Thursday, December 27, 2012

Paladar Latin Kitchen

Paladar Latin Kitchen & Rum Bar in the Eton development on Chagrin Boulevard in Woodmere has always intrigued me. I've heard many rave reviews over the years, but I just never seemed to make it in there for myself. It's hard when Pacific East is just next door, and they have some of my favorite sushi. However, the other night "R" and I tried to get into Pacific East for dinner, but the wait was going to be too long. So we found ourselves wandering over to Paladar.

Since it was my first time dining there, I let our server help guide our menu selections. We started with the Cuban Braised Beef Ropa Vieja with shredded skirt steak braised with tomatoes and spices, served with sweet plantains, pickled onion slaw, and aji pepper aioli ($11.95).
The beef had a nice, subtle flavor of spices and it was prepared so that it just fell right apart. There was interesting textures and flavor in this dish, but overall I wasn't loving it. It was good, but not great. A larger portion of this dish is also available on their entree section of the menu, and apparently it's one of the most popular dishes.

For my entree, our server suggested the Jalapeno Spiced Lamb Stew with lamb, hominy, and spices in a jalapeno-cilantro broth with cinnamon rice, crumbled queso fresco cheese, pico de gallo, and fresh herbs. Served with flour tortillas on the side. ($16.95)
First impression? SALTY! Like make-your-lips-pucker salty. Once the initial shock of salt subsided, the dish really did have great heat from the spices and the lamb was cooked well. I just couldn't get over the saltiness. When I went to heat up the leftovers at home the next day, I added a ton of lime juice and that helped cut the salt. Much better.

"R" ordered the Ocho Hora Braised Short Rib ($18.95), and to put it simply-- it was the blandest piece of meat that I've personally ever had. It was also tough, and didn't fall apart like a good braised short rib should. The smokey grits and spinach served with it were both really good, but even they couldn't save the dish.

Overall, our meal was decent (minus the short rib) but nothing that I'd want again. We felt that the meal was a little pricey for what we received, and that the whole restaurant has a "chain" atmosphere that just isn't what we tend to go for when dining out. If I'm in the area again, I'll stick to Pacific East.

Paladar Latin Kitchen & Rum Bar
28601 Chagrin Boulevard
Woodmere, OH 44122

Paladar Latin Kitchen & Rum Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Just a quick note to wish you a very Merry Christmas! I hope that the holidays bring you a time to relax with family and friends, and time to just enjoy each other (and some delicious food and drinks).

2013 will bring to the blog a new Top 10 "To Dine" list, the continuation of the Dining Deals series (meals under $10), and more Taco Tuesday excursions as I continue to sample our city's taco scene. Anything else that you'd like to see on Bite Buff this coming year?

To all, Happy Holidays.

- Katrina

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tremont's New Press Wine Bar

Dining at Lago is one of the first food memories that I have of Cleveland. "R" and I had started dating that summer, and by the time my birthday came around in February--he had selected Lago, because he said that "it had a lot of my favorite foods on the menu." It was cozy, a little romantic, and I remember enjoying their lobster gnocchi as we toasted my first birthday together.

Needless to say, I was sad to hear when Lago was closing its doors in Tremont.

A few weeks ago, Press Wine Bar popped up in Lago's location on the corner of Professor and Literary. Even though it's only been open for a short period of time, I've already found myself there three times. The layout of the space hasn't changed too much. The biggest differences are that they opened and widened the bar area, and installed a floor-to-ceiling wine unit. The atmosphere is warm and inviting, and the food has overall been very good. Normally, I shy away from newly opened restaurants. But with the management team from Market and Southside behind it, and Chef Rachael Spieth from Three Birds/Georgetown fame running the kitchen-- I was comfortable dining there when they opened.

Now, on to the food. People dining with me have ordered: Duck Sausage Pizza ($13), Pumpkin Linguine ($12.5), Press Burger ($12), and Crab Burger ($12). All dishes were enjoyed. One of my friends even exclaimed that the Press Burger was the best burger that she's ever had!

Twice now, I've ordered the Pear Pizza with blue cheese, roasted pears, fig, prosciutto, arugula, almonds, and saba ($12.5).
The flatbread is so crispy, while still maintaining a doughy texture, and the combination of things on this particular dish just work so well together. I've had other good pear flatbreads before, but I love the addition of sliced figs and almonds at Press.

On my first visit, I also tried the Five Spice Seared Ahi Tuna with black bean spread, pickled red onion, and apple relish ($9).
So far, this has been the only dish that I disliked and would never order again. The black bean spread completely dominated the delicate tuna. It just didn't work, in my opinion.

On another visit, this time with "R" for date night, we split the Breakfast Pizza, Arugula Salad ($8), and Pan Seared Scallops ($24). The Breakfast Pizza, with breakfast sausage, butternut squash, sage, goat cheese, poached egg and maple syrup, was very good but I preferred the Pear Pizza slightly. The salad was fine, but not memorable. It was under dressed, and wasn't very interesting. The scallops? The flavors of the orange and coriander grits, blood orange supremes, roasted baby fennel, and carrot beurre blanc were wonderful. However, our (five) scallops were severely overcooked that night. Had they been cooked perfectly, this dish would have been one of my favorites that I've had there. I'll be ordering it again.

Lastly, the Cheese and Meat Board. A small is $13, and a large is $20. It includes sixteen items, and has a nice assortment of meats, cheeses, and accoutrements. You can also choose to do "double-cheese", if you don't want the meats. A small is large enough to share between a couple of people. It will never be as good as L'Albatros, but it's nice to have a decent cheese board option closer to home.

Okay, drinks. The have a good-sized menu of signature cocktails, wine on tap, wine by the glass, draft beers (all from Ohio), and wine and beer by the bottle. Press is claiming that they are the "first location in Cleveland to have Wine on Tap" on their website. Ummm, what about The Black Pig that offers a couple of options, and they've clearly been open longer? Both are technically "in the city of Cleveland" if you're arguing that point, but Lager and Vine in Hudson was the first in Ohio. I did notice that our server at Press sometimes used the words "first wine bar in Cleveland", instead of first location. I'm confused, but oh well. I just feel that if you're going to make such a big deal about it, then please make sure that you are accurate in your statements.

I do feel that their Wine on Tap options are a little pricey. $7-$15 for a glass (most are $8 or $9.5). Isn't the point of kegged wine to keep it fresher and more cost effective?

Anywho, I've enjoyed my three visits there, and witnessed very few "opening jitters" from this team. Personally, I think that it's a great addition to the area, and I look forward to many return visits.

Press Wine Bar
2221 Professor Avenue
Cleveland, OH
216-566-9463

Press Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Fairview Tavern

I'm slowly making my way down the 2012 "To Dine" list that I set back in January. Some friends, both old and new, helped me knock another one off of the list-- Fairview Tavern. Located on Lorain Road in Fairview Park, it was not only a new restaurant that I was visiting, but a new area that I was exploring too. I can't say that I've really spent any time around there. The restaurant was a little hard to find. It's tucked away in a strip of businesses, and the neon sign just states "Tavern".

We had a party of five, and the place was already pretty busy by the time we arrived at 6:30PM, so we were seated on the slightly elevated stage in the back. It felt a little weird sitting down, with all lights (and eyes?) on us, but once we started chatting-- then I forgot where we were.

The menu offered a little bit of everything-- an assortment of appetizers, soups, salads, entrees, sandwiches, and pizza. The Fairview Tavern offers a ton of different specials throughout the week, and Monday night happened to be Pizza Night. $5 personal cheese pizza with 50 cent toppings, 40 cent wings, and $2 brat sandwich.

It was suggested that we get an order of the Black-n-Bleu Chips ($7) for the table, with freshly fried tavern chips topped with chunky bleu cheese and baked until hot and bubbly, finished with a balsamic reduction. A little something different that you don't see every day on a bar menu. We happily munched away.

I wanted to try their pizza, but instead of doing the build-your-own special of the night, I went with one of their specialty pizzas-- Prosciutto and Goat Cheese with garlic butter, red onions, kalamata olives, and thin slices of prosciutto sprinkled with mozzarella, provolone, and goat cheese ($11).
For a personal pizza, it was huge. I had a ton left over to take home with me, which "R" didn't mind. Overall, it was a really good pizza. Very doughy, great balance of flavors with the creamy goat cheese, salty and crispy prosciutto, and I loved the addition of the olives. Worth driving over to Fairview Park for from where I live? Probably not.

But it was a great hole-in-the-wall bar, and their menu is well beyond your standard pub fare. One of my friends ordered the Meatballs, and they were seriously the biggest balls that I've ever seen. Yes, we had fun joking about balls all night. You can tell that a lot of their food is made in-house, or locally. They also offer several different specials throughout the week.

I had never heard of the Fairview Tavern before it was suggested for my "To Dine" list, it brought me to a new neighborhood, and I enjoyed a good meal...exactly what I was looking for. Thank you!

Help me select the 2013 "To Dine" restaurants by leaving a comment on this blog post: http://www.bitebuff.com/2012/12/time-to-pick-2013-to-dine.html

I'll pick 10 restaurants from the comments, and announce the list on the first of the year.

Fairview Tavern
21867 Lorain Road
Fairview Park, OH

Fairview Tavern on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Rib Cage Bar and Grill

With Fat Casual in Macedonia closing its doors (don't worry, they will still be doing catering jobs and focusing on their food truck), we needed to find a good BBQ restaurant. Was the newly opened The Rib Cage Bar & Grill in Cleveland Heights the answer? I'm still not sure, but there were elements of our meal that were darn good.

I decided to go for the Pulled Pork dinner, which included two sides and a corn muffin ($14).
As you can see, the "pulled" pork is actually thinly sliced (which I knew before ordering). You have your choice of sauce, but I stuck with the recommended Carolina Mustard Vinegar. Their meats are marinated, smoked, seasoned with a dry rub, and then sauced to-order. Personally, the pork was a little fatty for my taste. More bark would have added enough contrast in texture for me. But the sauce was quite wonderful with its acidic kick from the vinegar.

I took our server's suggestions on the side dishes. I went with the Three Bean Bourbon Baked Beans with red and black beans with Maker's Mark bourbon and house BBQ sauce, and the Greens. The greens are a mix of Collards, fresh garlic onion, and smoked turkey in a lightly spiced broth. The beans were not as good as Fat Casual's beans, but they were still very good. I also enjoyed the greens, and they reminded me of our trip to New Orleans.

The only real clunker of the meal? The corn muffin! It was absolutely awful. Dry, dry, dry, and very little flavor. We told our server about this at the end of the meal. Apparently later that week, they were still atrocious. Our same friends that we were dining with stopped in again for dinner, and the corn muffin was still the same. Epic fail.

Now, we were dining a little late that night (9:30PM), but that doesn't totally excuse the very slow service that we received. There were only a couple of other diners at the bar, and our food took forever to make its way out to our table. Getting the check was even worse. But I do appreciate that they are serving food until 1AM, making it a great late-night stop if you are in need of grub.

Overall, there were some winners in this meal, but I can't say that I am dying to go back. I'll still continue my hunt for good BBQ. I never did get that famous Fat Casual prime rib...sigh.

The Rib Cage Bar & Grill
2214 Lee Road
Cleveland Heights, OH
216-321-7427

The Rib Cage on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Holiday Events

To help me get back in the Christmas spirit, today I want to share with you some upcoming holiday events taking place at local restaurants. There are plenty of special dinners and events taking place to help you celebrate the season.

Monday, December 17th- Ale, Cookies, and Ugly Christmas Sweaters. Join the YP Pantry of the Cleveland Foodbank to celebrate the holidays at Bier Market/Bar Cento. 6:00PM, free to attend. 15% of your food and drink bill will be donated to the Cleveland Foodbank. Plus, there will be a prize for the best ugly Christmas sweater! RSVP here. All are welcome to attend, enjoy some beers and cookies, and learn more about the Young Professionals group.

Monday, December 17th- Holiday Beer Dinner at Grovewood Tavern. 6:30PM. $48 + tax and gratuity. Reservation only, call 216-531-4900. Six-course menu, paired with different holiday brews. Recipe book available.

Thursday, December 20th- Your Last Meal at The Black Pig. Come celebate the Mayan calendar ending with a meal full of people's favorite "last meal" goodies. Six-course meal. 7:00PM. Call to reserve your spot at 216-862-7551.

Saturday, December 22nd- "A Christmas Story" Dinner at Touch Supper Club. Classic dishes from the movie, with wine pairings. Following the dinner, an Old Skool Club Kids Holiday Party. All proceeds will benefit the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland. Call 216-631-5200 for reservations.

Sunday, December 23rd- Classic Holiday Dinner at Light Bistro. Reservations available from 4:00PM - 8:30PM. $45. Chef Matthew presents his take on a traditional Dickensian holiday feast, straight from some of our favorite classic holiday movies. Reservations only, call 216-771-7130.

Monday, December 24th- $3 Christmas Ale all night long at the Tremont Tap House.

Thursday, December 27th- Champagne Dinner at Bistro 185. 6:30PM. Five courses. $100 + tax and gratuity. Call 216-481-9635 for reservations.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Stink, Stank, Stunk- My Christmas Funk

So, usually I try to keep things pretty positive on this blog. Sharing my experiences dining out around town (luckily, most of them are good ones), and promoting local events and businesses that I believe in. However, I am so riled up right now over something that has happened that I just felt like sharing it with you.

The situation has made me question how some people can justify their actions. It has put me in a real GRINCH mood, because it's related to a Christmas present.
Normally, I procrastinate my Christmas shopping until the last minute. This year, I did what I always say that I am going to do-- get a head start on my shopping, and spread out my purchases. I started in October, which amazed even me. I selected a couple of fun, small items for family members, and placed some online orders.

One item was from Sur la Table, for my dad. I received an email receipt, and then notification of UPS tracking just a couple of days later. It was noted to arrive on November 5th. November 5th came and went, so I checked online and UPS tracked it as being "delivered". I went outside and dug through the leaf piles by our doors, nope. Nothing showed up at the house for days. So, I emailed and then called their Customer Service line.

Plan of action? File a claim with UPS and make them look into the delivery of my package. Uhh, ok, I guess. This took several weeks, and was only just resolved yesterday through UPS. Luckily, I have a great local delivery guy that took my claim very seriously. A different driver had been on my route that day, and sure enough-- he had delivered my package to the street behind us. Over a month ago!!!

Satellite tracking proved it. My neighbor received my package, which clearly was not addressed to you, you jerk, and they decided that instead of delivering it to our address themselves or contacting UPS, they would just KEEP it. You are now in possession of my property. UPS has knocked on their door twice now (he was convinced that they were home at least one of the times).

Meanwhile, Sur la Table...can't you just replace my $26 item instead of making this drag on for so long? I paid for it, and I don't have it. That's not great customer service, if you ask me. I finally received a call from them this afternoon, confirming that they are replacing the item and shipping it in time for the holiday. I'm still going to cross my fingers.

This whole ordeal did lead to some pretty evil dreams last night. Some of which may have included a flaming bag of dog poo on my neighbor's steps, me confronting them at their door with the scariest-looking of our three pooches with me, filing a police report, etc.

I mean, WHO DOES THAT?!?! I hope you enjoy my dad's Christmas gift, punk.



"You're a foul one, Mr. Grinch.
You're a nasty, wasty skunk.
Your heart is full of unwashed socks
Your soul is full of gunk.
Mr. Grinch.

The three words that best describe you, are as follows, and I quote: Stink, Stank, Stunk!" - The Grinch Song

Monday, December 10, 2012

Dine and Dash Guide

Happy Monday, folks. Where did this weekend go? While we did enjoy a nice date night on Friday (more on that later), got some Christmas shopping done, and wrapped all of the presents while I ferociously cleaned the house as Hoarders played in the background (dead cat behind a dresser, eww)...I still feel like it flew by.

This is a busy time of year, so I wanted to share something with you from The Plain Dealer that you may not have caught last week. In the Friday Magazine, they had an article called "Dine and Dash Guide" with great dining deals at some area restaurants. Some of which, I had never even heard of. This article is perfect for my ongoing Dining Deals series (meals under $10), so I had to post this article. Thanks, The Plain Dealer!

Here is the link to the full article: http://www.cleveland.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2012/12/dine_and_dash_guide_bars_resta.html

$5 burger and beers
$4.99 steaks
Tacos
Wings
Sushi
$9.99 Indian buffet (for dinner, yay! You know I'm heading here soon.)

...something for everyone. If you're dining on a budget, or just looking for a deal, this is a fun resource to check out. I'll be continuing the Dining Deals series into 2013, so always keep your eye out on my posts.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Marotta's

I knocked another restaurant off of my 2012 "To Dine" list-- Marotta's in Cleveland Heights. Located on Lee Road, it's funny--because I've dined at restaurants on either side of this small Italian place without ever realizing that it was there.

When you walk in, you're immediately wrapped in a dark, cozy, and warm atmosphere. Very romantic, or a great spot to be able to catch up over intimate conversation with friends. However, it did make it difficult to read the menu or take pictures of our meal.
The menu isn't very large, but they have a nice assortment of appetizers, salads, pastas, entrees, and their famous pizza. Be warned-- the menu online isn't accurate. I had my heart set on a pasta dish packed with veggies in a lemon cream sauce, but sadly it is no longer offered.

My lovely dining companion, Crystal, and I both decided on the pasta special of the night-- Butternut Squash Ravioli with seasonal vegetables in a Prosecco and brown butter sauce.
It was a sizable portion, and I took some home for lunch the next day. It included a house salad with my choice of dressing (I went with Creamy Garlic), and crusty Italian bread. The salad was just your average boring salad, but the bread was very good. Overall, I liked the ravioli dish but I didn't love it. It was missing "something" that I couldn't put my finger on. I also took a Tiramisu to-go for "R" (it's one of his favorites), and was disappointed in the size of the portion when I got home and he opened it up. For two glasses of wine, two entrees, and one dessert-- the bill came to $105. I felt that was a little pricey, but we've experienced similar over-pricing in that area.

I do have to say that the staff was amazing. They were always attentive, the timing of our food was perfect, and they really didn't seem to care when we sat there chatting for over three hours ("R" thought that I had been kidnapped). It is worth noting that they don't accept reservations.

I hear that their pizza is quite good, but I just wasn't in the mood for pizza that night. So, if you do decide to go, then maybe give that a try. For this west-sider, I don't think that I'll make the drive back over there for Marotta's. But it was fun to check it out, and to knock another restaurant off the list that my readers selected for me this year.

Want to help me choose the 2013 list of ten restaurants to dine at? Head on over to this blog post, and leave me a comment with your suggestions. I'll pick ten, and announce them in January!

Marotta's
2289 Lee Road
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118
216-932-9264

Marotta's on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Time to Pick 2013 "To Dine"

It's hard to believe, but December is here and this year is coming to a close. While it didn't turn out quite how I had planned, this year was still pretty good to me. I continued to receive amazing support from "R", family, and friends as my health issue continues (never-ending story), I met new friends, traveled, welcomed my friend's beautiful little girl into the world, and of course--enjoyed some wonderful meals along the way. 2012 may not have been all that I had hoped it would be, but 2013 will be...I can feel it.

Even though I still have three restaurants left on my 2012 "To Dine" list, it's time to look ahead. Help me select my Top Ten Restaurants to make the 2013 "To Dine" list! I enjoyed having my readers make the suggestions last year, and it's been great checking them all out. So, we're going to continue that theme.

Tell me about some of your favorite spots that simply don't get the recognition that they deserve. That hole-in-the-wall bar with an outstanding burger, the best kept secret in AsiaTown, a suburb hot spot that is worth the drive--I want to hear about them! Ten will make the list, and I'll reveal them at the start of the new year.

What restaurant(s) do you think should make my 2013 list?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Black Pig

Tuesday's review was less than flattering, so I want to switch gears and share my experiences with a new favorite-- The Black Pig in Ohio City. The newly opened restaurant is from Chef Michael Nowak (formally of Bar Cento and Market Garden Brewery), and it is quickly becoming one of my favorite restaurants in the neighborhood. I've enjoyed two wonderful dinners, and a recent brunch at this spot, so it's time to stop keeping this place a secret from you.
"R" and I went in a couple of months ago for dinner, and enjoyed pork three ways that night. The pork belly appetizer was cooked to perfection, and had a crispy crust to it but yet melted in my mouth like butter. Pork belly should never really need a knife. We also had the cassoulet (which had several different pork products, and the chef had been preparing it for two days before it landed on the specials menu), and the pork tenderloin special that evening. The cassoulet was my favorite, by far. It was packed with flavor, and perfect comfort food for an unusually chilly night. The pork tenderloin was seasoned and cooked well, but not memorable.

My second dinner there was with some good friends, and I ordered the Simple Salad with greens, radish, and a lemon and tarragon vinaigrette. Nothing special here, but a nice light salad to start the meal. For my entree, I had the Pan Seared Scallops that were served with kale and a small portion of risotto that night. For the price, I was surprised to receive five large scallops. That's almost unheard of, and they had a perfect sear and translucent center to them. Another great meal!

Then, "R" and I ended up there for Sunday brunch a couple of weeks ago. The brunch menu is not posted online, and when we arrived we weren't thrilled with the descriptions. There didn't appear to be many "breakfast" options. But we decided to just order three of the small plates to share, and a side of Toast with truffle butter ($4).
Solid toast, but so not worth the price tag.

We tried the Herb Omelette with Fromager d'Affonis and dressed greens ($7). Look at that huge piece of cheese!
The Braised Pork Belly and Egg with potato, fall hash, and hollandaise ($9).
And the Free Range Toad in a Hole with egg, brioche, raclette, and black truffle ($6).
I seriously couldn't pick a favorite dish of these three. I would order any of them again. The menu may have not excited us when we first saw it, but thankfully we were very wrong.

So, after three memorable meals at The Black Pig, I can confidently say that it is quickly becoming my go-to spot for a nice meal in Ohio City. They also have a large bar area that is great for stopping in and having just drinks. Wine on tap (the cool new craze), and a solid list of beer, wine, and cocktails. I almost hate to share this with you, because we've easily been able to make last-minute reservations or just walk in, but do yourself a favor and get your butt there!

Some nay-sayers have voiced that they feel a restaurant named "The Black Pig" doesn't have enough pork on the menu. Well, it's used in at least one dish on almost every section of the menu, there are always nightly dinner specials, and I personally have had pork four ways already. We can agree to disagree. Also, you can't mistake the smell of pork wafting from the kitchen as you dine. The smells become almost overwhelming at times.

Welcome to the neighborhood, The Black Pig! A great addition, in my opinion. I look forward to many more memorable meals there.

The Black Pig
1865 West 25th Street
Cleveland, OH 44113
216-862-7551

 The Black Pig on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Kumo Buffet in Parma

Sorry for the hiatus, readers. With the holiday, long weekend, and the terrible head cold that "R" and I have been fighting for two weeks...I just haven't felt like writing. I hope that you all enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving, filled with family, friends, fun, and of course--good food.

Speaking of good food, I wish that today's post was about that--but it's not. "R" and I were recently out running errands and needed to grab an impromptu quick bite to eat in the Parma area. In the mood to try something new, I suggested heading to Kumo Japanese Seafood Buffet. After reading another blogger's rave review, and seeing photographs of the extensive sushi buffet and other offerings, I was intrigued.
Sadly, the buffet was really disappointing. Not that one should ever have high expectations for a buffet, but it still didn't even meet the low bar that I had set in my mind. It did offer a HUGE selection of sushi and hand rolls, traditional Japanese and Chinese dishes, and even a few "American" options for the less adventuresome.

While we certainly didn't try everything, what we did have was lackluster and most of the sushi was just plain scary looking. The fish looked dry and some have even started to brown around the edges, and the vegetables were wilted and unappetizing to look at. I found a couple of pieces that didn't scream "food poisoning", and even those were bland and certainly not fresh.

Items like the lo mien, fried rice, steamed dumplings, and edamame were all perfectly standard and acceptable. But I've had better. Spicy octopus was gummy and impossible to bite through, mussels were dried out and smelled fishy, and even the crab legs were disappointing.

Overall, it was a pretty bad buffet experience and I wouldn't set foot in there again. My expectations were low, but geez. The only thing that I regret not trying was the hibachi. You create your own bowl of goodies, and then staff cook it right there for you. For $14.99, the dinner buffet is a deal, but to me that's not worth compromising quality. Plenty of cheap food out there that is way better!

Kumo Japanese Seafood Buffet
1975 Snow Road
Parma, OH 44134
216-741-3038

Kumo Japanese Seafood Buffet on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Blog Swap! Favorite Places from Beer and Clothing in Cleveland

Today is the Ohio Blogging Association's state-wide blog swap, where participating bloggers are paired up, and we're sharing posts on each other's blogs. Today, I have a post for you from Katie at Beer and Clothing in Cleveland. My post about the CLEDinnerClub is over on Julie's blog at Wearing Mascara. Enjoy!

Cleveland's food scene never ceases to amaze me. Our restaurant offerings are what I would claim is the biggest change I've witnessed in the city. Maybe it's because I grew up in the 'burbs but I think I'm onto something from all of the grand openings I've seen now living on the West Side. I can remember when there was just one Melt people! Now there's four, Lakewood (which boasts the original Aladdin's as well,) Cleveland Heights, Independence and now Mentor. I cannot stand to hear one more person say "I'm not sure if it was worth the wait." Melt is always worth the wait, always. Sorry, I digress...

One of the hardships that come with lots of new exciting places to dine out is not being able to pick a favorite. I know, must be terrible. One thing I would love to be though is a regular somewhere! I want to walk in to somewhere that knows my name, knows my poison, and knows if there might be a special to top my "usual." I'm working on it. Katrina's blog excels at making the restaurant experience personal (From Katrina-- awww, thank you!!) and so, for this blog swap, I wanted to share a few restaurants I personally recommend.

1. Maxi's Bistro in Little Italy. My better half will not be pleased that I'm making this public knowledge. The establishment is not particularly big and it is one place in Cleveland we routinely visit. If you ever get the last order of the Penne Pasta Alla Flavia before I do, words will be had. I typically prefer my dishes to "let the ingredients speak for themselves." This sauce changes everything. I want to put it on everything. I can't keep Boyface out of it frankly. In the fall, they have a drink consisting of apple cider and bourbon. The staff is always warm and friendly and the back patio is perfect when the weather accommodates My one hint here: order bread fast and often. The bread is put in the oven fresh for each table and we occasionally are without bread for the meal. Normally I don't eat bread during the meal but with a sauce like that, it's practically a sin to go without. (From Katrina-- the sauces at this classic Italian place are sooo good)

2. SOHO in Ohio City. I've reviewed SOHO at my blog before but I can't help but mention it again. This is the kind of place I want to be a regular at. I've never had a bad dish, bad service, and most importantly, a bad drink. We've been there just the two of us for drinks and the cheese board. We've been there on a double date. We've been for a very hungover, much needed brunch. We've been to the bar, an intimate table in a corner, and out in the patio with a big ole' umbrella. It was meant to be that we happened to wander in on their public opening night. My favorite dishes so far are the chicken-fried pork salad and shrimp po'boy. Doesn't look like the have the shrimp po'boy yet. I'm crossing my fingers for a crawdad po'boy someday!

3. Eddy & Iggy's. This is a place where I've been a regular. My first place in Lakewood was of walking distance, so we spent a lot of time here. A lot of happy hours, sports games, and late nights. This is a place where they knew my name...they might not anymore but the owner recognizes us. It's been fun to watch Eddy & Iggy's evolve into the bar they are now. They have a few homebrews, always delicious and dangerously potent. I have yet to have a bad dish here too. You would be hard pressed to find anything healthy but it's simple to find something that just tastes good. My favorite is their soft-pretzel sticks. They are perfectly crispy on the outside with a delightful contrast of fluff on the inside. I didn't know one could have a preference on a stadium food, but I do now. My only caveat is this- Eddy & Iggy's now hosts karaoke seven nights a week. How does a sports bar get away with being a karaoke bar? I'm not quite sure, but it works for me. It does not sit well with everyone I love though. Did I mention it's within stumbling distance of one of my close girlfriend's apartments now? There may be an Eddy & Iggy's renaissance in my near future, hope to see you there!



Thank you, Katie, for sharing some of your favorites with my readers! This is why I love blog swapping-- I've never been to Eddy & Iggy's. Who's meeting us there?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Holiday Shopping

I have actually gotten a jump start on my Christmas shopping for my family (and "R") this year, which never happens. In the past, I've liked to use www.gifts.com for inspiration. It still led me to some great ideas this year, but now I am also using Pinterest. Ahh, Pinterest, what did we do without you?

I wanted to share a few fun ideas for the foodie in your life...

Cocktail Buffet Plates
These are great to have at parties when everyone is standing around grazing! You don't have to worry about finding a place to set down your wine glass while you eat.

Fruit Infusion Pitcher

Personally, I love to add cucumber to water for a refreshing beverage. But the possibilities are endless with this pitcher.

Auto-measure Spice Rack
This rotating rack is idiot-proof for the foodie who may not be the best home cook (cough, cough...me), or just plain easy to use for the frequent cook.

The Sriracha Cookbook
My favorite condiment! I can only imagine all of the tasty, and spicy, recipes in this book.

Have you found any great gifts for the cook, craft beer lover, wine aficionado, or lover of all things food-related this season? Please share! I still have a ways to go before my shopping will be done.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Delmonico's Steakhouse

This weekend was relatively low-key for us, which was great. Friday, I wasn't feeling well and had to skip Alexa's event at Noodlecat. It led to some pho from Minh Anh. Soup just always makes everything slightly better when you're feeling ill. Plus, my $6.75 Large Pho Saigon gave me three meals out of it! (Dining Deals Alert!)

Saturday morning, I managed our weekly team run for the Liver Life Challenge program. I have the best team, and coach, this year! They are nine weeks into the program now, and absolutely killing the training and fundraising. The group is just awesome, and we're going to have a great time in Disney for the marathon in January. After our monthly team breakfast at Yours Truly after the run, I did some shopping with a friend (but couldn't find anything that I was looking for). By the time I got home, it was almost dinner time and we didn't have a plan (or groceries). "R" was suddenly craving a steak, so we decided to try Delmonico's Steakhouse in Independence.

Part of the Hospitality Restaurant Group (Blue Point, Salmon Dave's, Cabin Club, Rosewood), it's the closest to home for us but we've both never been. The atmosphere was exactly what I expected-- dark woods, deep red leather booths, retro furnishings and decor, and a real "old boys' club" feel to it. A classic steakhouse. We didn't have a reservation since it was an impromptu date night, but after only a few minutes we were seated in a booth in the bar area.

We decided to try the Bocce Balls with sweet peppers and herbed boursin cheese, flash fried ($7). The dish included five small balls, a marinara sauce, and some grated cheese. Personally, I though that the balls were bland and the sauce was too sweet. I couldn't find the flavor of the peppers, and the cheese had completely melted into a watery substance that squirted out the side of the ball when you tried to snag it with your fork. Big disappointment.

"R" was in the mood to splurge, and I wasn't fighting him when he encouraged me to order the Surf and Turf special of the night.
The lobster tail was one of the biggest, and best, that I've ever had. It was so delicious. The garlic mashed potatoes were very garlicky, but I enjoyed them. A standard classic. Luckily, there were only two asparagus spears, because they were incredibly boring and mushy, yet al dente at the same time. It was so weird, and I quickly moved on. The filet was cooked medium-rare, as requested, and was it was a decent steak overall. The Bearnaise sauce served on the side was creamy and rich, but I personally feel that a great steak doesn't need a sauce and should be able to stand on its own. All it needs is a little pepper or minimal seasoning to really be a great steak, in my opinion. This steak was a little under seasoned, and benefited from the sauce.

"R" ordered the Double Cut Filet with the seasonal vegetables and mushroom risotto as sides. He loved the seasonal vegetables, a medley of squash, zucchini, and roasted red peppers, but the mushroom risotto was terrible. It was watery, and bland. Notice a theme of the meal? Not worth the $6 side dish charge, for sure.

Overall, our bill was just over $125 before tax and tip. Certainly a "splurge" night for us, and we left feeling underwhelmed by the food. Which is never how you want to feel when enjoying a nice night out. I think that there are much better steaks in Cleveland, so I wouldn't recommend Delmonico's. What restaurant in the Cleveland area has your favorite steak?

Delmonico's Steakhouse
6001 Quarry Lane
Independence, OH 44131
216-573-1991

 Delmonico's Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Signature Chef's Auction

On Monday, November 12th, the local chapter of the March of Dimes is hosting their annual Cleveland Signature Chef's Auction event at Windows on the River.
Personally, it's always been one charity event that I've wanted to attend. Individual tickets are $150 each, and they include signature samplings from an impressive list of local chefs (led by co-chair Rachel Spieth of Georgetown this year), the opportunity to bid on unique silent and live auction packages, and the chance to hear more about the organization and its mission.
Not only have I heard that it is a great event filled with fantastic food, but the March of Dimes is a worthy cause with an important mission to improve the health of babies. The event is at 5:30PM, and individual tickets and sponsorships are still available. Check it all out, including the list of chefs, online here.

I'm looking forward to trying dishes from AMP 150, the newly opened Black Dog Kitchen & Bar, Georgetown, Pier W, and Spice Bar & Kitchen (just to name a few).

Disclosure: I was provided with one media pass to check out the event for myself, in exchange for this blog post. The opinions stated are 100% my own. Thank you to the March of Dimes.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

2012 Fabulous Food Show Giveaway

What better way to celebrate Election Day than with a fun ticket giveaway? The annual Fabulous Food Show is about to hit town at the IX Center, and one lucky reader will win two general admission passes to the 2012 event just by commenting on this post.
This weekend, November 9th - 11th, attendees will enjoy over 500 exhibitors, chef demos, food and beverage tastings, and more. Celebrity chefs this year include Michael Symon, Guy Fieri, Anne Burrell, Sara Moulton, Jeff Mauro, and Jacques Pepin. New for 2012, General Admission tickets include access to all chef shows in the Main Kitchen Theatre. They have also added "Kid Friendly" content, and a special Military cooking competition in honor of Veterans Day.

Tickets can be purchased online here, ranging from $25 - $80. Or, you can comment on this blog post for a chance to win two General Admission passes. Tickets include entrance into the show, all exhibits, features, and access to ALL stages including Celebrity Chef Demonstrations in the Main Kitchen Theatre in elevated theatre seating. Just tell me what your favorite fall comfort food is!

You can also gain additional contest entries by tweeting "I want to win tickets to the #FabulousFoodShow on @BiteBuff's blog at http://tinyurl.com/asgvbfu." You can tweet once a day. Make sure to leave a separate comment for each entry. I will select the winner on Thursday, November 8th at 10:00AM using random.org.

Good luck!

Disclosure: I was provided with two General Admission tickets to use as a giveaway, and two media passes to enjoy the event myself, in exchange for this post. However, I think it's a fantastic foodie event and the opinions stated are 100% my own.

Monday, November 5, 2012

West Side Market Centennial Celebrations

This post is going to be difficult to write. I couldn't possibly capture all of the wonderful memories, food, and sightings from participating in the West Side Market's Centennial Celebrations this weekend.

It all started with the People's Party on Friday evening. Held at Crop Bistro (just across the street from the West Side Market), the event was hosted by our area's local chefs. Approximately 1,000 people flooded the lower vault level, the kitchens, and the main dining room and bar of the restaurant. Just under 30 restaurants donated their time and talent to serve up tastings, and there were quite a few good ones. Some of my favorites included the papaya salad from Tremont's Bac...
...beef brisket and polenta from Crop Bistro, pork sandwich from Flying Fig, Skye LaRae's butternut squash bisque with diced apples and bleu cheese crumbles, and the fried chicken from Mahall's 20 Lanes (a newly opened bowling alley, and the biggest surprise of the evening).
We were out until around 12:30AM, enjoying friends and feeling quite full from the food and drink at the People's Party. While I didn't agree with some of the decisions that they made about executing the event, it was quite a deal for just $25 and we truly loved kicking off the weekend celebrations at this event with our friends. $25,000 was donated from the ticket sales for this event to the West Side Market.

Saturday evening brought "R" and I to the West Side Market Gala. At $250 a ticket, my expectations were high...and the event beyond exceeded them. We got all dolled up ("R" wore a suit for the first time in the five years that we've been dating).
A giant (heated) tent was set up just outside the West Side Market, and guests wandered in between buildings and the tent to sample food from an all-star lineup of national and local chefs. I am proud to say that some of my favorite dishes of the night were from Cleveland chefs! Hodge's beef was the best thing that I had (Chris--can we get that on the menu, please?!), but I also enjoyed Lola's sweet potato pierogi, Fahrenheit's lobster tempura, and Momocho's tuna chip. Other standouts were the chicken liver toast from April Bloomfield of The Spotted Pig in NYC, and Top Chef Master Jonathan Waxman's lamb meatball.
Celebrity chefs were certainly in attendance, and I had my second "star-struck" moment of my life (first was Ruth Reichl last summer). I realized that I only really geek out over chefs or food writers. Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Will Smith...who cares? I couldn't wait to grab a photo with culinary icon Waxman...
...and Top Chef contestant and The Chew's host, Carla Hall.
After a few more bites, we headed into the main tent for the program, auction, and champagne toast.
The live band was hysterical, and really worked the crowd. Everyone was laughing, toasting, and celebrating the history of the West Side Market. About 1,000 people were in attendance at this event as well, but we never had to really wait in line for food or felt crowded. The flow of the event was great, and it ended just in time for us to grab our commemorative brew from Great Lakes, and then hit the streets of Ohio City for some more cocktails.

We rolled home around 1:00AM again, and I was certainly paying the price yesterday. I wasn't vertical for long-- I slept in, and I took an hour nap on the couch. It was so worth it. What a weekend! I am honored to have participated in the Centennial Celebrations, and to take part in the West Side Market's history. It was worth every penny, and the contact high that I'm enjoying today helps erase how tired I still am. The memories from this weekend will not be forgotten.

Cheers, West Side Market! Here's to another fantastic 100 years serving the city of Cleveland. We love you.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Riding Out the Storm

What a week so far! I feel fortunate that we've only had some minor leaking from our roof around the chimney in our bedroom, and a little bit of water coming in from one basement window. A large tree branch came down just inches from my car, our power never went out, and "R's" company was closed yesterday due to no power so he was home with me all day. Many of our Cleveland friends have not been as lucky, and I've been checking in on my NYC friends often. I've been so worried. The images on the news have been crazy. Here are a couple from around here:
The first is a tree just a few houses down the block from us, the top right photo is two huge trees down in Lincoln Park in Tremont, and the bottom is a shot of the waves crashing in from Lake Erie taken at Edgewater Park on Tuesday. Imagine those waves x 3 the night before! I hope that everyone is staying safe and dry, and my thoughts go out to those that were really affected by Hurricane Sandy. From a Katrina to anyone named Sandy, the jokes will never stop. Trust me.

One thought that is getting me through this week is that the West Side Market Gala is this weekend! We're kicking off the weekend by attending the People's Party at Crop Bistro on Friday evening, and then Saturday will bring the long-awaited Gala. It will be a perfect end to the week, and to Sandy. Will you be attending either of the WSM100 events this weekend? Here's a sneak peek at my dress:
I can't wait!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Dining at Dante- Several Times

Dante Boccuzzi's restaurant Dante in Tremont leaves me confused every time that I dine there.

Our first visit, over a year and a half ago, we left feeling underwhelmed. We had tried the appetizer portion of the famous Linguine alla Carbonara with a poached egg and house made pancetta ($9). It was incredibly salty, and neither of us really enjoyed it. I have since had the same dish at his D.C. Pasta Co. restaurant, and it was not too salty. I think the dish can vary depending on the night. We also had the Hong Kong Style Mussels with chile peppers, cilantro, and crab meat ($12). That night, I declared them the "best mussels I've had in Cleveland". Then we moved on to the entrees. I had a gnocchi special with Ohio sweet corn and mushrooms that was simply divine. "R" had a beef dish that is no longer on the menu. It was served with a "potato donut" that was basically a fried potato patty, and a schmear of basil sauce on the bottom of the plate. The entire dish was dry and under seasoned, and "R" rarely complains about food. So, even though a couple of the dishes had been fantastic, we left there puzzled and not in a hurry to return.

It took an entire year before we headed back there. We decided to start with a butter poached prawns appetizer, and an order of our beloved Hong Kong Mussels. The prawns were only okay (no longer on the menu), but the mussels were the real disappointment. They were small and overcooked, very unlike the plump mussels we received a year ago. The wonderful flavors of the broth were muted this time. Previously, we had been fighting to lick the bowl and now we couldn't be bothered to even dip our bread. What happened? For our main course, "R" ordered the curry duck (no longer on the menu) and it was delicious. The duck had a perfect sear on it while still moist, and the curry flavor was great. I was really in the mood for scallops that night, but my gut instinct was to not order the current preparation listed on the menu. I should have listened. The scallops were cooked to perfection, but the flavor combination in the dish just didn't work for me. They were served with small fried potato pancakes, strawberries, and a balsamic sauce. The potato pancakes crumbled when you tried to cut into them, so it became hard to get a good bite of it. Overall, the sweetness of the strawberries and bite of the balsamic just drowned the scallops, and the dish didn't work in my opinion. Again, we left having loved one dish, some were just average, and one was disappointing. When it's all over the map like that, it leaves me confused as to whether or not I truly enjoyed the meal.

Finally, I attended a work dinner there last month where we were presented with a smaller version of the menu to select from. The duck that "R" had previously ordered was one of the main course options, so that's what I went with (it was great!).
I had started with an order of the Crispy Calamari and Shrimp ($14) served with a chile spice mayonnaise. The dipping sauce was the only thing unique about this dish. Otherwise, it was your standard fried calamari and shrimp-- a little too heavy on the batter and kind of dry. However, the dinner ended on a high note. I selected the Artisan Selection of Cheeses from the dessert options. It was one of the best cheese plates that I've had (besides L'Albatros, but they are in their own category). I enjoyed all three cheeses, and the thinly-cut toasted walnut raisin bread that was served with it ($12). "R" and I even headed back there a few weeks later for an after-dinner cheese plate.

So...can you see why I have mixed emotions about this restaurant? Or why it has taken me a year and a half to share my experiences there? Some dishes have been outstanding, some were good but forgettable, and a couple were terrible. Where is the consistency? Is it the fact that he changes the menu so frequently, that the kitchen can't perfect every dish?

Still confused, and still not in a hurry to rush back...

However, the renovated bank space is breathtaking. I'm also looking forward to trying his restaurant Ginko, which is housed below Dante. I've heard that it's the best sushi in Cleveland.

Dante
2247 Professor Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113
216-274-1200 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Crust Comes to Tremont

A new pizza joint just opened up in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood, but this isn't your average pizza place. Crust, opened by chef Jeff Fisher (Touch Supper Club fame) and partner Mike Griffin, is offering gourmet pizzas made with as many local goods as possible (often from the Tremont Farmers Market). They are also offering giant slices of pizza ($3) that are as big as your head. Other menu items are creative salads, pastas, and subs. All reasonably priced, in my opinion.

"R" and I called ahead to place an order for takeout, and with just a 20 minute wait, we headed up there to get our food.

We decided to share the Mixed Mushroom pizza with goat cheese, fresh thyme, fresh garlic, caramelized onions, balsamic reduction, white truffle oil, pecorino romano, and grated mozzarella. The specialty pizzas only come in one size-- large, 16 inch, 8 slices for $16.95.
We had a choice between thin crust or hand-tossed, and we went with the hand-tossed. Doughy, but crispy-- it was pretty darn good. It held up well to the toppings and travel time. The pizza was packed with mushrooms, and had strong earthy flavor. We both commented that we wished the additional ingredients came through a bit more. Some balance in flavor was needed by adding more balsamic and garlic, and the pizza was missing the creaminess of the goat cheese. The goat cheese was minimal. Overall, we did really like it and I'd order it again. But you must love mushrooms.

It was a carb-on-carb kind of night. We also shared an order of the Butternut Squash Gnocchi with slab bacon, fresh sage, caramelized onion, and finished with an apple cider reduction and pumpkin seed oil. For $9.95, it was a good sized portion and more than enough to share.
It was rich and creamy, and had great fall flavor. The gnocchi were plump and doughy, and had started to soak in the tasty sauce. We know that it was prepared fresh, because the kitchen is open and as "R" stood at the takeout counter, he got to watch them make it right in front of him.

We were stuffed, had plenty of leftovers for the next day, and were pretty pleased with the new find in Tremont. Welcome to the neighborhood!

Just don't be looking for them to compete with Edison's late night pizza. They close at 7PM Monday - Thursday, and at 9PM on Friday and Saturday. Sundays they are closed. Also, with only a couple of high top tables by the counter-- make sure that you aren't necessarily planning on dining in.

Crust
1020 Kenilworth Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113
216-583-0257

Crust on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 22, 2012

Weekend Fun

What a weekend! It was filled with friends, fun, and food. Friday night we spent a relaxing night in with my college friends and their husbands. Some Chinese food, wine, and playtime with my favorite baby was just what I needed.

Saturday, it was time to hunt for a dress to wear to the West Side Market Gala coming up on November 3rd. A special night requires a special dress. Thanks to Dillard's and Jessica Simpson (I hate to admit that), I found a pretty silver dress that will do the trick. Saturday night was a very special birthday celebration for Joe G. and Justin at Hodge's in downtown Cleveland. The multi-course feast was called "Lambirthday", and you guessed it-- featured lamb in every course.

We started out with a delicate dish from Melissa at Washington Place Bistro.
And by the time the main course came out, we were surrounded by lamb and dining like cavemen. It was awesome.
A delicious meal with good people. Happy 30th, guys!

Sunday brought pumpkin carving for a good cause at Deagan's, and then a stop at Nano Brew on the way home. "R" ordered their new Pumpkin Ginger Bisque, and it was terrible. The soup was over-spiced, too heavy on black pepper, and the "soft" pretzel served with it was rock-hard and heavily salted. Luckily, the burgers were good again. "R" stuck with the Breakfast Burger (only one patty this time), and I tried the Foodie Burger of the day (daily special). Yesterday, it was with bleu cheese, bacon fig jam, arugula, and caramelized onions. Delicious!

This weekend also included some beers. It is Beer Week in Cleveland, after all! What festivities are you participating in? We'll be at the Founder's Beer Dinner at Deagan's on Wednesday, and Brewzilla on Saturday.

Happy Monday, folks! When it's Beer Week, Monday isn't quite so bad.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Taco Tuesday- Lion on Lorain

These next two weeks are just nuts. I looked ahead in the calendar, and I was only home two nights out of two weeks. Some of it is work, some of it is play. But Tuesday was the only night this week that I didn't have something going on in the evening. Instead of heading to the grocery store, "R" and I decided to make a last minute Taco Tuesday excursion. This time...Lion on Lorain in West Park.

Over the summer, a small group of us had breakfast there on a Sunday. It was memorable, and not in a good way. The brunch menu is 4-5 items, but most of us decided on a classic breakfast of eggs, potatoes, bacon, and toast. Our hearts were originally set on an omelet, but our server made a mistake by telling us that we could customize it. In fact, it is only served one way and most of us changed our minds after hearing what was in it that day. Anyhow....the breakfast food was fine, but nothing special. I did think that it was unusual that they serve honey spread right onto the toast without letting the customer know that this is how it is prepared. What if I don't like honey? It was delicious, but unusual, and I think it is worth servers noting. The scary part of the meal? The ketchup bottle! She brought it from the kitchen, and it had clearly sat too close to a heat source. It was so warped and discolored that no one was brave enough to use it. Don't worry folks, we snuck it into the trash can when she wasn't looking. It was repulsive.

Why am I sharing this with you? Well, this experience was very disappointing and I wasn't in a hurry to head back. But, in the quest for Taco Tuesday-- I knew that I had to. I had heard really good things about their tacos.

This week, they were offering 10 different kinds of tacos.
Many sounded great, and we had a hard time selecting. I went with the Black and Bleu taco (ground beef, lettuce, mushrooms, onions topped with homemade bacon bits, crumbled bleu cheese, and Lion BBQ sauce) and the Puerto Rican taco (rice and beans with lettuce, Puerto Rican slow-cooked pulled pork, fresh mozzarella, and Lion hot BBQ sauce).
The Black and Bleu (right) was probably my second favorite of all that we tried. It was a little heavy on the romaine lettuce, but after I pulled a bit out-- it was fine. The bacon bits were super crunchy, and added great texture. Something that would have taken this taco over the top would have been if the crumbled bleu had been warmed a bit to start melting into the taco. I would order this one again.

The Puerto Rican taco (left) was disappointing. The pulled pork had barely been heated up, and cold pork is just tough and lacking flavor. Also, the rice was impossible to keep in the tortilla.

My favorite taco that we tried was probably the Shepard's Pie taco with ground beef, lettuce, baked Shepard's Pie, and topped with mozz-prov cheese and BBQ sauce. It was so unusual, and brought me back to memories of eating my mom's homemade Shepard's Pie. Worth noting-- it was "R's" least favorite taco. To each their own.

The tacos are $2 each, and come with a small side of chips and salsa. The are pretty good sized tacos for the price, and Lion on Lorain is certainly being creative with the toppings. Overall, they were good but not great. A step above your typical cheap tacos, but not quite in the same category as Deagan's or Touch Supper Club yet. From my personal Taco Tuesday adventures, I'd compare them to the tacos at Sachsenheim Hall in terms of quality. However, Lion on Lorain has much better, and more interesting, combinations going on. So far, I'd say that they are the winner in that category. I like how each taco has a name too.

It was a fun Taco Tuesday night out, but it didn't necessarily leave me wanting more from Lion on Lorain. Have you dined there? What did you think? I'd like to go in for dinner sometime. They do a great job of promoting their specials online, and they often sound appealing. I think it's worth one more shot before I make up my mind.

Lion on Lorain
12703 Lorain Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44111

Lion On Lorain Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 15, 2012

Edwins Launch Party

EDWINS Leadership and Restaurant Institute is gearing up to launch their unique non-profit concept in Cleveland, and last night brought us a fundraiser and official Launch Party in the eclectic home of Christopher G. Axelrod in the gorgeous condos at One Bratenhal Place.
Over 100 guests wandered through the rooms, admiring Axelrod's collections and furniture, and sampling food from some of Cleveland's best chefs. Each room brought us new surprises, and plenty of food to try.
After having some fun with the chefs supporting the cause, like Chris Hodgson from Hodge's (who was cooking up some rich and delicious gnocchi on a massage table),...
...a few speakers presented information about the Institute, and why they have gotten involved. "We have all made mistakes. Just some of us have gotten caught." So true. Everyone deserves a second chance, and that's just what EDWINS intends to do for its students as they provide housing, support services, and training for a career in the culinary industry.

Learn more about the cause, the restaurant that will be open to the public, and how you can help at www.edwinsrestaurant.org. They are working hard to open their doors, and you can get in on the ground floor as they form and work towards changing lives in Cleveland.

EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute
12026 Mayfield Road
Cleveland, OH 44106