Monday, February 29, 2016

Blue Ginger Asian Bistro

Mr. H and I are both big sushi fans, and can often be found at Mizu Sushi in Parma and Pacific East, if we happen to be on the east side. So, I'm always up for trying a new-to-me sushi restaurant. A couple of people had raved about Blue Ginger Asian Bistro on Pleasant Valley Road in Parma. It's in the general vicinity of where we'll frequently run errands, so recently we decided to pop in there for dinner.

It's certainly a popular spot, because there was a line and quite a wait for a table. As we sat near the hostess stand, I took in my surroundings. It felt very Americanized and chain-y to me.
Once we were seated, we placed our order for some rolls and sashimi. The menu is heavy on rolls with cream cheese, cooked proteins, and lots of tempura fried items. A lot of the rolls also had spicy tuna included, which everyone knows is the "scraps" of fish that wasn't used. I prefer the larger pieces of fish to be used in rolls that have tuna in them.

I got the Firecracker Roll ($13) with spicy tuna, spicy yellowtail, avocado & jalapeno inside, tuna, salmon, mango & crispy onion on the top, served with special sauce.
It was colorful, but overall not very good. The fish itself didn't taste very fresh, and the crispy onion straws on top were not pleasurable. I scraped most of them off. 

Mr. H and I got the Unbelievable Roll ($11) with shrimp, cream cheese and chef special sauce, with red snapper tempura on top.
You couldn't detect the snapper on top, and the roll was just bland and mushy. 

Lastly, the order of Sashimi Regular (includes salad and miso soup) for $16 arrived, with 15 pieces of assorted raw fish. 
First, our server dropped it and didn't explain what types of fish were included. I've never had that happen before.

Second, the fish was glowing. Literally. This was lodged in a martini glass display of the raw fish...
Completely unnecessary, and it kind of grossed me out. I don't need a disco party with my sushi. Just give me fresh, delicious raw fish and call it a day.

It's safe to say that we won't be returning to Blue Ginger. The atmosphere, quality of fish, and presentation just aren't what I'm looking for in a sushi restaurant. If you're in the Parma area, just head on over to Mizu.

Blue Ginger Asian Bistro
1061 W Pleasant Valley Road
Parma, OH 44134

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Johnny's on Fulton

For my birthday, I told Mr. H to "surprise me" on where we'd go to eat to celebrate. And "surprise me" is what he did. We've never been to Johnny's Bar on Fulton Road, and I never would have guessed that we'd be dining there that evening (after a quick stop at The Black Pig for a cocktail and bone marrow).
It's the original location, and many would agree that it's still the best compared to the other two locations in Downtown Cleveland.

With traditional Italian decor, and some interesting wall murals, it was a feast for the eyes.
One thing that my eye was drawn to right away was the leopard print carpet in the small dining room that we were seated in. I'm a sucker for anything leopard, so this immediately won them points in my book!
Our server, Tony, was everything that you'd want from a place like this. He had the look, the accent, the attentiveness, tasteful humor, and did an excellent job of making our meal enjoyable. 

Veal is predominant on their menu. We don't eat it often, but we both ended up ordering it that night. Mr. H went with one of their bone-in veal chops. He had the Long Bone Veal Chop stuffed with chevre and melted leeks, and then pan seared and baked before being sauced with natural jus, shiitake mushrooms and fresh sage ($46.95).
We both wished that there was more stuffing inside of the chop, but overall, it was flavorful, prepared to a perfect medium rare, and Mr. H loved the scalloped potatoes that were served with it. 

I ordered the Horseradish Scented Veal Medallions wrapped in puff pastry with wild mushroom ragout and port wine pan reduction ($36.95).
The puff pasty ended up not doing much for the dish. It was a bit soggy. But the veal was so tender and seasoned well, the horseradish gave it a good zing, and I absolutely loved the mushroom ragout. The dish was quite good, and I was happy with my choice.

A house salad is included with entrees. They use bibb lettuce, which is my favorite. Again, points!

We decided to end the meal there and pop over to Fahrenheit in Tremont for an after dinner drink and dessert. Hello, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pot de Creme ($9). A perfect end to the evening. 

Johnny's Bar was enjoyable and felt like quite a treat, but this is certainly a place that should be reserved for a special occasion. The fine dining atmosphere and price point are not suitable for everyday dining. With over 80 years of history, this restaurant is a Cleveland institution.

Johnny's Bar
3164 Fulton Road
Cleveland, OH 44109

Monday, February 22, 2016

Columbus Eats + AC2 Live

Mr. H and I headed to Columbus a couple of weeks ago for a quick overnight stay. This Bravo-holic had VIP tickets to Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper's AC2 Live. More on that later. We used the opportunity to explore the city, and enjoy some delicious eats while we were in town.

Before the show, we headed to The Pearl in Short North. Their upscale tavern food did not disappoint. It reminded me of Cleveland's own Toast or Spice Bar + Kitchen. We shared the Tuna Crudo ($16) and the Beet Salad ($10). With apple, egg, avocado, candied cashews, blue cheese, and a buttermilk dressing, that beet salad was one of the best one that I've had. For my entree, I chose the fish special, which was full of wonderful Indian flavors and heat that evening. 
We left full, and happy, and I would certainly recommend The Pearl to anyone visiting Columbus.

I would have stayed and enjoyed another one of their craft cocktails, but it was time to go see Andy and Anderson!
Our second row seats did not disappoint, and I'm pretty sure that I had a permanent grin on my face for two and a half hours. 

Our VIP passes gained us access to a meet-and-greet after the show. We snapped some photos with them, got a Watch What Happens Live coffee mug signed by Andy, and walked away with autographed copies of their books. 
Mr. H was a good sport, and this night will forever be a highlight for me. 

The next morning came quickly, but that was okay, because we had brunch plans at Wolf's Ridge Brewing. I couldn't resist starting with a Bloody Maria
Mr. H ordered the Biscuits & Gravy ($15) with pork sausage gravy, cream cheese biscuit, fennel, onions, thyme, and sunny side up eggs. It was really good! 
However, my dish was even better. I ordered the Cuban Benedict ($13) with an English muffin, carnitas, gruyère cheese, poached eggs, pickles, and a mustard hollandaise. Wow. I love a good benedict, and this version was one of the most interesting and flavorful ones that I've ever had. I'd have a hard time not ordering it again.
Completely stuffed and quite happy with our overnight trip to Columbus, we headed back home to Cleveland. I have a feeling that this won't be the last time that we visit Columbus for a weekend getaway, and I also bet that we'll find ourselves at Wolf's Ridge Brewing again.

The Pearl
641 N. High Street
Columbus, OH 43215

Wolf's Ridge Brewing
215 N 4th Street
Columbus, OH 43215

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Ginko in Tremont

I have no clue why it took us this long, but Mr. H and I only recently visited Dante Boccuzzi's restaurant, Ginko, in Tremont for the first time. We live close by, we love sushi, we enjoy Dante's other should have been a no-brainer.

But, I think we were saving it for a special occasion, and January brought us that perfect opportunity. Mr. H's birthday wish was for the two of us to finally dine at Ginko.

We both agreed that the best way to taste what the restaurant was truly about was to order the Ginko Omakase Tasting (6 course chef's tasting menu- $79 per person).

The meal started with braised yellowtail cheek, also an appetizer special that evening.
Then, another evening special of one of the largest clams that I've ever seen! It was cooked and cut into small bites, to make it easier to eat.
The next course was a variety of sashimi, including raw shrimp, which led to...
...fried shrimp heads once we had eaten the body. A perfect crunch, and I loved the wasabi salt that was served with them. I did avoid eating the eyes though.
We then slurped some traditional miso soup. No spoons recommended here!
Our last fish course of the meal was a variety of sushi with pressed rice. I traded my eel (far left) with Mr. H for his tuna. I won't eat eel (there's a story), but I loved the rest of it.
We ended the meal with a refreshing green tea cheesecake, and a birthday candle for the birthday boy!
Overall, it was a special way to celebrate his birthday. Service was great, and we loved watching the sushi chefs prepare the food over the counter. It's a very small place, with almost every table having front-row seating to the prep work. You can also saddle up to the sushi bar to get up close and personal with your fish.

We did get to try a few items that you won't find at your average sushi joint, and the quality of fish certainly can't be beat at Ginko. However, for rolls, I'll still stick with Mizu Sushi in Parma. For the price point, Ginko should be reserved for a special treat, not to satisfy your common sushi craving.

2247 Professor Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Valentine's Day Treat

Wow, what a whirlwind couple of weeks it has been in the "H" household. We had birthdays (plural), an overnight to Columbus, a work conference in New York City, and Valentine's Day all smashed together. I'm still playing catch up, and I have lots to share with you.

For today, I'm going to give you a quick peek into my Valentine's Day. It was such a treat!

Remember when I blogged about the chef services raffle to benefit the Jarrett family's adoption process? Well, Mr. H and I won second place, and we had the opportunity for Chef John Selick from University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center to cook dinner for just the two of us in our home on Sunday.
I've known him for years through the charity fundraiser circuit, and he's just as generous and kind as he is talented in the kitchen.

He whipped up a family-style meal for us, and every dish was just as fabulous as the last.
Braised beef, butter-poached lobster and risotto, fingerling potatoes, apple cider-glazed turnips, Brussels sprouts with bacon and almonds, and a delectable chocolate dessert.

It was so fun to sit and watch him cook, and then he scooted out the door to his own Valentine and we settled in for a delicious meal.
Going out to a restaurant on Valentine's Day is typical, and often a special treat for a couple. But, maybe next year you'll consider bringing in a chef to cook in your home for something truly memorable (and educational!).

Thank you to Chef Jeff Jarrett and Chef John Selick for raffling off their services to make Valentine's Day a little extra special for the two winners. Also, thank you to everyone that supported the fundraiser for the Jarrett family.

This will be one Valentine's Day that we'll never forget.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Event Recap: Akron's Red and White on Thursday Night

Mr. H and I attended Akron's Red & White on Thursday Night last week to benefit the Arthritis Foundation. It was my first time at the event, but it is the 19th annual soirée. They have a very dedicated group of folks that support the organization, and this event in particular. On Thursday night, the room was full of supporters, auctions and raffles, and all kinds of food.
After we cleared the nasty 25 minute wait at registration, the event was nothing but enjoyable. Mr. H and I headed straight to the VIP Lounge, which featured exclusive food and beverages, massages, goodie bags, and more. Our first bite of the night was from Chef Dante Boccuzzi. One of Cleveland's favorite chefs, but his Akron-based restaurant dba is popular too.
You can find his tuna tartar on Pringles on the menu at Ginko in Tremont.

We really enjoyed tasting food from many new-to-us restaurants, like Bistro on Main, Nueva, Cilantro Thai, and The Galaxy.
We also finally had the chance to try food from Chowder House in Cuyahoga Falls.
I enjoyed their tuna and soba noodles dish, and it inspired me to bid (and WIN) a dinner for six guests at the restaurant in the silent auction. Mr. H also won an auction package for a private helicopter ride for two.

So, good food, good auction winnings, and all for a good cause. We attend plenty of events in Cleveland, but it was great to head down to Akron to taste what the restaurant scene has to offer.

This event may have inspired me to head down that way more often. What is your favorite Akron restaurant that I should try?

Disclosure: I was provided with two VIP tickets in exchange for this post, and for hosting a ticket giveaway. All opinions are 100% my own.