What Brandon Chrostowski is doing with his new venture- Edwin's Leadership and Restaurant Institute, is bringing a fresh concept to Cleveland. Devoted to helping returning ex-offenders integrate back into our community, while teaching them invaluable skills and hands-on job training; they are providing culinary training, life-skills classes, housing, clothing, counseling, and other important support services. The student-run restaurant is officially open in Shaker Square (in the old Grotto Wine Bar space), and "R" and I decided to celebrate his birthday there.
Let's briefly talk about service. Our server, Jamar, was pleasant and attentive. He made a couple of recommendations, always cleared our used dishes promptly, and in general was very good. Making some casual observations of the room, there were often times that you could tell the servers were "in-training" by small missteps that they made. Another server crossing in front of our server as he spoke to us about the menu, our server presenting the check before asking us if there was anything else that we'd like that evening, and visible jitters from some of the waitstaff. Brandon was constantly sweeping the room, checking in on guests, and playing a very hands-on role. Overall, service was a bit off from the level of skill and professionalism that you would expect at a fine dining restaurant, but they were clearly trying and hustling to do a good job. Time and strong leadership will certainly make a difference, and you can tell that the desire is there.
Now, on to the food. The "entrees" section of the menu is really more like "shared plates", and we decided to split the Tarte de lapin au Parmesan et jambon en croûte- Rabbit pie with Parmesan and Prosciutto crust ($9) at our server's suggestion. It was a small, warm, little pie of rabbit that was probably the best thing that we ate that night. It was almost sausage-like in texture, and full of flavor.
"R" ordered the Paupiettes de poisson du jour- Market fish wrapped in crispy potatoes with haricot verts and beurre rouge ($28). The mild white fish had a faint ammonia taste to it, so that was a little unappetizing. The shell of crispy potatoes was lost in this dish, but the sauce was the star on this plate. It was wonderful, and saved this dish.
I went with the Confit de canard avec ses champignons sauvages au risotto- Duck confit and wild mushroom risotto ($23) from the Plats Principaux section of the menu.
If for no other reason, you have to visit Edwin's for the cheese service. Luckily, Brandon has brought over his love of good cheese and the elegant presentation of a cheese board from his days with Zack Bruell at L'Albatros. "R" and I prefer to end our meal with cheese, and the highly anticipated cheese board did not disappoint.
13101 Shaker Square
Cleveland, OH 44120