Thursday, February 19, 2015

TownHall Has Gone Non-GMO

Ohio City's TownHall has improved leaps and bounds since it first opened, in my opinion. It always had a lively and hip vibe, fantastic beer and cocktail menu, desirable seating options, and a spot on the popular West 25th Street. I felt when they opened, that they had a few good dishes, but still a lot of room for improvement. We've continued to dine there, for dinner, lunch, and takeout, and I've continued to be impressed with the changes over the last two years.

One recent change has made a big splash. The restaurant committed to going 100% non-GMO, and they did. An accomplishment only achieved by two other restaurants in the country. "GMOs, or “genetically modified organisms,” are plants or animals that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals to make a crop grow bigger and faster." Reading that description, does that make you want to eat a GMO? Uhh, no. Well, TownHall can help with that.

I was invited in to the restaurant to sample some of the new menu items. Mr. H and I enjoyed some complimentary juices, cocktails, and food.

I started with a Jalapinta juice with pineapple, jalapeno, cilantro, romaine, and cucumber ($5).
Spicy, yet crisp and refreshing, I loved this fresh-squeezed juice.

The kitchen sent out two dishes from their Shareables: Raw Vegetable Crudite with smooth olive tapenade and spicy white bean and kale hummus ($10).
I never thought that raw vegetables could be so exciting, but this gorgeous bowl of crisp vegetables were addicting and prefect for dipping. Mr. H is still craving this.

The second appetizer that we shared was the Seared Shishitos ($7).
These mild to medium spiced Asian peppers were served with a Thai Chili Aioli and Korean BBQ sauce. Again, simple but addicting, and we couldn't stop eating them. These peppers were my favorite dish of the evening, and I can't wait to order them again.

The kitchen then delivered their Power 3.0 salad ($10) with kale, beets, quinoa, almonds, apples, goat cheese, chili threads, and a sweet balsamic vinaigrette.
I'm not a huge fan of kale, particularly in salads, so this wasn't my favorite dish of the evening. I do feel that it needed more quinoa and dressing.

For our entrees, we were encouraged to select our own from the Large Plates section of the menu. Mr. H went for the Thyme Seared Nova Scotia Salmon ($17) with cauliflower puree, brussel sprouts, and a local maple syrup reduction. The salmon was prepared well, and the cauliflower puree tasted way too good to be healthy for you. The consistency was just like creamy mashed potatoes!

I ordered the Grass-fed Ribeye with a sweet potato mash, sauteed broccolini and baby bok choy, and topped with a Thai peanut sauce ($20).
The sweet potato mash was heavenly, and I liked the flavor of the Thai peanut sauce. But, even the flavorful sauce couldn't mask the fact that some bites of the steak were overly charred and didn't taste good. It wasn't every bite, but the ones that were like that were not pleasant. Also, the baby bok choy was a little too bitter. We did share our feedback, both positive and negative, with the manager after the meal.

The meal did not end there. Their Skillet Cookie ($6) arrived, with a homemade white and chocolate chip cookie and Mitchell's vanilla ice cream.
This piping hot cookie was divine, and we ate every last bite, despite being full. Funny how that happens! There's always room for a hot chocolate chip cookie and locally-made ice cream. A great end to the meal.

I also want to say that our server, Alex, was amazing. She's been with the restaurant for a long time, and she was incredibly knowledgeable about the menu and helpful throughout the meal. We haven't always experienced great service there, but Alex did an outstanding job.

The initiative  to go 100% non-GMO may seem a little idealistic, but it's hard to dismiss the fact that an increase in chronic diseases, allergies, cancer and autism diagnoses is consistent with the increase in the use of foods and ingredients made with genetically modified plants in our country. Finding the right distributors, and assessing the increase in costs to make the switch, was difficult for TownHall. However, I think the restaurant, and Clevelanders, will be much better off in the long run. Thanks for caring about the food that we're consuming, TownHall, and congratulations on being able to go 100% non-GMO.

I encourage you to head back in to TownHall, or to visit for the first time if you haven't already, to check out the full non-GMO menu.

1909 West 25th Street
Cleveland, OH

Disclosure: I was provided with complimentary food and drink, and invited to bring a guest, in exchange for this blog post. All opinions stated are 100% my own. Some images were provided by TownHall.