Friday, July 29, 2011

Blues & Brews Giveaway

The organizers of the upcoming Blues & Brews event on Saturday, August 6th are giving YOU the chance to win two tickets!

Blues & Brews is one of our area's largest craft beer festivals, featuring more than 75 brewers with over 200 different styles of beer. The event also includes live blues music by the Frankie Starr Band, food from Winking Lizard, and a fantastic silent auction. General admission is from 2-6PM. The event is being held in downtown Akron's Lock 3 Park, with free parking available. Proceeds benefit Akron's Guns and Hoses and the Ohio Craft Brewers Association, with additional support provided to a few other local charities.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit OR you can enter a comment below to win two tickets. I was also offered a complimentary media pass to attend, but unfortunately I will be in Put-in-Bay with my friends that weekend. So you'll just have to taste some craft beers for me!

To enter, just tell me what your favorite summer beer is in a comment below. I'll pull a winner, using, on Tuesday. For a second entry, tweet the phrase "I want to win Blues & Brews tickets from @BiteBuff!". Good luck!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Memorable Meal at Melange

I've stated on here several times that two of my favorite chefs in Cleveland are Adam Bostwick and Matt Creighton from Melange...but the truth is that I've only dined at the restaurant twice. They are simply two of my favorites because I've worked with them professionally on many charity events, and they are so super sweet and humble about how talented they really are. Also, the food samples at events such as Chef Jam, Market Under Glass, Taste of the Browns, Emerging Chefs, and Dinner in the Dark have always been impressive and among my favorites.

But, a few weeks ago "R" and I headed out to Beachwood to dine at Melange, and theses chefs quickly reminded me that I need to get out there more often. We had one of the most enjoyable meals that we've had in a long time, and some of this was due to the great conversation and company of the chefs coming out and spending some time with us...but it was mostly about the food.

We started with the Beet Salad ($8.5) with golden, red, and candy striped beets, goat cheese, pickled onion, grapefruit segments, and a grapefruit vinaigrette.And an order of the "Buffalo" Frog Legs ($12) with bleu cheese cream, house buffalo sauce, and micro celery salad.I love a good beet salad, but this was hands-down my favorite ever. "R" even gave this dish the title of "best of the meal." The combination of beet types and the other ingredients worked harmoniously, and I loved the presentation of the salad. This was my first time trying frog legs, and if I had known that they could be like this then I would have tried them a long time ago! Or maybe they aren't always this good. The tender meat fell right off the bone, and the crispy coating was just the right texture and amount of crunch.

After "R" declared his love for the beet salad (and this boy HATED beets when I met him), the chefs surprised us with another starter...a complimentary order of their famous Dirty Chips with house cut potato, sweet potato, and beet chips with smoked bleu cheese fondue, bacon, tomato, and scallions. I, admittedly, am not a chip fan (unless they are salt & vinegar chips, mmm) but these chips were inventive and tasty. We both devoured them.Then we were on to the main course. I decided on their Braised Short Ribs ($19.5) because from everything that I've experienced at tasting events...these two chefs know how to slow cook meat! I wasn't disappointed.The flavor of the Asian sticky glaze on the meat was wonderful, and the tender meat just fell apart at the touch (except for the ends, which were just slightly dried out by the time the dish arrived). I enjoyed the Vegetable Fried Rice that accompanied the dish, but the serving was hefty and I ended up taking home half of my dish. Which I didn't complain about the next day when it made a great lunch!

"R" had the fish special, which honestly was so beautifully presented that I just had to snap a shot of it. I enjoyed the couple of bites that I stole.We finished up with dessert and another cocktail on the patio, completely full and loosening our waistbands. As I said, it was one of the more enjoyable experiences that we've had in a long time. My only real complaint was our server. She was awful. Thankfully, Chef Adam had told us about the specials that evening during one of his visits...because she never told us about them and had been pushing us to order our entrees several times at that point. Also, "R" ordered three different beers during our meal and every time the drink wasn't what he ordered. Not even close, at times. Then she gave us the bill for a table that had already paid and left. She was a hot mess, and it probably would have ruined our experience. Luckily, the food and company of Adam and Matt more than made up for her fumbles and we walked away very happy and vowing to be back soon.

2101 Richmond Road
Beachwood, OH 44122
(216) 378-9755

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Veggie U Recap

Saturday brought one of the best days that I've had so far this summer. It was Veggie U's annual Food & Wine Celebration to benefit their fantastic education program. I couldn't contain my excitement over the lineup of talented chefs, unique event setting, and the group of friends that I would be spending the evening with.

15 of us met at Deagan's Kitchen & Bar for a pre-event cocktail, and then we piled into "Jeff's Sexy Van" with cold beers, shrimp appetizers, and macaroons. The evening was off to a great start...Then we arrived and the real fun began.One of the first tables that I stopped at featured one of my favorite chefs...Jeff Jarrett from AMP 150.As we made our way through the tasting tent, some highlights were Anna Kim's (Cleveland Downtown Marriott at Key Center) cold tomato bisque with balsamic vinegar and a tiny grilled cheese.I also loved Washington Place Bistro's fried green tomato dish (pictured below), and Deagan's lobster nacho. My Cleveland pride was in full force! We tasted so many wonderful dishes, but the ones that really stood out in my opinion were mostly from Cleveland chefs. Which says a lot, because there was seriously some TALENT under that tent.Other highlights of the event included talking with Veggie U's own Farmer Lee Jones (he's making a funny face because he accused me of pinching his butt just as "R" snapped the photo, hehehe).And...I got to meet Ruth Reichl!I tore through her book Garlic & Sapphires this spring in one sitting- it was that good. So meeting her was a thrill, and for the first time in my life I was a little starstruck. But she couldn't have been any nicer to her adoring fans.

It was HOT and sweaty, but this didn't dampen our experience. We finally piled back onto the van with full bellies, a slight wine buzz, and smiles on our faces. I'm just glad that no one recorded the sing-a-long that took place on the way home. I should stick to my day job.Thank you again to Farmer Lee Jones and his crew for the opportunity to attend the event. This was the first, but certainly not the last, time that I'll be there.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Today's Taste of Tremont

Two hours left of one of the best summer street festivals...Taste of Tremont. So go get your butt down there if you haven't already!Approximately 30,000 people will fill Professor Avenue today from noon - 8PM to experience samples from area restaurants, purchase items from specialty vendors and pop-up boutiques, and possibly even come home with a furry adopted friend. Taste of Tremont has it all.

Personally, I sampled a pierogi from Sokolowski's and mac n' cheese from Lolita. Yum!It's hot, and parking is a nightmare...but this summer festival is so worth it! Did you attend? What was your favorite dish?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wood Fire Grille Adds Flavor to Avon Lake

When Bar Symon pulled out of its Avon Lake location, people wondered what would replace it. Well, local catering company Flavor the Town (which I have written about before) decided to open up a restaurant in the space...the Wood Fire Grille.With some minor renovations and their own flare, I think they've settled in quite well. I had a great experience dining there a few weeks ago, and personally think that it was a perfect addition to the area. We were quickly whisked to the spacious, gorgeous patio (with a nice outside bar area), and each started with a (CHEAP) glass of wine. With both of us living within the Cleveland city limits, we couldn't decide if this was "suburban" pricing or just darn cheap pricing from a new restaurant that hadn't figured out yet that I would happily pay twice the amount for that glass of wine. If the latter is the case, then let's just cross our fingers that they don't figure it out!

We both wanted to try several of the small plates and starters, so we decided to share our entire meal. We ordered the Artichoke Dip ($8 but half off during Happy Hour) with warm bubbly cream cheese, artichokes, topped with cheddar cheese, tomato, black olives, and scallions served with pita chips.I've had this dish of theirs at a tasting event, and it was just as good as I remembered. Next up was our "main course", which consisted of Crabby Cakes made in the New England tradition with blue crab and Old Bay seasoning with spicy mayo ($9). Baked Macaroni with smoked gouda, cheddar and fontina cheeses ($4). Our friend that had suggested the restaurant claimed that this mac 'n cheese was better than Lucky's Cafe. I wouldn't give it that rating after trying it for myself, but it might be #2 in my opinion!And we also shared a side order of the Wood Grilled Marinated Asparagus ($5). All of our selections were served piping hot and packed full of flavor. I though the pricing of the food was very reasonable as well, and we walked away with a cheap bill, great summer evening spent on a patio, and promises to come back soon.

Wood Fire Grille
32858 Walker Road
Avon Lake, OH 44021
(440) 777-4108

Monday, July 11, 2011

Scratch another one off the list...Lolita

#10 - the Reader's Choice - restaurant on my 2011 "To Dine" list was Michael Symon's Lolita. It was the closest to home, but yet the only Symon restaurant that I hadn't been to in Cleveland.

Well, I finally made it a point to get over there recently with two friends for Lolita's famous Happy Hour.With $2-$5 drink specials, and five menu choices for $5 a really is a great deal. I settled on the "Lolita's Choice" white wine for $4, and it was a dry blend with a light, crisp finish - just my kind of white wine.

Since two of us had never been there before, we wanted to try a couple of the $5 dishes so we shared the Lolita Burger with bacon, aged cheddar, fried egg, and onion.I also got a pea spread with grilled flatbread...I wasn't expecting the Lolita burger to arrive on an English muffin, but it was a nice surprise and a welcomed change from your standard bun. The egg was cooked perfectly, so just the right amount of yolk ran through the center of the burger when we sliced into it. Overall, I was happy with the burger. The pea spread was alright, but not something that I would order again.

So, the meal was pretty darn good for $10 in food (and I won't mention how many $4 glasses of wine we had, hehehe). I loved the atmosphere of the modern, yet warm and inviting, bistro. Why haven't I been here before?!

900 Literary Road
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 771-5652

Friday, July 8, 2011

Tots are making a comeback...

I have fond memories of tator tots in the school cafeteria. Those little fried puffs of potato...Mmmmm. Well, I feel like they are making a comeback in my adult life. Does anyone else feel like we are seeing more tots on restaurant menus lately?

Between Happy Dog (hello dipping sauces), brunch at Touch Supper Club, and last night at Reddstone...I see a lot more tots popping up on my plate.

I was in the mood for a patio, so we headed to Reddstone right after work. After trying one of their 10 cent tacos for Taco Night, "R" and I decided to share the Taters & Dips with chipotle ketchup, truffle aioli, and buttermilk horseradish ($8).Behold the house-made tator tots. I didn't know that they existed. But these fried puffs of mashed potatoes were clearly a far cry from the standard shredded nuggets that we are used to. While I can say that the 7 tots were not worth the $8 price tag, they were pretty fun to eat and inspired us to try to make them at home.

Then we shared the BBQ'D Duck Pizza with duck confit, smoked gouda, crispy onions, cilantro, red peppers, and Reddstone BBQ ($18). The pizza was more than enough to share and also take home leftovers. I love the flavor combination, but felt that there was just a tab too much sauce since the slices were a little soggy. Also, we both loved the soft, doughy crust. This was a winner. I think I'll go have the cold leftovers for breakfast right now...So, what do you think - are tator tots "in"? Any other Cleveland restaurants serving tots?

1261W. 76th Street
Cleveland, OH 44102
(216) 651-6969

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July, America!

Happy 4th of July!May your day be filled with friends, family, food, fun, and fireworks.

- Katrina

Friday, July 1, 2011

Mid-Year Check-in

With it finally hitting me today, on the first of July, that summer is really HERE- I thought that it was time to take a look at my 2011 New Year's Resolution list of restaurants that I wanted to try to see how I am doing...

Here was the list:
1. Dante (not done, but a $100 gift certificate was a birthday present and we're headed there in July to celebrate our anniversary)
2. Chinato --- DONE
3. Blue Canyon Kitchen & Tavern --- DONE
4. Umami Asian Kitchen --- DONE
5. Tinkers Creek Road Tavern
6. Washington Place Bistro & Inn --- DONE
7. Deagan's Kitchen & Bar --- DONE
8. Palate Restaurant & Lounge --- DONE
9. Happy Dog --- DONE
10. Reader's Choice...Lolita --- DONE

Um, wow. I knew I was doing well, but I haven't looked at the list in forever and I didn't realize that I am almost DONE. I think not completing my 2010 list really bothered me, so I was determined to tackle 2011. Now what will I do with myself until January?

Happy Holiday Weekend, everyone! Any fun dining plans? Cookouts? I'm just looking forward to actually being in the U.S.A. for the 4th of July because we are usually gone on an annual trip to "R's" lake cottage in Canada. So bring on the BBQ, beers, friends, and fireworks!