Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Sal's Menu Restaurant

Ohhh heeey. Just checking in here, during an absolute crazy time at work. Tis the season for non-profit outdoor fundraisers. Our window of time is very tight in Ohio!

But, I bring to you today another recent diner excursion. Mr. H and I have driven past Sal's Menu Restaurant a thousand times. It sits near the corner of Denison Avenue and Pearl Road/West 25th Street, just before the bridge by the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.

There are a couple of parking spots in front of the restaurant, but you're more likely to find parking in the small lot located behind the building.

The diner is small, with outdated charm and a long traditional counter with a front-row seat to an open grill.
We settled into a booth, ordered drinks, and started to look at the menu.
If you're ordering a OJ...the "large" is a regular glass and the "small" is the teeny, tiny pour pictured above. Perfect for what I wanted, but Mr. H went with the large.

Mr. H ordered an omelette. Strange...but they wouldn't add gyro meat to it as requested, and instead served it to him on the side. Maybe no substitutions at all? 

I stuck with my traditional two eggs over-medium with wheat toast, home fries, and bacon. When ordering bacon, they ask you if you want it soft, medium, or crispy. I love it! 
I ordered the bacon crispy, and as you can see...crispy it was. Maybe a tad too much. The eggs were cooked perfectly, but the potatoes were under-cooked. I need to remember to ask for them well-done. I blame my dad. He makes quite the home fries!

This plate of food was pricier than the same at other diners, and while decent, nothing really stood out as memorable for us. Dining Deals Alert! So, another day, another diner.

Where should we head now?

Sal's Menu Restaurant (no website)
3850 Pearl Road
Cleveland, OH 44109

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Guido's Pizza Haven

Full disclosure, a friend of a friend owns Guido's Pizza Haven and Restaurant in Chesterland. Our friends have said nothing but good things about the food over the years, and have often mentioned that we all should meet out there for dinner. But, with what seemed like a really long drive out to Chesterland, it just didn't happen. Until the 2015 To Dine Challenge list. My friend submitted the nomination, and I just knew that it needed to make the final list. We've literally talked about it for YEARS, and I still hadn't been. Well, that recently changed.
The restaurant has quite the following, and even the new, larger location is always packed. We selected a Tuesday evening, thinking that it would be a better choice than a weekend night. At 6:30pm, there still was about a 15 minute wait, and a rotating line of take-out customers.
I instantly liked how a portion of the kitchen was open. It was fun to watch them work as we waited, and the smells wafting from the window were tantalizing.
Once seated, we let our friends guide us through ordering. For the table, we ordered a small Pepperoni and Sausage Pizza.
This pizza was unlike any other pizza that I've had in the Greater Cleveland area. Square pizza is their thing, which leads to extra crispy crusts on each little slice. It was thick and doughy, plenty of cheesy goodness, and quite enjoyable. We regrettably didn't have any leftovers for the next day.

Portions are large here, but many of the main dishes you can get as a meal or just a small plate. Mr. H ordered the meal of Chicken Parmesan.
It came with a salad (ask for the pink house dressing, not the regular), and a side of pasta of your choice. He went with a mix of the Meat Ravioli and Cheese Ravioli.
The pictures don't do the size justice. We both ate some of the Chicken Parm, and there was half of it leftover the next day that we AGAIN split. The chicken was pounded so thin; it's the thinnest version that I've ever seen. Our friend loves it, and compares all other Chicken Parms to it. For me, a self-proclaimed chicken breast hater, I liked it too. Mr. H enjoyed it, but would have preferred for it to be thicker. The ravioli were fine, but not memorable. It's the only thing that I wouldn't order again.

I decided to try the Eggplant Roll-ups.
This is their small version! It was enough for us both to have some, and I still took one home for lunch the next day.

Completely in a "carb coma" after this filling meal, we rolled out of there and headed back to Cleveland.

The food is classic Italian, and one of the better Italian meals that I've had in the area. I truly enjoyed the restaurant, and the charming family that runs it.

Other notes: It's BYOB, and cash only!

You may not find yourself in Chesterland often, but if you do, I suggest checking out Guido's Pizza Haven and Restaurant.

Guido's Pizza Haven and Restaurant
12809 Chillicothe Road
Chesterland, OH

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Suzie's Family Restaurant

Another weekend, another diner excursion for Mr. H and me. This time, we stopped into a restaurant not too far from home.
Suzie's Family Restaurant on Memphis Avenue. It used to be a Taco Bell, so the exterior and interior both reflect that. There is plenty of parking in the large parking lot next to the building.

The inside of the restaurant is unusual. There is an "upper" level that includes the kitchen and dining area, and then you take a few steps down to another section of seating.
This area puts you actually underground a bit, with a real sidewalk-level view.
The menu was small, and pretty basic. Not a lot of interesting options here, except maybe the Good Ole Smokey and Eggs.
I stuck with my diner classic of two eggs over-medium, wheat toast, bacon, and home fries ($2.95).
It was okay, but nothing special. The eggs were a hair under-cooked, potatoes barely crispy, and the toast was soggy. We also ordered a croissant to share, and it arrived with mold on it. Gross!

So, it was fun to check out another diner, but this one won't be making it back into rotation.

What's your favorite diner in the Greater Cleveland area?

Suzie's Family Restaurant
6212 Memphis Avenue
Cleveland, OH

Friday, May 8, 2015

Merwin's Wharf

We tried to get to Merwin's Wharf twice after it opened, but the wait was always too long, and we turned away. Now, seasons have passed, but it was time to check it out. This restaurant/bar is located in quite a desirable spot along the river, with views of Downtown Cleveland, towering bridges and passing boats. Owned and operated by the Cleveland Metroparks, it has an expansive patio and outdoor area on the water, a big bar, and plenty of indoor seating as well.
On one of the first nice days of Spring, we grabbed a patio table and I ordered up a Bloody Mary.
Look at that meat and cheese skewer! Also, note the large outdoor fireplace and seating area just beyond our table.

Mr. H had their Black Bean Burger ($11), and it was quite awful. Mushy, flavorless, and an odd grayish brown color. Head to Town Hall in Ohio City for a much better version.

However, I had the Mushroom Melt with arugula, goat cheese, and pickled carrots and red onion on toasted sourdough bread. It was exceptional. So good, that we tried to recreate it at home last week.
Even though this was just two weekends ago, the online menu isn't listing this item any longer. I sure hope that it's still there, because I'd go there just for that sandwich.

A great summer spot in Cleveland. Take in The Flats, enjoy being by the water (which is hard to find in our area), and try out their menu. I think some are hits, and some may be misses.

Merwin's Wharf
1785 Merwin Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Inn on Coventry

While we're not east-siders, I'm still surprised that it took us this long to dine at the Inn on Coventry.
Their Lemon Ricotta Pancakes are famous.
Even this non-pancake lover can see why. I stole two bites of Mr. H's pancake.

They have many other flavors of pancakes, and a wide selection of omelets, egg specialties, south of the border-inspired dishes, and inn specialties. The restaurant also features daily specials. That's just the breakfast portion of the menu!

The Corned Beef Hash was a common order at our table of six diners, but it was determined that Big Al's is still better.

I went with the Turkey Benedict, with turkey sausage patties, grilled English muffin, poached eggs, and Hollandaise sauce ($8.49).
The eggs were cooked perfectly, with just enough runny, golden yolk without any under-cooked egg white. I hate that. The sausage was flavorful, and while hearty, it was quite good.

The place is very popular, and people were packed in on a Sunday morning. We had to wait a bit for a table, so plan accordingly.

Inn on Coventry
2785 Euclid Heights Boulevard
Cleveland Heights, OH 44106

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Event Recap: 20th Anniversary Market at the Food Bank

Sunday evening, Mr. H and I headed to the food distribution center for the Greater Cleveland Food Bank for the 20th Anniversary Market at the Food Bank event to benefit the Harvest for Hunger Campaign.
When I used to work for the organization, the event was held at The Galleria. It was a gorgeous setting for a nighttime event, but now that the event has moved to the Food Bank's own facility, you can truly see the impact of the dollars raised at this fundraiser. The warehouse, in particular, is so impressive, and most of the event is held within the neatly organized, towering shelves.
Restaurants and beverage stations are tucked in aisles, the volunteer re-pack area, and the loading dock. Guests get to wander through the facility, sampling food from about 50 different stations.

Some of the participating restaurants I knew would be favorites, like Edwins' Pork Terrine with Pickled Vegetables and Asparagus Quiche, and Trentina's pasta, and the Tuna Tonnato from Chef John Selick at University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center.

But, there were some surprises as well. I enjoyed the Lobster Bisque and Bacon Tomato Sandwich from Strip Steakhouse/Tree House, and the Asian-inspired Tacos from Pub Frato.
There may have been two versions of Chicken Paprikash there, but Chef Jeff Jarrett and Sterle's was superior.
 I'm still trying to convince Mr. H to purchase one of their shirts. I think it's hysterical.

Plenty of sweet treats were there for anyone with a sweet tooth. I avoided most of it, but ended my night with a scoop of Salted Caramel Truffle from Tremont Scoops. I highly recommend.

The event raised more than $230,000 for the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. That's a record for this event, and I was just happy to be a part of it. Mr. H had a bit too much wine, and spent a pretty penny in the silent auction. I'm sure that I won't mind as much when we're dining on the Observation Deck of the Terminal Tower with six friends and food from Chef John Selick. I was just content knowing that the funds will be used in our local community, and that for every $1 donated, the Food Bank can provide 4 meals in a hunger center. Congratulations to the team at the Food Bank! The 20th Anniversary event was a success in every way.

All images were provided by the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.

Disclosure: I am a former employee of the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. I was provided with four General Admission tickets in exchange for hosting a ticket giveaway and a post-event blog post. All opinions stated are 100% my own. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

River Dog Cafe: Gourmet Hot Dogs

I've been working on knocking restaurants off of the 2015 To Dine Challenge. I'm determined to get to them all this year! That meant a recent trip to River Dog Cafe in Rocky River.
This fast-casual gourmet hot dog and sandwich shop is family-friendly, and focused on serving up quality product that both kids and adults will enjoy. The hot dogs are made with all natural, grass-fed beef, and there are enough topping choices that everyone can find something that makes them happy.

The restaurant is small, but open and welcoming. Classic toys fill shelves on the wall, and the menus are hand-written on playful chalkboards. There were a lot of suggested dogs with interesting toppings (and a build-your-own option), so it took us some time to decide.
Mr. H got The Chubalub: split on the bun and topped with Mac n Cheese and a Fried Egg($6).
The mac can also be ordered as a side dish, and it had a nice subtle spice to it.

We both ordered ​​The Jenny Dog with Brie Cheese, Crispy Bacon and Honey Truffle Glaze ($6).
I also got a side of tater tots ($2.50).
The dogs themselves were pretty tasty, and the toppings were interesting. The only real downfall was that the buns are just too big, and you end up with pretty bread-y bites. I did see this tip on social media. I tweeted at the chef after our dinner there, and he said that they are looking into other bin options.

While this was a decent place, and we enjoyed our meal overall, Happy Dog it is not. This is a good option if you live close by, but for us, Happy Dog is closer and better, when it comes to the hot dogs.

They do have a good list of cafe sandwiches, wraps, rolls or bowls, and a Kids Menu. The meal was cheap, arrived quickly, fresh, and overall pretty good. Just not memorable enough to drive to Rocky River from our area for.

River Dog Cafe
19900 Detroit Road
Rocky River, OH