Friday, June 28, 2013

Lago Moves to the Flats

My favorite part about blogging is when something excites me so much that I just can't wait to share it with you. Recently, that happened at Cork & Cleaver Social Kitchen, and now the new and improved Lago.

Lago is one of my first food memories in Cleveland. "R" took me there for my birthday, right before I moved to this fine city five years ago. It's always had a special place in my heart, and I was sad to see it close its doors in the nearby neighborhood of Tremont. Well folks, they are about to reopen their doors on Monday in their new space---located on the east bank of the Flats in the Aloft Hotel. I had the privilege of attending their Friends & Family Night last night for a soft opening, so I'm thrilled that I can give you a sneak peek on what to expect.

Valet parking right in front of the hotel and the restaurant's entrance was quick and easy ($8 for 0-6 hours), so I hope that it's something that will be offered all the time. They do need some outdoor signage, so hopefully that's in the works. Inside, the space is designed to look industrial-chic with a soft glow in the main dining room. There was a lot of excitement in the room, and the vibe was infectious. "R" and I started to look at the drink menu, and it was hard to choose. They have a great list of cocktails and martinis, and I enjoyed a Mirtillio with OYO honey vanilla vodka, simple syrup, blueberry, and lemon first. Then, I dove into a 1987 martini with Hanger 1 Buddha's Hand citron vodka, St. Germain, lemon, and white cranberry.
Both were light, tart, and refreshing.

Our server, Aubrey, was simply fabulous throughout the evening, and she guided us through the menu to make our selections. We started with an order of the Scallops with manchego polenta, pistachio pesto, and crispy kale ($15). The predominant flavor was pesto, so proceed with caution if you're not a fan of heavy pesto flavor. However, the scallops were seared perfectly, and "R" is still scratching his head about how they can get such a perfect crust. Ours at home just never turn out that good. The pesto and scallops on their own were a bit salty, but once you took a bite with the polenta then it helped to balance it out.

Next, we shared the Beet Salad with crimson and golden beets, arugula, goat cheese, pistachio, orange, and citronette ($10).
We were informed that this is one of the "smaller" salads, and that all of them are big enough to share. This salad was more than enough for the two of us, so keep that in mind when ordering. A tad more goat cheese would have taken this up a notch, but overall it was a good beet salad and we both really liked the dressing.

Diners will be happy to see that several of the classic Lago favorites made their way on to the new menu, like the Lobster Gnocchi ($24) and Veal Stuffed Tortelloni ($23). I couldn't resist trying one of these dishes. I wanted to see how they stacked up to the versions previously served at Fabio Salerno's other restaurants (old Lago, Grotto, Gusto).
Served with peas and crispy prosciutto, this dish is rich and hearty. I have to say, this was the best version that I've had from any of his restaurants. Clearly, it's been perfected over time.

Now, the real star of the evening was the 14 oz. Bone-in Filet with prosciutto-wrapped potato, chef's vegetable, and a truffled demiglaze. With a $45 price tag, I expected it to be good, but HOLY MOLY it was outstanding.
The meat itself was splendid, and so tender that it cut like butter. The seasoning was just perfect, complimenting the meat without overpowering. The truffle demiglaze just took it over the top, and we both deemed it "the best steak that we've had in Cleveland." I don't take that declaration lightly, and we've certainly had our fair share of steaks in the area. The potato was certainly unique in presentation, but there were bites that were slightly undercooked. Overall, this dish is worth every penny.

All of these dishes, we selected from the menu. There were a handful that they weren't serving during the soft-opening, including a couple that we'd like to try, like the $56 "burger" (more on that at a later date). But the dessert course was a pre-selected tasting for everyone, and it included a small version of their cheesecake, a glass of their truffle milkshake that will be served with the $56 burger, and an interesting concoction made from banana bread and chocolate (my favorite of the three).

"R" and I were beyond stuffed, glowing from a fabulous meal and seeing friends, and looking forward to a return visit soon. My buddy Lanny Chin is in the kitchen, and I'm thrilled for him. Being down in the flats on a gorgeous summer night, and seeing the progress that they are making down there, is exciting. Good things are ahead for the Flats, Cleveland!

Aloft Hotel
1091 West 10th Street
Cleveland, OH

Disclosure: I was invited to the Friends & Family soft-opening by Chef Lanny Chin. All food was complimentary at the event, and we paid for our own drinks. This in no way influenced my opinion of the restaurant. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.


Crystal @EatDrinkClev said...

Holy crap - we just got home from Lago and are still giddy. What a feast! Can't wait to go back. Date night?