Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Social and Prosperous

I have been to Prosperity Social Club in Tremont twice now, and I've been pretty impressed with the place. My first visit was not too long ago, for happy hour with co-workers and friends on a Friday evening. We enjoyed discounted drinks, decent food, and board games galore! One of the best things PSC has to offer is their collection of board games available for patrons to use while they dine and drink. As our group dwindled from 9 to 5 people, we started to play Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders- as drinking games (very fun, and I can explain the "rules" if you are interested). Overall, we had a great evening but I did think that my pita bread which accompanied the spinach and artichoke dip ($8) was over baked.

Last night was my second time dining at PSC, and the food experience was much better than the first. We arrived early to take advantage of their great Happy Hour deals from 4-7PM. Domestic bottles were $2 and micro brew drafts were $3.75. They also have great wine and cocktail deals. During happy hour, several appetizers are on special, including a dozen mussels ($3) and the hummus plate ($5). We started with the mussels, which are sauteed in a garlic butter white wine broth and served with warm bread. The broth was delicious, though heavy on the garlic so consider yourself warned! The toasty warm bread was the perfect avenue for soaking up the broth. The hummus is made in-house. It was unique and we really enjoyed it, but I did think that it lacked some acidity. The plate came with toasted pita bread (not as bad as my first experience, but still overly crisp), tomatoes and cucumber slices. It was a large bowl of hummus for the $5 price.

They have week night specials, and Tuesday is $5 Cheeseburgers day. The patty was cooked nicely (medium as requested) and the bun was very fresh. It was a little messy to eat, but delicious. The house fries that come with the burger were fresh cut. It was a great deal for $5! I've also heard that they have excellent fall-off-the-bone ribs and that the Friday Fish Fry is very good. It is a great casual bar with tasty food, so if you're looking for a relatively cheap night out and some good old fashioned fun with board games you should check this place out.

Prosperity Social Club
1109 Starkweather Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 937-1938

Prosperity Social Club on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

It May Have a Funny Name...

Anyone who pays attention to the restaurant scene in Cleveland has heard of Zach Bruell and his popular contemporary cusine at Parallax (Tremont), Table 45 (located inside the InterContinental Hotel by the Cleveland Clinic), and his newest restaurant L'Albatros Brasserie & Bar (University Circle). I've had the pleasure of dining at Parallax before (delicious modern seafood), haven't made it to Table 45 yet, and last night was my first time experiencing L'Albatros since its opening. I have to say that if my decision was based on the decor and atmosphere, I would not be going back. Bruell's contemporary trend was taken a bit too far with the cold white plastic chairs and table, minimalist artwork and decor, and simplistic (a.k.a. boring) bar area. Also a glass of wine runs you about $10. Now on to the food- which is where he really shines!

We started with the "French Toast" served with ragout of wild mushrooms and balsamic syrup ($8). Our waitress stated that it was their signature starter and very popular. The dish was very rich, but inventive and flavorful. The carmelized mushrooms and hint of balsamic syrup was a wonderful combination. The light, fluffy french toast squares just melted in your mouth. Two of us ordered the pasta special of the evening which included house-made noodles smothered in a light goat cheese fondue with grilled cauliflower. The dish was tasty and the portion was perfect, but I think I would have enjoyed my first choice off their regular menu a little better. I think it was the words "goat cheese fondue" that got me! Luckily, our other dining companion ordered my top choice: Seared Sea Scallops with brussel sprouts, noodles and pernod cream ($20). The gigantic scallops appeared to be seared to perfection, and they were nestled on a bed of house-made noodles. I may be back to try this dish for myself! We finished with the Warm Chocolate Brownie served with crème anglaise and vanilla bean ice cream ($7). It arrived warm as promised, and the ice cream was melting right into the thick gooey brownie. Umm, can you say heaven?!

Overall, I was impressed with the food and will probably overlook the atmosphere of the restaurant while dining there again. Rumor has it that Bruell is opening a fourth restaurant on East 4th in the near future. Keep your eyes peeled!

L'Albatros Brasserie & Bar
11401 Bellflower Ct.
Cleveland, OH 44106
(216) 791-7880

L'Albatros on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 19, 2009

Three Birds Gets Three Thumbs Up

It was a weekend of dining out in our household, but unfortunately Luxe Kitchen & Lounge left such a sour taste in my mouth on Friday night that I won't even bother with a blog post just for them. Marlin Kaplan and his team did not deliver on Friday night (aside from the Harissa Dusted Chicken Wings with Yogurt Honey Sauce), and I have sworn off pork cheeks for the rest of my life. Three Birds in Lakewood was the real highlight of our "Fall Fun" weekend, as we called it. We have both been dying to go there but just hadn't made it there yet. I've heard nothing but rave reviews about what James Bell and executive chef Rachel Speith are doing with the restaurant, and I couldn't wait to check it out for myself.

We arrived around 8:30 p.m. and the place was packed. The wait was short, but the bar and dining room were both hopping. I was immediately struck by the atmosphere: warm, cozy, modern without being cold, and the restaurant has a casual feel with a touch of class. We settled into our table (unfortunately tucked away in a small room off of the main dining room) and ordered drinks. The waiter was knowledgeable and funny, and we instantly liked him. We started with the Shrimp Bisque (on special) and the Poached Pear Salad. The bisque was creamy and complete with small chunks of tasty shrimp. The salad was refreshing, but with arugula as the base it was a little hard to get it on your fork. Originally I ordered the pork tenderloin entree, but sadly they were out of the dish and I moved on to my second choice: Beef Tenderloin with Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes and Root Vegetables ($29). "R" ordered the Maine Lobster Pizza with Manchego Cheese, Caramelized Cipollini Onions, Roasted Garlic Puree, and Fresh Herbs ($15) from the appetizer menu. Our soup and salad had arrived quickly, but our entrees seemed to be taking a while. We had just started to notice this when the manager appeared at our table to apologize and offer free desserts. We didn't mind waiting, and were really enjoying the evening over a glass of wine, but it certainly was nice to know they cared that it was taking longer than it should. Let me tell you- it was worth the wait! The filet fell into the category of top three steaks in my life, and the pillow of mashed potatoes was creamy and satisfying. My only criticism is of the sauce that accompanied the root vegetables. It was overpowering and tart, and I quickly pushed them aside. This rarely ever happens, but "R" was happy to steal them away. His pizza was tasty and topped with quite a lot of lobster meat. The manchego cheese was a nice discovery. We were absolutely stuffed by the time we had finished our entrees, but we gladly accepted their offer of a free dessert and took home an order of the Goat Cheese Cheesecake- the wait staff's favorite.

Three Birds exceeded my expectations, and they were pretty high to begin with. We will certainly be back! Possibly to check out their beautiful brick-enclosed patio during the warmer months.

Three Birds
18515 Detroit Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44107
(216) 221-3500

Three Birds on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 12, 2009

"We'll Have One of Everything, Please"

The title of this post is how I felt at Flying Fig in Ohio City on Saturday night. My parents were in town for the weekend, and "R" and I took them out for a nice meal. We were in the mood to share and sample, so Fig's "savory smalls" and "savory starts" was exactly what we were looking for. The small bistro is warm and inviting, a cozy setting nestled on Market Avenue across from Great Lakes Brewing Company. The trees outside glitter with twinkling lights, and you are instantly warm and relaxed inside the restaurant.

We started with the house soups of the day, Pumpkin Bisque and Hot Banana Pepper Bisque and a Local Greens salad ($8- Soft Herbs, Croutons, Sherry-Garlic Vinaigrette and Manchego Cheese). Both soups were fantastic, but the pumpkin bisque was the perfect end to a beautful fall day in Cleveland. It warmed you to the core and left us excited about the season. We also shared thier famous Tempura Battered Green Beans ($7- Ponzu Sauce and Pineapple Caramel), which were fabulous. The lightly battered green beans came with soy sauce and a delicious sweet and sour dipping sauce. Then we literally told the waiter to bring us "one of everything" off of the Savory Smalls menu section. This was inspired by their menu option of combining selections for a Trio of Small Plates (Choose 3 items) for $24.50. The items included: Herbed Ricotta Gnocchi (With Braised Plum Creek Farm Rabbit, Caramelized Onions, Wild Mushrooms and Romano Cheese), Seared Scallop (Stuffed with Braised Beef, Horseradish Potato Puree), Morrocan Spiced Crispy Tofu (Lentils & Rice, Harrissa Yogurt and Preserved Lemon), Medjool Dates (Stuffed with Chorizo and Wrapped with Smoked Bacon and Smoked Pepper Sauce), Stuffed Banana Pepper (Housemade Italian Sausage and Tomato Thyme Coulis), and finally a Crispy Polenta Cake (Tomato and Fennel Sauce with Mascarpone). The real highlight were the stuffed dates. The chorizo and bacon added a smokey flavor to the sweet date, and we were fighting over the last bite. The scallop was seared to perfection, and the gnocchi was hearty and flavorful. The only dish that was not a huge hit at our table was the tofu dish. It was a little dry and under seasoned.

Overall, we were extremely happy with the meal and the service was very good. Several of the entrees sounded creative and appealing, so we will certainly be going back for seconds!

Flying Fig
2523 Market Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 241-4243

Flying Fig on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"Lucky" to Have Found It

Recently, we found our way over to Lucky's Cafe in Tremont for their famous brunch. Owner/chef Heather Haviland is making quite a name for herself in Cleveland, and people are raving about her desserts and brunch. Their delicious brunch is served from 9 AM - 3 PM on Saturdays and Sundays only, and they are quite popular! During the warm weather months, you can sit outside at brightly painted picnic tables.

Selecting a menu item was difficult, as many were very tempting, but I settled on the Breakfast Burritos: veggie scrambled eggs rolled in flour tortillas, covered with a guajillo pepper sauce & cheddar cheese, baked in a casserole and served with hash browns. The dish was piping hot and smelled amazing as our server set it down in front of me! The pepper sauce had a nice level of heat behind it, but was not overwhelming for first thing in the morning. "R" had the Biscuits: cheddar scallion biscuits topped with soft scrambled eggs and sausage gravy and served with hash brown potatoes and grapes. The biscuits were freshly baked and melted in your mouth. The combination of eggs and gravy was hearty and tasty. The gravy was nicely seasoned, with just a little kick to it. We decided to split a side of the Pecan Bacon, and I am so glad that we did! The thick-cut bacon was lightly breaded with crushed pecans, and was perfectly sweet and savory. Also, Lucky's coffee is fresh brewed and served in gigantic coffee mugs that leave you smiling. This restaurant is quite a gem, and although it was a little pricey we will definitely be going back!

Catch Heather and Lucky's Cafe on the Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives on October 12th!

Lucky's Cafe
777 Starkweather Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 622-7773