Chef Ellis Cooley has been making a splash over at AMP 150 in the Airport Marriott since arriving in Cleveland- not only in the dining scene and among foodies but on the social media network as well. Utilizing Twitter, Facebook, and most recently Foursquare- Cooley is communicating with and engaging his customers and potential diners very well (in my opinion). Asking diners about their experience, offering deals and freebies to patrons, listing specials and events, and even hosting a "Tweet-up" and earning everyone a swarm badge through Foursquare...it's all working for him. People have certainly been buzzing about AMP since its opening, and I finally got the chance to have dinner there last night at our monthly Blogger Dinner.
For full disclosure, this is not my first time dining there. "R" and I took my parents there for Mother's Day Brunch, but we left feeling very underwhelmed by the food and atmosphere. I swore to not judge based on a buffet (they are hard to do well), but I think my expectations were a little higher than usual based on the reputation they were building for themselves. I will say that the desserts were amazing, and I'm dying to know if they made that cheesecake in-house. In the end, my mom enjoyed brunch and being in Cleveland on Mother's Day so that's all that matters. Moving on to my meal last night...
The dinner started with Chef Cooley greeting our table and talking to us for quite some time about everything that they have coming up this season. I knew that he was trying to use local product and stay seasonal as much as possible, but I had no idea that they actually change the menu on a weekly basis- swapping at least two or three items each week. I love that! They are building an outdoor dining area, and Cooley hopes to feature family-style "Sunday Dinners" out there this summer. He also told us that the garden is thriving and the bees are busy making honey on the roof. It's exciting to see his plans come to life.
I knew that I wanted to try at least two things from the menu in order to get a better sense of the style and quality. Something to note is that nothing on the menu is over $20, by design. After some recommendations from the chef and our server, I decided to try the Apricot Gnocchi ($8)- shaved asparagus, parmesan, and apricots (pictured above) and the Rabbit Spaetzle ($8)- peas, speck ham, and tarragon. Both dishes are from the Small Plates section of the menu, which are designed to give you a tasting and allow you to pair them with other dishes to create a full meal. Two was a perfect decision, and I left feeling full. I won't go in to a lot of detail, but both dishes were very good. You can tell that Chef Cooley puts a lot of thought into pairing his ingredients, and each dish was well-balanced in flavor and texture. He did tell us prior to the meal that the rabbit dish was about to change for the season and would be a much lighter version, which is a thoughtful decision because I did feel that it was a little heavy for a warm summer evening. I just hope that it reappears next winter!
I still can't get over facing the hotel lobby while I dine, so I think that I need to request a table in the back next time- but overall Cooley's talent shines through on the menu and the food will keep you coming back. I look forward to dining there again soon, and keeping an eye out for what he has planned next.
4277 West 150th Street
Cleveland, OH 44135