Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A "Wild"-ly Good Dish

Last Sunday,"R" and I scheduled an impromptu dinner with his mom (who had just returned from a warm and sun-filled week in Cabo- so jealous!). She recently moved to North Olmsted, and has started to explore local eateries. But one that she had frequented before, Wild Mango, became our destination of choice.

It was a very early dinner, so only a few other diners were there when we were. The restaurant is located in the Great Northern Mall, which may throw foodies and fine diners for a loop. But it really was not what I was expecting. The atmosphere was very elegant and tastefully Asian-inspired. The prices are a little high for what most mall-goers would be looking for, but this restaurant can stand on its own.

At "R's" mom's suggestion, we started with the Pepsi Shrimp ($7)- Pepsi-cola battered, Asian cucumber salad and crispy soba noodles. The lightly battered shrimp were tasty with a hint of sriracha, but the cucumber salad offered a nice balance of cool acidity to the dish. Overall, it was very thoughtfully prepared and presented. "R" and his mom both got dishes that included the Beef Tenderloin, and I settled on the Scallops with lobster risotto, mushrooms, and baby bok choy. My dish was outstanding. From the first yummy bite to the last, I was thoroughly enjoying it. The only critique that I can say is that the dish could have used a little more bok choy to help cut the richness of the rest of the components. By the time I was finishing, it was still delicious, but a little heavy. The risotto was so creamy that it melted in my mouth, and the six medium-sized scallops were cooked perfectly. The slight mushroom flavor gave the dish a hint of earthiness, really balancing out the seafood. I would order this dish again in a heartbeat, and "R" stated that he would too after just a few bites that I reluctantly shared. And that says a lot, because his surf n' turf dish that included the beef tenderloin was very good as well. The meat was done to a perfect medium rare, and was so smooth that the meat also melted in your mouth. The sauce was paired well, and both "R" and his mom were really pleased with their dishes.

So, in summary this impromptu dinner was a nice surprise and we certainly found a place (and dish) that we'll come back to! Just be prepared to drop some dough and ignore the mall shoppers.

Wild Mango
362 Great Northern Mall
North Olmsted, OH 44070
(440) 979-1888

Wild Mango on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A "Taste" of Cleveland Heights

So before my surgery, I went on a little bit of a "fun" spree. The threat of spending 4-6 weeks horizontal on the couch will do that to you! This included dining out with friends at Market, BREWzilla and other Cleveland Beer Week festivities, dinner and drinks at Roseangel, and lastly dinner out with "R" at Taste in Cleveland Heights. Located in the Cedar/Lee dining district, we easily spotted the restaurant's awning and then found parking after circling the block a few times.

When we walked in, I was immediately impressed with the overall decor. The soft, warm lighting, modern, clean lines of the furniture, and exposed brick walls are all up my alley."R" and I started to look at the menu, and I quickly realized that the prices were a little steep. I just hoped that the food was really that good.

It was one of those first chilly nights of fall, so we both decided to start with the Soup du jour ($6). The soup that night was turnip with pesto oil. The flavor of the soup was spot-on, especially once the pesto oil was stirred in, but the consistency was not what I was expecting. It was thin, with an almost watery appearance, and I think I was picturing a thick, creamy, hearty soup similar to the standard potato or squash-based soups that I love. For my entree, I chose the Duck Breast with mustard mashed potatoes and passion fruit sauce ($24). Again, the flavors were nice but I was disappointed with the dish. For $24, the plate included three slices of duck breast and three small dollops of mashed potatoes that when put together would equal about 1/2 of what a typical restaurant serving includes. The duck was cooked perfectly at medium-rare, and the flavor of the mashed potatoes with the hint of mustard was unique and well-balanced. I just felt that what I received was not worth the price. "R" settled on the special of the evening, a white fish with couscous. It was beautifully presented, and he really enjoyed the dish. But, again it was not worth the upper $20's price tag. We also split a side order of the Sautéed Spinach ($5). This was a complete waste of $5, because the kitchen staff did nothing with the flavor of this dish. A little salt, citrus, or garlic would have gone a long way.

So, overall I thought that interior of the restaurant is well thought out and inviting, but the quantity and quality of the food is just not quite worth the total of your bill. It was good, but not great, and I don't see us going back.

Taste Restaurant
2317 Lee Road
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118
(216) 932-9100

* photo courtesy of

Taste on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 12, 2010

Browns Tailgating

With yet another Cleveland Browns game coming up this Sunday, I thought that this post was appropriate...What does "tailgating" mean to you? For 24 years of my life, I thought that it meant throwing burgers and hot dogs on a grill and drinking beer in some parking lot outside a stadium before a game. And to many, this is what tailgating stands for. But then I met "R" and tailgating was elevated to a whole other level that I didn't know existed. I learned one thing very quickly...Browns fans are serious about their tailgating.

My first experience was a December 31st game three years ago (now that's new love, right?!? I mean what girl agrees to go to a game and sit outside for almost 10 hours in late December when she could care less about football? Typically not this one, but I did it anyway. True love.) From that tailgate on, I have been blown away at the quality (and quantity at times) of food that comes out of the tailgate party that "R" and his friends throw each home game. From crab-stuffed peppers, home made Philly cheese steak sandwiches, gyros, the "all fried foods" extravaganza (um yuck, I wanted to puke half way through the game from all the grease), home made corn dogs, pineapple chicken sandwiches, a clambake...the list goes on. While the traditional hamburger and hot dog still have a place at many tailgates...I look around and see amazing food, Browns gear galore, interesting home made contraptions, and over-the-top everything from Browns fans. Tailgating in The Pit (our personal favorite) or Muni Lot is quite a sight to be seen. With the game coming up this weekend, I wanted to share a recent tailgate with you...

Our tailgate meals always have to involve this...
Yes, that is an industrial-size french fry cutter that provides us with fresh cut fries for every tailgate. "R" ordered it online and built the stand (which will be newly painted brown, orange, and white for the next tailgate). This is my favorite part of tailgating. But this time we took the fresh fries and combined it with...
Fresh, thick-cut Italian bread from Micheal's Bakery on Broadview Road, and sliced deli meat (we had our choice between three kinds- I went with roast beef) smothered in Provolone cheese. This, topped with a vinegar-based cole slaw (thanks, Granny for the recipe) became...

HOME MADE PANINI OVERSTUFFED SANDWICHESThey were amazing. "R" outdid himself once again. My mouth is watering just looking at the pictures.

Now we all know that tailgate parties are centered around the food and drink, but I did mention gear and contraptions above. What is the best Browns item that you've seen at a tailgate party? The motorized couch in the Muni Lot is legendary. I love the shaggy orange van decorated with carpet, ears, and googley eyes to look like a dog in The Pit. I'd kill for a motorized cooler- they are so bad a**. And the fan outfits, you can't forget those. "R" and his friends haven't taken their "gear" too far (yet?), but I do have to give a shout out to his newly built corn hole boards...
...that quickly turn into a beer pong/flip cup table with just the small addition of custom legs. Three games in one! Check out the bottle openers on each board- very handy indeed.

So what does tailgating mean to you? How do you celebrate the Browns games? Where's your favorite spot to tailgate? Here's hoping for another W this Sunday!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Guest Post- Green Dog Wine

Note from Bite Buff: Just a quick update on my status...recovery from the surgery is going well. I head back to the surgeon today to get the last of the stitches removed- yay! I have a few more weeks ahead of me before I'll be back to 100%, but I hope to be fully blogging again very soon. I've missed it! Thank you again to all of my fabulous guest bloggers. You're doing a great job of keeping my readers entertained. I've got at least one more for ya coming up. But today's guest post comes from Allison over at Green Dog Wine...

Hiya Bite Buff Readers! My name is Allison, and I’m a fellow Cleveland Blogger! I write the blog, Green Dog Wine, and have the pleasure of knowing Katrina both professionally (blogging) and personally! I’m absolutely honored to be guest posting here!

When I was stressing out thinking about what my guest post should be – I had no idea what direction I wanted to take it – do you want a recipe? Do you want dog insanity? Do you want a restaurant review? (Do you get a feel for what my blog is about now?! :lol: )

Then it hit me.

Spicy Oats.

Every time I make this beautiful dish:
I have someone either:
A: Barf and/or making gagging noises
B: Ask me: “How do you make those – I MUST know how!!”

For a long time now – I’ve only been able to respond with a quick note, and link to this recipe (which is the ghetto “make it at work” version – still delicious, but not as good as “home made”).

So without further ado – Spicy Oats V2.0Homemade!

Ingredients you’ll need:
You could definitely use whatever oats you like, or are comfortable with cooking, but since I found these “Quick Cook Steel Cut Oats” at TJ’s last year – I haven’t looked back! (Nor have I bought a container of Old Fashioned Oats!)

For the egg preparation – you can use whatever method you feel comfortable with – I always go with one of two options:
1. Cooking them in a pan
2. Poaching them in the microwave with my Egg Poachie

I always get the water boiling first, while I’m getting all the other supplies ready:
(Dirty burner pans OPTIONAL. Funny thing is – I actually took the time to turn them around because the dirt was all under the front burner and I thought “Oh I don’t want people to see what a terrible housekeeper I am!” – and really, turning it around just made it WORSE! I digress...)

Once the water comes to a boil, add the desired amount of oatmeal, reduce heat and cover:
After the oats have been dealt with – I get the egg going (whether it be in the microwave or on the stove):
Optional: Dirty glares from tired, still half asleep dogs, saying “Where the heck is OUR breakfast, woman?”

After about 7-9 minutes (for the Quick Cook TJ’s brand), the oats should be done! I always like to uncover, and let sit for a few minutes so it can sort of thicken up! (perfect time to finish packing your lunch, or brush your teeth, or any of those other AM things you need to take care of!)
After the oats have thickened – add in desired amount of Frank’s sauce (in my case, TONS!):
Optional: (Depending on how much you like your family/co-workers?) Onion related spices.
Last but not least – throw the Morning Star Sausage patty in the microwave for 45 seconds!

Combine oats, egg, and sausage in bowl – top with additional Frank’s (if you’d like), and whatever seasonings you’d like!

Other variations/toppings I’ve added in to spice it up even further:
• “The Heat Is On” Peanut Butter from PB&Co.
• Laughing Cow Cheese Wedge
• 2 eggs, no sausage
• Sriracha

The possibilities are endless! ENJOY!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Guest Post- Mile 26 and More

Hi Bite Buff readers!

My name is Heather, and I blog over at Mile26andMore. I met Katrina through one of our many CLE blogger dinners and have since had the pleasure of getting to know her one on one (she's so sweet!). Whenever I need a recommendation for a restaurant, I always know to contact Katrina. This girl knows her stuff! So when my husband and I were celebrating our 2 year anniversary a week ago and wanted to try somewhere new for brunch, I remembered Katrina mentioning how much she and "R" enjoy Tremont Tap House. So Tremont Tap House, it was!

First of all, I have driven past this place AT LEAST 20 times and never knew this is where the Tap House was! The only reason J and I knew this particular Sunday was because the Garmin told us to stop. However, despite the lack of a sign, we were pleasantly surprised when we entered.

The restaurant is small, but very inviting. The long bar and exposed brick really add to the charm. And since it was a nice day, they actually opened the big window behind the bar (like a garage door!) so we could enjoy the weather. It was a nice surprise.

Being that this was the close of Cleveland's Beer Week, J decided to stray from his norm of no flavored beer and tried a pumpkin ale. (I decided to stick to water since I had just run 8.5 miles that morning!)

This is the Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale.

Here's what he thought:
Hehe. I think this beer may have actually convinced him that he needs to try more flavored ales!

Now, let me explain that the beer tasting all happened before we even got our food. Katrina was right when she said that you don't go to the TTH for the service, you go for the beer and food. I was crabby and STARVING by the time our food arrived. Running over 8 miles will do that to a girl. :)

Since J reviewed the beer, I figured I'd review the food.

I ordered the blueberry and granola pancakes with a side of fresh fruit. I have to say, at first bite I wasn't so sure. But after a few bites in I was in LOVE. They really load up the blueberries - just what I like!! I had no trouble putting these down.

Wow, they were fantastic. Light and fluffy, but still dense with great texture from the fresh blueberries and crunch from the granola. I was really impressed. They tasted 100% homemade, like my grandma had made them for me. I left there with a happy belly. I love when that happens. :)

So, I guess Katrina knows what she's talking about when she reviews restaurants. That's what Bite Buff is all about, right? So, take a look around her blog and check out her reviews. She won't steer you wrong!

A big thanks to Katrina for having me. Now stop reading and go grab some grub!

From Katrina- Thanks for the guest post, Heather. I'm so glad that you enjoyed the Tap House. It is certainly one of our favorite spots in Tremont. Do I spy a chorizo burrito hiding in the background of your pancake shot? Mmmmm...

And a very special Happy Birthday (on Saturday) to our guest blogger, Heather!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Guest Post- Life on Mars

Congratulations to lucky #9...Ben! You're attending Laura Taxel's workshop at the Fabulous Food Show on Saturday, November 13th. If you did not win and are interested in attending, please visit the site for more information. Thank you again to Laura and the FFS for providing me with a pass to give away. Now, I have another guest post for you today!

Hi, I'm Suzanne from Life on Mars and you are stuck with me for the day while Bite Buff is away.

I like to eat. I do not like to cook-mainly because I hate cleaning up. Luckily for me (and the Cleveland economy) I like to dine out and I tend to dine out a fair amount during the week. Most weekends, I am pretty sure you will not find me in my own kitchen and that includes breakfast/brunch. When dining out, I try to keep it as local as possible, dining at places that are locally owned and operated as well as places that get their food as locally as possible. I am super excited that Cleveland's food scene has been getting the recognition it deserves. But if your old favorite hangout/favorite place to dine becomes one of the places lucky enough to get some national attention, I would be scared. It's kind of the kiss of death in my opinion-at least in this town it kind of is. Can you say Parma Perogies?

Here is my theory on why national attention isn't always a good thing. Chefs are kind of egomaniacs. If you ever spent some time with a good one, you'll know it. Most of the time they will tell you. The problem with some national attention in a small(ish) town like Cleveland, you become a big fish in a little pond. Or at least you think you are. You think you are awesome. You think you are a rock star. You are hitting event circuits like you are Lindsay Lohan pre-rehab. But guess where you aren't? Your kitchen. Remember that place that made you kind of a big deal? So while you are are partying like it's 1999 telling everyone how awesome you are, your kitchen, your restaurant is most likely suffering. Unless you have staffed your kitchen with some amazing people, I am pretty sure it isn't your dream that's being carried out in your kitchen while you are out patting yourself on the back. And then who really suffers? The diner. I can name a few spots (but I won't here, I am pretty sure anyone who has been around a while can think a few of their favorites that jumped the shark with some national attention) that I used to love. I loved them because they were (not are, were) great. The chefs were working their asses off to make sure you had an amazing meal and if it was a chef/owner they were worried about your whole experience. Now after a little notoriety, I am not so sure the chefs are interested in making sure what I am eating nightly in their restaurant is what they might call their "A game". And some of these places have even resorted to asking if it's your first experience dining with them when they have been open for years. This really annoys me especially when it's the same waiter you have had the last 4 times you have dined there in the last month. Are you going to treat me like differently if I say "no"? Or what if I say "yes", are you going to roll out the red carpet for me? Shouldn't I be treated like it's my first time, every time. Because while it might not be my first dining experience with you, it surely might be my last.

*photo from here.