Wednesday, February 15, 2017

34 Isn't That Bad...

This past weekend, I turned 34. I have to admit, I wasn't too thrilled with that number looming. I loved turning 30. I think this decade is going to be full of good things for me (so far, so good), but I'm now moving into that true "mid" 30's range. Often having to check a new box on forms. Meh.

But, Mr. H did a wonderful job distracting me and spoiling me rotten all weekend long. I was getting over a terrible head cold that lingered for over a week, so luckily I was able to enjoy our Saturday festivities.

The afternoon started with a shopping trip to Fount in Gordon Square. Mr. H had seen me eyeballing the Atlas handbag for months, and surprised me with it for my birthday!
Hello, gorgeous. 

That evening, we headed to Nora in Little Italy for dinner. A 2017 To Dine Challenge restaurant, so we killed two birds with one stone! In the former Il Bacio space, across the street from Washington Place Bistro and Inn, it's still a cozy, classic Italian restaurant.
It was creepily silent when we first sat down, and everyone was speaking in very hushed tones, but it picked up as the meal wore on.

Overall, we enjoyed the food quite a bit. We ordered a Chicken Liver Bruschetta, small portion of the house made Fettuccini, and Mr. H got the Veal Osso Bucco. I had the fish special of the evening, a crusted and seared ahi tuna steak with forbidden rice, spinach, and a basil aioli. The dishes were beautifully plated, flavorful, and the pasta in particular was very good. Only a few tiny things negative to note. For the price point, the bruschetta was a very small portion (about four bites total), and my tuna was cooked almost all the way through. Searing it was necessary to get the crust good and crunchy, but it was just overdone for my personal taste. Lastly, our server was an odd guy, and his unnatural communication skills impacted our experience poorly a bit. Our interactions were awkward, but at least he was very professional and was certainly attentive. I did walk away happy with our meal, and knowing that I'd recommend the restaurant. It was probably one of our better experiences in Little Italy.

Then, we headed to Severance Hall for a performance from the Cleveland Orchestra. It was my first! Something that I've been wanting to do for a while now.

Mr. H outdid himself this year, and it was a fun and celebratory day. Maybe 34 isn't that bad...

Nora
2181 Murray Hill Road
Cleveland, OH 44106
216-231-5977

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Yuzu

The recent CLE Dinner Club event brought us to Yuzu in Lakewood. Only open about 8 months, they are putting a Japanese twist on a neighborhood dive bar. They want it to be casual and affordable, but utilize local ingredients when possible and elevate your bar experience with craft cocktails and daily specials.

They really gave our group a sampling of most of the menu. Some of it was served family-style, and some of the courses were plated. Each course had a beverage pairing as well.

We started with some Yuzu Fries, Carrot Parsnip Fries, and Edamame.
The Carrot Parsnip Fries seemed to be the favorite at the table for this course.

Several of their skewered meats came out (you know I love meat on a stick!) before we were served their ramen. Some were better than others, but overall I'd order them.
The ramen was a bit too salty for most of us, but it's made with Ohio City Pasta ramen noodles, and the egg was cooked perfectly.

Then it was time to try samples of the meats served in their rice bowls.
The bulgogi beef was my favorite of the bunch.

While there were some "misses" at this meal, overall I enjoyed trying it and would consider going in again. The price point is very affordable, they have a kids menu, and a dog-friendly patio with special treats for your pup. Make sure you also check out their happy hour deals and daily specials.

Yuzu
13603 Madison Ave
Lakewood, OH  44107
440-799-8343

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Homer Housewarming

After I returned from New York, it was time for Mr. H and I to throw our housewarming party! In September, we purchased a live auction package at an American Cancer Society fundraiser for dinner in your home with chefs Jeff Jarrett (US Foods) and John Selick (Ahuja Medical Center). Two of my favorite Cleveland chefs! As the bidding went on, chef Scott Burgun (Ahuja Medical Center) also jumped in to add a course. So, we ended up with a package perfect for our first time entertaining in the new home. That's exactly what we did on Saturday night...
We had quite a bit of fun watching them take over our kitchen.
And, the food, of course, was incredible.
If you're looking for a unique experience, and a way to entertain without killing yourself cooking all day, consider bringing in a local chef for your next dinner party. You'd be surprised at how comparable the cost is to eating out at a nice restaurant, and it's all in the comfort of your home. At the end of the night, our bellies were full, we had no stress while hosting our guests, and our kitchen was spotless when they left. It was a perfect way to break in the new house, and exactly what we intended when we bought it this fall. This was just the first of many!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

New York City Eats

I've been a little quiet over here for the past week. Because...I was in New York City for work, but flew in a day early to enjoy 24 hours with my good friend, and personal food tour guide. There was no shortage of good eats.

We started with some ramen for lunch from Minca on East 5th Street. The exterior of the restaurant looked beyond questionable, but the ramen was fantastic.
Never a place that I would have chosen to go into on my own, based on appearances. But, well worth the trip in.

That evening, we headed to Momofuku Ssam Bar. We sat at the bar, and shared several small plates.
Highlights were the pork steamed buns (not on the menu, but they have them, so ask!), brown butter roasted scallops, steamed duck dumplings, and the pork chop. Ok, so most of the meal. There wasn't a bite there that I wouldn't eat again.

The next morning, I had to get my NY bagel and lox craving satisfied. So, we headed to Russ & Daughters Cafe.
It totally hit the spot.

After another afternoon of walking the city, I had to head to work. Four long days of a work conference, trapped in a hotel meeting room. Exhausting, but beneficial. It sure felt good to get home though!

Minca
536 E 5th St
New York, NY 10009
(b/t Avenue A & Avenue B)
212-505-8001

Momofuku Ssam Bar
207 Second Avenue
(at 13th Street)
New York, NY 10003

Russ & Daughters Cafe
127 Orchard Street
New York, New York 10002

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Jack Flaps

I hadn't been to Jack Flaps before. It was so popular upon its opening that I heard about lines out the door and long waits. Well, now they have two locations (Ohio City and Downtown), and I thought that it was time to try it for myself.

It's still quite popular, so we had a 25-minute wait on Sunday. The place was hoppin'. We even shared a 6-top table with another couple so that we could get seated faster.
I don't have much of a sweet tooth to begin with, and sweet things certainly don't appeal to me much in the morning. So, I skipped right over most of the Jack Flaps menu, and went straight for the Savory section.
Luckily, two dishes sounded good to both of us, so there was going to be some sharing. Mr. H ordered the Benedicto Mexicano ($10.50) with jalapeno cornbread, chorizo ranchero gravy, herb crema, and sunny-up eggs.
He liked it (and I enjoyed my one bite), but he wished it had more gravy and that the gravy texture was thicker. The cornbread was a little dry, and it could have used it.

I ordered the Real F'ing Breakfast Burrito ($10.50) with Adobo-braised beef, hash, scrambled eggs, Manchego, smoked tomato salsa, and crema.
I thought that the flavors and layered textures were very good, but unfortunately it was pretty cold by the time it arrived at the table. I was hungry, we'd had a long wait, and it wasn't worth sending back to the kitchen. So, I just ate it. It wasn't terribly cold, but I do think the quality was comprised, so it wasn't as enjoyable.

Everything was decent, but I wasn't blown away. I can't say that I'd go again.

Jack Flaps
3900 Lorain Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113
216-961-5199