Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The Lobster Pot

The New England style Lobster Pot Restaurant has a long history in the area, dating back to 1972. Eventually, the business was sold to the owner's son. When it closed in 2005, he had every intention of re-opening some day. Time slipped away and suddenly over a decade had passed, but The Lobster Pot opened in August 2017 and has since built a reputation again for its seafood.

I'm always on the hunt for a hint of our fond Maine memories, so I had no problem driving out to Willoughby Hills to check it out for myself recently. It was a gorgeous night (finally!) so we sat on the patio.
We may have been overexcited to have access to such a seafood-focused menu, because we ordered quite a round of appetizers to kick off the meal. I had some Raw Oysters ($2.75 each), Grilled Oysters ($3 each)...
...and Oysters Rockefeller ($3.75 each). They were all large, plump and briney. Just the way I like them. I tend to lean towards East Coast oysters. I really enjoyed the raw, and the Rockefeller were one of the better versions I've had. But I thought the grilled oysters lacked the grill char flavor I had hoped for and I wouldn't order them again.
On special that night were Crab Stuffed Mushrooms with an alfredo sauce, so those couldn't be missed. Good thing, because it was probably one of my favorite bites of the night.
Lastly, we ordered the Ahi-Tuna ($13) that is pan-seared rare and served with a homemade sriracha aioli sauce, capers, diced red onion and seaweed salad. It had all of the fixin's of an everything bagel and lox, and with everything combined in one bite it was ok, but really this dish was underwhelming in my opinion and I wouldn't recommend it.
While getting quite full, we couldn't overlook the real reason we had driven all the way to Lake County...the Naked Lobster Roll (1 roll $14, 2 rolls $23) served with fries. Since we didn't want two sides, we ordered the double roll plate. They aren't too big, so it was a perfect end to the meal for us. Buttered and toasted bun, warm lobster, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice...it was definitely the best version I've had locally. Just a hint more of the warm butter on the lobster, and it would be near perfect in my opinion. I'd ask for a side of drawn butter next time to liberally add my own.
If you've never had a Connecticut-style lobster roll like this and are only used to the Maine-style with chilled lobster, celery and mayo, then give this type a try. You won't want to go back! Trust me.

Look, it's no Maine, but this was absolutely the closest thing we've had in Northeast Ohio. Warmed me right up for our August trip.

I know there are a couple of other spots in the area that are rumored to have a good lobster roll on the menu. Hit me with those suggestions! 

2749 Som Center Road
Willoughby Hills, OH 44094
(440) 569-1634

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Quintana's Barber Speakeasy

Ever since I heard about the "secret" speakeasy above Quintana's Barber and Dream Spa in Cleveland Heights, I've been wanting to go. Craft cocktails, a secret back door buzzer, and a bookcase passage? I'm in!
Some of the spa services have moved to the building next door as the business has expanded, so two floors above the barber shop have been converted into a swanky speakeasy bar that seats about 20-25 guests.

Lucky for newbies like us, there's a small sign at the front door that provides you with directions on how to enter the speakeasy.
Once we were inside, it was a little harder to find, but someone took pity on us and cracked open the bookcase door after we all fumbled around a bit.

We were greeted with a small swanky bar, low lighting, comfortable seating, and a great list of craft cocktails (and other adult beverages). Even some mocktails. They also serve a handful of Small Plates for those that need a nibble.
They have some cool events hosted there too, such as Tarot Card Readings, Hands-on Craft Cocktail Classes, and live music nights.

This may have been my first visit, but certainly won't be my last. 

2200 S Taylor Road
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118
(216) 321-7889

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Daisy's Ice Cream

Just about a year ago, chef Walter Hyde (of Fat Casual BBQ fame) took over the iconic walk-up Daisy's Ice Cream in Slavic Village.
While he's still slinging ice cream (and some cool ones at that), he's also added savory items like BBQ beef, mac n' cheese, hot dogs, and specials like smoked meats and pierogi.
I'll have to head back to get my BBQ fix another day, because the sun was shining and for a brief moment it actually felt like summer wasn't far away in Cleveland. So we dove into the ice cream. I had the Strawberry Shortcake Cone (only one size available).
While messy, it was quite delicious.

Mr. H ordered the Oreo My God Milkshake, and it was a sight to be seen!
Join them for their First Birthday Party tomorrow, June 21st to celebrate the business, and the official start to Summer. 

5614 Fleet Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44105
(216) 441-3426

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Cincinnati Eats: Sotto

I saved the best for last, of our Cincinnati dining excursions. It happened to be the first meal we had during this trip, and nothing else quite lived up to Sotto.

First, it's really fun to find, as it's tucked away down a flight of stairs off the street level in Downtown.
You then take two more flights of stairs down into the underbelly of the city, and are greeted with dark rooms, warm low lighting, rustic and industrial elements, and candlelight. It is one of the only restaurants in my life that immediate just struck me as SEXY.
The service was top notch, with a very detailed verbal walk through of the menu and helpful suggestions along the way.

We started with a house favorite, the goat cheese, hazelnut honey, and grilled bread ($9). The secret is that the goat cheese is whipped with ricotta, and it was silky smooth.
Next up was the grilled octopus with white bean shishito ragu, and breadcrumbs ($21). Holy crap was this dish beyond delicious. The octopus was cooked perfectly, but not the star of the show as the dish read on the menu. That bean and pepper ragu was to die for, and we could have eaten another bowl.
A friend had raved about their cacio e pepe with tonnarelli, black pepper, and pecorino ($17), and boy did it live up to the hype. Rich, decadent, and the pasta was cooked perfectly.
But Mr. H's tagliatelle con funghi with morels, spring onion, and parmigiano ($28) stole this course. The ramps featured gave it such a beautiful flavor.
This restaurant falls within the top three meals I've had in Cincinnati, and we'll be revisiting this one for sure. Maybe even on our next trip there...

118 E 6th Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202
(513) 977-6886

Monday, June 17, 2019

Cincinnati Eats: Mita's

Next up on our culinary adventures in Cincinnati is dinner at Mita's Restaurant and Bar. With multiple nods from the James Beard Foundation and the same operators as one of our favorite spots, Salazar, I had high expectations.

While the restaurant space felt a little sterile and much like a hotel lobby restaurant (I can't pinpoint why, but we both felt it.), the floor to ceiling street views of Downtown, food and drink did not disappoint. I enjoyed one too many of their El Luchador craft cocktail with blanco tequila, ginger, citrus, jalapeƱo, and triple sec.
The Modern Mexican food reminded me a lot of Cleveland's beloved Momocho. The menu is built with small plates options to build a meal or for sharing.

We kicked off the meal with fantastic Tostones y Guacamole ($11) with twice fried plantains tossed in garlic butter and served with crushed avocado dip. Seriously, we need to recreate this at home so where can we buy good plantains in Cleveland?
We also ordered the Ceviche of the Day ($17). It was a good ceviche, but for the steep price I'd probably stick with ordering other menu items.
The Tacos De Calamares (2 for $10) of fried calamari tacos, pickled fresno peppers, cilantro, onion, corn tortillas, and harissa aioli were also awesome.
My least favorite dish was the Arepa Con Queso Fresco Y Chorizo ($10) of a cornmeal cake, farmers cheese and pork sausage. The flavors were good, but it was a tad dry and really needed some sauce.
We ended the meal with a light and sweet Pastel de Tres Leches ($9) of sponge cake, three milks, and dulce de leche caramel.

While I didn't love the vibe of the restaurant, everything else was very good and I'll happily dine there again during my Cincinnati travels. 

Mita's Restaurant and Bar
501 Race Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202
(513) 421-6482