Monday, January 6, 2020

Irie Jamaican Kitchen Opens West Side Location

The popular Irie Jamaican Kitchen in Euclid opened a west side location in the heart of Old Brooklyn recently, and the neighborhood was anxiously awaiting for its doors to open.
Located just moments from the zoo on Pearl Road, and with an approachable "build-your-own" style of menu, it will be a perfect option for families and quick takeout in the neighborhood.
Pictured here is the Jerk Chicken ($9.99) from their "Box It" section of the menu. A generous helping of two meats, it was perfect for splitting for lunch. All "traditional" plates come with a side of Rice and Peas (red beans), Cabbage, and Plantains.
All of the sides were very good and helped enhance the spicy kick of the jerk seasoning. My mom used to cook jerk chicken quite a bit when I was young, so I love it!

We also ordered a side of the Mac & Cheese ($2.50), which was only ok. It just wasn't creamy enough for us.
However, one section of their menu features Mac & Cheese and you top it with any of the meats. I saw one order come out from the kitchen (instead of from the warming trays the side dish was served from), so perhaps the fresher Mac & Cheese is creamier. Something tells me that Mr. H will be trying this soon.

Overall, the food was incredibly flavorful and with generous portions at a low price point. I think it will do well in the neighborhood. I also look forward to customizing my order a bit more with their "Jahpotle" style of choosing up to 4 toppings like cucumber salad, mango sauce, and pineapple coleslaw. We just wanted to stick to the basics this time to get a real feel of the flavors. 

4162 Pearl Road
Cleveland, OH 44109
(216) 291-7488

Irie East
621 East 185th
Euclid, OH

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

2020 To Dine Challenge

It's here. It's here! The new year.
Over here on the blog, that means another annual To Dine Challenge launches.

During the month of December, you all submitted your restaurant suggestions. I narrowed down the list to just 10, and I will challenge myself to dine at all of them before the year closes. Thank you again for participating and sending in all of the great restaurants to choose from. You always make it difficult to pick, but that's a good thing. So, here we go...

1. Batuqui Cleveland (flavors of Brazil on Larchmere)
2. Capo Steaks (best cheesesteaks in town, according to an Uber driver, on St. Clair)
3. Bistro Du Beaujolais (French bistro in Olmsted Falls)
4. Literary Tavern (new spot in Tremont from the same owner of D'Agnese's and Cantine)
5. Lock 15 Brewing Co. (Akron brewery)
6. Salted Dough (new pizza joint in Broadview Heights from former chef of Touch and Crust)
7. Stevenson's Bar & Grill (bar known for their burger on East 200th Street)
8. Tapitas Taqueria (Mexican on Lorain Avenue)
9. Vento la Trattoria & Wine Bar (Italian in Bay Village)
10. Warren's Spirited Kitchen (contemporary dining in Burton of Geauga County)

Ok, who's coming with me? Leave a comment on this post or message me on social media (@BiteBuff) if you'd like to join me for any of these dining adventures. I'll keep track.

2019 was the worst year of my life. Between losing my dad, facing work challenges that forced a major mind-shift, and seeking the peace and relief that I needed mentally and emotionally to survive, it wasn't an easy 12 months to say the least. I didn't set any big goals for myself and just wanted to get through the year. But I'm certain that even brighter days are ahead in 2020. My personal goals are to focus on my physical health (we purchased The Mirror for a connected fitness system in-home), travel more (hello, 3 trips already scheduled!), and learn at least one new hobby (well on my way with Christmas gifts of a calligraphy kit, chess set, tarot cards, and a pasta maker). Have you set any goals for the new year?

I just want to say "best wishes" to you for the new year and "thank you" for your interest in following along on my dining adventures. This blog celebrated 10 years in 2019, and it has always brought me joy, new friends, and amazing opportunities that I am forever grateful for. Cheers to the new year! Now, where should we hit first on the 2020 To Dine Challenge list?

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Best Things I Ate in 2019

I thought it would be fun to do a look back through the year, at my favorite bites and some newly discovered places of 2019. Here we go...

Cheesy Brisket Crunches from Service Bar in Columbus
Shish Tawook with garlic sauce from Joe's Deli
Arancini from Molto Bene Italian Eatery
Scallops St. Jacques from Blu the Restaurant
Our entire meal at Central Provisions in Portland, ME
Grilled Octopus with white bean shishito ragu and breadcrumbs from Sotto in Cincinnati
Spaghetti from Bluebeard in Indianapolis
Spinach and Meatball Dip from Polpetta
Diavolo Pie (Pro Tip: add Hot Honey) from Il Rione
Well, I guess it was a good one then!

How about you...favorite bites or new restaurant you tried this year? 

Monday, December 30, 2019

La Plaza

There is a short list of places around Northeast Ohio that I haven't, or hadn't, dined at that make me hang my head in foodie shame. La Plaza Taqueria was one of them. If you ask around for the "most authentic Mexican" in the area, 9 times out of 10 you'll hear "La Plaza" as the answer. The grocery store's small takeout counter of prepared foods had gotten so popular, in fact, that they expanded to a full café (still connected to the grocery store) in 2018 with seating for around 40.

Yet, I still hadn't gotten there over the years. Well I knew that had to change, so I added it to the 2019 To Dine Challenge list and I saved the best for last. I gathered a small group and we headed there for dinner recently.

Mr. H and I did some sharing, starting with two different Tamalaes. They were a perfect temperature and texture. We dipped in some sauces from the serve-yourself toppings bar.
A Chile Relleno was on special that evening, and that's one of my all-time favorite Mexican dishes, so we couldn't resist. The spicy flavors were great, but it was way too oily for me. I'd either take it home and remove it from the container, or stick with other dishes on the menu.
But, we were really there for the Tacos! You can choose from 12 fillings served on house-made corn tortillas, and then you can top them from the bar with whatever you choose. I have no idea what I even added onto them, but it was a little of a lot and man was it good. We had the Carnitas, Barbacoa, Chorizo, and Pastor. The carnitas was our least favorite, as it didn't have as much flavor as the others.
The tacos aren't very big so you can mix and match a few. We saw several Grand Burritos go by, and they were HUGE.

You order at the counter and then wait for your order number to be called from the kitchen line. There is casual seating available, but it does get busy. Plenty of free parking in the grocery store lot. It also gives you a chance to pick up some groceries after dinner, and we found some great items to take home. I'm still drooling over their fresh Pico de Gallo, which packed more heat than most.

This may have been our first time, but it won't be our last. Why the heck did it take me so long to get there? But don't kill me, I'm still a flour tortilla kinda gal. However, I can confirm that their food is very good and the closest to authentic Mexican that I've personally had in the area.

That's it. The 2019 To Dine Challenge is a wrap. It's always so satisfying when I can complete them all, because sometimes it hasn't happened. This year was a good one, but I do think the best was saved for last. Now, what does 2020 have in store? You'll just have to wait until January 1 to find out!

13609 Lakewood Heights Blvd.
Cleveland, OH 44107
(216) 476-8000

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Restaurant Takeover Series at Opal Kicks Off

One of our very favorite spots in the neighborhood is the wine bar Opal on Pearl. Starting in January, the first Monday of every month through July will feature a Restaurant Takeover event with a special menu for the evening from a local chef.

The first event is brought to you by two Old Brooklyn residents themselves, Amanda and Josh of the famous Lilly Chocolates & Confections.
There will be two seatings of the event, and you'll get 5 courses of savory dishes highlighting chocolate. It's not just for dessert, people!

Reservations and a $30 deposit are required. Check out the event's page for the full menu preview. Will I see you there?