Monday, March 18, 2019

Moxie the Restaurant

I was recently invited to a social influencer dinner at Moxie, the Restaurant. It was actually my first time at the famous east side restaurant and sister spot to Red, the Steakhouse. They had planned quite the spread, showcasing a lot of different dishes on their menu.
Everything was served family-style for this event, and we kicked off with Calamari with shishito, fresno, scallion, cilantro, sweet chili aioli, and brulee lemon.
And Charred Shishito Peppers with a ginger lime vinaigrette and parmigiana pink salt.
Next course included a Fattoush salad with romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, onions, radishes, feta, crispy pita, and lemon pepper vinaigrette.
Second course also gave us the Tuna Tartare with chile vinaigrette, wasabi guacamole, and tagorashi scallion wonton.
Now we got into the main course, and sampled the Curry Gulf Shrimp with flash-fried shrimp, forbidden rice, bok choy, and chili curry broth.
The Shaksuka with tomato, fennel, cumin, spinach, chickpea, eggplant, roasted egg, and feta served with naan.
That thick house-made naan was the perfect vehicle for the dish.
The Veal Osso Bucco served with goat cheese polenta, fingerlings, roasted parsnips and carrots, and demi.
And the last savory dish of the night, New Zealand Lamb Rack with whipped sweet potato, red onion, cranberry, pecan, and brussel sprout leaves.
We topped off the meal with some assorted pastries and the Warm Apple Fritter with vanilla ice cream and cinnamon caramel sauce.
Completely stuffed and rolling out of the restaurant, it was a delightful meal that left me desiring to come back. Highlights for me were the Curry Gulf Shrimp, Naan, and (surprisingly, as I'm not a dessert gal)...the Warm Apple Fritter.

Moxie, the Restaurant
3355 Richmond Road
Beachwood, OH 44122
(216) 831-5599

Disclosure: I was invited, with a guest, to a complimentary dinner event. All food and wine was provided in exchange for sharing our experience. All opinions are 100% my own.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Cru Uncorked

Mr. H and I celebrated my birthday a few weeks late, and he surprised me with dinner at Cru Uncorked in Moreland Hills.
Fine-dining French in a château-like setting, it's quite unlike any other Cleveland area restaurant I've seen. Starting with a very grand entrance.
With several separate, cozy dining rooms and fireplaces galore, it was warm and inviting on a chilly winter night.
While the interior was elegant and high-end, I'd also like to go back in the warmer months and take advantage of the outdoor terrace seating.
As we settled in and placed our order, an amuse-bouche arrived at the table. Which is always a pleasant surprise and a nice way to kick off any fine-dining experience.
We decided to share a dish they are becoming known for, the Seared Foie Gras Preparation (MP) with seasonal accoutrements. That night's included a pear and luxardo cherry sauce. Rich, decadent and it spread nicely on the two types of bread served.
We also shared the Escargot Cocotte ($16) of braised snails, forest mushrooms, tarragon, pearl onion, bacon, and garlic. This combination of flavors was unlike other escargot I've had in the past, and we really enjoyed it.
I ordered the Halibut ($48) with sauce verjus, golden raisins, capers, marcona almonds, and pommes puree.
Mr. H got the Potato Scaled Snapper ($45) with citrus rosemary crème and melted leek fondue.
Beautifully plated and both really nice fish dishes, we were really happy. But as you can see, the price tag is steep. The same quality fish and presentation can run you at least $10 less in other great Cleveland restaurants.

The portions are not huge (but were appropriate), and the dining experience is not rushed, so we had room for dessert! Mr. H did not care for the pudding-like texture of his Apple Verrine ($14) with white chocolate caramel crème, apple confit, almond crumble, warm caramel sauce, and green apple sorbet. However, the tableside presentation was fun to watch. I had the Chocolate Stone ($12) with dark chocolate mousse, caramel chocolate cremeux center, and crème fraiche ice cream. Which really did look kind of like a river rock!
Service was some of the best I've had in Cleveland, and we enjoyed our craft cocktails as well. I'm sure that the wine list would prove to be full of fabulous options.

It's just across the street from Flour, and they offer complimentary valet parking.

For the price-point and setting, this should be reserved for a special occasion. It was certainly a special meal, and felt quite birthday treat-worthy.

Cru Uncorked
34300 Chagrin Blvd.
Moreland Hills, OH 44022
(440) 903-1171

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Ninja City Kitchen

Moved from its east side location in University Circle, Ninja City Kitchen and Bar has revamped the former Old City Soda space in the Gordon Square Arts District.
On Detroit Avenue, on the same block as Sweet Moses and across the "hall" from FOUNT, the space inside doesn't feel very different than its former tenant. Wide open, long bar, lots of natural light from the large windows...but now with a modern Asian cartoon flare.
My friend had asked to go here, as she was craving their Steam Buns ($14.95 for 4) after a recent visit. You have your choice of BBQ Pulled Pork, Chicken, Tofu, Steak, or Shrimp. A $1 upcharge applies for splitting proteins. We had two Steak and two Chicken, and they were quite enjoyable.
We all quickly agreed to also share two orders of the Spring Rolls ($4.25) with pork and veggies and a sweet garlic vinaigrette.
Several other of the "Small Bites" options were calling my name, so I decided to order the Pork Rangoons (pictured below) and Chicken Wings (Honey Wasabi sauce). They offer a Build Your Own Bento Box option where you can mix and match the small bites to build a meal (3 for $11.95 or 4 for $14.95). We liked all of the small bites that we tried. None blew my socks off, but all were solid and I'd have no trouble ordering again.
My two friends both ordered Ramen Noodle Soup, but I went for the Banh Mi Sandwich ($12.95). You can select from the Classic (braised pork belly, ham, and pate), Chicken, Tofu, Steak, or Shrimp. I went right for the Classic. Again, solid and enjoyable, but I've had better banh mi sandwiches in AsiaTown. It comes with a side of Togarashi Fries or Tots. I had the fries, and they were nice and crispy fresh-cut fries with an interesting and heavy-handed seasoning blend.
Lastly, we all indulged in some adult beverages. I had their version of a tiki cocktail, and it was quite tasty.

It was quiet on a Monday evening, but service was attentive, the food arrived pretty quickly once we decided to order, and I enjoyed our meal. This could definitely be a family-friendly spot, and there is easy street parking or the public parking lot one block away. Make sure you stop in to Brewnuts just down the block and across the street for dessert!

Ninja City Kitchen and Bar
6706 Detroit Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44102
(216) 862-7200

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

EDWINS Butcher Shop

We recently popped over to the east side to visit the newly opened EDWINS Butcher Shop on Buckeye Road, just south of Shaker Square and the flagship restaurant.
They opened their doors in mid-December, offering traditional cuts of raw and cured meats, as well as several house-made items like bratwurst and sausages.
In addition to what you'd find in a traditional butcher shop, you'll also see a selection of dried goods, sauces and other condiments (a few locally made), and a handful of other small surprises in the shop.
Shoppers can also complete their meal preparation from a selection of wines by the bottle, draught beer sold by the crowler or growler, and bottled beer and soda.
But, you can also pop in to enjoy a selection of house-made sandwiches, soups, and other prepared meals. You can dine in, or take it to go. I scooped up a pickle from the GIANT jar on the counter, and it was crisp, juicy, and flavorful.
The butcher shop is part of the EDWINS growing campus, training recently released incarcerated individuals that are looking for a second chance and marketable skills. This is just one more step in the program's expansion plans. The future holds a spice shop and bakery, from what I've read.

EDWINS Butcher Shop
13024 Buckeye Road
Cleveland, OH 44120
(216) 417-1100

Sunday, February 24, 2019

How Do You Say Goodbye

"Am I a cancer survivor?," he asked. My mom immediately, and firmly, said "Yes!" But I could tell that he was pondering it further, and so was I.

My dad was preparing to be the featured patient speaker at a Relay for Life event in my hometown last summer as we had this brief, but impactful, conversation. His journey with cancer had started 24 years prior. But the end was near, and he was going to lose his life to cancer. I think he was having a difficult time feeling like he was "surviving" the disease.
survivor[ser-vahy-ver]
noun
- a person or thing that survives.
- Law. the one of two or more designated persons, as joint tenants or others having a joint interest, who outlives the other or others.
- a person who continues to function or prosper in spite of opposition, hardship, or setbacks.

That last line resonates with me, and not just for my dad, but for the entire family.

On February 1st, I lost my dad to cancer.
While I wasn't ready to say "Goodbye" to someone that had made such an impact on my life and shaped who I am today, I did get the chance to. I made it to NY to be by his bedside, just hours before he passed. I shook him awake, and he looked right at me. I said "Dad, I'm here. I made it in time." and he said, "Wow. Wow." before he let out three big sighs. I said, "Dad, I love you. I love you so much." and he said, "I love you too." That was the moment I needed.
For me, it wasn't truly "Goodbye" because I know that he'll still be with me. I'll hear his voice when I need it most, and that booming and quick laugh will never be forgotten. But life certainly won't be the same, and I won't be the same.
I am grateful that his battle with cancer took 24 years before claiming his life. His body may have  been consumed by the disease, but he was NEVER defined by it. The last four and a half years, when the battle got really tough, we focused on the good. The time together, making new memories, and still laughing a lot.
Life will go on. I will survive without my dad. But a piece of my heart will remain forever broken.

A person who continues to function or prosper in spite of opposition, hardship, or setbacks. That was my dad. That is me.

As I reflect back now...Yes, you were a cancer survivor.

I love you, dad. And I can still hear you saying "I love you too."