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).
On my first visit, I also tried the Five Spice Seared Ahi Tuna with black bean spread, pickled red onion, and apple relish ($9).
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