Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Old Brooklyn Cheese Co. Moves and Opens Second Location

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know we're big fans of Old Brooklyn Cheese Co. in our neighborhood. Well, they've had some big changes recently that I wanted to share with you.

First, they moved their Old Brooklyn retail location off of Pearl Road and opened up in the same building as their production facility on Broadview Road. 

The retail space in the shop is a little smaller, but you'll still find all of your favorite cheese and charcuterie board accoutrements and familiar local products. Try their award-winning mustard!
And, of course, the quality cheeses you've grown to expect.
They are still offering a small menu of Sandwiches, and have brought back the Snack Cones ($6).

The second piece of big news is that another retail location has opened up on the east side. You can now find Old Brooklyn Cheese Co. in the Van Aken Market Hall in Shaker Heights. Don't snooze on this gem if you live on that side of town and haven't visited their west side location before!

Finally, if you're limiting your errands and don't want to stop in to the physical locations, you can order and schedule delivery through Mercato if you fall within their service area.

Our small businesses need us more than ever. Shop local whenever you can, and it's great that Old Brooklyn Cheese Co. now has more than one option to do so. 

4464 Broadview Road
Cleveland, OH 44109 

3441 Tuttle Road, Suite 101
Shaker Heights, OH 44122

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Leavened Opens in Tremont

If you haven't heard yet, the head baker at On the Rise in Cleveland Heights, Ian Herrington, has left to open his own thing, Leavened, on the ground floor of The Tappan in Tremont. Nestled in the modern and sleek residential building, this spacious bakery is a stunner.

Besides the literal wall of bread that greets you from behind the counter, you'll also find tempting sweet and savory pastries.
It was hard not to just order one of everything!
In addition to two regular croissants (so freakin' good!) to save for the following days, we couldn't resist the Duxelle Croissant ($3.75) made with locally foraged maitake mushrooms that was a special that day. Buttery, decadent and a pop of umami in your mouth.
We also split a Citrus Cinnamon Bun ($4) that morning that was pure perfection.

The next day we shared another special, the Pepperoni Roll ($4.50) that Mr. H still won't shut up about. I hope it becomes a regular menu item, because it deserves to be. 

Lastly, a loaf of Sourdough ($6.50) lasted us for days of breakfast and this Brie, Prosciutto, and Peach Jam Grilled Cheese that I made for us.
They are also currently offering two sandwiches daily, with plans to add soups and more in the future. Open 6:30AM - 2PM for now, but will expand its hours at a later date. There is street parking available. Masks required, limited number of people allowed in at a time, plexiglass dividers, and distance signs posted, so we felt very safe with the COVID-19 precautions in place there.

Run, don't walk, to this new bakery.
1633 Auburn Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Warren's Spirited Kitchen

As we head into the last couple of months of the year and I scurry to try and complete my 2020 To Dine Challenge list by December 31st, we have to take a brief trip back in time. Pre-COVID. It feels like a lifetime ago. But right before Mr. H and I headed out of the country with my family (and returned on March 13th to a very different world in the United States than when we left), he had taken me out for a birthday celebration at Warren's Spirited Kitchen in Burton.
I've had difficulty writing this post, because of course for a long time life was put on hold and everything was so heavy. Some days, it feels like not much has changed since March. But, this was a positive dining experience that I felt was worth shining a light on in these crazy times. 

It was a freezing cold night at the end of February, but we cozied up by the fireplace and settled in with excitement in trying a new place.
We relied on our server to suggest popular menu items. First up was an order of the Confit Chicken Wings ($13) with 24-hour cured and 12-hour confit slow cooked wings with a choice of maple BBQ, lemon garlic, hot, habanero, Thai ginger, house kc style BBQ or chipotle lime dry rub (our choice). They fell right off the bone, just like the famous ones from The Greenhouse Tavern.
I had their Fish Special with Poblano lime hollandaise, asparagus, and potatoes. Simple, but prepared well. 
Mr. H went for their famous Nashville Hot Chicken & Funnel Cake ($16) that was a brined and breaded boneless thigh, signature hot sauce, marinated kale salad, funnel cake, maple syrup and powdered sugar. Too sweet for my taste, but he enjoyed it and it's a fun play on Chicken & Waffles.
Overall, the food exceeded my expectations and the atmosphere was casual but really pleasant with live music, fresh flowers, and a fireplace. While you'll find higher quality food and service in many of Cleveland's restaurants, this charming spot could definitely hang and it's a real gem in this rural area. 

Thanks for letting me flash back to a simpler time in 2020. I felt it was finally time to go back and give this restaurant the credit it deserves. 

14614 E. Park Street
Burton, OH 44021
(440) 273-8100

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Ohio Pie Co.

 I'd heard nothing but rave reviews of the pizza at Ohio Pie Company in Brunswick...

...but we hadn't gotten out that way until this past weekend when we wanted to try one of their Brunch Pies. All brunch pies come with the signature “everything” crust and a cream cheese-based white sauce (Party Sauce) before being topped with a cheese blend, scrambled eggs, and garlic oil. You had me at everything-seasoning crust.

We ordered a Medium ($16.50) of The Bodega with bacon, egg, and cheese.
It was cheesy, crispy, salty, and oh so good.
But since we don't get out that way often, we also wanted to head home with a Medium ($15) of The Heart of It All with pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushroom, onion, and green pepper (a.k.a a deluxe). As good as the brunch pie was, this one was my favorite.
All of their pies are cut into square slices, and the cheese goes right up to the edge so you have incredible crispy edges. I'm not sure what "trademark Ohio Style sweet sauce" is, but it was darn tasty.

I'm very critical of pizza in Ohio (one this I miss about NY), and still haven't found "my" favorite yet. But this was top 3 of traditional takeout pizza spots we've tried. Suddenly, that drive to Brunswick doesn't seem so far.

1315 1/2 Pearl Road
Brunswick, OH 44212
(330) 741-4117

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

The Sauce Boiling Seafood Express

In the last few years, several seafood boil restaurants have popped up in the Greater Cleveland area. I kept meaning to try one, but hadn't gotten around to it. So when The Sauce Boiling Seafood Express opened their new location in Downtown Cleveland and they invited us in to try the menu, I jumped at the opportunity (thanks, CLEseats!).

While there were a lot of noses popping out of masks, several COVID precautions were in place such as a clearly marked ordering line, hand sanitizer, touchless menu, and a glass divider between customers and the food.
At this fast-causal spot, you order from Sauce Bags, Sauce Bowls, wings and sides. Then they build it right in front of you, ending with your choice of a Signature Sauce.
I was pumped to get home!
I had the new Bunchi Dawg Pound Bag ($51) with a 1/2 lb. Crab, 1/2 lb. Shrimp, (2) 4oz. Lobster Tails, 1/2 lb. Crawfish OR Mussels, 4 Corn, 4 Potatoes, and 7 Sausages. For my sauce, I went with the Sweet Cajun. It had the perfect level of kick to it! Really reminded me of our trip to New Orleans.
Mr. H had the Shrimp Bag ($18) and added Crawfish ($7) with Sweet Hallelujah sauce. There was a lot of sauce left over, and he enjoyed his sauce so much (honey mixed with garlic butter) that he saved it and cooked with it the next day.

Parking can be kind of an issue around West 6th, but we did find a metered street spot one block away on a weeknight evening. The food was still hot in the knotted and double-bagged plastic bag once we got home, and it was a lot of food in each.

Still not dining in at restaurants? You can try them through food delivery services like UberEats, GrubHub, DoorDash and Postmates. 

13888 Cedar Road
University Heights, OH 44118

1266 W. 6th Street
Cleveland, OH 44113

272 E. Exchange Street (coming soon)
Akron, OH 44304

*Disclosure: I was invited with a guest to try complimentary food in exchange for sharing my experience. All opinions stated are 100% my own.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Lock 15 Brewing Co.

Even though Mr. H and I are still choosing to not dine in at restaurants, we're supporting through takeout and discovering some fantastic new spots for picnics. This led us to a "pandemic date night" in Akron with a walk at the Cascade Valley Metro Park...

...on Overlook Trail (just .5 miles and ADA accessible)...
...with stunning views of the Cuyahoga River (125 feet below, yikes!)...
...and dinner from Lock 15 Brewing Co. in another area of the park that was literally right next to the brewery. The restaurant is on my 2020 To Dine Challenge list, and we'd really been looking forward to trying it.
Overall, even as takeout, it did not disappoint! We had to start with the Bahn Mi ($13) with Pulled Pork, Salsa Verde, Mango Corn Salsa, and Cilantro on Steamed Buns (4 buns included). Mr. H can never resist a steamed bun, and we both love a traditional bahn mi. These were our favorite.
We split the Lock 15 Burger ($13) on a Brioche Roll with Lettuce, Onion, House Pickles, Smoked Cheddar and Horseradish Aioli. All sandwiches are served with house kettle chips. Substitute side salad or french fries for $2. Substitute jalapeno corn grits or snap peas for $3. Gluten free roll available.
The only disappointing item we tried was the Peach Burrata ($9) with Peach Jam and Warmed Grain Bread. The peach jam didn't have a whole lot of flavor and burrata is very mild, so it just wasn't very interesting. Also, if the bread was grilled I think it would have improved it. This one I'd skip. But there are plenty of other tempting dishes to try! Kids menu available, and this brewery felt family-friendly.

Parking and the brewery/restaurant entrance are on the back side of the building, which is a cool renovated tire factory. The place was very busy both inside and out. There was an attempt to have some pandemic precautions in place but this isn't one I'd recommend dining in at right now if you're leery. However, it was just steps away from the park and the canal, and we quite enjoyed the quiet views there at our picnic table. Shhhh, we snuck in a Crowler ($10) of their Swinehart Stout. I'm anxious to get back to try their Pretty Boy Peanut Butter Porter

This one's worth the drive from to Akron from Cleveland with solid food and beers just steps away from a fabulous park system that I hadn't been to before. It won't be our last trip for this combo. 
21 W North Street
Akron, OH 44304
(234) 900-8277

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Truffle Shuffle Virtual Cooking Class

Typically, I pass on partnership opportunities that are pitched from companies outside of Northeast Ohio. But, occasionally one catches my attention that I do feel is a good fit to share with you. 

So when Truffle Shuffle out of San Francisco reached out, their story and the way they pivoted their business during the pandemic really interested me. I have to say, I'm so glad that I did team up with this company to attend one of their virtual cooking classes (all featuring truffles, of course!) because it was one of the best experiences we've had during this pandemic.

While working in the best Michelin Star restaurant kitchens, including The French Laundry, Chefs Jason McKinney and Tyler Vorce loved incorporating truffles into their dishes. Sarah, who worked the front of the house at TFL, shared the chefs' love of truffles. The Chefs conceived and launched Truffle Shuffle as an honest truffle company to provide the finest truffle products and consciously sourced and traced fresh truffles. They also serve and support the community by volunteering and donating a portion of their profits to 1% For The Planet. Like most businesses in their industry, the pandemic hit hard and swiftly, so they needed to pivot and developed a series of virtual cooking classes.

These live, interactive classes include a meal kit for two (dinner + cocktail) with pre-measured ingredients, entertainment, and a wealth of knowledge that leaves you with not only an excellent meal but the confidence to recreate the dish again. The price varies slightly by class.

Our kit came with the ingredients and recipe for a Paolo Maldini, and this is one cocktail we'll be making again and again! 

But we were there for the TRUFFLES, and the Fresh Pasta Carbonara with Black Truffle Tartufata delivered on that big time.
The class kicked off with live entertainment of an Italian accordion musician, which was unexpected and set the tone for some fun in the kitchen.

On top of the ingredients being delivered pre-measured and labeled, the live class instruction was perfectly paced and easy to follow. Which is hard to do, in my experience.
Mr. H has always been intimidated by working with dough, but their step-by-step guidance, and pauses to troubleshoot for any participant that asked, led to success!
I'm telling you, this pasta sauce was one of the absolute best that I've ever had. It wasn't just the cocktails talking.
The class wrapped up as we sat down for the meal, and this dish had both of us licking the plate.
The virtual experience lasted close to 2.5 hours, but I never would have guessed it was that long because I felt engaged and entertained the entire time. And we all know that I wasn't the one doing the bulk of the cooking. That's hard to do these days when we're all burnt out on Zoom meetings and events. 

What also set this class apart from others that I've experienced is that it had 70 participants from literally around the world, and there were several times throughout the class that the chefs were interactive with us. Seeing the Zoom faces of other participants pop up on the screen and having some conversation in real time just enhanced the experience. It was well balanced with instruction, interaction, and entertainment. 

In addition to the live class, a printed recipe is also provided. In fact, we already purchased a jar of Tartufata online to try and recreate this dish immediately. It is a Spanish style truffle pesto with Black Truffles, Mushrooms and Pistachios blended with Spanish Arbequina olive oil, and you can purchase a Pasta Kit from Truffle Shuffle (class not included) or just the pesto on Amazon.

Check out their website for truffle products, live class meal kits, recipes, and more. 

Disclosure: I was provided with one meal kit and live class in exchange for sharing my experience. All opinions stated are 100% my own.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Bull Dog Ice Cream

As the last few days of summer were winding down, we were still trying to squeeze in some warm weather treats. After seeing countless images on Instagram of the branded mug with towering shakes, I knew we should check out the recently opened Bull Dog Ice Cream on Memphis Avenue in Brooklyn.

It looks like they've had an ice cream truck for years, but this brick-and-mortar now has Specialty Shakes, Sundaes, Hurricanes, Splits, Floats, Cones and a few snacks like hot dogs, a Poor Boy, wings, fries, a gyro, and even a Walking Taco. 
But we were there for two reasons...a Strawberry Cheesecake Specialty Shake ($12, mug included) with a whole slice of cheesecake in it...
...and the Cookie Dough Sundae ($6.50) with two huge scoops of chocolate chip cookie dough.
I'll say, the ice cream itself is certainly fine, but it's nothing noteworthy. You come for the over-the-top presentation and add-ons. Kids will love it!

It was lunchtime, so we also decided on a Hot Dog with Cheese ($3.25). 
And Fries with Cheese ($3.75). Both came with shredded, melted cheese and spicy nacho cheese sauce. There was way too much cheese (Did I just say that?), and just the shredded would have been preferred. 
I'd give the Walking Taco a try, and Mr. H is always up for trying a gyro. Otherwise, I'd probably skip the savory food and just get ice cream. The portions are very large.

They have a parking lot and outdoor picnic tables. There is no seating inside. Masks were being worn and hand sanitizer was available. 

There's much better ice cream in Northeast Ohio, but this has a fun novelty to it. 

7467 Memphis Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44144
(216) 215-2932

Monday, September 21, 2020

Café Tartine Opens for Breakfast

Tartine Bistro in Rocky River has been a longtime favorite in this household. Its French classics with an American twist are always delicious, and thoughtfully prepared and plated (seriously, follow them or Chef Michael on Instagram for some gorgeous plates of food). 

Restaurants are responding to the pandemic in different ways, and sometimes that means pivoting to new concepts. While they are back open for full-service dining, Tartine also just added a Café Tartine "grab and go" or casual dine-in breakfast option. So we headed there on opening day to check it out.
In addition to some tempting pastries, you'll find easy items like berries and yogurt or granola and a Keep it Simple breakfast sandwich ($10).
Me? I can never pass up a Croissant
They also have larger plates better suited for grabbing one of their patio tables and a cup of coffee, like the Parisian Omelette, Burgundy Benny, and Bordeaux Breakfast ($15). I went for the build-your-own Crêpes section ($10), where you can choose 3 items from savory and sweet ingredients.  
I had the smoked spinach artichoke and bacon. I'd love to see the pancake a little thinner and less oily, but remember this was day 1 and takeout eaten at the Rocky River Reservation just down the street. 

The café is open Tuesday - Saturday from 8AM - noon and on Sunday from 8AM - 3PM. Parking is available, but limited, in the free lot connected to the shopping center. You order at the bar and then wait for your takeout order or grab a table on the patio or inside. If you choose to dine in, service is limited to just delivering your food. There were pandemic precautions in place like signage, masks required, plexiglass dividers in some areas, and hand sanitizer available. I think they'll find their groove quickly with this new concept, and we found another way to enjoy and support one of our favorite restaurants. 

Café Tartine at Tartine Bistro
19110 Old Detroit Road
Old Detroit Shopping Center
Rocky River, OH 44116
(440) 331-0800

Monday, August 31, 2020

Stevenson's Bar + Grill

Named the No. 1 best burger in Cleveland by Thrillist in 2019, Stevenson’s Bar & Grill had to make it onto my 2020 To Dine Challenge list. Did the burger live up to the hype?

Around since the 1920s (moved to current location), it's everything you want a classic dive bar to be: nondescript and even ugly from the outside, but charming with its obvious "regulars", an acceptable amount of grit everywhere, and features like a bar bowling machine. A good-sized parking lot is just to the left of the building and we had no trouble finding a spot even though the bar appeared busy. 

We called in a takeout order because we're not comfortable dining in anywhere yet, and I'm glad we did because this wasn't exactly COVID compliant. Spacing issues and no barriers in sight, some staff wearing masks but others not, and most masks worn were wearing them incorrectly. I watched patrons come out for a smoke and head back in, all while never putting a mask on. So clearly they are letting things slide there.

We took our "Lil Fella" ($6.50) of a single patty with lettuce, pickle, and a secret special white sauce to the park for a picnic. I also had Onion Rings ($4.75), and Mr. H had Jalapeno Poppers ($6).

The onion rings were perfect and even traveled the two miles in a Styrofoam container well. The poppers were cheddar cheese stuffed and a little small, but pretty standard and enjoyable for a frozen product. 

So...the burger. First, that bun was a really darn good bun. Buttered and toasted, it's exactly the type of bun I want with my burger. The patty was clearly not made in-house, as it was too perfectly formed. At 1/3 lb. per patty as the menu states, I thought the "Big Guy" double would be too large, but I'd order that next time. The meat was a little thin. The secret white sauce had no distinct flavor, so even with our best attempt to figure it out, we couldn't. I even asked a couple of folks that eat the burger regularly, and it's still a mystery. Overall, I'd say this burger is much better than your average dive bar burger. I can see why there's a loyal following. 

But "best burger" titles and awards in Cleveland? Not for me, at least. Those claims lie with Tremont Tap House, The Black Pig, and Tinman. It doesn't feel apples to apples in comparison. This one may fall closer to a Swenson's-style burger, but they'll always reign supreme in my book. However, I'd recommend this one. Who has your favorite burger in Northeast Ohio?

Stevenson's Bar & Grill
800 E 200th Street
Cleveland, OH 44119
(216) 999-7156

Friday, August 28, 2020

Fenik's Frozen Custard

After a Saturday morning hike with the pup, a frozen sweet treat sounded particularly appealing. So we made our way west to try Fenik's Frozen Custard. Family-owned and open for 10+ years in Avon Lake, they are open 7 days a week featuring a flavor of the week, frozen custard, ice cream, gelato, frozen yogurt, and sorbet. 

No window service here, but plenty of parking in the large lot and COVID precautions were in place inside. 

I decided to try the Pistachio Gelato. Mr. H thought he was ordering a frozen custard (and we planned to share), but accidently ordered an ice cream when he got the Blueberry Cheesecake. To be honest, we both didn't find either to be very good.

When we saw a frozen treat just for pups, we knew our pooch would need to try one!

It appeared to have a vanilla frozen custard base, which did look rich and creamy. It just made me regret our human orders even more. Two layers of peanut butter topping and two biscuits had her licking every inch of the bowl! 

Has anyone been and had the actual frozen custard? If so, how does it compare to other local favorites like Rosati's or East Coast Custard? But for what we had, it wouldn't be worth another drive that far west. 

Fenik's Frozen Custard
684 Avon Belden Road
Avon Lake, OH 44012
(440) 930-8499

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Literary Tavern

In the quest to still work through the restaurants on my 2020 To Dine Challenge list, we ordered carry-out from Literary Tavern in Tremont.
Luckily, we had already experienced their atmosphere when we stopped in for drinks with friends back in January. 
It honors the historic elements of the 150-year-old building, while feeling chic and a bit sexy. The intimate tavern only seats 45 guests, and has some killer craft cocktails in addition to beer and wine. With a chef-driven menu and not far from home, this is exactly the type of place that will be in regular rotation for us. Stupid pandemic.
We're trying to do our part to support our favorite local restaurants through this, so we decided to go ahead and order takeout since we'd already experienced inside of Literary Tavern. At that point, I was still holding out hope that late summer or fall would bring some level of comfort with dining out for us.

We started with the Roasted Mushrooms ($9) of cremini, shiitake and oyster mushrooms with goat cheese, chili oil, and crostini. I'm a sucker for mushrooms, and this was enjoyable even as takeout so I can imagine the good and hot version being excellent.
Then we split the Muffuletta ($8) with olive bread, mortadella, soppressata, porchetta, olive tapenade, provolone, and pesto.
And Charred Corn Carbonara ($12) with charred corn, leeks, crispy ham, pecorino romano, leek ash, and house made linguine.
Both were delicious, but I didn't expect anything less from the same owner as Cantine and D'Agnese's in Broadview Heights, as I've always had good meals at both places. 

I hope this newish tavern makes it through the pandemic, because I foresee many more meals and plenty of cocktail visits in our future. 

1031 Literary Road
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 862-1916