Monday, November 30, 2009

La Strada Was "La Clunker"

We found ourselves downtown for Public Square's Winterfest on Saturday evening, and after the tree lighting and fireworks we started to wander down East 4th in search of food and drinks. Of course The Greenhouse Tavern didn't have any openings for 1.5 hours (do you blame them? I don't! It's fantastic.). So we stumbled into La Strada, owned by Terry Tarantino who also operates La Dolce Vita in Little Italy.

I vaguely remember reading a review in The Plain Dealer about how dimly lit the restaurant was- and they were spot on! "R" even commented that they must save a lot of money on their electric bill (what a jokester he is). Once we got over the lighting situation, I started to take in the place. The seating arrangement is a little odd, with the focus being on the classic black and white movies playing through a projector onto the main wall of the restaurant. Is anyone really watching while they eat? It boasts that it is a "Mediterranean bistro", but I really think that it was an excuse to decorate by slapping up random wall decor (ex. tribal mask next to our table) and lots of candles. I certainly did not feel "transported to the streets of Rome, Barcelona, and Athens" as their website claims. Trust me, I've been there.

I ordered the Fettuccine Fellini with gorgonzola in a tomato cream sauce ($18). When the dish arrived, I was severely disappointed in the presentation. The noodles were drenched in a pale pink sauce close to the shade of the pasta, and the dish was seriously lacking some garnish. The whole plate just looked bland. The sauce wasn't bad after I made sure that each bite had a substantial amount on it, and the noodles were clearly home-made. A vegetable or something else to add a little color to the plate would have gone a long way in my eyes. Overall, it was just ok. "R" tried the Vagabondo pizza with spinach, tomato, red pepper, red onion, kalamata olive, french feta, and mozzarella ($11). The crust was so thin that it cracked and crumbled as you bit into it, and the pizza was lacking any sauce or a desired amount of cheese. He was pretty disappointed in his selection.

While I am glad that we finally tried La Strada, I can't see us going back with so many wonderful options popping up on East 4th.

La Strada
2050 East 4th Street
Cleveland, OH 44115
(216) 861-3663

La Strada on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Charity Event That You Must Check Out!

"Blog It Forward"- what a concept. Cleveland's infamous Chef's Widow and her hubby Chef Sawyer are opening the doors of their amazing Greenhouse Tavern restaurant for a happy hour event on December 3rd to benefit a wonderful fellow blogger going through a difficult time right now.

Read more about the event, and seriously consider attending. We're talking about $6 for Sawyer's highly sought after Chicken Wings- what a deal, and it's all for a great cause!

Monday, November 23, 2009

A New "Angle" For Us

This past weekend we stumbled upon The Old Angle Tavern in Ohio City- and what a find it was! I have passed by there many times, and in my mind I had pictured more of a dive bar. The warm, cozy, rich interior has an artistic flare. Old bookshelves line the mahogany bar- filled with assorted glassware, bottles, books, and tchotchkes. We were instantly impressed with the upscale bar menu and long drink list.

We started with the Lamb Sliders- topped with tzatziki & onions ($6). The sliders were thick, juicy, and flavorful. My slider had more sauce on it than the other one, also "R" was a little disappointed with his because of this. I opted for the Ohio City Cheese Steak with grilled onion, assorted cheeses and au-jus ($8.5). The cheese steak sandwich was giant, and the steak was clearly shaved fresh in-house. I will argue that the cheese tasted like American, not "assorted"- but it was still gooey and good. The au-jus is what really brought this sandwich home. "R" had the Grilled Cheese with duck confit, tomato, American & Swiss cheese ($8). It was out of this world. The thick Texas toast supported the hearty portion of cheese and other fillers. The duck confit added just the right amount of richness to the sandwich. All sandwiches are served with fresh-cut french fries, slaw, and amazing thick-cut dill pickles. I am a french fry lover, and rarely want to mess with the flavor by using ketchup- but the Old Angle's house-made ketchup was fantastic. The hint of spices and chunks of tomato complimented the fries perfectly.

This is a great happy hour spot, or if you're settling in for a casual evening of drinks and food that is up a notch from other local taverns. It's also a plus that it is only a few miles from our house! You can be assured that we'll be back (soon!).

Old Angle Tavern
1848 W 25th Street
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 861-5643

Old Angle Tavern on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I Live With Trattoria's Biggest Fan

From the time we started dating over two years ago, my boyfriend has expressed his love for Trattoria's House Special Gnocchi Al Burro. In the heart of Little Italy, Trattoria has a lot of great competition on Mayfield Road. Its low profile entrance and signage might not jump out at you, but this is one casual, cozy, third-generation run destination that you should check out. The atmospohere is nothing special, and could actually be called "cliche". However, thier plump, hearty gnocchi make it worth the trip.

I have now experienced their gnocchi special more times that I can count, and I too have become a loyal fan. Their homemade potato dumplings are soaked in a tomato, basil, butter and Romano cheese sauce- and it is to die for. I actually highly recommend getting take out and allowing the gnocchi to absorb the delicious sauce for a while longer. Many things are not as good reheated, but this dish is better!

You also need to try their fresh bruschetta that is served with each entree order. The house-made dipping sauce is phenomenal, and the warm baked bread served with it is the perfect spoon! Lucky for us, they sell it by the jar.

12207 Mayfield Road

Cleveland, OH 44106

(216) 421-2700

Trattoria on the Hill (Roman Gardens) on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Whoops! Brunch at the Tap House

If you follow me on Twitter, then you know that "R" and I have been frequenting the Tremont Tap House a lot lately. Not only is it located in one of our favorite neighborhoods, but it is just the type of place we envision ourselves owning some day (and I do mean some day). The exposed brick, funky decor, warm lighting, casual atmosphere, and outstanding food often fits what we are in the mood for. I've been nothing but impressed with the food we've had there: gourmet burgers, home made pizzas, seafood entrees, hanger steak, and ahhh the Hot Pretzel with Imperial Stout and Smoked Cheddar dip ($6). Of course I can't forget to mention their extensive beer list!

They have a nice happy hour, with several food specials including the house burger for $5.

However, we stopped in for their famous brunch last Sunday and what a disaster it was! For once, I will not be writing about the food- because it was that terrible. My Steak and Eggs was missing the red onion relish, the steak was well done, and the eggs were severely under cooked. I will be writing about their service and how well they responded to an unfortunate situation.

Brunch begins at 10 AM on Sundays, and we arrived around 10:10. There was one other table seated. Our waitress quickly informed us that the chef had not arrived yet, and everything that included a hollandaise sauce was not available (which is nearly half the menu). We didn't mind, and placed an order for two items sans sauce. As the bar and dining area began to fill up, we realized that the chef was still not there. Over an hour later, our food had still not arrived and the staff was scrambling to handle the situation. Both owners were present, and stopped by our table several times to apologize. The food finally arrived- prepared by a sous chef in over his head but he served us with a smile and great attitude. It was pretty bad. As we finished our meal, one of the owners- Christopher Lieb -stopped by one last time. He apologized profusely and gave us his business card. "Next time you want to come in, just give me a call and we'll get you a gift certificate, " he said. Apparently his partner had run to grab some, but would not be back before we left. We were thrilled with the offer and thought that it was very appropriate. Then came the surprise. We received the bill and they had taken $15 off the $34 bill- almost half!

Things happen. Anyone who has worked in the restaurant industry understands this more than most people. It is all about how you handle the situation, and the owners and staff at the Tap House handled it better than I've ever experienced before. I will not hold this disastrous brunch against them, and you can believe that we'll be back there soon!

Tremont Tap House and Grill
2572 Scranton Road
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 298-4451

*photo courtesy of Stuartblog2