Thursday, May 30, 2013

Cleveland Wine Festival Giveaway

Summer is creeping its way here, and that typically means one thing in this household---a packed calendar full of fun summer events. "R" and I have some favorites that we attend every year, but I always love checking out new ones as well. Sometimes it is hard to choose.

One that we have attended twice in the past is the Cleveland Wine Festival, hosted by Giant Eagle, down in Voinovich Park. The lake and our city's skyline is the perfect backdrop for this event, and we've always enjoyed sampling wines and wandering around the park at this event. We've even discovered a few of our now "go-to" affordable wines at this event that we pick up at Giant Eagle.

This year's event is being held on Friday, June 14th from 4:00PM - 10:00PM, and Saturday, June 15th from 2:00PM - 8:00PM. There will be over 350 wines from around the world showcased at this festival, and attendees can also enjoy live music, cooking demos, wine seminars, and other entertainment. Food is available as well, but "R" and I have often taken this as an excuse to check out a downtown restaurant for dinner before or after the festival.

An Adult Wine Tasting ticket is $29 in advance, or $35 at the door. It includes: souvenir wine glass, ten tasting tickets, and access to all seminars and demonstrations. There is also a $10 Designated Driver ticket option available. Stay safe, people!

One lucky reader will have the chance to check out the Festival for free, just by commenting on this post! I have two Adult Wine Tasting tickets to give away. You have until Thursday, June 6th to enter, and then I will use random.org to select a winner. Leave a comment below, telling me what your favorite summer drink is. Chilled white wine, sangria, beer, gin and tonic, margarita? The options are endless, but I find myself gravitating towards anything frozen or just a great glass of dry white wine. You can also tweet for a second entry--- "I want to attend the Cleveland Wine Festival, thanks to @BiteBuff at www.bitebuff.com." Make sure to leave a second comment on this post.

Cheers, and good luck!

Disclosure: I was provided with two Adult Wine Tasting tickets to host a giveaway, and two media passes in exchange for this post. The opinions stated above are 100% my own, and this truly is a fun event that I've enjoyed in the past. Thank you to the Cleveland Wine Festival for the opportunity.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend Fun

Hello, Tuesday. I don't think that many of us are pleased to see you today. Personally, I had a near-perfect Memorial Day weekend, and it was hard to see it end.

On Friday night, "R" and I went out to dinner at Spice Bar & Kitchen. Sadly, it was really our first time dining there. We've been in for two private events, but never on our own for dinner. More on this visit later this week...

Saturday brought yard work, which sounds lame but I was totally looking forward to planting flowers and getting our house ready for summer. We spent five hours outside trimming bushes and trees, planting a new bush out front, laying down new mulch, hanging flowering baskets, and potting many colorful pots around the patio and front steps.
It was worth all of the work, but then I was ready to just relax on our patio for the evening.
Sunday, we decided to hit up the wineries out east with Frank and Michelle.
I've only been out there a handful of times, but I always enjoy it! Sunday was a perfect day for it too, a little cool but sunny. The views were gorgeous, the wine was delicious, and the company was great. "R" and I had an amazing day out there hitting up five wineries, with lots of laughs.
We ended the day at Old Mill Winery for a bite to eat and some white wine sangria.
What is your favorite winery in that area? Where do you like to grab food when you're out wine tasting? I already see a return trip in our future this summer.

Yesterday, the weather wasn't in our favor. We didn't care. We headed over to "R's" brother's house, who is quite the rib cook. They hit the spot, and we also enjoyed some sides that just screamed "summer." It was a nice end to the weekend. Now, it's back to the grind.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

I'm Over at Clue Into Cleveland Today

So, I've been on a bit of a break. I've been in event planning mode, and things get a little crazy around my big fundraisers. But, the first big one is over and June is the light at the end of the tunnel. I'll be back with more dining adventures very shortly.

In the meantime, today I'm guest posting over on Amanda's blog- Clue Into Cleveland. Go check out my guest post about some of my favorite ice cream shops to visit during the warmer months in Cleveland!

What spots did I miss? Who has your favorite ice cream?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Drink. Bar and Grill in Old Brooklyn

It's Friday! Which means that it's time to select a winner of the $100 Provenance gift certificate. Thank you to everyone that entered. Random.org picked comment #21- Ryan "Even though it's not exactly an art or history museum, I have to go with A Christmas Story house!" Email me by Monday to claim your prize, and enjoy checking out Provenance and the Art Museum!

Now, on to the post for the day...

Drink. Bar and Grill opened in the Old Brooklyn neighborhood quietly several months ago, but then had a grand opening in late March. We read about it in Scene's review, and were instantly intrigued to check it out. After all, that's my 'hood and the bar/restaurant options are limited. Sure, there are plenty of hole-in-the-wall joints, and you can get some cheap beers and average bar food close to home. But, for the higher end bars and upscale pub food, we have to head to at least Tremont or Ohio City.

Well, Drink is trying to fill that void. Will they succeed? I hope so, but only time will tell. It isn't looking good so far.
Inside, they are going for a "dark and swanky" lounge feel. With a dimly lit bar, lots of candles, and plush private seating areas--- it's quite different than anything else around here.
But, we've been in three times already and it's always dead. We've been in for drinks on a Tuesday, Wednesday, and now a Friday. At most, there has been a dozen or so patrons. During the week, it was more like four.

Is it the location? The atmosphere? The higher priced drinks menu? I just don't know that it's a $9 a cocktail kinda place that this neighborhood wants. But we do, so I hope that it survives.

The food so far has been pretty decent. The onion rings (dare I say, my favorite item so far?) and chicken tenders are hand-breaded in-house, and you can tell. The Pork Belly Lettuce Wraps that we had last Friday night were carefully prepared, and quite tasty.
"R" had the Patti Melt with a 7oz burger with grilled onions and melted provolone with house Russian dressing on toasted rye for $9.50 (which he enjoyed, but the side of fries seemed stale), and I just had to order the Bulgogi Burger ($11) with a 7oz Korean Barbeque Burger and pickled daikon, lettuce, tomato, and hoisin aioli on a toasted sweet bun. Overall, it was a decent burger, but very messy and it was hard to detect the Asian flavors that I was expecting. The rest of the menu is pretty basic with tacos, wings, salads, wraps, and other typical fare.

I do like the atmosphere here, but I did notice that it kind of has a "musty" smell to it. It's a little offensive, particularly when you're eating. The four bartenders that we've had have all been very friendly and chatty. They are clearly trying to get to know the neighborhood, with the hopes of creating regulars. Personally, I like the place and hope that they survive.

Drink. Bar and Grill
4250 Pearl Road
Cleveland, OH
216-661-7543

Drink. Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 13, 2013

Monday Giveaway to Provenance

Happy Monday, folks! I don't know about you, but sometimes I need something to look forward to on a Monday. Getting back into the swing of things after a great weekend can be tough. So...I've got a fabulous giveaway for you today. Read on...

I was recently invited to attend a media event for a few local bloggers at the Cleveland Museum of Art to check out their new restaurant--- Provenance.
I was unable to attend because I was out of town for the Kentucky Derby, but they invited me to come in on my own. So I took them up on it last week. I snuck out for relaxing lunch with Michelle, and we picked a great day because the sun was shining and Cleveland was happy.

We had a brief tour of the more casual café, main kitchen, and event spaces. Then we settled into the dining room of Provenance for lunch. The menu isn't large, but several items sounded great and I think that anyone could find something between the salads, small plates, and entrees. Michelle went with the Provenance Cobb with poached chicken, granny smith apple, avocado, walnuts, cooked egg, pickled onion and bleu cheese dressing ($14). It was a beautiful presentation. One of the prettiest salads that I've ever seen.

I ordered the Bang Bang Shrimp Noodle Salad with cucumber, carrots, daikon, cilantro, rice noodles and spicy peanut sauce ($16).
Again, it was a gorgeous dish. I'm glad that the restaurant has embraced their surroundings and taken just as much care for presentation as flavor. Overall, it was light and refreshing but filling. Too many red peppers for my personal taste, but I'd order it again. I saw several other diners with this dish.

We finished up, and then took a stroll through some of the exhibits and grounds. It was a gorgeous day in Cleveland, and I just love looking out over Wade Oval.
The lunch experience was quick, but not rushed. So it was a prefect escape from the craziness of my workday. Parking around the University Circle area isn't a problem, but be prepared to pay. I found a two-hour metered spot in front of the museum, but there are also a couple of different parking garages or lots nearby. Most of the Cleveland Museum of Art is free to view, so you really can have quite a fun lunch excursion. They are open for Brunch and Dinner service as well, but the hours are slightly odd since it is located inside of the museum. Be sure to check out the website before visiting, and you can also make a reservation online.

I'll have to remember to schedule some business lunches over there! What a fun spot, but a little pricey for your average lunch. At least you know that with Chef Doug Katz (fire food and drink) behind the concept, you're bound to have a good meal.

So, one lucky reader will get to go check it out for themselves. They have provided me with one gift certificate valued at $100 to give away! Just leave me a comment below about what your favorite Cleveland museum or landmark is to visit, and you'll be entered to win. You can also gain a second entry by tweeting "I want to check out Provenance, thanks to @BiteBuff's giveaway at www.bitebuff.com." Make sure to leave a second comment on the post to let me know that you tweeted. I'll be selecting a winner on Friday, May 17th using random.org. Good luck!

Provenance
Cleveland Museum of Art
11150 East Boulevard
Cleveland, OH 44106
216-421-7350

Disclosure: I was provided with a $25 gift certificate to use towards my visit, and a $100 gift certificate to use as a giveaway. The thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Cork and Cleaver Social Kitchen

I love it when I am so excited about a place that I just can't wait to share it with you. I know that I gave you a little sneak peek of the newly opened Cork & Cleaver Social Kitchen from my post about the CLEDinnerClub event that we attended a couple of weeks ago, but "R" and I made it back in to dine there from the regular menu this week...and it was just as awesome.

Rose, our bubbly and chatty server, helped us navigate the menu and made suggestions based on her personal favorites and popular dishes. She first pointed us towards the Chicken Wings- confit wings with cilantro, scallion, honey, and chilies ($8 for five big wings).
These wings were simply outstanding. "R" deemed them "the best wings he's ever had" and he's had quite a lot of wings. Greenhouse, who? They start with a sugar and salt brine, then confit them before dredging them in a buttermilk batter. The end result is crispy, moist, fall-off-the-bone meat. The sweet honey and kick from the jalapenos just help round out this dish. Go get them, like now!

It was a hard act to follow, but we both really enjoyed our entrees as well. "R" ordered The Omelette with chorizo, goat cheese, guacamole, sweet pepper bruschetta, and crispy potatoes ($14).
I don't usually photograph other people's dishes, but the presentation of this was so pretty that I had to snap a shot before he dug in. I stole two bites of the fluffy omelette, and a bite of the crispy potato pancake. I'm not a breakfast-for-dinner kinda person, but this was delicious and I'd happily eat that for brunch any day. "R" was hooked, and Chef Adam told us that it's his favorite dish on the menu. Why don't more restaurants offer breakfast food options on their dinner menu?

I went for the Gnocchi with braised lamb, a cucumber and radish slaw, and tzatziki ($18).
A bite that combined all of the components had nice balance of flavor and texture, and it certainly reminded me of a gyro. The lamb meat on its own was a little boring, but that sauce really made this dish for me. A little more slaw and a bit more sauce maybe would have made this a little bit better, in my opinion. Overall, I liked it and I would order it again.

As if we weren't full enough, my buddy Chef Adam surprised us with a complimentary dessert. This Root Beer and Malt was a nice sweet treat to the end of the meal.
The malt ice cream was divine, and I loved the chocolate covered crushed pretzels. Rose suggested just smashing the root beer meringue from the center, and that did the trick. It crumbled into the ice cream, and a bite of all three components was very tasty. I'm not even a fan of root beer flavor, and I enjoyed this! It was mild enough to not offend my soda-free palate, but had nice flavor that worked well with everything else on the plate. All of their desserts are playful and interesting.

I couldn't have been happier with the meal, and with two drinks thrown in as well--- the bill only came to $59.

I left thinking "Damn, we are so lucky that Brian Okin and Adam Bostwick teamed up to open Cork & Cleaver." No joke. "R" asked if every Wednesday could be "Cork & Cleaver Day." Now get in there and try it for yourself.

Cork & Cleaver Social Kitchen
8130 Broadview Road
Broadview Heights, OH
440-627-6449

Cork & Cleaver Social Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Craft Beer in Parma?

Has anyone else been to Brew Co Parma yet?
Located on Pearl Road, it's taken over a spot that has already been many bars/restaurants since I moved to Cleveland six years ago. It's a pretty large space, has a great big patio with an outdoor bar, and free parking in a large lot. Just no one seems to do well here, and the type of crowd that this location has drawn in the past has resulted in a scene that I wasn't in for. Will this new establishment change that?

It offers a menu of fresh, never frozen items like burgers, cheese melts, pizzas, classic pub appetizers and more. But, it's the beer that drew us in the other night. They have 20 taps, where they are featuring JUST craft beer from Ohio breweries. Support local!
All I focused in on was the Willoughby Brewing Company's Peanut Butter Porter. I was in heaven. It's one of my top three favorite beers, and I don't get to have it very often.

We didn't have any food, but it looked good coming out of the kitchen. The staff was helpful and pleasant, and we were served quickly. Overall, I was interested in coming back.

They also have some decent food specials, like $5 one-topping pizza on Mondays, $3 pound of wings on Tuesdays, $2.99 burger on Wednesdays, and $2 taco on Thursdays.

So, has anyone else been yet? You may snub your nose at Parma, but I don't care where I dine/drink as long as it has good food and good craft beer. Will this place last?

Brew Co Parma
5513 Pearl Road
Parma, OH 44129
440-882-3365

Monday, May 6, 2013

CLE Heads to the Kentucky Derby

Wow, what a weekend! My good friend, "A", is getting married in September, and this weekend 20 girls headed to Louisville for her bacherlorette party.
We partied it up in downtown Louisville on Friday night, and then headed to the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.
It poured rain for the first six hours. We were in the infield, with no cover from the rain, but we made the best of it and still had a blast walking around all day.
I was anticipating mud, but not MUD.
This doesn't even picture the worst of it. Two days later, three showers, lots of scrubbing and soaking...and I think I still have mud on my feet.

But the heavens parted about a half hour before the official race, and we were able to make our way over to the fence. Our first sighting of horses all day! Truly, attending on the infield feels just like any fun field party...just with fancier hats.
We immediately hightailed it back to our party bus after the race, and then crashed at the hotel for the rest of the evening. It was a weekend that I will never forget. Many of us were able to cross one thing off of our bucket list, and I think that the bride-to-be had a great time. But, it feels darn good to be home in Cleveland!

Did you watch the Kentucky Derby? I see an annual watch party in our future. With hats, lots of hats.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Cincinnati Eats- Zula Restaurant

During our trip to Cincinnati last weekend, we knew that we wanted to go back to Local 127 after our first memorable meal there. But, I also love discovering new restaurants whenever we travel. So I did some research online, and stumbled upon Zula Restaurant and Wine Bar. Located on Race Street in Downtown Cincinnati, it is a modern and sleek restaurant that features their own bread products and a mussels bar. They also have a great wine list and a variety of craft beers. It sounded like just the place for us. The good news? It didn't disappoint.

The only thing that I immediately hated about the place, is that the tables are tightly squeezed into the space and getting around the dining room is near impossible. Please consider removing one two-top table! It would made such a difference. But, I did immediately love the long, high butcher block table for 12 that was placed in front of a work station, right smack in the center of the dining room. A cool twist on a chef's table. Now, on to the food...

They have several hot small plates and cold small plates. We ordered a crispy Risotto Cake to start.
They accidentally rang it up as an order of their daily risotto special. After seeing that dish arrive at our table first, maybe we should have stuck with that. This risotto cake was pretty bland, and very mushy in the center.

Luckily, that's where the food took a turn for the better. Next, we decided to share an order of the Funghi mussels with seasonal mushrooms, applewood smoked bacon, garlic and cream.
With nine options of mussels to choose from, picking just one was tough. But we loved this flavor profile, and I'd order them again!

A basket of their Artisan Bread is a must. There is too much delicious broth to let go to waste. Just beware, there is a charge.
It was worth every penny. Crusty and hard on the outside, but easy to pull apart, and soft and doughy in the center. It was the perfect vehicle for getting that broth once the mussels were gone.

They also have several options of artisan flatbreads on their menu. We went with the daily special, with included caramelized onions, bleu cheese, and walnuts.
It was as good as it looks. Our server also suggested leaving the mussels pot on the table to soak up some more broth with the crust...genius.

A wonderful Malbec rounded out this meal for me. I liked how their wine menu was separated into price points. I haven't seen this before.

This meal was the highlight of our dining during the trip, and I already look forward to a return visit. Why don't we have a mussels bar in Cleveland???

Zula Restaurant and Wine Bar
1400 Race Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Orchard House Restaurant

If you live in Cleveland and you're not taking advantage of the weather this week, then you're crazy. Go find a patio, get some yard work done, take a walk...it's gorgeous! "R" and I had an errand to run last night (in preparation for my Kentucky Derby trip this weekend- yay!), so we found ourselves near Southpark Mall at dinnertime. We decided to drive down Pearl Road for a bit to see if we could find something, patio preferred. Suddenly, "R" thought of Mapleside Farms.

The Orchard House Restaurant is a member of the Driftwood Group (Hodge's, Washington Place Bistro, The Welshfield Inn, etc.) since January of this year.
The view alone was worth the stop.
We were the only ones sitting on the outdoor deck upstairs! What are you people doing trapped inside of a dining room on a day like this? Crazy.

The menu was not extensive, but it has a nice variety of appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, and "farm fresh fare" to choose from. We were in the mood to share a few small plates, so we decided to split the Mackenzie Salad with a blush dressing, mixed greens, Mackenzie Creamery goat cheese, red onion, fresh berries, and candied walnuts ($6.99- half portion pictured).
It was light, fresh, and we both loved the dressing.

We are shared an order of the Vegetable Bruschetta with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, fresh basil, minced garlic, Romano cheese, basil vinaigrette, toasted baguette, and balsamic syrup drizzle ($8.49).
A little more balsamic would have gone a long way on this dish. It was light, and felt like summer was just around the corner as we were eating it, but overall it was a tad bland in flavor.

Last up was a plate of the Pulled Pork Nachos, served with fresh corn tortilla chips piled high with a three cheese sauce, smokehouse barbecued pulled pork, shredded cheddar, diced tomatoes, sour cream, and scallions ($10.99).
The sweet barbecue sauce on the pork was very flavorful, and it was clearly a quality pork product used. I also really appreciated that the creamy three cheese sauce was used as a base, so you weren't left with a bunch of dry tortilla chips once the layer of toppings was gone. You don't often see this with nachos.

Overall, we were pleasantly surprised by the food, and the view was spectacular last night of the orchard. For a casual bite with a unique view, go check out Orchard House Restaurant in Brunswick. Our server was also outstanding, and he told us that they plan to host free live music on the grassy hill in front of the restaurant this summer.

This was a great find last night, and it certainly made our night to be sitting outside munching on some good food. While it may not be in the caliber of Hodge's or Washington Place, you can see the Driftwood touch here. We'll be back.

Orchard House Restaurant
294 Pearl Road
Brunswick, OH 44212
330-225-5576

The Orchard House Restaurant on Urbanspoon