast is served until 3PM every day, and it's a great location for a workday lunch. An escape to the riverside, and maybe a quick game of skee-ball?

I enjoyed myself even more than past visits, and we'll continue to stop in here. Visiting another city and looking for something to do? They have 11 locations, and more on the way.

Punch Bowl Social Cleveland
1086 West 11th Street
Cleveland, OH 44113

Disclosure: All food, drink, and games were provided in exchange for this blog post. All opinions stated are 100% my own. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Coastal Taco

Personally, I am enjoying all of the development on the east bank of The Flats, and we find ourselves down there often now. When we heard about Coastal Taco Bar + Chill going in down there, we were excited about the concept. To be honest, Mr. H just loves anything in a tortilla.

Well, they opened their doors about two weeks ago, and we popped in on Friday evening.
The menu is limited to a handful of assorted tacos (no build-your-own here), and a couple of appetizers, sides, and bowls. Narrow menus can often be a sign of limited items being done well, so I'm usually in favor. Not the case here, unfortunately.

The interior has a high-level of detail to capture the atmosphere of a beach-side, nautical East Coast joint.
The crisp white and soft gray tones are soothing.
But it does feel "chainy" as soon as you walk in the door.

We saddled up to a table inside, because the weather was GORGEOUS and their patio and outdoor bar were packed. I was immediately drawn to the Happy Hour drink specials. It hit the spot on a warm evening.
A tray of complimentary "chips" arrived, but our server didn't tell us what they were. Nothing to dip them in either, which seemed odd.
To order, you take one of the forms and a pencil provided on your table (multiple people on one form), and check off your desired items. It all arrives family-style on one tray.
Which would have been fine, but two servers couldn't identify them on the tray, so we just dug in and hoped that we were grabbing the right ones. Overall, very bland and uninspired. They are small---about two generous bites each. And corn tortillas only. I don't mind a good corn tortilla, but I prefer flour, and having options would keep all diners happy. Hope that changes in the future.

While we were munching away on our tacos, runners tried to deliver food to our table three times that wasn't ours. Safe to say that they all need a bit more training on the table numbering. It's to be expected with such a brand new spot, but it was still comical.
The outdoor area of Coastal Taco is fantastic, with stunning river and city views, outdoor games like Giant Jenga and Cornhole, fire pits, soft seating, and more.

This could be a really great addition to the area, if they can clean up their service issues and improve the quality of the food a bit. It may seem like I'm being harsh here, since they are so new, but it doesn't mean that I don't think it can get better with time. I'll never forget about how the beloved Barrio in Tremont was downright awful the first two times that we dined there. Look at them now. But, Cleveland has some great taco restaurants these days, and Coastal isn't on par yet. It was a really disappointing visit. Fingers crossed. 

Coastal Taco
1146 Old River Road
Cleveland, OH 44113

Friday, June 3, 2016

Tremont's Tandul

I'm still on the hunt for my favorite Indian restaurant in the Cleveland area. I may not have found it in Tremont's new Tandul, but I did find something else that I'd been looking Indian restaurant with a buffet available other than weekday lunch.

I was first exposed to Indian cuisine at a charming little hole-in-the-wall in Syracuse that had a huge buffet on Sunday evenings. That's how I was able to sample many dishes, and discover my favorites. I've been looking for something similar to take Mr. H to in Cleveland, since Indian isn't his favorite cuisine. I'd like him to be able to try a wide variety of dishes, instead of being stuck with what I always order for us to share.

Last Saturday, I met a group of girlfriends for lunch at the newly opened Tandul on Professor Avenue. The smells were intoxicating in that place, and we all couldn't resist the lunch buffet. It was small, but still allowed us to try a handful of dishes. The lunch buffet is offered daily, including weekends.
For my personal taste, I would have liked a higher spice level. But, the food was all enjoyable, and I do like their naan.

Mr. H and I also recently had takeout from Tandul, and I had my first Garlic Cheese Naan with the cheese baked right in. Heavenly. 

I liked the food both times, but I'm not ready to declare it in the running for my favorite Indian restaurant in town. I feel like I need to give it one more try, and order a dish to my preferred heat level. I was also conservative with my spice level when we ordered takeout, and it just didn't have the heat that I love from a good strong curry sauce.

Good news for those that haven't made it over to Tremont yet. You can have Tandul delivered to your door through Skip the Dishes and GrubHub.

Tandul Indian Restaurant and Bar
2505 Professor Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113