Monday, July 27, 2009

Dining at Sans Souci

I would never have thought to dine at Sans Souci located in the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel on Public Square, but I had received a gift certificate at the holidays and I figured that it was time to use it on Saturday. First, I have to say that it was incredibly hard to find in the hotel. I have never been in the Renaissance, but when we entered at street level we were not on the main lobby floor which was odd. Once we reached the lobby level, there was a serious lack of signage and I had to actually ask the front desk where the restaurant was. This may be fine for out-of-town travelers, but if you are trying to drive local Cleveland traffic to your restaurant then I found it a little discouraging.

Now the restaurant boasts "accents and murals of the sun drenched Provincial countryside". My dinner date commented that you felt like you were in an upscale Olive Garden. I agree. The decor was odd and a bit tacky, but I wasn't focused on that since our table (one of the only four) had an amazing view of Public Square through large glass windows. I did notice as we left that our small section of tables were the only tables in the place with that view. Their restaurant is broken into several small areas, which creates a cozy atmosphere, but interrupts the flow of the room.

Ok enough complaints, now on the food- the highlight! I wasn't sure what to expect, but the food blew any expectations that I had out of the water. We were in no hurry for dinner, so we took our time and ordered several different courses. We started with the Chef’s Garden Squash Blossoms with Jonah Crab Squash Blossom stuffed with Sweet Crab, Marscapone and Lemon, Sun Gold Tomato and Basil Oil Garnish. The dish was so creative and the presentation was artful! The crab was slightly overwhelming, therefore the other flavors were hard to taste, but overall the dish was very good. A+ for innovation. Then we sampled the Wood Grilled Mussels in a Cilantro & Tomato Fondue. The mussels were some of the best that I've had, which says a lot since I am obsessed with Southside's mussels in Tremont. The broth base was earthy, and the smokey flavor really enhanced the mussels. For my entree, I opted to try one of the "Signature Items"- Angel Hair Pasta with Lobster Cream, Fresh Basil and Pasta. The portion was perfect. Many pasta dishes completely overdo it, but this was just right. The presentation was interesting as well. The pasta was twisted into a long roll, with the sauce and fresh lobster meat poured on top. The sauce was spiced well, although a little runny, but the real highlight was the abundance of fresh lobster chunks. The plate was filled with succulent meat! My dining companion ordered the Veal Osso Bucco with Saffron Risotto, Sautéed Spinach , Braising Jus Reduction. The waitress stated that it "fell off the bone", and she was spot on. As soon as he touched the bone with the tip of his fork, it slid right away from the meat. The veal was cooked perfectly, but the sauce was a little heavy. It overwhelmed the saffron risotto, so it completely lost its flavor. We ended by splitting a flourless chocolate cake, which was decent but not worth writing any more about.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with our dinner and commend the chef for her creativity and presentation.

Sans Souci
24 Public Square
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 902-4095

Sans Souci on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 17, 2009

Celebrating Bar Cento's Success

Bar Cento in Ohio City celebrated serving its 50,000 pizza last night by offering a FREE pizza for any purchase of a carafe of beer or wine. What a fantastic deal! Three of us headed over there after work, and I'm so glad that we did. We started off with two carafes of Stella Artois and Blue Moon, and the Arugula Pizza w/ pine nuts, onion, garlic & mozzarella and the Salsiccia Pizza w/ tomato sauce, provolone & sweet Italian sausage. The beers are two of my favorites, and both of the pizzas were very good (both thin crust). The arugula pizza had just the right amount of spice, and the caramelized onions were a nice touch. The salsiccia pizza was a little salty, but overall very interesting and tasty. We finished the evening with another carafe of stella and the Sunnyside Pizza w/ eggs, provolone, pancetta & lots of black pepper, which our waiter boasted was the most popular pizza on the menu. It was certainly creative with its over-medium egg and strips of bacon. I would order it again. The pizzas run from $6-$13, so to get three pizzas for free was one hell of a deal. Congratulations to Bar Cento for serving over 50,000 pizzas, and now I can see why after sampling three delicious versions!

Bar Cento & McNulty's Bier Markt
1948 West 25th Street
Cleveland, Ohio, 44113