Saturday, January 29, 2011

Win a Trip to Boca Raton!

This is a weekend for the girls. "So long 'R', goodbye pups...see you all on Monday!" I'm not kidding. Somehow I managed to book myself all weekend long with plans to see (and dine with) friends. But that's a good thing. Sometimes you need a little time with your friends.

Friday night after work brought dinner and drinks with a friend at Latitude 41, today I am shopping and lunching with a friend and then meeting a third friend for dinner (and lots of wine) at Tartine, and lastly Sunday will end with a delicious brunch (and mimosas) at Flying Fig with some of my favorite Cleveland bloggers and fellow Chevy Girls.

Speaking of girlfriend getaways, Chevy is giving away a trip for two to Boca Raton! Want to win? Simply head over to their website and register for a chance daily. If Cleveland winters are getting you down, you and a friend could soon be dipping your toes in the sand. Good luck!

Do you have any fun plans with your friends this weekend?

Disclaimer: The Girls On The Go campaign is being sponsored by Northeastern Ohio Area Chevy Dealers, who gave me a Chevy Cruze to test drive for one month and blog about my experience using the vehicle. The program has given us some fun "missions" to do and will be providing me with gift certificates to allow me to do this. Follow Gotta Love Chevy NEO on Facebook or on Twitter (#chevygirls).

Thursday, January 27, 2011

"Touch" This- Brunch and Science

It has been a while since I've written about one of our favorite brunch spots close to home. Heck, it's been a while since we've been there...but that changed two weekends ago. Continuing the celebration of "R's" 31st birthday (man, we celebrated almost as much as his 30th), we decided that on Sunday we wanted to head to the Great Lakes Science Center in downtown Cleveland. After brunch, of course.

If "R" is ever in control of the remote, which I admit happens very rarely, you can bet that the History or Discovery Channel are on. Yawn. He loves Modern Marvels, How It's Made, etc. and we've talked about checking out the Science Center for years now. So heading there on his birthday weekend made perfect sense. But I needed some fuel first if I was going to spend hours looking at (playing with) science.

We ran through the list of our regular brunch spots, and Touch Supper Club quickly flew to the top of the list. Their brunch menu has almost anything that you could want, it's reasonably priced, and it all comes with a small cup of fruit. Score. I settled on the Eggs Wellington ($8) - two poached eggs and steak on a toasted English muffin with hollandaise sauce.
As you can see, the dish is served with a side of tator tots. Come on, who doesn't love tator tots! The spicy ketchup that they serve with the tots makes me feel a little less like an excited toddler and more like an adult enjoying a fried potato puff. Overall, the dish was very good. The eggs were slightly under-done for my taste, but I just made sure to smother them in the hollandaise. "R" got the Chorizo & Corn Bread ($7)- biscuits and gravy style. This inspired us to try to recreate this dish at home. The gravy wasn't quite as good as Lucky's Cafe or the Tremont Tap House, but it was solid. We just loved the addition of chorizo verses standard sausage, and we'll certainly be trying our homemade classic with corn bread instead of biscuits.

With our dishes being only $8 and $7, with the addition of coffee, our bill was pretty cheap for a delicious and filling brunch. For those of you that enjoy them, they also have a great Build-Your-Own Bloody Mary bar. Then we headed out to the Science Center and spent a couple of hours playing with their exhibits, learning (yuck, hehehe), and watching Under the Sea in the OmniMax theater. It was a great little Sunday spent #HappyinCLE!

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

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Blogger and Chevy Girl Meet-up

The Ohio Blogging Association (yes, apparently there is such a thing) kicked off their Cleveland-area meet ups last week with a cooking demo, appetizers, and wine at Whole Foods Market Cedar Center. Whole Foods graciously hosted about 20 of our area's bloggers, and for a $10 fee it really was a fun little event. I always love seeing some of the bloggers that I've gotten to know well and now consider friends, but meeting others IRL (in real life) for the first time is really why I attend events such as this. This time, I met The Chubby Cook, Quarry Lane Farms, and former (and fellow) Chevy Girl Alana from The Dawg's Dish.

Yes, that's turned into quite the unexpected reunion for several of our area's female bloggers that have participated (or currently participating, like myself) in the Chevy program. In attendance were Allison, Alicia, Heather, Alana, Katie, and then current drivers Suzanne and Michelle. We had fun talking about the program and the different Chevy cars that we test drove. The Traverse may have been a better option for Cleveland winters, but I'm enjoying driving a compact car similar to my own.

Okay, back to Whole Foods...We started off the evening with a demonstration of raw foods prepared by Chef Lauren. She shared some sushi, raw chocolate infused with a ginger and mandarin orange/mango filling, and raw coconut shavings with a sorbet as a palate cleanser.Then we were served several dishes from Whole Foods' prepared foods section of the store, including: General Tso's Vegan Nuggets, Molly's Asian Noodles, Emerald Sesame Kale, and Marinated Grilled Vegetables with an Asian Inspired Dressing.A few of the dishes were quite good, such as the Asian Noodles. I even took some home and enjoyed them for lunch the next day! But the General Tso's Vegan Nuggets didn't trick me. The flavor of the sauce was really nice, but it couldn't mask the textural issues that I had with the non-chicken chicken. I tried, I really did, but they just weren't for me.

Overall, it was a fun evening spent in the company of my fellow bloggers. A big thank you goes out to Lisa Sands and Whole Foods for hosting us.

But then a couple of us headed down the street to Melt Bar & Grilled for one of their towering grilled cheese sandwiches. A little more my speed. Former Chevy Girl, Allison from Green Dog Wine, hopped in my Cruze to help navigate over to the east side location (this was my first time there) and she really enjoyed checking out the features of the Cruze. She instantly started to play with the buttons, do-dads, and do-hickies since she had driven the Traverse.

I finally made it home in a Parmageddon coma around 11PM, but with a smile on my face from spending time with some of my favorite Cleveland bloggers and learning a little more about Whole Foods. I'm looking forward to that west-side location that they keep telling us is coming!

Disclaimer: The Girls On The Go campaign is being sponsored by Northeastern Ohio Area Chevy Dealers, who gave me a Chevy Cruze to test drive for one month and blog about my experience using the vehicle. The program has given us some fun "missions" to do and will be providing me with gift certificates to allow me to do this. Follow Gotta Love Chevy NEO on Facebook or on Twitter (#chevygirls).

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Birthday at Light Bistro

Last Friday night led us to Washington Place Bistro, but the birthday celebration did not end there. My gift to "R" was dinner out and a comedy show, and of course the comedian that he wanted to see (Carl Lebove) was in town the same weekend as his birthday. So Saturday night we headed out as well, this time to Light Bistro in Ohio of my favorites.

We took the Chevy Cruze and valet parked for the first time at this restaurant. Street parking usually isn't too hard to find in this area since the restaurant is tucked away from busy West 25th Street, but it was a chilly (okay, frigid) Saturday night and we were struggling to find a spot. Luckily, the valet is complimentary at that meant that we just needed to come up with tip money. Totally worth not having to park and walk that night!

We settled into a table in their (relatively) newly renovated space in the back of the restaurant, which includes a fireplace and a nice view of their new retail wine shop. I love Light Bistro's menu. It is right up our alley, as we love to share several small plates and sample a lot when dining out. Chef Mathlage's "Progressive American Tapas" is usually perfect for this, but that night we decided to just share one appetizer and then order from the entrees section of the menu. Which I had never done before.

We started with the Grilled Flatbread with wild arugula, Lake Erie Creamery goat cheese and lemon ($12). The flatbread was prepared and cooked well, and I loved how simple he kept this dish. Each of the three ingredients were allowed to shine through on your palate, and the blended flavor was clean and simple. It also arrived in a white paper bag, which was a fun presentation.

"R" ordered the Pan Seared Grouper with pulled pork and ricotta ravioli, ham broth, and corn ($26). The group had a great sear to it, and he really enjoyed the dish. I don't really like ham, so the flavor was slightly off for my taste. I had the Braised Short Ribs with goat cheese farro and julienne root vegetables ($23) This dish was wonderful in my opinion. The short rib fell apart with just a gentle touch of the fork, and the subtle flavor of the goat cheese farro made for a perfect combination bite. I was loving this dish.

It felt like the night couldn't get any better, but then I took CLEShopaholic's advice and got the Coffee and Donuts dessert. Coffee ice cream paired with house-made, fresh, fried donut balls that were then finished with cinnamon and sugar. With a ramekin full of chocolate sauce to dip in, this dish was complete. What a way to end the meal!
Light Bistro
2801 Bridge Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113-3013
(216) 771-7130

Thursday, January 20, 2011

4th Annual Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week

Mark your calendars! It is almost time for the 4th Annual Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week. Food lovers can experience Cleveland’s culinary scene for a great price at Downtown Cleveland Alliance’s annual weeklong food celebration.

From Monday, Feb. 21 through Sunday, Feb. 27, diners can enjoy a $30 prix-fixe dinner menu featuring three courses at more than 40 Downtown Cleveland restaurants, including:

* 1890 at the Arcade
* Acappella
* Barley House
* Blue Point Grille
* Brasa Grill
* Bricco
* Cadillac Ranch
* Chinato
* Chocolate Bar
* Cleveland Chophouse & Brewery
* Corner Alley
* Crop Bistro
* David's at Key Tower
* D'Vine Wine Bar
* Elements Bistro
* Encore
* Fat Fish Blue
* Flannery's
* Greenhouse Tavern
* Hanna Restaurant & au Bar
* Hard Rock Café
* Harry Buffalo
* Houlihan's of Cleveland
* House of Blues
* Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse
* John Q's Steakhouse
* Johnny's Downtown
* La Strada
* Local Heroes
* Lola
* Mallorca
* Metro Bar & Kitchen
* Morton's, The Steakhouse
* Muse at the Ritz-Carlton
* Pickwick & Frolic
* Ponte Vecchio Ristorante
* Saigon
* Sans Souci
* Star Restaurant and Bar
* Sushi Rock
* Tower 230 Bar & Grill
* Waterstreet Grill
* Wonder Bar
* XO Prime Steaks
* Zdara Mediterranean Grille
* Zinc Bistro Bar Bakery
* Zocalo

New to This Year’s Event – Lunch, Tastings and Educational Events

New to this year’s event is the addition of a $15 lunch menu for one or two diners being offered by several of the participating restaurants, including Blue Pointe Grille, Corner Alley, Greenhouse Tavern, Encore, Fat Fish Blue, La Strada, Local Heroes and Waterstreet Grill.

Just $2 Parking
Discounted parking will be offered by a number of Downtown parking facilities to Restaurant Week diners. The $2 parking voucher will be available online at

Win a Year’s Worth of Downtown Dining
Downtown Cleveland Alliance is bringing back its popular “Dine-In” Sweepstakes – giving diners the chance to win the grand prize of Downtown dining for a year or other restaurant gift certificates. Diners will be entered to win by completing a short survey at the end of their meal.

For a full listing of participating restaurants, menus, tastings, classes and additional details, visit On my list that week: Metro Bar & Kitchen, D'Vine, and Zinc. I love D'Vine, and haven't tried Metro or Zinc yet. It's a great opportunity to try out that restaurant that you haven't quite made it to yet, or to go back to one of your downtown favorites.

Downtown Cleveland Alliance (DCA) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to building a dynamic downtown. By working with property owners and neighborhood based partners, DCA is able to provide economic development opportunities, business attraction and retention efforts, the Clean & Safe Ambassador Program, as well as strategic marketing initiatives for Downtown Cleveland.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"Cruze-ing" to Washington Place Bistro

Seriously, "R" and I ate like kings this past (long) weekend. He turned the big 3-1, and we celebrated with family, friends, and each other. All centered around food...I'm feeling a major detox coming on this week.

Friday after work, I picked up my Chevy Cruze. That's right...I am one of this month's Chevy Girls as part of the Girlfriend Getaway program. I've been asked to test drive a Chevy Cruze for four weeks and blog about my experience. I'll be sharing photos, video, stories, links and more over on their website. Don't worry, I'll let you know when I post. I have only been driving the car for four days, but I am enjoying it already. Hello heated seats and remote start! But I digress...We picked up the car and then scurried back home because we were headed out to dinner with "R's" family at Washington Place Bistro & Inn in Little Italy.
When they opened about six weeks ago, they held a special media preview dinner that I had to miss since I was still recovering from my surgery. But after reading all of the great reviews from many of my fellow food bloggers, I knew that I had to get over there soon! So when we started to look at restaurants for "R's" birthday, this was top on my list. Luckily, he agreed. First, I loved the complimentary valet parking. Parking can be tricky in Little Italy, so it was appreciated. The entrance/bar area is modern yet cozy and inviting thanks to some soft yellow lighting. We were seated in one of the small rooms used for the main dining area. I personally like how the area is split into several smaller spaces. It is more intimate, and perfect for our special occasion.

The two of us started by sharing the Oxtail Pierogies- oxtail ragout, ohio city pasta truffled potato pierogie, caramelized onion, and horseradish creme fraiche ($13). The manager informed us that this appetizer is quickly becoming one of their signature dishes. It was certainly good, but it didn't blow me away. The creme fraiche was perfect though.

"R" ordered their Braised Pot Roast- c.a.b., chef's garden carrots, roasted garlic mashers, and big red reduction ($18), which is also becoming one of their signature specialties. Thanks for the suggestion, tweeps, because this dish was a winner. The meat was so tender that it fell right apart, and all of the flavors worked in harmony. I was lucky enough to steal two bites before it vanished! I decided on the Dayboat Scallops- butternut squash risotto, pearl onions, apple cider demi, and micro greens ($21). The risotto got a little rich towards the end, but overall I really enjoyed the dish and the scallops were cooked perfectly.Overall, we truly enjoyed our first experience here. The cozy, intimate atmosphere was just what we were looking for, the service was friendly and attentive, and the food was just shy of exceptional. I am already certain that we'll be back, and soon. That beet and goat cheese salad is calling my name!

Washington Place Bistro & Inn
2203 Cornell Road
Cleveland, OH 44106
(216) 791-6500

Washington Place Bistro and Inn on Urbanspoon

Disclaimer: The Girls On The Go campaign is being sponsored by Northeastern Ohio Area Chevy Dealers, who gave me a Chevy Cruze to test drive for one month and blog about my experience using the vehicle. The program has given us some fun "missions" to do and will be providing me with gift certificates to allow me to do this. Follow Gotta Love Chevy NEO on Facebook or on Twitter (#chevygirls).

Friday, January 14, 2011

Istanbul Grill in Tremont

Seriously, it is a week of amazing eats for this foodie. I had lunch at Light Bistro yesterday, I'm headed to Washington Place Bistro & Inn tonight, and we have reservations at Blue Point Grille on Saturday night. But I left one out...last night I dined at the relatively new Istanbul Grill in Tremont.

Located on Professor Avenue, near the corner of Starkweather, it is close to Lucky's Cafe and Lily Handmade Chocolates. It is nestled in next to residential homes, so when I pulled up last night the soft glow of the restaurant felt like a beacon drawing me in. The restaurant wasn't quite as busy at 6:30PM when I arrived, but by the time we left at 8:30 the place was full and a little noisy. It could have been the large table of women that were clearly celebrating something. You know how loud us girls can get when we all get together! I admit it.

My girlfriends had grabbed a perfect table for four that was secluded in its own little nook off the main dining room. It was great for catching up, without feeling like we were completely cut off from the hustle and bustle of the restaurant. We started with the small Mixed Appetizer plate, which offered us small portions of seven different appetizers. Some of them were: hummus, baba gunnush, cacik, tabouli, and grape leaves. The dish was served with warm, fresh pita bread and the entire plate of food was delicious. The cacik- thick homemade yogurt mixed with cucumber, dill, mint and garlic- was a table favorite. Now I have to say that selecting a main entree was tough, and by the time we ordered we had all agreed that we would be back (and soon) to try other dishes. I decided to go with the Iskender Kebap ($13)- vertically grilled lamb sliced and served with yogurt and tomato garlic sauce over pita bread. So basically, we are talking about a gyro on a plate here people. And we all know about my love for Fergie's gyros. So I was really looking forward to this dish, and it did not disappoint.
The bed of pita bread was hidden under the pile of lamb meat and a thick layer of yogurt sauce. I was surprised by how much sauce was used, but I was not complaining once I dug in and all of the flavors blended together. The meat was seasoned well and had a nice crispy outer layer, which is exactly how I like my gyro meat. The creamy yogurt sauce was one of the best that I've had, and I enjoyed the subtle tomato and garlic flavor of the sauce. I was in gyro heaven. It was so good that I joked with my friends that I wanted to leave it in my car overnight to take into work for lunch the next day instead of sharing my leftovers with "R". But I was gently reminded that it is his birthday today (hence the good eats this weekend), and he really loves gyros. So I sucked it up, and brought home about half of the dish to one happy 31 year-old.

Needless to say, all four of us (and "R") enjoyed our meal at Istanbul Grill and we'll be back soon. They also have a nice bar area in the front of the restaurant that I know we'll be trying out. This was a great Tremont find!

Istanbul Grill
2505 Professor Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 298-4450
Istanbul Grill on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Taste for Your Buds

Only open for lunch Monday-Friday from 11AM-2PM, family-owned and operated Tastebuds in Cleveland has quite the following. Tucked away in an industrial warehouse, near Asiatown and bordering downtown, it certainly isn't easy to find. But word does spread quickly amongst people that work in the area- at least that is what happened to me. The whisper of "Tastebuds" on my co-workers lips almost felt like a secret they were letting me in on. You see, our office used to be much closer to the restaurant and it was a daily hot spot for many of our employees. But then we moved a little further east, and trips became infrequent. It took about two years of being employed there before I was finally introduced to this great lunch joint.

But that one trip was all it took for me to understand.

Tastebuds offers a range of gourmet salads (which I hear are amazing), soup, pizza, hot sandwiches, wraps, desserts, and daily specials. You may find it strange, but I have only tried one dish in all of my lunch trips. Other items are always tempting, but at the suggestion of a co-worker...I ordered the warm Greek Pasta with penne tossed with Roma tomatoes, spinach, artichoke hearts, black olives, red onion, olive oil and garlic and then topped with grilled chicken, feta, and pine nuts ($9.50).
This dish has great flavor and texture, and is truly unique. The spinach, pine nuts, and feta cheese are my favorite components. When paired with the pasta, you get a mouthful of creamy, crunchy goodness. Lucky for patrons, it is a daily special and always available.

The restaurant is colorful and fun, decorated with vibrant artwork done by the owner/chef herself. Once you order at the counter (from one of the lovely McGinty family members) and receive your food, it's seat yourself and please remember to pick up your table after you finish. Also, don't forget to grab one of their homemade chocolate chip cookies by the register on your way out. They are a perfect balance of a crispy outside and soft (almost undercooked, but in a good way) center. They are hard to resist!

So if you are in the area for lunch, go check out Tastebuds instead of nearby Superior Pho, #1 Pho, and other Asiatown options. This restaurant is worth finding in my opinion.

Tastebuds Restaurant
1400 East 30th Street
Cleveland, OH
(216) 344-1770

Tastebuds on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Lucky Special

I don't typically post about one particular dish, but this dish is special. Literally. It is a special, and not on the regular menu. Lucky's Cafe in Tremont is famous for their brunch, and rightfully so. I've had their breakfast burritos, decadent mac n' cheese, pecan bacon (so worth the $4 price tag), and finally the dish that I felt was worth this post...the Corned Beef Hash special.
The Corned Beef Hash with house-made corned beef, hashed-brown potatoes, two poached local eggs, and a house-made hollandaise sauce is simply delicious. Many months ago, "R" had ordered this dish and graciously given me a bite. I don't even like corned beef, but I was hooked! I knew that a full order in the future was mine. Lucky for all of us, this is a pretty regular special on the weekends. But you do need to keep your eye out, so I suggest following them on Twitter and becoming a fan on Facebook. They do a great job of announcing their specials.

If you have tried to dine at Lucky's since their debut on the Food Network, then you know that the lines have grown and the wait can sometimes be daunting. I suggest sticking it out if you can, but we've certainly turned away at times as well. Consider yourself warned, and don't pull up with a rumbling belly. But we easily got in on Christmas Eve Day, and I finally got my own plate of the Corned Beef Hash. I would have liked a little more hollandiase sauce to wet the plate, but other than that I have no complaints. The dish was delish!

And, as always, the service was friendly and the coffee good. It was an excellent start to our Christmas festivities!

So keep your eye out for this special, and don't wait until late Sunday afternoon to try and grab a plate...because they do sell out! It is that good people. At least some of us think so.

Lucky's Cafe
777 Starkweather Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 622-7773

Also, I have some fun blog news coming up (hopefully this week) so keep your eyes peeled!

Monday, January 3, 2011

A New Year's Resolution I Can Stick To...Right?

Last year at this time, I set a New Year's resolution that I was POSITIVE I could keep. Think of it more as a Top 10 "Must Do" (or "Dine") for 2010. Well...I failed. Not entirely, but I still managed to let my resolution slide by unaccomplished before we rang in the new year a few days ago. I had given myself 10 new restaurants to try in the Cleveland area. Not too hard, right?! Now you can see how horrible I've always been at sticking to a goal set on January 1st. We are always filled with such hope and high ambitions that day, huh? Well I'm going to give it another try...

Here was my 2010 list:
1. B-Spot --- DONE
2. Ponte Vecchio --- DONE
3. Tartine Bistro --- DONE
4. Dante
5. Umami Asian Grill
6. Chinato
7. The Harp ---DONE
8. Blue Canyon Kitchen & Tavern
9. Bistro on Lincoln Park ---DONE
10. Tinkers Creek Road Tavern

Okay, so 5 out of 10 isn't too terrible but I'm still pretty disappointed in myself. In my defense, I didn't plan on being house-bound recovering from surgery for the last two months. So...those other 5 restaurants that I didn't complete will make their way onto my 2011 list.

Here it is, my 2011 list of "Top 10 Restaurants That I Must Try This Year":
1. Dante
2. Chinato
3. Blue Canyon Kitchen & Tavern
4. Umami
5. Tinkers Creek Road Tavern
6. Washington Place Bistro & Inn
7. Deagan's Kitchen and Bar
8. Palate Restaurant and Lounge
9. Happy Dog
10. .......

Help me pick my last restaurant! What should my #10 spot be? Weigh in by leaving a comment on this post. It just has to be somewhere that I haven't been yet, so make sure that you check my list on the right-hand side of the blog. I can't wait to hear what you have to say!

Happy New Year, and cheers to sticking to any goals that we may have set for ourselves in 2011.
*image found here