Thursday, December 29, 2016


I'm always excited to find a new restaurant close to work, and thanks to fellow foodie blogger Crystal, I did the other day. She invited me to lunch at Scratch on Brecksville Road in Independence.
This newly-opened breakfast and lunch spot is trying to put a spin on familiar foods, with almost everything made from scratch (hence the name).

It's quite cute inside, like this sign on the back wall.
They have some low seating and a few high tops. The three of us waited for a low table to clear, and then settled in for a long leisurely lunch.

I went for the Ultimate BLT with smoked pork belly (really just thick cut bacon), lettuce, tomato, and a pepper aioli on toasted multi grain bread ($6.95). Dining Deals Alert!
The aioli and bread are really what made this sandwich stand out. I would happily order this again. But, the fries were a real disappointment. Over-fried and dried out, both of us that had them left most of them on the plate.

We sat and chatted for quite some time after the meal, and the staff went above and beyond to be accommodating (even offering complimentary coffee).

They are still getting their groove on menu items, but I think it has real potential. I'll be scheduling some working breakfast or lunch meetings here in the future.

6595 Brecksville Rd. #1
Independence, OH 44131

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Citizen Pie

I've been trying to tick a few more restaurants off of the 2016 To Dine Challenge list before Christmas, so that led Mr. H and I to Citizen Pie for Sunday lunch.
Located on Waterloo on the east side of Cleveland (across the street from Beachland Ballroom), this little shop provides you with a handful of seating options but a front-row view of your pizza being made. The Neapolitan-style pizza only takes 90 seconds to cook in the woodfire oven.
We placed our order at the counter, and then took a seat at the only low table. There is high-top seating at the window, and a small bar surrounding half of the counter, but that's it.
I ordered the Mushroom pizza with mozzarella, brie, mushrooms, bacon, red onion and truffle oil ($16).
Mr. H got the Sunday Special pizza, which was like Eggs Benedict on dough. Here it is pre-egg cracking...
...and post-egg cracking. Look at all that gooey yolk!
He was kind enough to share one slice with me.
The crust is unmatched in Cleveland, from what I've had. They have a good variety of topping combinations, and the new "4-way" which allows you to split the pizza into four types.

My only complaint was that the Mushroom pizza was a little watery in the center. Could be the combination of water releasing from the mushrooms and the truffle oil, but it left the dough a touch soggy in the middle.

Flavor-wise though, both pizzas were killer. I'd happily drive back over to the east side for this, but luckily I won't always have to. They are slated to open a second location in Ohio City in 2017.

Citizen Pie
15710 Waterloo Rd.
North Collinwood, OH 44110

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas 2016

Merry Christmas to all that celebrate this holiday. For us, it is a time to slow down, be with family, appreciate what the year brought us, select thoughtful gifts for those that matter to us, and to enjoy delicious food and drink (usually in excess).
Our family's tradition is to each make an appetizer today, and to snack on them throughout the day. This year, I'm making an adapted version of this Butternut Squash and Apple Bruschetta. Should be a hit.

Happy Holidays to all.

Friday, December 23, 2016

2017 New Year's Eve Events

Clevelanders have plenty of ways to ring in the new year this year, and here are a few of the choices I've found to help you finalize those plans...

New Year's Eve at Graffiti: Tickets required. Two seatings available (5:00PM and 9:00PM). $30 + tax and gratuity. Endless buffet, complimentary glass of champagne, and drink specials. DJ and dancing included at second seating.

New Year's Eve at Gigi's on Fairmount: Two seatings available (6:30PM and 9:30PM), $85. Welcome cocktail, 5-course dinner, and complimentary champagne toast. Call 216-291-7237 for reservations.

New Year's Eve at Salt: Tickets required. Open bar, food stations, DJ, black tie attire, toast at midnight. $100.

New Year's Eve Dinner at The Black Pig: 7 courses. Reservations available between 5:30PM - 9:30PM. Regular menu not available. Prix fixe $90. Optional wine pairings available for $35.

Countdown to 2017 at Spice Kitchen & Bar: Celebrate the New Year with farm-fresh flavors. Spice’s 4-course prix fixe pairs ingredients with winter elegances. Dinner is $70 per person; wine pairings are an additional $30. Call 216.961.9637 or visit Open Table.

Lago's 4th Annual New Year's Eve Soiree- Fire and Ice: Located in the Aloft Cleveland Hotel.
Unveil the New Year with a night of lavish dancing and entertainment! Dinner will be accompanied by a live band and DJ Flaco Flash later in the evening. Cocktails will pour endlessly from the premium bars with a variety of decadent food served throughout the night. 7:00PM for dinner, 10:00 for late night guests ($150 ticket). $200 per person, $350 per couple, or $560 includes a hotel room at Aloft.

Kids New Year's Eve at Merwin's Wharf: Two seatings (8:30AM and 11:30AM) that include two hours of menu specials and family-friendly activities. Call 216-664-5696 for more details.

80's New Year's Eve Party at Punch Bowl Social: 6PM - 2AM. 80's themed music and entertainment, the Ohio State vs. Clemson game on TV.

If you have others to share, leave them in the comments. Have fun, stay safe, and ring in 2017 in style!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Polpetta at Porco

What do you get when you combine delicious and potent tiki drinks from Porco and the creative  chefs behind Cork & Cleaver and Graffiti? Polpetta! A build-your-own meatball restaurant concept, that just launched last week at Porco Lounge and Tiki Bar on West 25th Street.
The menu is small right now, but they have BIG plans for the future of this concept. Right now, diners choose from four meatballs (Classic Beef, Chicken, Pork & Veal, or Vegetarian), four sauces, and six sides (extra $).

While we waited for our balls (sooooo many ball jokes flying around), Chef Adam Bostwick sent out an order of their Pepperoni Bread. This was all that was left by the time I took a picture...
...the dough was firm enough on the outside to hold the contents in well but very soft and chewy inside, the ricotta cheese was a nice surprise, and the classic marinara sauce really stood out. I am NEVER one to order a dish with marinara out at a restaurant. Too many are quite bland and boring. Not this one. I immediately wanted more.

Then, our balls were ready. I had the Pork & Veal with the Parmesan Cream sauce. A slice of housemade focaccia is served with each plate.
Mr. H ordered the Vegetarian balls with Mushroom Gravy.
Both types of balls had nice texture and flavor, and we enjoyed both sauces as well. The funny thing is, the marinara sauce turned out to be my favorite. Maybe because I like to be surprised, and I wasn't expecting to like it so much.

Either way, go head to Porco for the same deadly drinks, but now a side of meatballs (or a few other menu options). Don't miss the Pepperoni Bread. I'm looking forward to watching what these guys have up their sleeves for this concept. Get ready. Cleveland!

Gosh, that was a lot of typing of the word balls. 

Polpetta at Porco
2527 West 25th Street
Cleveland, OH

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Old Brooklyn Cheese Co.

An dangerous exciting new business just opened in our neighborhood on Saturday. The Old Brooklyn Cheese Co. on Pearl Road, just south of the zoo.
The line was out the door for most of the day, which was awesome to see.
We didn't mind the wait, because we got to browse the shelves, sample 7 cheeses, and sip on some complimentary local eggnog.
I was pleasantly surprised by how many cheese selections were being carried. They certainly want to support Ohio cheese makers, but they also carry plenty of imported cheeses as well. Hard, soft, pungent, mild, goat, cow, buffalo...something for everyone.
We snagged three cheeses, a fresh baguette, and three fun new products to try.

The turnout was great to see. I certainly hope it keeps up for them. This is one of the better cheese selections that I've seen around town. In about two months, they'll have their own line of cheese available too.

Good thing this shop is within bike riding distance! I'll need to burn some extra calories, having them in Old Brooklyn.

Old Brooklyn Cheese Co.
4138 Pearl Road
Cleveland, OH 44109

Monday, December 19, 2016

2017 To Dine Challenge Request

December 19th? How is that even possible?!

2016 was a weird year in many ways (ummm, Trump, really?), but it brought some amazing things into my life. Mr. H and I traveled to Costa Rica and Maine, two more gorgeous kiddos were born that I get to be an "auntie" to, spending time with family and friends was a priority, I had a kick a$$ year at work, and we moved into our "forever" home. So...completing the 2016 To Dine Challenge just didn't always make it onto my radar. I have 4 restaurants left out of 10. Yikes!

That also means that it slipped my mind to start asking YOU for 2017 restaurant nominations on December 1st, as I usually do. Whoops. 

What restaurant do you want to see me visit in 2017?

A local neighborhood hangout? A new restaurant that opened, or is about to open, that you're curious about? Your favorite ethnic cuisine's hole-in-the-wall spot? Tell me about them, and they may just make the list for next year.

I'm already planning on doing something a little different for the 2017 To Dine Challenge, and I think you'll be pleased.

But, send in those restaurant nominations by leaving a comment below, posting on my Facebook page, or tweeting at me at @BiteBuff.

I'll post the 2017 list on January 1st!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Caribe Bake Shop

We had a special house guest for the week after Thanksgiving, my brother! He only gets here about once a year, and as a former professional cook and lover of all things food-related, we enjoy showing off the Cleveland culinary scene when he's in town. He's always up for anything, and last week that meant going on a lunch excursion with me to check a restaurant off of my 2016 To Dine Challenge list.

We were all quite sick of leftover turkey at that point, so E$, Mr. H and I all headed over to Caribe Bake Shop (no website) on Fulton.
In their brand new building, they can serve a lot more diners quickly, and they've expanded their seating. The old building was easy to miss when driving by, and it no longer fit the capacity they need. You head in the main front door, and swing through another set of doors on the left (right side is seat-yourself dining). You're then greeted with a cafeteria-style line (another for just sandwiches and the baked goods).
The food immediately starts to tempt you.
Now, they don't have a menu, and there's no signage on the line, so it can be a bit overwhelming for a new diner. To me, it seemed like everyone else knew exactly what to do and what they wanted. Clearly, they have their regulars.
Mr. H and I built a $10 lunch plate (Dining Deals Alert!), with your choice of three rices, two types of beans, and a meat. For our meat, we chose a skewered pork that had a mild-flavored sauce on it. It was a touch overcooked, but had nice flavor to it. E$ had the roasted and pulled pork. We also added fried plantains ($2) to our plate.
We also ordered a Cubano sandwich, which comes in three sizes. Pictured below was half of a Medium, and it was substantial! I only ate about a third of it, and took the rest home for lunch the next day. I would have liked it grilled/pressed, but otherwise it was a tasty version.
Other than feeling a bit overwhelmed determining what to get, and rushed (since it's a line that keeps on moving with hungry people behind you!), I really enjoyed it. Casual, cheap, huge portions, and it smelled and tasted pretty darn authentic.

Caribe Bake Shop
2906 Fulton Road
Cleveland, OH 44113

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Ohio City Provisions

We're been waiting for this day...the opening of Ohio City Provisions on Lorain Avenue.
Self-described as "half grocer, half butcher shop," this new addition to Ohio City is bringing Clevelanders a shop that has locally sourced all of its goods. "All the pantry items in the grocery are locally-sourced, organic and pasture-raised produce, grains, eggs, dairy, canned goods, and more. The fresh butcher serves a variety of cut-to-order sausages, pasture-raised meats: pastured beef, heritage pork, heirloom varietals of pork, heritage chicken, rabbit, lamb, duck, turkey, venison, goat and various cured meats. Limited take-out menu available for grab-and-go meals."
Chef Adam Lambert (formally of Bar Cento) and his partner Trevor Clatterbuck from Fresh Fork Market have curated quite a spread of fresh foods, dry goods, meats, and...cheeses! Gaze into the cheese case, and they'll likely offer you samples.
Plenty of dairy products to get you through the week.
A good selection of the local produce that Fresh Fork subscribers have grown accustomed to. Now, with access for everyone.
Some familiar local brands that have become staples in our household...
...and new-to-us items, like this Pumpkin and Carmelized Onion Rye Bread.
It took a lot of willpower to resist.

They will be open daily from 10AM - 7PM, and I'm pretty positive that it will reduce some grocery store chain shopping for us, and get us through the summer when we're missing our Fresh Fork Winter Share. I could not be more excited for their opening. Go check it out right away, support local, and feel good about where your products are coming from.

Ohio City Provisions
3208 Lorain Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

2016 "Foodie" Gift Giving Guide

The holidays are right around the corner. The last two years, I've been ON IT at getting some present shopping out of the way early. With work craziness and moving to a new house, I've really been slacking this year. Maybe you too?

Here are a few gift ideas for the "foodie" in your life.

From Our Kitchens Cleveland Independents Recipe Book ($24.95): Get your hands on the recipes included from some of our area's best restaurants! I just purchased this, and can't wait to use it.

Handcrafted Knives and Accessories from Cleveland Cuts (Varies): This Cleveland Heights company is making handcrafted items like razor-edged steak knives, oak cutting boards, classic block sets, antique kitchen carts, cherry cheese boards, and hand-made wineglass carriers. Me? I'll take the custom cheese knives ($40, pictured below) or we really need a good set of steak knives.
Distinct Cleveland Culinary Crate (Varies): This company has hand selected the best "foodie" products being produced locally, and put them all together in a gorgeous wooden gift box. We received one as a housewarming gift from our realtor, and I was immediately in love.
Cleveland Map Stemless Wine Glass from UncommonGreen ($15): A great gift for someone that loves this city, and wine! Two of my favorite things. Also, a set would make a nice hostess gift this holiday season.
Joule Sous Vide by ChefSteps ($199): We pre-ordered ours in January and the release date has been pushed back several times, but they are on their way now, and this machine is supposed to be worth the wait.
Grammar Geek Mug ($14.95): The communications nerd in me just loved this coffee mug when I saw it online. It hasn't made its way into my possession yet, but if anyone is looking for hints...
Onion Googles ($19.95): My mom got these for me last year, and they totally work! I used to tear up so badly when cutting onions, but no more. They make a funny, but functional, gift.
Also, putting together a gift basket of locally produced goods is always a hit as a present or hostess gift. You can easily put one together by visiting shops like The Grocery, Tremont General Store, or Market at the Fig. They each carry a wide selection of local products that can be put together to make a fabulous basket. One of my go-to gifts year-round.

Lastly, we resort to gift certificates from local, independent restaurants. Everyone in your life would enjoy a nice night out. Many of our local restaurants offer certificate deals during the holiday season, like purchase $200 and receive $25 or purchase one $100 certificate and receive a free $100 certificate. Keep your eyes peeled on social media, and don't hesitate to ask your favorite restaurants if they have special sale promotions.

Any other fantastic ideas for the cooks or food-lovers in your life? Bonus if it's from a local company. Please share your ideas in the comments.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Cleveland Jam

Local business, Cleveland Jam, opened its doors on the retail shop on Saturday in the Old Brooklyn neighborhood of Cleveland.
They partner with local breweries like Great Lakes and Catawba Island Brewery, and Ohio wineries to make beer-based jams and wine-based jellies.
Mr. H and I picked up some Eliot Ness Fig Apple Jam (served it on a cheese board that evening, yum!), and some Burning River Pepper Jam. We also snagged a locally-made candle with a great holiday scent, and a Bearded Buch drink to go (also now with a shop in Old Brooklyn).

The shop also had other local goods, like olive oils, snacks, and t-shirts. They plan to sell retain wine soon too, and hope to be scheduling tastings and events shortly.

Welcome to the neighborhood, Cleveland Jam! Go check them out. Putting together a gift basket of locally-sourced products always makes for a wonderful holiday present or hostess gift this season.

Cleveland Jam
1300 W Schaaf Rd.
Cleveland, OH 44109

Thursday, November 10, 2016

SouperBowl CLE 2016

SouperBowl CLE is a food celebration and fundraising event aimed at naming Northeast Ohio's best soups, and it's taking place this Saturday from 11AM - 3PM. Who doesn't love soup this time of year?!

Attendees act as judges as they spend the afternoon walking the Gordon Square neighborhood, visiting the businesses and tasting soups prepared by favorite local restaurants. Attendees then vote by text for their favorite soups in various categories, including the prestigious title of "Best Soup in Cleveland".

Tickets are only $25, and you get to sample more than 30 soups from local restaurants as you visit businesses in the area. You can purchase them online here. Also, tickets will be available at check-in at Cleveland Public Theatre on the day of the event, if you don't pre-purchase online. They'll be on sale from 10:30AM - 2PM. Cash and credit cards will be accepted.

The list of participating restaurants includes some of my personal favorites, like Graffiti, The Plum Cafe, SouperMarket, Tremont Taphouse, and Toast.

This is the second year that the event has been held, and it's already bigger and better. a great concept, and for a worthy local cause. The 2016 SouperBowl CLE will benefit the West Side Catholic Center.

Nothing to disclose here. I just think that this is a local event that you should attend this weekend!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Fat Cat's Monday Deal

Sometimes, you just have to revisit an old favorite, like Fat Cats in Tremont. I've never had a bad meal there, it's tucked away from the hubbub of Professor Avenue, and it has some of the best views of the Downtown skyline just steps away from its entrance.

But, I had NO IDEA that they have such a great Monday deal for diners. For $25, you get your choice of any starter, entree, and dessert. For the quality of their food and the portion sizes, this is a great deal.

I went with the Grilled Octopus.
The texture and slight smokey flavor of the octopus was perfect.

I wanted to try the Fall Risotto, but couldn't resist ordering one of my favorite dishes from Fat Cats that happened to be on the specials list that night.

Their Rigatoni with sausage, green beans, and chevre in a light tomato sauce just always tastes good to me.
It hit the spot.

The decadent Fallen Chocolate Cake was consumed immediately, and there was just no time for a picture. If I'm going to do dessert, it better be riiiiiiccchhhh and luscious. This was.

While I'm always interested in trying what's "hot," and I prefer to continue to explore new-to-me restaurants, sometimes you just have to return to an old favorite. You may even be surprised at what you find there.

Monday's are often a night when restaurants are closed. Not only is Fat Cats open, but they have this great deal (and happy hour until 7PM). Go check it out for yourself.

Fat Cats
2061 West 10th Street
Cleveland, OH

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Cleveland Bagel Co.

Clevelanders have been able to get a great bagel from Cleveland Bagel Co. at local shops around town, like Erie Island Coffee, Pour Cleveland, Phoenix Coffee Bar, and The Grocery, and several area restaurants use their product, like Trentina, Cafe 55, Graffiti: A Social Kitchen, and Flying Fig.

But, thanks to CNBC's Cleveland Hustles, you can now pick up bagels and schmears from their brick-and-mortar shop on Detroit Avenue across the street from The Harp.
Since opening just about two weeks ago, people have been lining up to get their hands on the bagels, and they've sold out often.

Mr. H and I headed there last Sunday morning. There were only a couple of bagels left in the case, and we started to worry about whether we'd get one or not by the time we got through the line. But, then came out piping hot and fresh Plain and Sea Salt bagels from their production space in the back of the shop. Score!
You can currently choose from Plain, Sesame Seed, Sea Salt, Poppy Seed, and Everything. During our visit to the shop, they also had a Rosemary bagel available. Mr. H got that, and paired it with the Pumpkin schmear.

These bagels are hand-rolled, and that perfect balance of a crispy outside but doughy center. I scarfed down a Plain with Brie, Honey, Toasted Walnut schmear, and took home a Plain with Cheddar Chive schmear for Monday morning.
Might be the best bagel that I've had, certainly at least in Cleveland. And I've had some good ones in NYC!

Bagel sandwiches coming soon to the shop, they've got their own blend of locally-produced coffee, you can order from the company for events, and bagel delivery is in the future. All fantastic things for this local company. I, for one, am now a fan, and I'll be stopping in for my bagel fix.

The Cleveland Bagel Co.
4201 Detroit Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Sabor Miami Cafe

Sabor Miami Cafe and Gallery, a Latin-inspired eatery, opened in Old Brooklyn this winter. The owner had briefly taken over Cafe Miami just a mile away, but left to fully dedicate a cafe to her roots.
The bright and cheery exterior is matched by its interior. The playful and colorful decor is busy, but charming.
A section of the menu is dedicated to "Coffee Therapy" so of course Mr. H had to order a Mayan Mocha (espresso with blend of milk) to start,
I started with a Coconut Lemonade. It was a touch too sweet for my personal taste, but Mr. H happily drank most of it. The shaved coconut on top was a nice touch.
Mr. H had been to Sabor Miami Cafe before and had the Cuban sandwich during his first visit, so this time he ordered the "burger" version of the Cuban. He liked it, but I think nothing can beat the traditional preparation.
So, of course, that's what I had to get.
The Sandwich Cubano had pork roast, sweet ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, mayo and mustard ($8.99). It's also served with this wonderful spicy sauce on the side, which reminded me of a spicy thousand islands dressing. I'm no aficionado, but this was a pretty good Cuban sandwich, in my opinion. I'll be ordering it again.

The owner sent us home with a guava and cheese pastry, since it was Sweetest Day. I thought that was very kind of her. She clearly has a lot of passion and love for what she's doing there, and I think it shows in the food and decor.

Sabor Miami Cafe and Gallery
4848 Broadview Road
Cleveland, OH 44109