Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Rusty Anchor at Music Box Supper Club

Mr. H and I had the best Friday night, and it was completely unplanned, unexpected, and unforgettable. It was a picture-perfect July evening in Cleveland. It was gorgeous out, with no humidity, sunny skies, and lots of people out-and-about enjoying our city. We decided to hop in the car to head over to Pier W in Lakewood to try and grab a spot on their deck overlooking the lake and the Downtown skyline. We've dined there many times, but have never taken advantage of their deck seating since it opened last year.

Well, the view and atmosphere did not disappoint. The service, cocktails, and food, however, really missed the mark. I did share our concerns about the cold flatbread that was served and the distinct lipstick mark on my wine glass with our server that night, but I also tweeted at the restaurant. It was truly worth sharing, since that's not the experience we're used to. The representative handling their social media reacted promptly, and I exchanged emails with the General Manager. I'm not a complainer, and I'm not looking for anything, but I did feel that our experience was worth sharing with them so that issues could be addressed. I couldn't be happier about how they handled it. They truly want to know if something is not up to the reputation that they pride themselves on. Whenever you have an issue at a restaurant, I do hope that you'll address it directly with them. Too many people just take to social media instead.

So, the evening still left something to be desired after our drinks and appetizers, and we didn't want to compromise the water views and seafood we were hoping for. That led us to the newly opened Rusty Anchor at the Music Box Supper Club in The Flats of Downtown Cleveland.
Unfortunately, a private party meant that the patio was closed for service, But, we could take advantage of their Oyster Bar outside, serving a limited menu and table service for drinks.
We settled in with a cocktail and some amazing views of the construction taking place on the East Bank.
Oh, what's that??? Just a freighter going by our table...
We helped ourselves to the raw bar, filling up a bowl with two kinds of oysters, crab claws, and peeled shrimp.
I didn't care for the cold crab claws, but the shrimp and oysters were both huge and succulent. They just needed better options for dipping/toppings. Available was lemon juice, hot sauce, and traditional cocktail sauce. A little boring, and it could really be stepped up a notch to enhance this raw bar experience by the river.

In need of something more substantial than the oysters we'd now consumed at both Pier W and Rusty Anchor, we eventually moved on to Tremont. But, wow, what a great time taking advantage of some water views in Cleveland. We need more of them! I could see the newly constructed building for Zack Bruell's Alley Cat restaurant that is set to open on the east bank soon, and I think that Cleveland will be in for a real treat there. Rusty Anchor just didn't live up to my expectations that night, but hopefully, over time, the menu will be tweaked and it will provide the river dining experience that we're all craving. We'll go back to experience the full menu, but so far, I haven't heard positive reviews from other "foodie" friends.

Has anyone else been to the Rusty Anchor for dinner yet, or been to a live music show at the Music Box Supper Club?

Rusty Anchor at Music Box Supper Club
1148 Main Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Brunch at Grovewood Tavern

When I used to work on the near east-side of Cleveland, Grovewood Tavern was a frequent stop for Happy Hour with co-workers. I've also enjoyed dinner there several times, but I was unaware that they served Sunday Brunch. My favorite weekend meal!

Thanks to the powers of Twitter, I was casually scanning my feed on Sunday morning, and Grovewood Tavern tempted me in by posting some delicious-looking food and adult beverages. Since we had errands, and eventually a first birthday party, on the east side that day, it didn't take Mr. H and I long to determine that we wanted to try out their brunch this past Sunday.
The menu options seemed a little hearty, so I was quickly drawn to the Forest Mushroom Crepe ($12). It is a buckwheat crèpe with forest mushroom sautéed with spring peas, preserved Meyer lemon and Gruyère, and then served with a poached egg and seasonal salad.
The mushroom blend was bold in flavor, and balanced well by the hint of lemon and spring pea. The salad could have used more dressing, but I had no other complaints. The egg was poached perfectly, and it was just the right amount of food to leave me satisfied but not stuffed.

Mr. H went for the heavier South by Southwest ($13).
This dish includes a cheddar scallion biscuit, poached eggs, choice of chorizo or mushroom gravy, fruit, and choice of grits or breakfast potatoes. He chose chorizo gravy and the side of grits. The grits were creamy, but bland. The gravy was one of the most flavorful sausage gravies that we've had in Cleveland. Lucky's Cafe is a favorite, and this was right up there with that version.

I topped my meal off with a Clevelander Bloody Mary.
My order of "extra spicy" wasn't spicy at all, but I did enjoy the house-pickled vegetables and the strip of crispy bacon included.

Overall, it held up to my expectations, based on the memorable meals that I've had there in the past. We'd go for brunch again.

Grovewood Tavern
17105 Grovewood Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44110

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Cafe 55

Mr. H and I stopped in to the newly opened Cafe 55 in the Superior/East 55th Street area a couple of Fridays ago for a late breakfast.
The cafe is located right next to Sterle's Country House, and both are included in the Hub 55 Project. The Project is bringing new eateries to the neighborhood, but also important revitalization for the somewhat undesirable area. Cafe 55 was the first step, but up next is The Taproom at Goldhorn Brewery. They've recruited Great Lakes Brewing Company veteran, Joel Warger. Then, you'll see event spaces, a Market, and finally...Executive Chef/General Manager Jeff Jarrett's flagship restaurant (name and concept not yet announced) in the renovated Lakeshore Banking and Trust building across the street. I had the pleasure of touring all of the spaces with Jarrett recently, and this will be quite the anchor that the neighborhood needs.

But, back to Cafe 55. The concept is grab-and-go, healthy, locally-sourced breakfast and lunch items. A few options are also made-to-order. All items are served in to-go containers, so customers can easily take it with them or sit down at one of the tables in the cafe. You order at the counter, after browsing the coolers and menu board.
I wanted a heartier breakfast, since we weren't going to each lunch that day, so I ordered the Mexico City breakfast bowl. All of the breakfast bowls are served on top of oven-roasted potatoes. This version included scrambled eggs, bacon, avocado, pico de gallo, scallions and queso fresco.
For $8, it was a lot of food, and everything tasted super fresh. Mr. H ordered the California breakfast bowl with scrambled eggs, avocado, scallions, red peppers, and goat cheese over potatoes.

They are also partnering with other local businesses, like Sushi 86, Bonbon Cafe, The Donut Scene, and Cleveland Bagel Company, to feature their products.

I was a little mad at ourselves for not grabbing something else from the tempting cooler displays for the road, since we had a long drive ahead of us that day. But, that just means that I'll need to go back to try the lunch items.

Open Monday - Friday from 6:00am - 2:00pm only, so grab a bite during the week. Which is why we visited on a Friday when we were both off of work. Otherwise, it would be hard for me to get there during the week, since I don't live or work in the area. Also, I'd like to see more grab-and-go breakfast items, other than bagels and pastries. The selection seemed limited in the cooler, and more geared towards lunch.

Go check out this first step in completing the Hub 55 Project! It would be a great place for a work meeting: quick, easy breakfast and lunch options, free parking connected to the building, central location, and delicious coffee. They even post a fun coffee fact of the day by the cashier, and you can catch it on their Instagram account. I think that this is a great addition to the Downtown Cleveland scene.

Cafe 55
1361 East 55th Street
Cleveland, OH 44013

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Cincinnati Eats: Otto's

Okay, okay, it's really in Covington, Kentucky across the river from Downtown Cincinnati, but you may not find yourself staying there if you're visiting the Cincinnati area. But, this pocket of restaurants and businesses is worth crossing the river for. We've had some great meals there during my work travels.

This time, we walked from our hotel over to Otto's on Main Street.
This small restaurant is very artsy and eclectic inside, and it reminds me of a spot you'd find in Tremont here. But, on that particular night, we snagged a table for four on the sidewalk. It was a perfect summer night to sit outside and people-watch.

We started with the Grilled Toast of the evening ($8 - toppings vary).
It was topped with apricot preserves, crumbled bleu cheese, arugula, and crispy bacon. It had me dreaming of grilled toasts that we could make at home.

Then, I had the Lobster Salad with greens, lobster, grapefruit, avocado, and citrus vinaigrette ($12).
This salad was packed with large chunks of lobster meat. It was light and refreshing, but I would have loved a squeeze of lemon juice on top. It lacked a bit of citrus for me, and I also didn't care for the raw peppers included. I don't think that they worked well with the lobster and grapefruit flavors.

For my main dish, I ordered the Sea Scallops with roasted asparagus, shiitake mushrooms, Parmesan risotto, and smoked tomato aioli ($26).
This is their most popular entree, and I can see why. It was well-balanced, the scallops were seared perfectly, and I enjoyed the aioli with the rich, cheesy risotto.

Another table favorite was the White Fish with garden panzanella, white beans, herbs, crispy prosciutto, and a citrus beurre blanc ($26). The type of fish changes, but the preparation remains the same. It was a great piece of halibut that evening, and it was cooked perfectly.

Otto's was another great find, and we'll be back.

521 Main Street
Covington, KY 41011

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Event: ALF Dinner at Sterle's Country House

Full disclosure, I work for the American Liver Foundation (ALF). We have the pleasure of working with area chefs that support our organization, and today I want to share with you an upcoming dining event to benefit the ALF.

Sterle's Country House will be hosting an ALF Dinner on Thursday, July 16th at 6:30PM.
Diners will enjoy a four-course dinner and one cocktail at Sterle's Country House. The event is hosted by the Flavors of Northeast Ohio Culinary Co-chairs Adam Bostwick (Cork & Cleaver Social Kitchen and Graffiti: A Social Kitchen) and Jeff Jarrett (Hub 55 Project).

The $80 ticket purchase ($40 tax-deductible) also includes a donation to the American Liver Foundation, and one entry into a raffle for Two Tickets to Flavors of Northeast Ohio. Flavors of Northeast Ohio is a signature event of the American Liver Foundation, and one that any "foodie" shouldn't miss! A truly unique dining experience.

Tickets may be purchased online here for the ALF Dinner at Sterle's.

Each ticket purchase will include one entry into a random drawing for Two Tickets to Flavors of Northeast Ohio ($450 value), taking place on Monday, September 28th at the Holiday Inn in Independence. Additional raffle entries will be available for purchase at the Sterle's dinner for $20 each.

Flavors features approximately 20 local chefs, as they each prepare a five-course, wine-paired meal tableside. Each table of 12 guests has a different chef, theme, menu, and table decor. It's a delight for the senses! Tickets are $225 for an individual and $3,000 for a table of twelve. For more information about Flavors of Northeast Ohio, please visit www.liverfoundation.org/flavorsofnortheastohio.

A second ALF Dinner event is taking place at Graffiti: A Social Kitchen on Tuesday, August 11th. Please visit the event's website for tickets and more information. 

Thank you for considering supporting the organization that I work for, and these fabulous chefs.