Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Flight Cleveland

Last Saturday evening, Mr. H and I popped in to the newly opened Flight Cleveland wine bar and shop that took over the former Latitude 41 space on Detroit Avenue.

Featuring 29 bottles of assorted wines on tap that line the stylish and modern bar are on a special wine-preservation system, helping the wine last two weeks rather than a couple of days. You can try any of the wines in sample pours or by the glass, but you're encouraged to choose one of the 12 pre-selected Flights (featuring fun names!) to push yourself out of your comfort zone and compare some wines side-by-side.
That's the route we both went, and we found a couple that we will want to purchase by the full glass or bottle in the future. Score! These adorable cards are served with each wine in the flight, sharing origin and notes about the wine. So appreciated.
In addition to the bar featuring the tap wines (and four craft beers and limited spirits), there is a wine shop section featuring 400 bottles of wine for all price points. There is no kitchen, but you can grab a couple of small bites like a cheese plate or olives while you sip.

The space has had a complete overhaul, and now includes cozy nooks with soft seating, an 18-seat bar, and a handful of low tables. The lighting, decor, and color theme all mix the traditional with the modern and bold with subtle. I found it adorable, and with several Instagram-worthy spots. I couldn't stop staring at the gorgeous, bold floral wallpaper outside the restrooms.

It's only been open for a short time, but it was buzzing on Saturday night with people of all ages. Service was so attentive and helpful in making our wine selections. It'll be a perfect pre or post-dinner stop for us in the future!

Flight Cleveland
5712 Detroit Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44102
(216) 400-6867

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Pearl of the Orient

Before the holidays hit, we had quite an entertaining meal out at Pearl of the Orient with some of our amazing neighbors. Mr. H and I had purchased a silent auction package at a charity event for a "Sushi and Lobster Dinner for 6 Guests." With very little information on what this actually entailed, we made the reservation and headed there blindly.

It just started off humorously, because even though I stated that we had the certificate and what it included when I made the reservation, they appeared surprised to see us and quickly informed me that lobster was not available that night. They even suggested that I "should have told them when I made the reservation." Ummmm...

The owner and our server could not have been more apologetic, and they quickly tried to make plans to feed us. We began to joke that Whole Foods or Heinen's grocery bags may fly by our private room's doorway at any moment, or that UberEats may soon deliver us our lobster dinner. We were laughing so hard at the scenarios we were making up that tears were forming and my belly hurt from laughing. It was off to a good, but comical, start.

It didn't end there. One of our friends accidentally ordered a cocktail meant for two people. But it arrived in a...flower VASE! The thing was massive, and had about 10 drinks in it. Immediately, we imagined that a table in the main dining room suddenly had no centerpiece. Or the bar or hostess stand was now without flowers. Another round of hard belly laughs. More of a warning should come with that thing! Or at least our server could have confirmed he did indeed want this cocktail meant for two. Nope.
The next round of "entertainment" during this meal was a little scarier. Two of our guests have food allergies, one with a very serious poultry allergy. This can become tricky in restaurants, as chicken stock and broth is often used in dishes and it's not always obvious to a diner. The owner and our server were made very aware of the allergy, but alas, the first course included Miso Soup and their version has chicken broth in it. Our guest with the allergy was served this, even after being reassured that it did not have chicken product in it. Only a couple of slurps in, and our server realized that the owner had given our guest this soup. She whisked it away, and we all started to worry. He assured us that he knows instantly if there is a problem, and the two or three small spoonfuls of soup hadn't caused a problem. Phew! 

Luckily, things smoothed out after course one. We were served some delicious sushi, sashimi, and rolls next.
And then the entrees didn't stop coming, including lobster! Wonder where they got them from...
Dish after dish appeared.
Every kind of protein on the menu was represented.
And we just kept spinning the lazy susan to try everything.
There was so much food, we ate and ate and then still took some home. These pictures don't even show HALF of what showed up at the table. I think they were feeling awful about the start to the meal.
Dessert was served even after that massive course, but we found room.

So, the food was good and our sever and the owner were beyond sweet and attentive, but it was a very rough experience overall that almost ended in a serious allergic reaction. That is concerning that the allergy was overlooked, as many diners have to be very careful. Our experience doesn't leave me racing to go back.

It's a good thing that our crew is very laid back and we found the humor in it all. When things are going THAT WRONG, it becomes quite funny and you just leave with a good story to tell. Those hard belly laughs and food and drink shared with neighbors that we call friends were just what I needed that night.

Pearl of the Orient
19300 Detroit Road
Rocky River, OH 44116
(440) 333-9902

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2019 To Dine Challenge

Happy New Year! Today is a day filled with hope, plans, goals, and the chance to refresh and restart. Restart is the word I'm sticking with today, and that includes bringing back the To Dine Challenge.

For those of you that are newer to reading along on my dining adventures, each December I asked readers to suggest restaurants that they'd like to see me dine at in the upcoming year. Then, on January 1st, I'd reveal 10 that I had selected to challenge myself to dine at over the next 12 months.

It was harder than it sounds. We'd hit several right away, end up taking a break during the summer when our days filled up with travel and CLE events, and then suddenly it was October/November and I'd have 4-6 left to cram in. I believe I did this challenge for 7 years, and only completed it TWICE.

So in 2017, I went back and did all of the skipped restaurants (that hadn't closed) as the To Dine Challenge of the year. Once completed successfully, I called it quits and didn't launch a new Challenge in 2018.

But as 2019 started to near, I realized that I missed it. It gave me a fun goal for the blog, and many of you joined in on the dining fun and came with me to the stops. I missed that! So, here we go again, the new list...

2019 To Dine Challenge
1. Il Rione Pizzeria
2. Molto Bene Italian Eatery
3. The Pompadour
4. Kavana Social Kitchen
5. Russo's Kitchen
6. La Plaza Taqueria
7. V's Gourmet Chicken
8. Joe's Deli
9. Half Moon Bakery
10. Kingfish Seafood

Where should I go first? Any that you want to join me for?

Bring on 2019! I'm ready for you.