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!

Friday, January 1, 2021

2021 To Dine Challenge

 Happy New Year!

We're here. We did it. 

I will try and focus on the positives of the past year, because there were valuable lessons learned, quality time with people that matter the most, moments worthy of celebration, and still plenty of good food experienced. I even got more comfortable in the kitchen and took on cooking dinner 1-2 nights a week! See, miracles did happen in 2020.

As I look forward to the year ahead, I know there will still be some challenges, but I choose to believe that brighter days are right on the horizon. At first, I wasn't sure if I wanted to still do my annual To Dine Challenge. However, our independent restaurants continue to need us all more than ever, and there are still ways to have some fun dining adventures.

You'll see that this year's list of 10 restaurants that I'm challenging myself to dine at over the next 12 months include quite a few that are focused on takeout or roaming pop-ups. I kept in mind that Mr. H and I will likely still not be dining in for several months as we wait for our COVID-19 vaccination. Also, I wanted a good number of them to be black-owned (and other minorities) to continue my commitment of support. So, here it is...

2021 To Dine Challenge:

La Casita Taqueria
Battiste & Dupree Cajun Grill
The Square Scullery
Squash the Beef Catering
Dang Good Foods
Black Box Fix
Istanbul Mediterranean Grill
Tommy's Restaurant
Han Chinese Kebob & Grill

I asked, and you delivered. Over the last month, you sent in an impressive list of restaurants to select from. I had a hard time narrowing it down, but I hope you're pleased with the final list. We sure are! Tell me in the comments which one you want to see first.

Again, happy new year to you and THANK YOU for contributing to the To Dine Challenge and staying tuned as we take on dining at these restaurants in 2021.