Monday, January 25, 2021

Celebrating Valentine's Day at Home in 2021

Valentine's Day is right around the corner, and I'll take any excuse to celebrate and make a day/evening special. Like us, you may not be comfortable dining in at a restaurant just yet. So I've rounded up a list of takeout specials and virtual events that you can enjoy from the comfort of your home. 

This is intended to be a snapshot of their offerings, so please head to their websites and social media accounts for details and ordering instructions. I will continue to add new options in the comments section of this post, so check back! Please comment with any that you don't see here. 

Astoria Café and Market (Cleveland): Meal Kit for 2. $75. 3 Courses. Wine Available for Additional Charge.

Mabel's BBQ (Downtown Cleveland): Lola Bistro inspired Heat at Home Kit for 2. Smoked Bone-in Pork Chops, Pork Demi, Mascarpone Polenta, BBQ onions, and Pickled Chilies. Four Truffles from Sweets Designs Included. $75. Add Bottle of Cava for $22. Call or Visit Website to Pre-order by 12/8 at 5PM. Pickup 12/12 or 12/13. 

111 Bistro (Medina): Heat and Serve Dinner for 2. Includes Lobster Bisque, Tomato Bruschetta, Maple Roasted Baby Carrots, Pork Tenderloin with Blackberry Chipotle, Honey Garlic Salmon, Confit Fingerlings, and Chocolate Covered Strawberries. $75. Call 330-952-1122 by 12/9 to Order. Pickup 12/12 or 12/13 2PM - 4PM. 

Plantstrong and The Chef's Garden (Delivery): Mystery Valentine Dinner for Two. A virtual chef-led cooking class of a four-course meal created from some of the finest, handpicked produce in the world. Live Q&A. Heart-healthy. Held on Saturday, February 13th. Purchase your box online. $177. 

Cleveland Vegan (Lakewood): Take Home Dinner for 2. $50. Reheating Instructions Provided. 3 Courses- Dip Duo, Stuffed Acorn Squash, and Blackberry Opera Cake or Mini Raw Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake. Bakery Pre-order Specials Available- Dozen Chocolate Covered Strawberries ($25) and Red Velvet Birch Tree Log ($15). Order by noon on 12/9 by emailing clevelandvegan@gmail.com. Pick-up 12/13 or 12/14 3-5PM. 

La Campagna (Westlake): Show Your Love Valentine Dinner 2021. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Westlake Meals on Wheels, a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Tomato Bisque, Salad, Choice of Beef Wellington or Chicken Florentine, Two Sides, and Dessert. Wine Add-on Available. Option to give additional donation to the charity at check-out. Pre-order Online. Pickup 2/14 between 3-5PM. 

A Cookie and a Cupcake (Ohio City): Valentine's Box of Goodies. $38. Pre-order a box of treats that include a Succulent Terrarium, Raspberry Truffle Cake Popsicle, Floral Decorated Fudge Brownies, Assorted Macaroons, Chocolate Covered Oreos, Chocolate Almonds and Cherries, Gourmet Candy Sucker. Call 216-344-9433 or email contact@acookieandacupcake.com.

EDWINS (Shaker Square): 3-Course Dinner. $65. Order online for takeout.

Momocho (Ohio City) and El Carnicero (Lakewood): Dessert and Cocktail Box to include Craft Tequila Strawberry Margaritas and Tres Mex Chocolate Desserts. $49.

L'Albatros Brasserie (University Circle): Dinner for Two. Friday - Sunday. $110. Each person chooses one option from each course. 3 Courses. Pre-order Online and Restaurant Will Call for Payment. Order Deadline 2/10 at 10PM. 

Thyme X Table (Avon Lake pick-up): Valen-Thyme’s Day At Home. $100. 4-Course Dinner with Instructions. One Bottle of Bacio Della Luna Blanc de Blanc Sparkling. Pick up between 12-2PM on 2/14 at Thyme Catering. 

Salt+ (Lakewood): Valentine's Day Dinner for Two. $150 and Add-ons Available. Wedge Salad, Baked Lobster Mac n' Cheese, Petite Filets, Mashed Potatoes + Asparagus, 4 Jenni Pops Cake Pops, and Bottle of Poema Brut Cava. Pickup between 3-4PM on 12/14. 


Flight Cleveland (Cleveland): Virtual Valentine's- Wine & Chocolate. Friday, February 12th at 7:30PM. Enjoy wines from Wine Trends and chocolates from Sweet Bean as you experience a virtual tasting event held on Zoom. Free to attend with purchase of wine and chocolates. 3 Wines, 6 Chocolates. Call 216-400-6867 or order online at flightcleveland.com.

The Estate On Coffee Creek & Allure Bistro (Austinburg or Willoughby) : Virtual Valentine’s Day Dinner With Live Virtual Interactive Show. $75. Included: Cocktail Mixer, Appetizer (optional add-on), Wine, Champagne, and Five Course Dinner. 12/11 Pickup at Either Location or Delivered for $25. Facebook Live Stream 3 Virtual Dinners For Valentine’s Day (2/12 & 2/13 at 7:30PM and 12/14 at 4:00PM). Limited to Fifty Groups. Mixologist Mike Will Show You How to Master The Mixer for a Delicious Craft Cocktail. Wine Demonstration Featuring M Cellars Vineyard. Chef Nicholas Kustala with Chef’s Demo. This Unique Experience Will Allow You to Ask Questions with Live Feedback.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Kate's Good Fish Company

One thing that has always been scarce on the Northeast Ohio food scene are good, casual seafood restaurants that aren't far east or west. Well, for two days last week, Good Company partnered up with Kate's Fish (of the West Side Market) to host a takeout pop-up called Kate's Good Fish Company.

Limited orders of classics like lobster rolls, fried oysters, crab cakes, peel and eat shrimp, chowder, battered fish, and fried clams could be pre-ordered through Good Company's website or by calling. They sold out quickly, like super fast. But we were lucky enough to snag a Saturday order, and enjoyed our takeout at home.

They offered three styles of Lobster Rolls. We prefer a Connecticut version (warm butter), which can be more difficult to find on a menu in Northeast Ohio, so we couldn't miss that.

But, we were intrigued by the "Cleveland-style" dressed in hot sauce hollandaise, so we split that as well.
We also shared the Fried Clams Dinner (roll version also available). All dinners came with fries and corn grits hush puppies, and all orders came with sambal cocktail sauce and lemon caper banana tartar sauce. 
Everything was very good. I did wish both lobster rolls had more sauce on them, as they were a tad dry. I'm guessing that was intentional since it was all takeout and needed to travel well. 

They did confirm that a February pop-up is being planned. So stay tuned to their Instagram account for more information! Let's cross our fingers for a future permanent restaurant too.

Monday, January 18, 2021

"TV Dinners" from Momocho and El Carnicero

Something new is coming soon to your freezer.

Chef Eric Williams of Momocho and El Carnicero and his team have developed six Mod Mex Frozen Dinners that come in microwavable one-serving containers that can also be reused. All six come with sides of cilantro rice and beans, and the packaging includes easy heating instructions. 
We had the opportunity to sample them during the development phase to provide feedback. 

They include a Mexicola Pork Belly Rice Bowl (pictured frozen).
Mexicola Butternut Squash Rice Bowl (pictured frozen).
Chile Poblano Relleno
Pork Carnitas Enchirito Rojo (our personal favorite!).
Machaca Beef Enchirito Rojo
And a Roasted Chicken Enchirito Rojo (not pictured). 

Since we sampled them, a few final tweaks were made and all dishes now come with Black Beans instead. Other changes were made to perfect the cooking and presentation. 

The Cenas Televisiones will be priced at $10 each or 3 for $25. The frozen dinners will be available for pick-up at both restaurants and can be ordered through the regular online portals on their websites and combined with hot food orders (and margaritas to go!). 

This new concept is not only perfect for meals for one, an easy after-work option, or a quick lunch...they will also be an important revenue stream to get these restaurants through the next several months until outdoor dining can open back up in Ohio and vaccinations roll out that lift pandemic restrictions.

We genuinely liked each one, and plan to personally purchase some right away to stock up our freezer with. They are expected to go live with sales sometime this week. Stay tuned to their social media!

1835 Fulton Road
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 694-2122

16918 Detroit Avenue
Lakewood, OH 44107
(216) 226-3415

Disclosure: We were provided sample meals during the development stage to provide feedback on. All opinions stated are 100% my own.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

La Casita Market and Taqueria

It's month one of the new year, and I was itching to kick off our adventures with the 2021 To Dine Challenge. First up, a 40-minute drive east to Painesville to check out La Casita Market and Tacqueria. It was hopping on a Sunday afternoon! But everyone was very respectful of keeping their distance (store had spacing signage in every aisle) and wearing masks in the market.

We headed into the Market first, and it was full of fresh produce...

...prepared foods, meats, dairy items...
...ALL kinds of snack foods...
..and plenty more. We picked up three kinds of flavored chips, two spicy instant soups, fresh pico de gallo, three types of cheese, a fresh roasted red pepper sauce, one bottle of hot sauce, eight poblano peppers, and one package of tostadas.

But we had really made the drive to check out the adjacent Taqueria.
I was expecting more of a casual takeout-focused place, similar to the west side's La Plaza. However, this is a really pretty, full sit-down restaurant with table service...
...and a big bar.
We're not comfortable dining in quite yet, so we place our takeout order and waited the 15 minutes in the car before heading to a nearby park we had identified in advance. A 40 degree, sunny day in January? I'm down for a taco picnic (Chorizo Taco on flour tortilla ($3.10) pictured)!
I also had the Alpastor Taco (our favorite of the meats we tried) on a housemade corn tortilla ($3.60).
Mr. H ordered Alpastor and Costilla Sopes ($4 each).
And we took home a Chile Rellenos ($9.99) to reheat in our toaster oven, because an outdoor picnic this time of year does tend to cool down your food faster and we knew this one would be worth the wait.
This taqueria is most comparable to La Plaza, so how did it stack up? While the tacos were pretty darn close, I do prefer them at La Plaza. The build-your-own toppings bar certainly pushes it higher on that point alone, but some of the meats at La Casita were just a bit dry. Flavorful and still enjoyable, but too dry. However, we felt the other dishes here at La Casita were better than ones we tried at La Plaza. That Chile Rellenos is one of the best I've had in Northeast Ohio (I did add some of the fresh roasted red pepper sauce we had purchased). I'd love to try it fresh and hot at the restaurant to see if it knocks Cozumel's version from my #1 spot.

Bottom line, this was a GREAT find and a wonderful way to kick off the year's dining excursions. I'd absolutely stop here again or shop the market, but realistically only if we were already that far east because La Plaza is about half the distance. 

La Casita Market and Taqueria
452 Storrs Street
Painesville, OH 44077
(440) 357-1109

Monday, January 4, 2021

Best Bites of 2020

As we kick off this new year, I want to reflect back on my best bites of 2020. It may have been more challenging than other years, but we found ways to check out new restaurants and continue to support those that we love. Here is a roundup (in no particular order) of the best dishes in Cleveland that I had last year.

Beef Argentina taco from Half Moon Bakery

Jerk Chicken bowl (Box-it pictured) from Irie Jamaican Kitchen
Sriracha Cheese Curds from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Almost the entire meal at Zhug, but particularly the Warm White Beans and the Harissa Peanut Hummus
Radicchio salad from Rosso Italia
Sandwich Night carry-out special at The Black Pig
Croissant (and Focaccia and Italian Sandwich...) from Leavened
Flavor Burst from Independence Dairy King
O.G. Roni pizza from Good Meal Jane
Moqueca Baiana from Batuqui
Share some of your favorite dishes that you tried last year in the comments. Any new restaurants that you discovered that you've returned to again and again?

The year wasn't complete crap. We developed some new hobbies, enjoyed a slower lifestyle, focused on what matters most to us, and still enjoyed many wonderful meals and supporting local businesses. But here's hoping there's even more in store for 2021!