Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Skip the Dishes Winner and Slyman's

Thank you to everyone that entered the Skip the Dishes giveaway. Congratulations to Jason Tjoarman! You have won the $50 coupon code to try the new-to-Cleveland food delivery service. They will be emailing you directly.

Also, I wanted to tell you that I knocked an item off of my Cleveland Bucket List last week!

Slyman's Restaurant is an iconic Cleveland restaurant, serving up the "biggest and best corned beef." It's legendary.

Now, I didn't make it to the original location on St. Clair Avenue, but they did recently open up Slyman's Tavern in Independence.

Of course, I had to try the classic Corned Beef Reuben on grilled rye with Swiss cheese and sauerkraut ($15.49 for regular, $11.49 for light). I ordered the "light" which cuts down on the massive mound of meat that typically towers on a Slyman's plate.
It is served with a pickle and a side of Thousand Islands dressing.

I grew up in the Thousand Islands region, known for creating this classic dressing, and this was a damn good one.

I still could only eat half of the "light" sandwich.

While I'd still like to make it in to the original location for the full experience, at least people have the option of popping into the Independence tavern now for a taste of a Cleveland landmark. I'll consider this one crossed off of my bucket list!

Slyman's Tavern
6901 Rockside Road
Independence, Ohio 44131

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Skip the Dishes

A new food-delivery service just launched in Cleveland, called Skip the Dishes. It's currently running in several Canadian cities, and now in three USA cities in Ohio. The service connects customers to local restaurants, and through Food Couriers, great food is just a few clicks away.
Personally, Mr. H and I use similar services often. There are nights when we just don't feel like cooking or going out, but I crave something more than just pizza or Chinese. Services, like this one, connect diners to restaurants well beyond the standard delivery fare, and most restaurants included don't normally provide delivery. Win, win.

Skip the Dishes approached me to review their service. After a quick peek at the list of restaurants available in my area, I gladly accepted. 55 restaurant selections were available! That far exceeds the two other delivery services that we've used in the past.

I saw some exciting listings, like Johnny's Bar, Ty Fun, Le Petite Triangle Cafe, Adega, Wonton Gourmet & BBQ, Koko's Bakery, Number One Pho, Miega Koren BBQ, Sterle's, and Cafe 55. Many of these, we've never been able to get delivered, and a few we haven't even been to.

I was also immediately pumped to see Banana Blossom listed. They used to be delivered through another service, and we had become hooked on their Crab Rangoon before they were yanked from the service that we typically use. I can get those little puffs of creamy, tangy goodness delivered again!

You can order online, or use their app. Both are user-friendly, and creating an account was very simple.

Things that I liked better than other local services:

- full menu is listed in one drop-down menu (no categories to shift through)
- delivery fees begin at $2.99 and range up to $5.99 (lower starting rate than other services)
- no minimum order amount
- tip is not included and we can select the amount to add during check-out
- can sort restaurant list by rating, distance from your location, delivery fee, and cuisines
- more accurate estimated delivery time
- provides an online tracker for your order (including the name of your driver and order packer, estimated delivery time, and the progress of the delivery)
Seriously, the online tracker reminded me of Uber. It was very creepy cool to watch the progress of our order. We could watch his car make its way to our house, including the couple of times that he made wrong turns on the way. The tracker kept refreshing, and it appeared to accurately keep up with his location and the estimated delivery time. 
For us, that becomes very important. We have three pups, and they tend to go quite crazy when someone comes to the door. It's a lot to handle when trying to answer the door and manage payment/food. So, we like to let them outside before any deliveries arrive. With other services, we've ran into times when they are so late that our poor pooches are left outdoors for quite a while. Skip the Dishes kept refreshing the delivery time, and we were able to scoot them out just in time.

We ordered dinner from Cha Pizza Spirits & Pizza Kitchen, located in Battery Park. We haven't been in yet, so it was fun to check out their menu and sample a few items.
We settled in with hot, local food in front of the TV to catch up on The Voice. No fuss, no mess in the kitchen, and we had quality food delivered to our doorstep. Our Food Courier wasn't the friendliest, and he seemed very flustered over getting lost, but otherwise, using this service was a positive experience. That was seriously the only negative that we ran into. Its ordering system is simpler to use than others, the list of restaurants participating is much more extensive, no minimum orders, and the online order tracker is accurate and cool. Skip the Dishes gets a big thumbs up from us! 

I have good news. One lucky reader will get the opportunity to try this service out for themselves. Skip the Dishes is providing one random winner a $50 coupon code for a future order. Just use the Rafflecopter giveaway below for multiple ways to enter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

A winner will be selected and announced on Monday, November 23rd. Good luck!

Head to their website to see what restaurants are participating in your area. So far, they are in Cleveland and Columbus, and will be launching in Cincinnati soon. This service is seriously great for those nights when you don't feel like cooking, but want something beyond your typical delivery options. They are the best service that we've used in Cleveland, and we'll continue to use them on our own.

Disclosure: I was provided with a $50 coupon code to test and review the service, and one $50 code to give away, in exchange for this blog post. All opinions stated are 100% my own. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Unexpected Weekend of Nothing

Well, this weekend was pretty near perfect. It wasn't what we had originally set out to do, but it ended up being exactly what we needed.

Life has been really busy lately. You've probably noticed a lack of blog posts recently. Work life has had some stressful events and situations, personal life is always packed to the brim of activities and responsibilities, and we got a new computer. I haven't fully loaded everything on to it yet, so that's part of the reason for the lack of blogging.

But, you're in luck, because I have TWO of the remaining three 2015 To Dine Challenge restaurants scheduled for this week. I have a group headed to Thai Elephant in Kamm's Corner this Thursday evening. The more, the merrier. Anyone want to join? 

So, back to this past weekend. Mr. H and I attended an event last-minute on Friday evening. "An Old Brooklyn Nite" at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, to benefit the Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation.
We don't really know anyone in our neighborhood, and we're leaning towards making this area our long-term home (if we can find a bigger, better house sometime in the next couple of years), so we decided to check out the event.

This event exceeded my expectations. About 200 guests gathered to enjoy dinner and drinks at the newly-built Stillwater Place at the zoo. They had a silent auction, and amazing desserts from Old Brooklyn businesses like Jack Frost Donuts...
...and a gorgeous OB-themed cake from Cake Royale.
You can also check out Cake Royale at the West Side Market.

We connected with people that live in our neighborhood, realized that someone we already know lives just walking distance away from us, and snagged a behind-the-scenes zoo tour in the silent auction. I didn't know what to expect from this first large fundraiser for the OB CDC, and our first event in the Old Brooklyn neighborhood, but it far exceeded any thoughts that I had previous to attending.

We were supposed to head out to Columbus the next morning to see Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper live. Alas, the show was postponed due to the Paris attacks. Let's pause. What the heck kind of world are we living in? It's so sad, and scary, at times.

So, we cancelled our trip to Columbus, hunkered down at home, and cooked some amazing food all weekend. Seriously, if you're not getting your fish and seafood at Catanese Classic Seafood in The Flats yet, then you're missing out.

It was a completely unexpected weekend, and sorely needed. We don't slow down enough. I'm guilty of over-booking us. FOMO? There is just always so much happening in Cleveland! Stay tuned for posts on our restaurant outings later this week.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Saturday's SouperBowl CLE

A really great event is taking place this Saturday, November 7th from noon - 3:00 p.m. in the Gordon Square Arts District of Cleveland. The inaugural SouperBowl CLE will feature tasting portions of soups crafted by more than 20 of Cleveland's independent restaurants. This time of year just begs for soup!
The soup tastings will be scattered throughout neighborhood businesses. Attendees will act as judges as they spend the afternoon visiting the local businesses, and then they will vote by text for their favorite soups in various categories, including the prestigious title of "Best Soup in Cleveland." The winning restaurants will be awarded plaques to display in their businesses, with the “Best Soup in Cleveland” winner taking home the trophy.

Tickets are only $25, and they are available to purchase online here. Proceeds from this event will benefit the West Side Catholic Center.

Since 1977, the West Side Catholic Center has offered hot meals, hospitality, clothing and household goods, emergency services, advocacy, a women and children's shelter, and a housing solutions program to those in need at no charge, regardless of religious affiliation. WSCC depends on the generosity of the community. This does not only mean cash donations but a healthy in-kind donation program. Each year in December, actually the only time of the year, WSCC distributes NEW socks and underwear to those in need in the community. Over 1,500 men, women and children benefit from this annual distribution. 

Check-in for the SouperBowl CLE event is at the Cleveland Public Theater. This is a family-friendly event.

Follow them on social media on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Nothing to disclose here. I have no affiliation with the event. I just think it's a great, inexpensive, event that is fun for all ages. Everyone loves soup! You get to explore the Gordon Square Arts District neighborhood, sample a wide variety of soups from 20+ restaurants like Cleveland Vegan, The Flying Fig, Graffiti: A Social Kitchen, Happy Dog, Melt, Souper Market, Toast, Tremont Tap House, and proceeds will benefit a worthy local charity. What's not to like about this event? Get your spoon ready, and come taste some soup on Saturday.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Oak and Embers Tavern

Two of our good friends grew up in Chesterland, Ohio, and they have played the role of our tour guides for that area over the years. That led us to a meal at Guido's Pizza Haven earlier this year, and last week, they brought us to Oak and Embers Tavern.
It had been on my restaurant radar for a while now, but it really started to get people talking after it was featured on chef Michael Symon's new Food Network show "Burger, Brew & Q."

Good BBQ food is hard to come by in Cleveland. Near impossible.

But, I'm happy to report that this was one of the better traditional BBQ meals that I've had in the area, and we left quite happy and stuffed. With a ton of leftovers that lasted me two lunches.

They have a selection of small plates, soups, and salads to get you started. However, our crew of six went right for the Smoke That Meat section of the menu. I was thrilled to see a Pick Two or Pick Three Combo, because, how was a girl to decide?!

I did the Pick Two Combo ($22) with two meats and two sides. I ordered the Pulled Pork and the Baby Back Ribs. Picking two sides was difficult, because I seriously could have made a meal from the tempting choices. I ended up with the Mac & Cheese and Baked Beans. Each platter comes with Cornbread.
I don't think that this photo does the size of the portions justice. I mean, look, it's served on a platter, not a plate.

I thought that the BBQ sauce on the pulled pork and ribs (same) was very flavorful without real heat to it that would turn off people that don't care for spicy food. The meat on both was tender, and not dry. I would have liked a more distinct rub on the ribs, but that's personal taste. The sides were tasty as well, but I could have used some butter for the cornbread.

They also have a decent craft beer list, which immediately won points with me. Although, they had changed a tap out without correcting the menu yet, and the Founder's Breakfast Stout that I was pumped to order wasn't available any longer. I found a replacement in the list of bottled beers, and all was well.

Overall, we left in a food coma, with to-go boxes, and an even better impression of Chesterland than before. It helped that we then stopped in at Red, Wine, and Brew (almost next door) and picked up some excellent bottles of craft beer, including my favorite...Big Bad Baptist from Epic Brewing. Seriously, I'm addicted. Between the food and brews, it was well worth the drive over to the far east side!

Who does your favorite BBQ food in the Greater Cleveland area? 

Oak and Embers Tavern
8003 Mayfield Road
Chesterland, OH 44026