Thursday, January 30, 2014

Miega Korean BBQ

One of the last places that I hit on my 2013 To Dine Challenge was Miega Korean BBQ. It also ended up being one of my favorite restaurants from the list. Luckily, I had two friends that were willing to join me for lunch. It was quite the fun excursion!

It wasn't as easy to find as I had hoped. It is one of several businesses (including a huge Asian market that I must go back and visit) located in a renovated factory building in the heart of Cleveland's AsiaTown. My GPS has just dumped me on the street about half a block down from the actual building. It is on the second floor, with signage in the windows. Parking is free in the large parking lot.

I admittedly struggle with most Asian cuisines. Often, I don't know what the menu items are (poor descriptions, in many cases), and I hesitate to jump in and order something that I haven't had before. Korean is something that I haven't had a lot of, so I headed to social media (and a text to a friend) before the trip. My friend had a great suggestion, and luckily Foursquare echoed his recommendation at Miega.

But, before that, I started with an order of the Pa Jun ($9.95)- a Korean-style pancake with spring onions and kimchi.
It was a tad greasy, but heavenly. The soy dipping sauce was great with the kimchi and green onions.

An assortment of side dishes appear with any order. The selections change, but it's always something fun to add to your meal. Also, each lunch order included a small bowl of soup (that none of us touched- so much food!).
Now, here's what I ordered for lunch. I got the Dol Sot Bi Bim Bop ($9.95)- rice topped with vegetables, meat, red pepper paste, and served in a hot stone pot. Does anyone else get creeped out when menus list it as just "meat" when other items include beef, duck, chicken in the description?
It arrives deconstructed with a raw egg on top, and piping hot. You stir together all of the components, while the clay pot crisps the rice, heats the vegetables, and cooks the egg. Add in some hot sauce, and this is what you get:
It was so delicious! The best part was the crispy rice that had browned right up from the heat of the pot. Still no idea what the "meat" was. I'm hoping beef, since it was brown in color.

Based on this first experience, I would love to dine there again. I'd like to try one of the dishes where they cook the meat tableside.

Have you ever had Korean food? What's your favorite dish?

Miega Korean Barbaque
3820 Superior Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44114

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The 2014 Great Big Home & Garden Show Giveaway

The 2014 Great Big Home & Garden Show is hitting the IX Center from February 8th - 16th, bringing you over 600 exhibitors, demonstrations, celebrity performances, and more.
I have attended the show the last couple of years, and it's always a great way to spend the day. "R" and I enjoy working on our home, both inside and out. Okay, well I do, and "R" begrudgingly accommodates most of my requests. In the six years that we've been living together, we've made over every room in the house with the exception of our master bedroom/home office space upstairs. This included gutting the one and only bathroom in our house, painting every single room, and a complete kitchen remodel (which I still need to share pictures of with you). A show like this one is a great place to get ideas, meet vendors, and sample products.

I also always enjoy catching some celebrity and local chefs doing demonstrations at the Main Stage and Cooking Stage. The Loretta Paganini School of Cooking will be joining The Great Big Home & Garden Show by hosting a variety of local culinary experts with themed demos taking place daily.

You can purchase tickets in advance online for $11 per adult ($3 savings for purchasing online), $5 for children 6-12, and under 6 are free to attend. My readers can save an additional $1 off each ticket by using BITEBUFF as a code during checkout.

Or, you can win two admission passes this week! Just leave me a comment below, telling me which room in your house or outdoor space, that needs some upgrading. For us, it's the sun room right now. Some structural work that needs to be done may lead to a redesign, so I'm looking for some inspiration at the show.

Also, where do you like to shop for home goods? I'm addicted to Marshall's and TJMaxx. I think it's the thrill of the "hunt" that excites me. Most of our home is decorated with their wares.

I will select a winner, using, on Friday, January 31st. Good luck!

Disclosure: The Great Big Home & Garden Show offered me two media passes and two admission passes for a giveaway in exchange for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Trip to Cafe Miami

And I do mean a "trip"...

A picture is worth a thousand words, and I just couldn't stop snapping.
Located in Old Brooklyn on State Road, we had literally driven by this restaurant on a weekly basis and had no idea that it existed. The Café Miami signage is a little hidden by the awnings, and there is a giant mural on the side of the building next to it that is very distracting. Our focus was always elsewhere, and we totally missed this.

As soon as I entered, I couldn't wipe the grin from my face. It had such character, and there was so much to look at.
The owner/cook, Larry, is a collector, and everything in the restaurant is for sale.
This guy kept us company from the plant next to our table.
The dining room was small and charming, and there is also limited seating at a counter when you enter the restaurant.
That would provide you with a front-row seat to the banter from the kitchen, which sounded entertaining at times.

As soon as we were seated, two homemade chocolate cupcakes arrived at the table, compliments of the cook.
"R" was not complaining about the sweet start to the morning.

We both ordered omelets. I went with the Cheese Lover ($5.50). Dining Deals Alert!
It came with a side of toast and hashbrowns. I added a side of bacon for $3.

The menu isn't large, and the item descriptions are pretty vague. We overheard a server talking to another table about a cornbread waffle with sausage gravy. Umm, if that exists..."R" wants it!
My omelet was okay. The cheese was clearly just American. It was also melted inside, but the slices on top left a slimy texture in my mouth that can only come from processed cheese. I could have done without the top layer, and it probably would have been a darn good omelet.

The restaurant was a hoot, and I just pretended that I didn't see someone else's breakfast leftover on my cloth placemat. Our server, Crystal, was attentive and pleasant, giving us some history on the place. For the entertainment factor alone, she got a good tip that day.

I think we'll be back.

Café Miami
4517 State Road
Cleveland, OH 44109

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Il Bacio

Yikes, I haven't blogged much in the last month. It's been a whirlwind several weeks, between holiday travel to stay with my family and an eight-day work trip to Florida for our Liver Life Challenge program...I've been busy. Life just gets in the way of blogging sometimes. But, that's okay, because now I have a lot of fun content to share with you. It's not like I stopped having some dining adventures over the last month!

With January 1st looming, I still had three restaurants left on my 2013 To Dine Challenge that I needed to hit. "R" and I headed to Il Bacio Ristorante Italiano in Little Italy for a date night on one snowy evening. Pasta just sounds better when the weather is cold, right?
It is located on Murray Hill Road, right across the street from Washington Place Bistro. Free street parking was hard to locate, but we eventually found a spot after circling a few blocks. That's one of my biggest complaints about the Little Italy area.

Inside, it was warm and intimate, with a nice street view from our table.
We were clearly the "outsiders" there that evening, and this Italian restaurant has its regulars. Service was pleasant and helpful, however, more attentive to the other tables.

We started with a special, breaded eggplant with marinara and ricotta.
Often, marinara sauce in restaurants leave a lot to be desired, in my opinion. They don't have the depth of flavor that a good homemade sauce can have. This version? Not too bad! Personally, I would have liked a little more seasoning, but overall it was nice. I just wish that the bread hadn't been served cold and a tad stale. It would have made for a great dipping sauce. The eggplant wasn't greasy, the light breading gave it some great texture, and the ricotta was smooth and light.

"R" ordered the seafood risotto special- Shrimp Scampi, and I went with a similar variation from their regular menu (sorry, no website means no accurate menu posted online for reference).
My dish was absolutely packed with mussels, clams, shrimp, and scallops. My broth was clearly better than the one that "R" ordered, but the rice was a real disappointment in both. Not the consistency or flavor that I truly enjoy from a risotto.

So, overall there were some hits and misses that evening. We enjoyed being tucked away in a cozy restaurant on a snowy night, with great smells coming from the kitchen and neighborly conversation flowing in the dining room. But, this meal didn't leave us wanting more from Il Bacio.

Il Bacio
2181 Murray Hill Road
Cleveland, OH 44106

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The 2014 To Dine Challenge

Happy New Year! Another year has passed, and we're starting fresh again in 2014. Reflecting back on the year, I had some great dining adventures. Many, thanks to you. The 2013 "To Dine" list of 10 restaurants that you all submitted was a good one. I knocked five off right away, tackled a couple of more as the months went on, and found myself left with three by December. I crammed them in, and the last 2013 posts will be coming shortly.

Some favorites from last year's list were: Jezebels Bayou, Blue Door Café, Sterle's, and Miega.

Since it is the beginning of a new year, it's time to reveal the new list. You all posted, tweeted, and shared 46 restaurant suggestions with me. It was hard to narrow down the list to just ten, but here we go...

2014 To Dine Challenge
1. Nuevo Acapulco Mexican Restaurant
2. La Kabob Lebanese Grill
3. Phat Daddy's Kitchen
4. Dolce Wraps
5. Thyme2
6. Seoul Garden
7. The Original Steaks and Hoagies
8. Thai Kitchen
9. Petti's Pizza & Restaurant
10. Annex Bar and Grille

Over the next twelve months, I'll visit each of these restaurants and share my experiences with you. Anyone want to join me for one?

I hope that you celebrated the ending of 2013, and beginning of 2014, well last night. Time certainly does fly by, and I try to stop and appreciate what I have in my life and what has transpired over the last twelve months. 2013 was a good ride, but I think that 2014 will be even better.

Cheers to that.
- Katrina