Thursday, August 21, 2014

#ThisisCLE Culinary Tour: Part Two x 2

When I last left you, we were getting some rest and freshening up for dinner on Day Two of our Cleveland culinary tour. Sarah, from Eat PGH, and I had quite the evening planned for Cleveland's Ohio City neighborhood. It's one of my favorite areas of the city, and it certainly has a lot of great dining options.

I chose to take her to my personal favorite, The Black Pig. It also happened to be their Two-Year Birthday that day, so they were in full celebration mode.
Besides the food, one of the things that I love most about The Black Pig is their unique rooftop patio. With a nice view of Downtown, secluded and small, it's perfect for a fun dining experience.

We wanted to share a couple of small plates to start the meal. I absolutely had to order the Braised Pork Belly ($11) for us.
The preparation changes often on their menu, but the pork is always cooked to perfection with a crispy crust and melt-in-your-mouth belly meat. The peaches this time were a great summery combination of flavors.

We asked our server to select the other small plate for us to share. She chose the Crispy Chicken Thigh ($10).
The chicken itself was only okay. I think it's hard for chicken to be a "star," so her selection was curious.

Luckily, this course quickly redeemed itself when Chef/Owner Michael Nowak sent up some complimentary Pork Rinds ($5) with salsa verde and Parmesan.
They were still cracklin' on the plate for quite some time! So crispy and delicious, we happily munched away.

We both selected the fish special, a Swordfish. Every day they do a Market Fish special.
This meaty fish was prepared very well, and the spaetzel paired well with it.

Nowak couldn't let us leave without sending out a sweet bite to finish the meal. It was a chocolate sampler, and a perfect ending to the meal.
It was an outstanding one overall, and one of my favorites during our three-day tour.

Then, we walked for a bit and ended at Crop Bistro. We were a little early for our dessert reservation, and they were slammed, so we settled into a high-top table in the bar area. Our frazzled and gruff server made a poor impression, in my opinion, but we made do. I wanted Sarah to see the beauty of the converted bank space. Although, the high ceilings and use of marble make for a very loud setting when the restaurant is full.

Our sweet tooth was satisfied by the chocolate tasting from The Black Pig, so we ended up ordering a Cheese Plate from their Daily Cheese Selection (five cheese for $20 or three for $15).
We also ordered their signature Balsamic Popcorn ($6) so that Sarah could try it.

Service continued to be an issue, and it was extremely loud in there, but the food was fine and we enjoyed ourselves. We were both dreaming up copy-cat recipes to do the popcorn at home.

The night ended with a drink at Velvet Tango Room. We had originally tried to head to Porco Tikki Lounge, but the parking lots were packed and we couldn't find a spot. Great to see! The prohibition-style VTR is certainly worth showing off as well, so I wasn't too disappointed. The $18 price tag on the cocktails may seem steep, but they can be well-worth it. Still not feeling it? Stop in for happy hour prices.

Completely whooped from our day, and bellies quite full, we called it a night. One more day to go!

Disclosure: I partnered with Positively Cleveland to host a three-day culinary tour for a visiting food writer. All meals, admission tickets, and transportation costs were paid for. All opinions stated are 100% my own.