Friday, February 21, 2014

First Visit to Edwin's

What Brandon Chrostowski is doing with his new venture- Edwin's Leadership and Restaurant Institute, is bringing a fresh concept to Cleveland. Devoted to helping returning ex-offenders integrate back into our community, while teaching them invaluable skills and hands-on job training; they are providing culinary training, life-skills classes, housing, clothing, counseling, and other important support services. The student-run restaurant is officially open in Shaker Square (in the old Grotto Wine Bar space), and "R" and I decided to celebrate his birthday there.
The restaurant was busy on a Saturday night (a good thing), but this did lead to some noise level issues. We were in the smaller dining area, partitioned off from the bar and main dining room. Every table was filled, and it was often hard to hear "R" across the table. A couple of times the volume of the music got in the way as well. They seemed to be adjusting it throughout our meal.

Let's briefly talk about service. Our server, Jamar, was pleasant and attentive. He made a couple of recommendations, always cleared our used dishes promptly, and in general was very good. Making some casual observations of the room, there were often times that you could tell the servers were "in-training" by small missteps that they made. Another server crossing in front of our server as he spoke to us about the menu, our server presenting the check before asking us if there was anything else that we'd like that evening, and visible jitters from some of the waitstaff.  Brandon was constantly sweeping the room, checking in on guests, and playing a very hands-on role. Overall, service was a bit off from the level of skill and professionalism that you would expect at a fine dining restaurant, but they were clearly trying and hustling to do a good job. Time and strong leadership will certainly make a difference, and you can tell that the desire is there.

Now, on to the food. The "entrees" section of the menu is really more like "shared plates", and we decided to split the Tarte de lapin au Parmesan et jambon en croĆ»te- Rabbit pie with Parmesan and Prosciutto crust ($9) at our server's suggestion. It was a small, warm, little pie of rabbit that was probably the best thing that we ate that night. It was almost sausage-like in texture, and full of flavor.

"R" ordered the Paupiettes de poisson du jour- Market fish wrapped in crispy potatoes with haricot verts and beurre rouge ($28). The mild white fish had a faint ammonia taste to it, so that was a little unappetizing. The shell of crispy potatoes was lost in this dish, but the sauce was the star on this plate. It was wonderful, and saved this dish.

I went with the Confit de canard avec ses champignons sauvages au risotto- Duck confit and wild mushroom risotto ($23) from the Plats Principaux section of the menu.
This dish was a little one-note in flavor, but the variety of textures was fantastic. My favorite part were the tiny, crispy pieces of duck skin that garnished the dish. The duck pulled off the bone easily, and the texture of the risotto was perfectly creamy.

If for no other reason, you have to visit Edwin's for the cheese service. Luckily, Brandon has brought over his love of good cheese and the elegant presentation of a cheese board from his days with Zack Bruell at L'Albatros. "R" and I prefer to end our meal with cheese, and the highly anticipated cheese board did not disappoint.
The fromages are $3 each. Each cheese is described with enthusiasm, and diners can build their own cheese plate based on your personal preference. Us? The "stinkier", the better. When this board is wheeled up to your table, you can't help but drool and elicit stares from around the dining room. It was a perfect ending to a celebratory meal.

Edwin's Restaurant
13101 Shaker Square
Cleveland, OH 44120


Angel said...

I love Edwin's. I had braised rabbit leg. I have to admit the meat itself was not mind-blowing (still very good), but its juices were really awesome. The mashed sweet potatoes with corn were AMAZING. We had a selection of their cheeses, and we were impressed by their quality, taste, and how well our waiter was at educating us about their profiles. The quince paste to cleanse the pallet was extraordinary as well.
The Grand Marnier Souffle was pure perfection, and it came with a great creme Anglaise.

I highly recommend it.

Bite Buff said...

Thanks for sharing your experience, Angel!