Thursday, March 12, 2015

Heinen's Opens in Downtown Cleveland

Unless you are living under a rock in the Greater Cleveland area, then you've surely heard that local supermarket chain, Heinen's Grocery Store, opened with much fanfare in Downtown Cleveland.

Located on the corner of East 9th Street and Euclid Avenue, it's something that Downtown residents have been desperately waiting for. They'll need more than just Downtown residents to shop there to survive, so they're doing what they can to draw shoppers in. Parking is validated for the garage located between Euclid and Prospect, just a half of a block away, and they offer curbside service by bringing your bags out to your car. Just grab a number when you check out, and then pull around.

I won't talk much about their grand opening, since it's been splashed all over the news and social media. Instead, I wanted to highlight a couple of local products that I'm happy to find on the shelves at Heinen's.

Pasta sauces from Tremont's chef Dante Boccuzzi.
Balsamic vinegar from chef/restaurateur Zack Bruell.
A freezer full of locally-made ice cream, like Jeni's, Mitchell's, and Graeter's.
Garden of Flavor cold-pressed juices.
And, hand-crafted Ohio City Pasta.
I'll just leave you now with two shots from the interior of the new Downtown Heinen's...
The rotunda is offering 48 wines on draft (available for sipping, in three quantities, while you shop or enjoy a prepared bite to eat), wine by the bottle, beer by the bottle, and craft beers on draft. This area was PACKED on a Friday evening one hour before closing.

Also, pause and look up.
One of the most stunning ceilings that I've ever seen.

Welcome to Downtown, Heinen's!

Heinen's Grocery Store
900 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44115

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Beachwood's Sanctuary

As you know, I am a fan of Driftwood Restaurant Group's restaurants that are scattered around town. Hodge's, Washington Place Bistro, and Cibreo have always been repeat stops for us. Driftwood Catering did our wedding, and they went above and beyond our expectations. So, when Sanctuary the restaurant + wine bar contacted me to come out to Beachwood to check out the new restaurant, I agreed. I had already missed two opportunities for a visit, and I wasn't going to let this one pass me by.
Located inside of the DoubleTree Beachwood, it offers hotel guests and other diners several options for seating. They have two large dining areas...
...a communal seating area...
...a wine bar, private event spaces, and room service.

I did appreciate the nod to Driftwood with the wall accents.
Mr. H and I ordered the Pork Belly Steamed Buns with pickled pear, arugula, and sriracha aioli ($8). There was definitely a little heat to this aioli, and the pork belly was nice and crispy yet moist. One side of the bun on each seemed to be a little dried out though.
I selected the French Wedge with tomato, hard boiled egg, pickled red onion, bacon, bleu cheese crumbles, and white French dressing ($7). The white French dressing was much better than your typical creamy bleu cheese. I also loved the tangy bite that the pickled red onions gave it.
For our entrees, Mr. H ordered the C.A.B, Filet Mignon with chive pommes puree, baby carrots, and a truffle demi ($32).
I went for the Seared U-10 Scallops with risotto, golden beets, caramelized apples, butternut squash, fried sage, and apple gastrique ($30). The scallops were a touch too salty, but I left wanting to recreate this risotto combination at home.
As if we weren't full enough, our server brought us his favorite dessert, the Bananas Foster Cheesecake.
Creamy and lovely, but not mild enough for this banana-hater to enjoy...
Folks, that was his true reaction, not staged for the camera. I promise. I was laughing so hard. First sniff after 10 years of no banana.

Overall thoughts...I wish that hotels when I traveled offered food like the west side's AMP 150 and Sanctuary Beachwood. I never seem to stumble upon anywhere good. It was a good meal, with some solid classic dishes and a few creative twists. I'll never be able to get over that "hotel" feel that these type of restaurants just can't avoid, but it was more private than AMP 150 inside the restaurant and bar. Service was friendly, casual and attentive. The house-made bread with honey butter and pesto was a highlight too. They'll just keep refilling it, but don't fill up!

Another nice addition to the trend of elevating the quality of hotel food in the Greater Cleveland area. This, I'm on board with.

Sanctuary restaurant + wine bar
DoubleTree by Hilton
3663 Park East Drive
Beachwood, OH 44122
216-910-1296

Disclosure: I was invited to bring a guest and enjoy dinner at the restaurant in exchange for this review and social media posts. All food and drink were complimentary, but the opinions stated are 100% my own. Thank you to Sanctuary for the opportunity to try their food! 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Graffiti Social Kitchen Opens

I didn't have a "favorite" restaurant in Cleveland until two of my favorite chefs combined forces and opened Cork & Cleaver Social Kitchen in Broadview Heights. Now, that's a go-to spot for Mr. H and me, and we've enjoyed countless meals there. Well, I'm happy to share that this chef duo has just opened a second restaurant in the Gordon Square Arts District...Graffiti Social Kitchen.

The restaurant took over the former Reddstone location on West 76th Street. It has a bar area with additional seating on the main floor, and a dining room up two floors that was formally used as a special event space. Mr. H and I have sat on the first floor twice now, but we did wander upstairs to check out the main dining room.

The restaurant is starting to fill up with custom artwork, like this cool wall-art, featuring their logo and graffiti representing the 216.
Also upstairs, this cozy fireplace is nestled next to a five-top table that will surely be in high demand.
We had decided to settle in at the bar, admiring the nickle bar top and catching a Syracuse University men's basketball game on the TV during our first visit.
Mr. H and I shared four small plates, so that we could get a taste of as much of the menu as possible. Picking was tough! I already need to return right away to try so many other items that were tempting us.

We went for the Chicken Livers ($9) with apple liver pate, crispy livers, candied onion puree, and chicken fat aoili served with toast.
We also shared an order of the Bologna Fried Rice ($8) with bologna toad in a hole, Himalayan red rice, mire poix, and soy.
Our meal included the Potato Skins ($9) with crispy russets, chorizo, goat cheese, and guacamole.
Lastly, we split the French Onion Egg Rolls ($10). It was exactly like French Onion soup in an egg roll form!
I would order all four of these items again, but not before trying many others. Seriously, this menu is packed with interesting creations from Chef Adam. Graffiti's menu feels like a true reflection of the uber-creative chef that I've grown to know and love.

I am just thankful that Graffiti is the sister restaurant to my beloved Cork & Cleaver, because I almost felt like I was cheating on C&C. It might become my new favorite restaurant. Go check them out!

Graffiti Social Kitchen
1261 West 76th Street
Cleveland, OH 44102
216-651-6969

Graffiti Social Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Grove Hill

For my birthday, I wanted to try a new-to-me restaurant. I always look forward to those experiences, and lucky for me...one of the restaurants on my 2015 To Dine challenge fit what we were looking for. On a snowy night, Mr. H and I headed to Chagrin Falls to check out Chef Tim Bando's (formally of Deagan'sGrove Hill in the old Raintree location.
Immediately, I liked the atmosphere. It was more casual than I had thought it would be, based on the menu items and price point, but we were immediately comfortable at a table in the bar area with cushy red leather chairs and a great view for people-watching.

It was a splurge night, so we were instantly drawn to The Grove Hill Platter ($75) with oysters, prawns, clams, chef's crudo, and King crab legs. They had just run out  of crab legs, so we received lump crab instead.
The giant tower of raw seafood was eye-catching, and a couple of other diners actually stopped by our table to admire it.

We feasted on a pepper-crusted tuna (tasty, but it didn't need the relish on top of it), salmon tartare (very mild fish with a great lemon-dill sauce), and lump crab (bland and disappointing, but hopefully you'd get the King crab legs that are intended for this dish).
The bottom half included two types of oysters, raw clams (a first for me!), and some average cold cooked shrimp.
There were some real highlights here, and we were off to a good start.

We were still a little hungry, so we decided to share two small plates. We ordered the Lamb Meatballs ($12) with cucumber salad, tzatziki and mint.
The meatballs were cooked well, but for us, they were over-spiced. The strong flavor overpowered the creamy and cool tzatziki sauce.

We also shared the Duck Confit Paprikash ($14) with spaetzel and parsley.
This dish was (only) okay for me, but Mr. H really didn't care for it. There was something about the flavor of the sauce that we both weren't in love with. The duck meat was also dry, which seemed odd for dark meat.

The rest of the meal left me wishing that we had just stopped at the seafood platter. It was fun to check out a new place, and the drinks and service were both fantastic during our meal. However, I'm not sure that I'd drive to Chagrin Falls again from the west side for Grove Hill.

Have you been? What was your experience like?

Grove Hill
35 Pleasant Drive
Chagrin Falls, OH 44022
440-247-4800

Grove Hill on Urbanspoon

Friday, February 27, 2015

Charleston Eats

Last weekend, I headed to Charleston, South Carolina with four of my five "honorary bridal party" members. Mr. H and I only had one friend each stand up with us on the big day, but I am fortunate enough to have five ladies that I call "my best friend." One, I've known since childhood when we were just silly sixth graders, others I met in college at Kappa Alpha Theta and we share a unique bond of sisterhood, and one I collected here in Cleveland as adults. All are simply "my best friend," no matter how long I've known them, or how often I see them. I'm so lucky, and this past weekend just proved that once again. We had an amazing time exploring Charleston together (we missed you, Cristin!).
Of course, much of trip was focused around food and drink. My friends know me well, as this was a "wedding celebration," of sorts, since we didn't have time to squeeze in a bachelorette trip before our December wedding.

We landed in Charleston on Friday morning, checked into our adorable house that we rented for the weekend, and then went on the hunt for lunch. Completely by chance, we found The Park Cafe in our neighborhood and walked over.
It ended up being one of our favorite meals of the weekend! How random. I loved their "Dog of the Day," which was a house-made sausage with cheddar cheese whiz, caramelized onions, and one of the best buns that I've ever had.
The Bloody Mary wasn't a bad start to the trip either. I'd highly recommend The Park Cafe for brunch or lunch.

Our good eats continued all weekend, with only a few flops. I wanted to share the highlights, because apparently a lot of Ohioians find themselves in Charleston. One Uber driver (we used it all weekend) told us that there used to be a Charleston website called "Go Home to Ohio."

Other meal highlights included:

Dinner at Hominy Grill (James Beard award-winner) for some Southern classics like shrimp and grits, collard greens, fried green tomatoes, and more.
Brunch at Butcher & Bee, which included a Shrimp and Chorizo Benedict for me. It was hearty, but outstanding.
Our last dinner of the weekend was a memory-maker as well. Husk Restaurant (James Beard award-winner) was the most popular suggestion for Charleston eats, and it did not disappoint.
From the craft cocktails, the atmosphere, to the food, this was fine Southern dining at its best. I enjoyed the Oysters...
...and the Striploin, which was the smokiest-tasting beef that I've ever had. In the best possible way. The meat literally melted in my mouth.
I'll be thinking about that meat for a long time.

We also really enjoyed the bar scene in Charleston. They've embraced craft cocktails, and we kicked off the weekend with a Mixology tour of three bars on King Street. I highly recommend taking one of these tours, or the walking food tours. We visited Prohibition, The Cocktail Club, and Republic. All were fantastic. Also during the trip, we enjoyed an afternoon wine flight at Social Wine Bar and Restaurant...
...and really wanted to check out The Gin Joint next door (but they weren't open yet).

We spent a lot of time strolling down King Street. It has a ton of restaurants, bars, high-end shopping, and local shops. We also walked along the ocean, just soaking in some sunshine and water views. It was a chilly weekend for typical Charleston weather, but anything was better than the negative temperatures we all came from in Ohio, New York, and Windsor!

Truly, it was a wonderful weekend in a quaint city that I would certainly visit again. Time flew by, and we left with a long list of things we still wanted to do. I guess that's always a good feeling when checking out a new city. It was a nice break from the Cleveland weather we've been having, and it's always good for the soul to spend time with the people you love most. The comment was made several times that weekend..."Katrina, you have really awesome friends." I couldn't agree more.