Friday, September 25, 2009

Holy Crop, this is GOOD!

Since it's opening in June of 2007, Crop Bistro & Bar in downtown Cleveland has been making a name for itself. Steve Shimoler's innovative American fare is simple, close to the earth, fresh, and damn good! I recently had lunch there for the first time, and this experience left me dying to go back. It was a beautiful early September day, so we ate outside on the patio. However, the small glance I stole of the inside was breathtaking. It also includes an open kitchen- my favorite!

I ordered the Heirloom Caprese sandwich- Heirloom Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella, Balsamic, Basil, Arugula, and Herb Mayo ($10). The ingredients were nestled nicely between toasted ciabatta, which was clearly freshly baked. The tomatoes were sweet and bursting with flavor, and the combination of the balsamic vinaigrette and herb mayo was a nice partnership. The three bean salad and greens served with the dish were refreshing and seasonal, a great pairing. My dining companion ordered the Cropicana Bowl- Choice of Shredded Beef, Pork or Grilled Chicken, Black Beans, Cilantro Rice, Lettuce, Salsa, and Sour Cream ($12). It looked amazing, quite the artistic presentation and attention to detail, and she was very pleased with the flavor and combination of ingredients in the dish. For the high quality of food and atmosphere, the prices are very reasonable. This is one restaurant that I will be frequenting!

1400 West 6th Street

Cleveland, OH 44113

(216) 696-2767

Crop Bistro and Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Weekend of Exploration

I felt like Christopher Columbus last weekend. We were all over Cleveland, poking our heads (and tummies) into different restaurants and bars. It was fun, and delicious! It all started with Touch Supper Club in Ohio City on Friday night. I admit that I was a wee leery to try out this spot. This place has evolved over time, and while they still boast to have some of the best live music and dancing in Cleveland, they are quickly becoming well-known for their happy hour specials and growing menu items. If you are going to check them out, and I suggest that you do, hit it up on a Friday night for FREE SUSHI during happy hour. It was delicious, and the platters didn't stop coming out of the kitchen while we dined.

We started with the Delirium Mussels- Delirium tremens steamed jumbo mussels, bacon, garlic, and herbs served with belgian frites ($9). The mussels were swimming in a tasty garlic broth, with a small drizzle of creamy sauce that had just a little kick to it. The belgian frites are best eaten after letting them soak in the broth for a while! I then moved on to the Mac and Cheese- Cottswold, vermont cheddar, port salut, taso ham with petite peas ($11). When I took my first bite, I didn't like the dish. Oddly enough, it grew on me as I continued. One thing to note is that the kitchen staff forgot to include the petite peas, which is never a good sign. Their attention to detail and presentation is obviously lacking. "R" had the Lamb Ravioli– Arugula and tomato feta salsa ($16). The dish was served cold (still not sure if that was on purpose or not) and lacked flavor. I took one bite and turned down his offer of more. The dish was quite disappointing. The shining star of the meal was the Berries Foster dessert. The warm puff pastry was smothered in raspberries, black berries, and blue berries and topped with two mounds of melting vanilla ice cream. It was quite a way to end the meal. The only other thing worth mentioning is that the restaurant serves cucumber water. The slight hint of cucumber is refreshing and left us wanting more!

After leaving Touch, we headed over to West 25th Street. I wanted to check out Bar Cento's new bar called Speakeasy. They opened this new establishment in their basement, and I was curious to see what they had done. We walked through the packed house of Bar Cento/Bier Markt and wandered down the staircase. We turned the corner and were sadly disappointed. "R" exclaimed that it felt like a dark dungeony basement, and apparently we weren't the only ones who felt this way because there was only about eight people at the very large bar. We turned on our heels and headed back out to the street.

We ended up at Market Avenue Wine Bar's new location across from the Great Lakes Brewing Company. It's cozy atmosphere and extensive wine list was a perfect end to the evening. The exploring did not end on Friday night, so stay tuned for another blog post later this week!

Touch Supper Club
2710 Lorain Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113-3470
(216) 631-5200

Bar Cento
1948 W 25th Street
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 274-1010

Market Avenue Wine Bar
2526 Market Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113-3434
(216) 696-9463

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rosemary, Rosemary, Rosemary...

I had never heard of Porter's Seafood and Steakhouse in Beachwood, and there is a reason why. Now the story behind this dining experience is very sweet. Christmas was coming up, and my brother (living many states away) knows that we are foodies and enjoy dining out in Cleveland. So he got online and somehow or another stumbled upon Porter's. He had the brilliant, and thoughtful, plan to purchase a gift certificate online and treat us to a dinner out. If you had witnessed my presents in the past, you would know how amazing this gift idea is in comparison! Well we just got around to using it a few weeks ago, and it left me wildly disappointed after the hype of getting such a wonderful gift from my brother.

Where to begin...The restaurant is located in the Hilton hotel, which is probably why they are struggling to make a name for themselves and are actively marketing their gift certificates all over the place (beware!). It is connected to the hotel's bar, so we had the pleasure (and pleasure is said with intense sarcasm) of listening to She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy and Justin Timberlake's Sexy Back while we ate dinner. Not my idea of mood music.

We started with the calamari appetizer. It was heavily breaded and greasy, with almost no flavor, and we left half of it on the plate. This never happens. I decided to order a filet mignon. How can you screw up filet mignon? Well it happened. The beautiful steak (not cooked the way I ordered) arrived with a massive lump of herb butter perched on top. The steak was swimming in it, and after one bite I knew I was in trouble. Rosemary...the one herb that I absolutely can not stand. Did I mention that the steak was served with mashed potatoes? Not just any mashed potatoes, herb mashed potatoes. Rosemary mashed potatoes to be exact. Now I am a huge filet lover and have always had a soft spot for mashed potatoes, but I had to leave half of them both behind. It was unbearable. By the time we finished dining, it was around 10:00 PM. I had to order coffee just to get the overpowering rosemary flavor out of my mouth- it arrived cold. Thankfully this experience gave us something to chuckle through and joke about for days, but you better believe that I told my brother it was one of the best steak dinners I'd ever had!

Porter's Seafood and Steakhouse
3663 Park East Drive
Beachwood, OH 44122
(216) 464-5950

Porter's Seafood and Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

"Melt" My Heart (& Tummy)

Even if you've never been there, it is very likely that you have heard of Melt Bar and Grilled in Lakewood. Their splash page of the website says it all: "Warning! You must love Cheese, Bread and Beer to enter!". Famous for their grilled cheese sandwiches, piled high with all sorts of creative elements, and their long beer list- it is a place you shouldn't miss. I have been there three times, and ordered through Food Fetchers restaurant delivery, and it never fails to satisfy.

Now I have to admit that I have only had one of their famous melts- the Parmageddon. This hearty sandwich takes a classic grilled cheese to a whole other level. Stuffed inside warm, buttery Texas toast are potato and cheese perogies, fresh napa vodka kraut, onions and cheddar cheese. Pure cheese and carb heaven! Each sandwich is served with fresh-cut french fries and sweet slaw. I can personally vouch that it is just as good as leftovers, and trust me there will be leftovers. Not only is the menu filled with fun (and interesting) grilled cheese sandwiches such as The Kindergarten, Wake & Bacon, Municipal Stadium Magic, The Lake Erie Monster, Purple Parma, and the Big Popper- they also feature a Melt of the Month. Avid fans stop in at least once a month to taste the limited special creation.

Not only is the food outstanding, and original, the atmosphere is fun and hip. Just be prepared to wait in line! We recently went for dinner, and the first person of our party arrived at 5:15PM. We waited an hour to be seated, and at least thirty minutes for our food to arrive. The kitchen is limited, and they actually have more seating than they are able to supply at any given time, but the wait is truly worth it. East-siders will be rejoicing when Melt's new location opens up soon. The opening has been delayed, but stay tuned!

Melt Bar and Grilled

14718 Detroit Avenue

Lakewood, OH 44107

(216) 226-3699

Melt Bar & Grilled on Urbanspoon