Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Last of the "World Class Wine Series"

Head over to Lago Restaurant & Wine Bar on Professor Avenue in Tremont for the last "World Class Wine Series" event of the season. Each tasting includes 25 elegant wines and light hors d'oeuvres. $40 per person plus tax, reservations required. 8:30 PM this Friday night, featuring wines from Tuscany and food pairings to compliment the region's wine. This is one foodie who will definitely be there!

2221 Professor Avenue

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mixed Feelings About Mi Pueblo

Last night my co-workers and I went to Mi Pueblo in University Circle. The real draw was 1/2 price margaritas- any size! You can't beat $10 for a pitcher of margaritas on the first "summery" day in Cleveland. It was a little disappointing that this restaurant doesn't have outdoor seating, but we decided that flavored margaritas and cheap Mexican was worth the sacrifice. Parking was great, they have a little lot behind the restaurant off of Euclid. Many of the shops/restaurants in that area do not. We settled into a booth with a good view for people watching.

This is where is starts to head south...It took the waitress about 15 minutes to take our drink order, and half an hour later we still didn't have menus. Once our waitress resurfaced, she realized that we didn't have menus and took our order quickly. As with most Mexican food, it came out shortly after, but at this point we had been waiting for almost an hour. At least we had tortilla chips, two types of fresh homemade salsa, and pickled carrots to keep our tummies from rumbling too loudly. The salsa was a highlight of the meal. It was very fresh and just the right amount of "kick". One unique thing about Mi Pueblo is that each dinner is served with a cup of chicken soup. Bizarre concept, but tasty nonetheless. I ordered the Enchilada Rojo Combinacion, which included two cheese or chicken enchiladas with red sauce, two small cheese quesadillas, refried beans, rice, salad and guacamole. The enchiladas were savory, but I did need to add a little hot sauce to satisfy my love for spice. The tortillas on the quesadillas were a little grainy and tough, so I left one on the plate. I am a huge guacamole fan, and this was pretty good. You could actually see the fresh cilantro leaves and it was chunky, which I love. I just could have used a little more.

All in all, it was an adequate meal with tasty, and CHEAP, margaritas. While there are many other BETTER Mexican restaurants in Cleveland, I do recommend their half-price Wednesday special on margaritas if you are in the area. Just don't go out of your way, and don't carry high expectations.

Mi Pueblo
11611 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44106

Mi Pueblo on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 18, 2009

Pacific East Hits the Spot

I had been craving, and asking for, sushi for several months now, but we just hadn't made it to any of our local favorites. Traveling home last night from NY, we found ourselves on the East side. We headed to one of our favorite Thai places, Ly's, but quickly remembered reading that it had closed. Scrambling for ideas, we headed back out on the road. Since I really had a craving for sushi, we decided to try Pacific East and I can not express how happy I am that we made that decision.

The restaurant itself was a lot smaller than I expected, with only about a dozen tables and seating at the sushi bar. I realized very quickly that they have a loyal following in the area as several patrons greeted the sushi chef by name and he commented on personal details of their lives. This is always a good sign! We started with the Black Pepper Tuna appetizer- black pepper coated tuna seared then thinly sliced, served with cucumber, scallion & the special honey mustard wasabi sauce. The tuna was finely coated, pan seared and served raw with a delicious sauce lightly drizzled on top. It was tasty, but not the highlight of the meal. I've had better.

I am not terribly adventuresome with sushi. I tend to stick with my favorites, and willingly try anything that my table mates order as long as it doesn't include eel (childhood story that still gives me nightmares). I ordered a California roll and a Spicy Crunchy Shrimp roll. Both were excellent and you could taste the freshness of the ingredients. The spicy sauce was one of the best that I've had- one of the plus sides of always ordering the same thing! "R" ordered a Manhattan roll, which was outstanding. The large roll was stuffed with shrimp tempura, vegetables and spicy sauce, and then topped with fresh avocado and a creamy lobster sauce. The lobster sauce was savory and included medium-sized chunks of fresh lobster meat. The sauce really brought the dish all together, and it was one of the best rolls that I've ever had. This is one Japanese restaurant worth checking out!

Pacific East Japanese Restaurant
1763 Coventry Road
Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118

Pacific East Japanese on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ticket to Tokyo is a Hidden Gem

This little Japanese restaurant is tucked away in the bottom of an office building on Public Square, and unless you work in that area you would never know that it is there. Luckily, a friend who works downtown took me there this week. I took her advice and ordered the "Little Something" (I think!), which included a small salad with a delicious traditional Japanese dressing, a battered chicken satay drizzled with a sweet and tangy sauce, sticky rice with sesame seeds and a signature soy sauce, and a crispy chicken spring roll. For $5, it was a feast! Beware that it is cash only, but check out this little gem if you are downtown at lunchtime.

Ticket To Tokyo
(216) 861-3488
Public Square
55 Public Square
Cleveland, OH 44113

Ticket To Tokyo on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 11, 2009

Yes, again...

After trying to hit up Luxe with a friend from out of town on Saturday night and being told that the wait was 1.5 hours, we ended up at Fahrenheit. I have had the pleasure of eating there twice before, but both were for closed parties with a special menu for the event. So this was the first time that we had ordered off of the regular menu, and what a treat it was!

I had been meaning to for quite a while now, so even though it was our second choice I was very excited. To start, we split the "Fahrenheit Spinach and Artichoke Dip- Artichokes, Lemon, Parmesan, Tabasco, Toasted Chips and Pita". The pita bread was warm, soft and fresh, and the dip was tasty with large chunks of artichoke hearts and spinach in a gooey delicious loveliness. I then had the "Coffee & Mustard Crusted "Heritage” Pork Tenderloin, Maple Sweet Potato, Toasted Nuts". The pork was lean and lightly crusted. The waiter recommended it be served medium, and he was right. The meat was juicy with a slightly pink center. The tenderloin was served on a bed of maple sweet potato mash (delish!) and a small serving of fresh spinach. My table mates ordered the "Wild Mushrooms, Local Goat Cheese, Caramelized Onions, Rosemary pizza" (which was fantastic, but even better later that night after hitting up the bars downtown), "Pan Seared Sea Scallops, Potato-Wild Mushroom-Edamame Corn Hash and Truffle Buerre Blanc" (scallops were cooked perfectly and the light sauce was very flavorful), and "14oz Strip Steak, Balsamic Roasted Shallots, Blue Cheese Herb Butter, Crispy Onion Straws". Rocco's "comfort classics" as he calls his menu is just that. He takes basic dishes and adds a special flare that puts it over the edge. His dishes are artistic, flavorful, and I can't wait to go back again.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

"Tap" This!

Located on Scranton Road in historic Tremont, The Tremont Tap House is a blend of industrial and contemporary. With its exposed brick, hardwood floors, and warm cherry wood accents, the place is warm and inviting with an artistic flare. The soon to be open patio looked like a great summer hot spot! Their Beer Cheese Soup left something to be desired. The flavor was a little bland, and the croutons were extremely hard. It also didn't help that the soup was less than hot, even though we were mere feet away from the kitchen. The Seared Sea Scallops with white truffle oil and wild mushroom risotto was another story. The scallops were cooked to perfection, with just a slight outer crisp. The risotto was a nice consistency, and was both tasty and eye-pleasing. Their real claim to fame is the beer list. With over 100 selections, 24 on tap, it's hard not to find one (or two or three) that you love. I recommend Bell's Oberon- think Great Lakes' Holy Moses or a Blue Moon. Perfect for summer. All in all, we definitely plan to go back!

The Tremont Tap House
2572 Scranton Road
Tremont, Ohio
(216) 298-4451

Monday, May 4, 2009

3rd Annual Patron Tasting

I had the pleasure of being invited to the 3rd Annual Fahrenheit Patron Party this past weekend. Rocco's talent was shining at this Mexican-inspired tasting. For $32, guests received six courses and two Patron-infused cocktails (what a deal!).

1st Course- Fried Flour Tortilla Chips, Salsa Fresco, Guacamole
This dish was a simple classic, but the chips were delicious and the guacamole was tart and salty-just how I like it!

2nd Course- Crab and Local Sweet Corn Fundido, Spinach, Sharp Jack Cheese, Pickled Chilies, Lime, Cumin Rubbed Pita, and Flour Tortilla Chips
By far our favorite dish of the evening! This "dip" was filled with large hunks of real crab meat, the sweet corn just shined, and the pickled chilies gave it just the right amount of "zing". This should be on the regular menu at Fahrenheit!

3rd Course- Red Chili Roasted Duck Quesadilla, Smoked Red Onion, Pico De Gallo, Sour Cream
Tasty and rich in flavor!

4th Course- Mexican Pizza, Fresh Avocado, Roasted Tomato, Chorizo, Cilantro, Sharp Jack and Cheddar Cheese, Garlic Oil
This was the weakest dish on the menu, but mainly because our plate did not include the fresh avocado. When the plate arrived, it looked bare. All of the chorizo was clumped together on one slice of the pizza, and the avocado was mysteriously missing. It was still a tasty dish, but fresh avocado and extra cilantro would have given this dish the extra push that it needed.

5th Course- "Rocco's" Taco's" Walleye and Shrimp Tempura, Napa Cabbage Slaw, Secret Salsa, Flour Tortillas
Served off of Rocco's truck parked on the sidewalk, this course was one of the best. The battered walleye and shrimp were light and tasty, and the cabbage slaw was one of the best that I've had in a while. All of the components worked wonderfully together, and getting them off his "roach coach" was part of the fun!

6th Course- Choice of Spiced Mango Cheesecake with Mint or Fahrenheit Fried Ice Cream, Crispy Crust, Double Scoop, Truffle Honey, Chocolate Sauce
I went for the fried ice cream, but both desserts were fantastic. The ice cream was coated in sweet crushed corn flakes and drizzled with honey and chocolate sauce. The cheesecake reminded me of key lime pie- it was so light and refreshing. The flavor of mango was well thought out and not overpowering. A perfect finish to a wonderful tasting!

All of the dishes included in the tasting really highlighted Chef Whalen's talent. It just goes to show that a true chef can create simple dishes that are packed with flavor and tickle the tastebuds.