Saturday, January 30, 2010

"Love the food, love the chef"

When "R" selected Fahrenheit as his restaurant choice for one last birthday celebration with his family, I was thrilled. I am a huge fan of Rocco and his food is typically outstanding. It helps that he is one of the nicest chefs in Cleveland and his outpouring of love for Cleveland and Tremont is infectious.

Fahrenheit is nestled in the heart of Tremont's dining district, within walking distance of several other great bars and restaurants (ex. Treehouse, Flying Monkey, Edison's Pub, Lago, Lolita, and of course the newly opened Dante). I think Fahrenheit's success is due to consistent high quality dishes and the innovation of Chef Whalen. The crowd was varied, which I think is the goal of the restaurant's warm and comfortable atmosphere. The bar was packed and the dining room was bustling. I've had the pleasure of eating Rocco's creations on many occasions, but this was actually only my second time dining from his regular menu.

On our first visit (about a year ago) I ordered the Coffee & Mustard Crusted Pork Tenderloin- Maple Glazed Sweet Potato, Garlic Spinach, Toasted Macadamia Nuts ($24). I remember that this dish was flavored well and the delicate crust of ground coffee and mustard was a surprising combination that danced on your tongue. The dish can still be found on the menu, but its presentation has changed. Last year, the dish was presented as a bed of spinach topped with a pile of mashed sweet potato and sliced pork to top it off. One of our dining companions last night ordered the same dish, but I was a little surprised to see something quite different arrive at the table. The dish is now served in a mini casserole dish- which gives it a slightly more upscale presentation. This just shows that Whalen is constantly challenging himself and his team to deliver the best food possible, even if that means taking a delicious dish and pushing it just a little bit further.

Last night, we started with the Little Meatballs- Roasted Garlic, Tomato Reduction, Basil, Parmesan ($6) and an order of the Fahrenheit Potato Nachos- Goat Cheese Reduction, Crisp Bacon, Chives, Scallions, Sea Salt, Parmesan ($12). The potato nachos were very popular, as we saw at least five orders of them go by as we dined. The house-made chips were good (although Symon's were better last week) but the real gold was at the bottom of the plate. At first I thought that the serving plate was white, but then we realized that the melted goat cheese was drizzled on the plate and we hungrily dipped and scooped the buttery goat cheese onto our chips. I had one perfect bite of rich goat cheese, crushed bacon bits, and fresh scallions. The meatballs on the other hand were nothing special- sorry Rocco. I've had better at a backyard BBQ made from the frozen bulk meatballs you buy at Sam's Club. Moving on...

Our table ordered the Fahrenheit Signature Kobe Beef “Short Ribs”- Teriyaki Lo Mein Noodles, Baby Bok Choy, Roasted Mushroom, Ginger Soy Reduction ($29), Lobster Macaroni & Cheese- Local Goat Cheese, Oven-Dried-Tomato, Cognac Reduction, Poached Lobster & Chives ($ 26), Grilled Beef Tenderloin- Roasted “Ohio City” Fingerling Potato, Roasted Asparagus, Melted Brie, Port Wine-Star Anise Reduction ($30), and I ordered a ravioli special with cremini mushrooms, goat cheese sauce, and large chunks of fresh lobster meat. The short ribs fell apart as "R's" mom slid her fork into the meat, and everyone enjoyed a small bite. The beef tenderloin received rave reviews from both men who ordered it, but each decided to leave the brie behind on their plate- which broke my heart. The only small complaint was that the anise reduction was a little too sweet. The lobster mac & cheese was served with a combination of creamy goat cheese and roasted tomatose as the sauce, which created a flavorful pink cream sauce. It was good, but not the highlight of the meal. My ravioli special was one of our crowd's favorites. It makes me a little sad to think that I can not order it again (hint hint)!

The only down side to this fabulous meal was the service. It wasn't that it was terrible, but all three of the staff members who waited on us were a little off last night. Twice they mixed up who had ordered what dishes, several of the main entrees arrived without the others, and the desserts were served without silverware and we had to sit there as our ice cream and sorbet melted. Also, we ordered three bottles of wine throughout the meal. The first was poured and then placed in an ice bucket with a serving napkin decoratively tied around the neck of the bottle. The napkin disappeared from the second bottle, and the ice bucket disappeared by the third. Not that it made a difference in the quality of our wine, but I thought that it was interesting to observe the level of service as our meal went on.

Overall, it really was a great meal and the quality of food was consistent with Chef Rocco's reputation. We'll be back for sure, and I wish him luck at the national Taste of the NFL event on the eve of the Super Bowl. Cleveland is lucky to have you representing us chef!

2417 Professor Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 781-8858


Dine O Mite! said...

Yeah, the short ribs make my list of 5 favorite entrees in Cleveland. Gorgeous.

Melinda said...

I haven't been to Fahrenheit in a couple years -- it's truly tragic! These darn restaurants keep opening up in Cleveland, I rarely have a chance to revisit my favorites. Looks as though I need to "re-add" him to my Foodie list now that I have a greater (mature) foodie sense and appreciation.

I love Rocco -- he has been a sweetheart since I knew him in high school.

Great review, Bite Buff! :)