Monday, March 18, 2019

Moxie the Restaurant

I was recently invited to a social influencer dinner at Moxie, the Restaurant. It was actually my first time at the famous east side restaurant and sister spot to Red, the Steakhouse. They had planned quite the spread, showcasing a lot of different dishes on their menu.
Everything was served family-style for this event, and we kicked off with Calamari with shishito, fresno, scallion, cilantro, sweet chili aioli, and brulee lemon.
And Charred Shishito Peppers with a ginger lime vinaigrette and parmigiana pink salt.
Next course included a Fattoush salad with romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, onions, radishes, feta, crispy pita, and lemon pepper vinaigrette.
Second course also gave us the Tuna Tartare with chile vinaigrette, wasabi guacamole, and tagorashi scallion wonton.
Now we got into the main course, and sampled the Curry Gulf Shrimp with flash-fried shrimp, forbidden rice, bok choy, and chili curry broth.
The Shaksuka with tomato, fennel, cumin, spinach, chickpea, eggplant, roasted egg, and feta served with naan.
That thick house-made naan was the perfect vehicle for the dish.
The Veal Osso Bucco served with goat cheese polenta, fingerlings, roasted parsnips and carrots, and demi.
And the last savory dish of the night, New Zealand Lamb Rack with whipped sweet potato, red onion, cranberry, pecan, and brussel sprout leaves.
We topped off the meal with some assorted pastries and the Warm Apple Fritter with vanilla ice cream and cinnamon caramel sauce.
Completely stuffed and rolling out of the restaurant, it was a delightful meal that left me desiring to come back. Highlights for me were the Curry Gulf Shrimp, Naan, and (surprisingly, as I'm not a dessert gal)...the Warm Apple Fritter.

Moxie, the Restaurant
3355 Richmond Road
Beachwood, OH 44122
(216) 831-5599

Disclosure: I was invited, with a guest, to a complimentary dinner event. All food and wine was provided in exchange for sharing our experience. All opinions are 100% my own.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Cru Uncorked

Mr. H and I celebrated my birthday a few weeks late, and he surprised me with dinner at Cru Uncorked in Moreland Hills.
Fine-dining French in a château-like setting, it's quite unlike any other Cleveland area restaurant I've seen. Starting with a very grand entrance.
With several separate, cozy dining rooms and fireplaces galore, it was warm and inviting on a chilly winter night.
While the interior was elegant and high-end, I'd also like to go back in the warmer months and take advantage of the outdoor terrace seating.
As we settled in and placed our order, an amuse-bouche arrived at the table. Which is always a pleasant surprise and a nice way to kick off any fine-dining experience.
We decided to share a dish they are becoming known for, the Seared Foie Gras Preparation (MP) with seasonal accoutrements. That night's included a pear and luxardo cherry sauce. Rich, decadent and it spread nicely on the two types of bread served.
We also shared the Escargot Cocotte ($16) of braised snails, forest mushrooms, tarragon, pearl onion, bacon, and garlic. This combination of flavors was unlike other escargot I've had in the past, and we really enjoyed it.
I ordered the Halibut ($48) with sauce verjus, golden raisins, capers, marcona almonds, and pommes puree.
Mr. H got the Potato Scaled Snapper ($45) with citrus rosemary crème and melted leek fondue.
Beautifully plated and both really nice fish dishes, we were really happy. But as you can see, the price tag is steep. The same quality fish and presentation can run you at least $10 less in other great Cleveland restaurants.

The portions are not huge (but were appropriate), and the dining experience is not rushed, so we had room for dessert! Mr. H did not care for the pudding-like texture of his Apple Verrine ($14) with white chocolate caramel crème, apple confit, almond crumble, warm caramel sauce, and green apple sorbet. However, the tableside presentation was fun to watch. I had the Chocolate Stone ($12) with dark chocolate mousse, caramel chocolate cremeux center, and crème fraiche ice cream. Which really did look kind of like a river rock!
Service was some of the best I've had in Cleveland, and we enjoyed our craft cocktails as well. I'm sure that the wine list would prove to be full of fabulous options.

It's just across the street from Flour, and they offer complimentary valet parking.

For the price-point and setting, this should be reserved for a special occasion. It was certainly a special meal, and felt quite birthday treat-worthy.

Cru Uncorked
34300 Chagrin Blvd.
Moreland Hills, OH 44022
(440) 903-1171

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Ninja City Kitchen

Moved from its east side location in University Circle, Ninja City Kitchen and Bar has revamped the former Old City Soda space in the Gordon Square Arts District.
On Detroit Avenue, on the same block as Sweet Moses and across the "hall" from FOUNT, the space inside doesn't feel very different than its former tenant. Wide open, long bar, lots of natural light from the large windows...but now with a modern Asian cartoon flare.
My friend had asked to go here, as she was craving their Steam Buns ($14.95 for 4) after a recent visit. You have your choice of BBQ Pulled Pork, Chicken, Tofu, Steak, or Shrimp. A $1 upcharge applies for splitting proteins. We had two Steak and two Chicken, and they were quite enjoyable.
We all quickly agreed to also share two orders of the Spring Rolls ($4.25) with pork and veggies and a sweet garlic vinaigrette.
Several other of the "Small Bites" options were calling my name, so I decided to order the Pork Rangoons (pictured below) and Chicken Wings (Honey Wasabi sauce). They offer a Build Your Own Bento Box option where you can mix and match the small bites to build a meal (3 for $11.95 or 4 for $14.95). We liked all of the small bites that we tried. None blew my socks off, but all were solid and I'd have no trouble ordering again.
My two friends both ordered Ramen Noodle Soup, but I went for the Banh Mi Sandwich ($12.95). You can select from the Classic (braised pork belly, ham, and pate), Chicken, Tofu, Steak, or Shrimp. I went right for the Classic. Again, solid and enjoyable, but I've had better banh mi sandwiches in AsiaTown. It comes with a side of Togarashi Fries or Tots. I had the fries, and they were nice and crispy fresh-cut fries with an interesting and heavy-handed seasoning blend.
Lastly, we all indulged in some adult beverages. I had their version of a tiki cocktail, and it was quite tasty.

It was quiet on a Monday evening, but service was attentive, the food arrived pretty quickly once we decided to order, and I enjoyed our meal. This could definitely be a family-friendly spot, and there is easy street parking or the public parking lot one block away. Make sure you stop in to Brewnuts just down the block and across the street for dessert!

Ninja City Kitchen and Bar
6706 Detroit Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44102
(216) 862-7200

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

EDWINS Butcher Shop

We recently popped over to the east side to visit the newly opened EDWINS Butcher Shop on Buckeye Road, just south of Shaker Square and the flagship restaurant.
They opened their doors in mid-December, offering traditional cuts of raw and cured meats, as well as several house-made items like bratwurst and sausages.
In addition to what you'd find in a traditional butcher shop, you'll also see a selection of dried goods, sauces and other condiments (a few locally made), and a handful of other small surprises in the shop.
Shoppers can also complete their meal preparation from a selection of wines by the bottle, draught beer sold by the crowler or growler, and bottled beer and soda.
But, you can also pop in to enjoy a selection of house-made sandwiches, soups, and other prepared meals. You can dine in, or take it to go. I scooped up a pickle from the GIANT jar on the counter, and it was crisp, juicy, and flavorful.
The butcher shop is part of the EDWINS growing campus, training recently released incarcerated individuals that are looking for a second chance and marketable skills. This is just one more step in the program's expansion plans. The future holds a spice shop and bakery, from what I've read.

EDWINS Butcher Shop
13024 Buckeye Road
Cleveland, OH 44120
(216) 417-1100

Sunday, February 24, 2019

How Do You Say Goodbye

"Am I a cancer survivor?," he asked. My mom immediately, and firmly, said "Yes!" But I could tell that he was pondering it further, and so was I.

My dad was preparing to be the featured patient speaker at a Relay for Life event in my hometown last summer as we had this brief, but impactful, conversation. His journey with cancer had started 24 years prior. But the end was near, and he was going to lose his life to cancer. I think he was having a difficult time feeling like he was "surviving" the disease.
survivor[ser-vahy-ver]
noun
- a person or thing that survives.
- Law. the one of two or more designated persons, as joint tenants or others having a joint interest, who outlives the other or others.
- a person who continues to function or prosper in spite of opposition, hardship, or setbacks.

That last line resonates with me, and not just for my dad, but for the entire family.

On February 1st, I lost my dad to cancer.
While I wasn't ready to say "Goodbye" to someone that had made such an impact on my life and shaped who I am today, I did get the chance to. I made it to NY to be by his bedside, just hours before he passed. I shook him awake, and he looked right at me. I said "Dad, I'm here. I made it in time." and he said, "Wow. Wow." before he let out three big sighs. I said, "Dad, I love you. I love you so much." and he said, "I love you too." That was the moment I needed.
For me, it wasn't truly "Goodbye" because I know that he'll still be with me. I'll hear his voice when I need it most, and that booming and quick laugh will never be forgotten. But life certainly won't be the same, and I won't be the same.
I am grateful that his battle with cancer took 24 years before claiming his life. His body may have  been consumed by the disease, but he was NEVER defined by it. The last four and a half years, when the battle got really tough, we focused on the good. The time together, making new memories, and still laughing a lot.
Life will go on. I will survive without my dad. But a piece of my heart will remain forever broken.

A person who continues to function or prosper in spite of opposition, hardship, or setbacks. That was my dad. That is me.

As I reflect back now...Yes, you were a cancer survivor.

I love you, dad. And I can still hear you saying "I love you too."

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Saucisson Winter Classes

The Lady Butchers behind Saucisson have been offering Sausage Making Classes since they opened their butcher shop in Slavic Village. We did an in-home sausage and fresh pasta making class with them that was fabulous!

But this winter, they've added on some additional types of classes that I totally thought was worth sharing with you.

February 9th- Fresh Pasta & Beef Bolognese ($65)
February 16th- Group Sausage Making ($45)
February 23rd- Soups ($55)
March 9th- Group Sausage Making ($45)
March 23rd- Pork Braising ($55)
April 13th- Charcuterie & Cheese Board ($65)
April 27th- Group Sausage Making ($45)

All classes are held on Saturdays from 1PM - 4PM at their shop on Fleet Avenue (except April 13th will be from 2PM - 4PM with the farmer and cheese maker of Yellow House Cheese).

You'll be learning techniques and preparing some foods to be consumed during the class, but you walk away with the fixings for Sunday dinner.

Reservations are required, as spaces are limited. So don't wait! 

Saucisson
5324 Fleet Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44105
(216) 303-9067

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Lox, Stock, and Brisket

I've been dying to get out east to try Lox, Stock and Brisket Delicatessen ever since photos of their mouth-watering looking sandwiches started hitting social media. The buzz about this new fast casual restaurant grew from there. Finally, I was over on the east side at lunchtime, so Mr. H and I popped in.
The space is comfortable and cute.
With chalkboard menus on the wall, it's easy to browse. But the staff were also immediately helpful at identifying which sandwiches are the most popular once we said that it was our first time in.
Mr. H ordered The Rueben ($12) with cured and smoked brisket, kraut, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing on rye. The brisket was great!

But I had to go for the sandwich that was causing the most buzz on social media, the Lincoln Park ($11) with buttermilk chicken schnitzel, bread & butter pickle slaw, and hot sauce aioli on a roll. This sandwich lived up to the hype! If you don't care for spicy food, don't let the hot sauce aioli throw you off, there really wasn't any heat to it. Personally, I'd love to see the chicken pounded thinner. It ate more like a fried chicken sandwich to me than a schnitzel, but that's just personal preference. I'd totally order it again.
The only thing I didn't care for was the Potato Salad served on the side. Diners have a choice of coleslaw or potato salad as a side. The flavor was a little sweet for my taste, and the texture was so smooth that it ate like cold mashed potatoes to me.

They also serve breakfast, cater meetings or events, or sell some of their meats by the pound.

Chef Anthony Zappola has quite a long list of credentials, including working under Tom Colicchio. He returned to his hometown of Cleveland recently, and has already opened his second Northeast Ohio concept, The Rice Shop at Ohio City Galley. So us west-siders can rejoice!

Lox, Stock, and Brisket
13892 Cedar Road
University Heights, OH 44118
(216) 471-8175

Thursday, January 24, 2019

De Massimo's Authentic Sauces

Have you heard of De Massimo's Authentic Sauces yet?
The story of De Massimo's sauce is all about family.  Their sauces are "Old World" Italian recipes that were handed down over generations. I was introduced to them by the company owner's sister, who is a professional contact that I've gotten to know well over the last three years.

He began his dream in 2015 by offering his family's sauces at the Hilliard City Farmers’ Market. Since then, De Massimo’s has established a growing retail and food service presence and participates in various markets and events throughout Ohio and the Midwest. Locally, you can find them in Heinen's, Nature's Oasis, Miles Farmers Market, and Giant Eagle Market District (as well as several other smaller retailers).

Currently, they offer Classic, Pizza, and Arrabbiata sauces. I was gifted a three-pack for the holidays, and I recently used the Classic and Arrabbiata to make Mr. H dinner for his birthday. They were seasoned well and made me look good for this easy Stuffed Shells recipe!
We're running very low on our homemade sauce Mr. H made this summer, so this new-to-us brand will be stocking our shelves until we make some more. Go try some!

Monday, January 21, 2019

City BBQ Grand Opening

It may be a chain restaurant, but its roots are in Ohio, and Northeast Ohio is pretty darn pumped to see City BBQ open its doors in Beachwood today (Grand Opening on 1/26). I was fortunate enough to get a sneak peek during an influencer event, and I'm already a fan!
Good BBQ starts with slow smoking, and City BBQ uses only hickory to create their award-winning meats.
We got to taste a LOT of their menu, but the Ribs were towards the top of my favorites. Good bark, moist, and bit right off the bone.
They offer all kinds of sampler platters so you can pick and choose from different meats.
But the other sections of the menu are not to be missed as well.
Mmm....
The sides were also stars of the show. Favorites for me included the Corn Pudding, Hush Puppies, Baked Beans with Brisket, and Fresh Cut Fries. I could make a meal of the sides alone.
With several sauces to choose from, you can dress your meats as you'd like. I tried the Cheerwine and Brushfire, both delicious.
Look at that gorgeous pink smoke ring on the Brisket! It just melted in your mouth.
No joke, I quickly became a fan after diving in to their food, and we'll be back soon on our own.

They also offer all kinds of catering options too, so consider them for your next meeting or event.

Welcome to Beachwood, City BBQ! They also shared that more Northeast Ohio locations are in the works. They plan to grow from the current 40+ locations to 100 by 2020. They are doing BBQ right, and the masses agree.

City BBQ
24325 Chagrin Blvd.
Beachwood, OH

Disclosure: I was invited with a guest to a media preview and all food was complimentary and I received a swag bag. All opinions stated are 100% my own.