Thursday, June 24, 2021

Tommy's Restaurant

There are a handful of restaurants in Greater Cleveland that if you tell people you haven't been there, they will gasp and shame you. Tommy's Restaurant in Coventry became one of those in my life. 

So, I had to remedy that by adding them to my 2021 To Dine Challenge list, and we recently grabbed our east side buddies to dine there for dinner on a weeknight.

The menu is hefty. So I had taken to Twitter a few days in advance to ask for everyone's favorite menu item.
One rose to the top, the Donovan ($8.99) with falafel, veggies, sesame sauce, cheese, mushrooms and baba. While the flavors were all satisfying, I have to say that feeling overwhelmed on how to properly eat this took away from my enjoyment. I did not see a way to pick it up safely, so I knife and forked it.

But who are we kidding, we were really there for the famous French Fries ($4.99). They are purposefully not seasoned, and a neighbor gave us the hot tip to order a side of the Loui sauce (thinner version of Thousand Islands dressing) to dip them in.
To get a taste of several items, Mr. H tried the Wellson ($11.89) sampler platter with 2 falafel balls, mini spinach pie, 1 scoop of hummus, 1 scoop of baba, a side of sesame tahini and pita. The spinach pie was our favorite. 
No trip to Tommy's is complete without a milkshake. I love a simple, classic Vanilla, but they have more than 15 flavors to choose from if you're more adventuresome. 
Look, this stop is all about a piece of culinary history in our area. It's right on Coventry, within steps of other great restaurants and shops, and full of tradition in the family-owned and operated business. Was it the best Mediterranean influenced meal I've had? No. Best diner food I've had? No. But it was a fun excursion, and one that I'm happy to now say that I've done. 
1824 Coventry Road
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118
(216) 321-7757

Monday, June 21, 2021

Keep the Change Kitchen Collective

It's rare that a new-to-us restaurant shoots to the top of our "favorites" list, but it happens. Keep the Change Kitchen Collective, from the masterminds behind Spice Catering Co., Spice Acres, Spice Field Kitchen, and the former Spice Bar + Kitchen did just that.

In fact, we've already ordered multiple times since our first takeout meal from there.

Currently, you place an order on their website for curbside pickup or from one of the third-party delivery platforms they've partnered with (UberEats, GrubHub, DoorDash). You place one order, but have access to more than one culinary concept! 

We placed an order from Leif for Shiitake Storm with Adobo Rubbed Chicken Thigh ($15.50) with grains, marinated greens, roasted mushrooms, chili piperade, herby broccoli, marinated onions, furikake seeds and cider-fennel vinaigrette.
Then from Woo! Noods and Rice we ordered the Shiitake Mapo Tofu Udon ($14.50) with Cleveland tofu, shiitake + button mushrooms, and GGS (garlic/ginger/scallion) over udon noodles.
Lastly, I was intrigued to try the crispy gluten-free chicken tenders from Winner Winner, so we shared the Little Ones ($8.50) with 2 crispy, gluten-free Ohio Amish chicken tenders, choice of 1 mini side + 1 sauce. Because the list of house made sauces is ah-maze-ing!
Don't forget to add on a canned wine for the perfect picnic.

No need to go into detail on the dishes, because they were each fantastic and we've enjoyed everything else we've ordered so far as well. The only thing I didn't care for was the Marinated Cucumber Salad because it didn't have enough vinegar flavor for my taste.

Keep the Change Kitchen Collective
5601 Tillman Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44102
(216) 465-1133

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Valley Villa Custard

Ok, I know it's not "official" yet...but with consistent 80+ degree days and lots of sunshine lately, it feels like summer in Northeast Ohio! So after a glorious pool day with friends, the mere mention of ice cream had us interested.

Our friends grew up in Chesterland and recommended that we stop at Valley Villa Custard on the way home. They know I'm a sucker for soft-serve. 

And it delivered! Rich, creamy...everything I want Vanilla Soft-serve to be. I'm a minimalist when it comes to my ice cream, so I wasn't ready to commit to a loaded up serving...but get the special crunch topping there. It's crushed peanuts, sprinkles, puffed cereal...a little bit of everything you could ever want all rolled into one.
They also have a very extensive list of frozen custard flavors, sundaes, flurries, milkshakes, and more.

Just be aware that they are a cash-only operation! This spot is definitely worth a stop if you're in the Chesterland area. 

What's your go-to ice cream order in the summer?

Valley Villa Custard
8200 Mayfield Road
Chesterland, OH 44026
(440) 729-4124

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Daily Press

I recently discovered that the owner of Daily Press lives in our neighborhood. We got to sample some of her cold-pressed organic juices at a community clean-up event, and we were hooked.

She previously had a brick-and-mortar juice bar in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood of Cleveland, but made the decision to close the shop and pivot to home delivery during the pandemic. 

Shortly after meeting her and sampling a couple juices, we were ready to place our first delivery order! 

I had been dreaming of the Spicy Apple since I first tried it, and yup...it's still my favorite. 

Here's what we tried:
  • Spicy Apple ➤ green apple, extra extra ginger, lemon, cayenne
  • Sweet Heat ➤ cucumber, pineapple, cilantro, jalapeno
  • Dragon Berry Punch ➤ amla berry, camu camu, dragonfruit, carrot, beet, watermelon, pineapple, green apple, extra ginger, lemon
They run $9 - $10 a bottle, and there's discounted pricing if purchasing a cleanse pack. 

There are many health benefits to raw, organic, cold-pressed juice. And nothing tastes quite like it! Our minds headed in a different direction, and started dreaming of craft cocktails to mix with these. 

Here's a refreshing cocktail Mr. H created that is just perfect for the summer ahead:
  • 4 oz. Spicy Apple Daily Press juice
  • 2 oz. Mezcal
  • 1 oz. Lemon Juice (lime juice would be tasty too!)
  • .5 oz. Green Chartreuse
  • .25 oz. Agave Syrup
  • Place in shaker with ice, shake, and strain over fresh ice.

Head over to her website and check out the full list of products. Place an order, mix up that cocktail, and share if you liked it! 

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Wicked Lobstah and Blue Monkey Brewing Co.

Blue Monkey Brewing Company opened in North Royalton just over a year ago. I had heard about it from friends that know the owners. We don't find ourselves out in that area much, but all it took was a Facebook post about a certain food truck scheduled to be there.

First, we settled in on their small patio with a Colobus PBP (Peanut Butter Porter) and Salted Caramel (Blonde Stout). They were already speaking my language! Both were pretty good, but I enjoyed the porter more. 

Then it was time for dinner at the Wicked Lobstah that was in from Columbus for a few days around Greater Cleveland.
There just aren't enough good lobster rolls around Cleveland, and I couldn't wait to dig in. We had to try The Plain Ass Roll ($18) with warm buttery lobster on a toasted bun.
But they have a list of specialty lobster rolls with everything from guacamole, smoked salmon, blue crab, and sriracha. We ordered The High Society Roll ($20) with black and white truffle mayo. 
Both were quite tasty and brought me back to our Maine trips. I'm not a huge potato chip person (unless they are Lay's Salt & Vinegar), but the seasoned chips with these were good too.

I'm glad that we caught the food truck while it was in town, and it was fun to check out the brewery. You can tell they have a loyal bunch of regulars. While I won't be going out of my way to head there again, it's a nice option if in the area. They rotate food trucks or you can bring in your own food. There's often live music, and plenty of parking since it is tucked on the side of Discount Drug Mart.

Blue Monkey Brewing Co.
5540 Wallings Road
North Royalton, OH 44133
(440) 628-9152

Monday, May 10, 2021

Rood Food and Pie

Alright, I've been sleeping on the Salt & Honey Pie ($5.75) from Rood Food & Pie in Lakewood, so I'm hear to tell you to stop making the mistake that I did.

First, the restaurant is super cute. Just look at this adorable bar as you enter the dining room.

They've pivoted their business model a couple of times since opening, but they currently offer Dinner and Brunch with a Late Night Pie Bar coming soon.

But we were there to try the signature Salt & Honey Pie that I've seen on Instagram hundreds of times (it feels like). With wildflower honey custard, Euro butter, maldon sea salt, and bee pollen...it's certainly unusual and not too sweet.
The bee pollen even comes in this tiny, cute glass container for you to sprinkle it on for yourself. 
While this pie was definitely our favorite, we also tried the Tequila Lime ($6.5) with blanco tequila, organic sugar, orange zest and orang liqueur, fresh lime, whip, and lime zest.
We need more places like Rood where you can pop in for just a quick piece of pie! From this experience, I'll definitely look forward to checking out their savory food menu. But I won't be skipping that Salt & Honey pie...

Rood Food and Pie
17001 Madison Avenue
Lakewood, OH 44107
(216) 712-4506

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Home Bistro

Home Bistro opened in August 2020 on Mayfield Road, right in the heart of Cleveland's Little Italy neighborhood. They've been making quite a splash, despite us being in the middle of a pandemic. Including recently being named Best New Restaurant of 2020 by Cleveland Magazine readers.

So as my two friends and I got together for our very first patio dining experience since the pandemic began, we were excited to try this new spot out. The owners, Victor Morenz and Emily Gilbert, had a restaurant in Chicago (by the same name) with rave reviews from my friend's family there. I may have been counting down the hours before our visit all week!

Let's just say, it did not disappoint. From the Starters, we shared Beer Battered Asparagus ($12) with IPA beer batter, and salt & vinegar aioli.
And Shishito Peppers ($8) with sea salt and olive oil.
I then got super torn between several of the Mains that all sounded good, so my indecisiveness led me to two additional Starters instead. First, the Grilled Haloumi ($12), which is a Mediterranean cheese with strawberry, pickled green garlic, black pepper, and arbequina olive oil. Isn't that plating stunning?!
And the Artichoke Edam Fritters ($12) with garlic aioli and lemon.
My friends enjoyed the Korean Fried Chicken ($24) with crispy-fried smoked chicken thigh, sweet & savory soy, peanut puree, snap peas, and spring onion kimchi; Caesar Salad ($13); and one of the Mussels specials (Tuesday was Mussels Night with several options for $18). Every single dish was wonderful.

Now, service definitely had minor issues. Food arrived out of order, we were out of water for quite a while, and they seemed stretched thin. But our server and the manager were very sweet and attentive overall. The manager shared with us how difficult it still is to find restaurant workers that will come back to work in the pandemic, and how busy they've been since the Cleveland Magazine coverage and the warmer temperatures. I have no reason to think the service won't improve as things continue to get back to "normal." 

We dined on their patio, but the interior was just adorable too. Parking is a real issue in that neighborhood, but with some patience and lots of circling I did eventually find a street parking spot right outside the restaurant. 

This was one of the best meals I've had out in a long time, and that's not just the pandemic talking! I'm already looking forward to a return visit with Mr. H.

Home Bistro
12022 Mayfield Road
Cleveland, OH 44106
(216) 795-5582

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Conforti

When Conforti opened in January in Tremont, we knew that we'd have to try it because as chef David Kocab has made his way through kitchens like Trentina, The Black Pig, Ushabu, and Bar Oni...we've become big fans. 

Chef/owner Matt Spinner and Kocab are focusing on takeout only, Thursday - Monday. Delivery is available from Uber Eats. 

Immediately their Meatballs started hitting my Instagram feed. They did not disappoint!

But our favorite of the meal (and Kocab's personal favorite combo) was the Tomato Braised Cod with red sauce, capers, olive tapenade and parsley salad and a side of the Grilled Rapini with fried garlic, red chili flake, and lemon.
The Fried Arancini is served with garlicky pesto aioli for dipping.
The Gulf Shrimp are cooked in caper butter served with parsley and grilled lemon.
The menu changes slightly, so you want to keep your eyes peeled. There's more that we plan to try (hello, Personal Pan Lasagna and Gnocchi Alla Romana), but that Cod, the Rapini, and Meatballs will be hard to resist ordering over and over again.

Conforti
2173 Professor Avenue
Cleveland, OH
(216) 334-9746 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Apparently I've Lost My Mind

Maybe it's a sign that I've been blogging too long, but something happened that has never happened to me before. I forgot that I had previously been to a restaurant. 

And it gets worse...

I named that restaurant to my 2021 To Dine Challenge list of 10 restaurants to dine at this year. *face palm*

As Mr. H and I drove to Han Chinese Kabob & Grill to pick up our takeout order, I got a gut feeling and sure enough...before we even pulled in, I knew I had already been there (in 2014, to be exact, if you'd like to read more about that visit).

The good news? Only one of the five items we ordered was something I'd had before (Lamb Kabob).

We had asked our friends (thanks Joe and Laura!) for recommendations, and got several things from their list: Dry Chili Chicken ($14.95), Fried Chinese Potstickers ($5.95), and Wonton with Chili Oil ($5.95). We had wanted to try the Salt and Pepper Prawns they suggested, but the restaurant was out of them that night.

The last dish we tried was the Spicy Duck Dry Pot ($15.95). This dish was a huge bust for us. Every piece of duck had multiple small shards of bone in it that were impossible to eat around. There's no pulling the meat off the bone on your plate, there's too many small pieces to navigate around in your mouth if you're attempting to chew the meat off and remove the bone...am I missing a logical way to eat this??? Help! 

My favorites were the Wonton and the Chicken (although it's very spicy so beware). 

So, it wasn't my first visit there as I had intended when I added it to the Challenge. Does it count? Do I replace it with another restaurant? I'm stuck. New waters here on this old blog, haha.

Han Chinese Kabob and Grill
3710 Payne Ave #110
Cleveland, OH 44114
(216) 769-8745

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Gyro Guys

Surprisingly, there are still a few eateries in our neighborhood that I haven't tried yet, and Gyro Guys was one. Right on Pearl Road and owned by two brothers, I've driven by countless times. Mr. H had been a long time ago, but it was time for a Saturday lunchtime visit after being inspired by our friend and neighborhood Kate Warren (who is running for Cleveland City Council, yo!) when she posted a picture on Instagram of her favorite order.

It was much larger inside than I expected, with plenty of seating for dine-in. You order at the counter (he was so nice and helpful for this newbie!) and get to watch your food be made.
I had to go right for the Original Greek Gyro ($6.95) with layered beef and lamb served on a warm pita with onion, tomato, lettuce (which I omitted), and their homemade tzatziki/cucumber sauce. Kate's pro tip: Add feta cheese!
Their slogan is "It's All About the Sauce!" and honestly, it doesn't do it for us. The thicker, creamy texture I do appreciate. I hate when tzatziki is watery and runs all over. But, theirs doesn't pack the bold flavors of garlic, herbs, and an acid that we really love. We like it pretty extreme, and Mr. H has mastered a recipe at home. 

Otherwise, the meat is flavorful and moist. The pita was lovely, and there was a generous portion of all toppings without being excessive. The only real miss for me were the Fresh Cut Fries ($2.75 for Small), as they were too crispy and seasoned with a very heavy hand. I like 'em salty, but these crossed that line for me. 

While it may not quite have stolen the title of "top gyro" for us (Fergie's will forever be #1), it was a solid gyro that I'll happily order again. But I'd love to try more of their menu. Thanks for the reminder that we needed to check this spot out, Kate!

Gyro Guys
4348 Pearl Road
Cleveland, OH 44109
(216) 739-3033

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Skyway Drive-in Restaurant

You know, sometimes you try a new-to-you restaurant and it just isn't for you. Unfortunately, that happened for us with an impromptu lunch stop at Skyway Drive-in Restaurant in Akron when we scooted down there for our second COVID-19 shot. 

I've followed Skyway on Instagram for a while, and I felt like they are very similar to our beloved Swenson's. The classic drive-in setting with runners coming out to your car is just fun! So we were happy to give it a try.

We started with an order of the Mini Corndogs ($2.99) with ketchup for dipping. What's your corndog sauce of choice? They were definitely the best thing we ordered.
We got a side of Aunt Ruth's Famous Homemade Onion Rings ($3.49), and my apologies to Aunt Ruth...but I've had much better onion rings. They were cut so thin and over-fried that I just didn't find them all that enjoyable. 
I had to go with their Sky Hi Sandwich ($3.99), which is "Our Signature Burger with two of our Jr. patties, middle bun, cheese, lettuce, pickles and our famous Sky Hi Sauce!" It sounded like their version of a Swenson's Galley Boy, which is my go-to order.
A Galley Boy it was not. The bun didn't have that buttered and toasted loveliness that I expected, it was dry overall, the middle bun made the ratio of bread to fillings just off, and the Sky Hi sauce was a watery and bland mess. I was sooooo disappointed. 

Now, Mr. H's Aunt Ruth's Onion Ring Burger ($6.99) with two 1/4 lb. patties with cheese, lettuce, onion rings and famous Sky Hi Sauce was much better than mine. The bun looked buttered and hit on the flat top grill, the meat was juicier, and the sandwich overall had more flavor. But it still didn't live up to my Swenson standards. 

For us, this was a miss. I cheated on my favorite fast casual burger spot, and I paid the price. 

Skyway Drive-in Restaurant
951 East Turkeyfoot Lake Road
Akron, OH 44312
(330) 896 - 9350

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Mister T's Wonderfreeze

After a hike at the Twinsburg Ledges at Liberty Park the other day, the sunshine and warmer temperatures had us craving a frozen sweet treat. We weren't very family with the area (and many of our favorite ice cream shops aren't open for the season yet), but with a quick search online we found Mister T's Wonderfreeze in Oakwood.

It had all the charm of a roadside ice cream shop.
And they even had a wide selection of flavored soft serve, which is right up my alley. I went with a Blackberry (one size only, $2.75). The vanilla base wasn't as rich and creamy as I prefer, but it satisfied my sweet tooth for the moment.
Mr. H went right for the big guy, an Oreo Indulgence sundae that only came in a large and included four pieces of brownie, Oreo crumbles, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream. 
Again, the soft serve vanilla ice cream didn't have as much flavor or richness to it as we like. But the sundae was tasty overall, with the highlight being the moist brownies. I may have snagged a whole one! 

What's your favorite local ice cream shop and your go-to order?

26048 Broadway Avenue
Oakwood, OH 44146
(440) 232-2277

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Martha on the Fly

There's a new breakfast sandwich pop-up on the scene, and you'll want to run (not walk) to get some. Martha on the Fly is inspired by chef and co-owner Ryan Beck's grandmother's cooking. All I can say is that my grandmother did not cook like this! 

You pre-order online (website linked above) for Saturday or Sunday pickup at Good Company. We selected two of the more unique sandwiches from the lineup of 7. First, the Shirley ($14) with house-made beef baloney, caramelized onion, tomato jam, American cheese, egg patty and Martha’s Sunshine Sauce. Also, the Ruth ($14) with fried pork tenderloin, bread and butter pickles, shaved onion, stadium mustard, American cheese, egg patty and Martha’s Sunshine Sauce. 

Pictured here is the Ruth, which ended up being our favorite.
Just look at that gorgeous bun, the crispy pork, schmear of Sunshine Sauce, and BEAUTIFUL and functional packaging. 
We also tossed in an order of Karleen's Cornmeal Fries ($6) with herbs and Sunshine Sauce, and another new-to-us local find of the live fermented hot sauce from Black Cap Hot Sauce.
The thicker shape and soft texture of the fries reminds me of the French Toast Sticks from Burger King (minus the sweetness). And that's said with love, because we don't eat much fast food but those are probably my number two breakfast order behind McDonald's Egg McMuffin when we do have fast food for breakfast. Give them a try.

The pre-sale tends to sell out in advance right now, so jump on it. I know I'm already dreaming of our next sandwiches. 

Martha on the Fly
(844) 4-pie-love

Friday, April 2, 2021

Squash the Beef Catering

It was time to hit another restaurant on my 2021 To Dine Challenge list. I knew that Squash the Beef would be a perfect choice to try as we're still not comfortable dining in at restaurants (but we're close!).

You can find this vegan comfort food caterer around town doing pop-ups and events. A foodie friend, CLEfoodies, had tipped us off that the Burger Night was worth tracking down. So I watched their social media for announcements and marked my calendar for the March date. We pre-ordered because sometimes they sell out, and it paid off!

This pea protein patty didn't have us missing meat at all, and it's topped with lettuce, tomato, vegan cheez sauce, pickles, fried onions, and their special comfort sauce on a pretzel bun. Just look at that thing!
You can get chips or fries with it, and I highly recommend the Seasoned Fries. They were delicious!

Also, don't sleep on the Kale Lemonade. We both loved it. 

Who knew vegan food could taste this good? I'm only kidding. But seriously, this was some of the tastiest full vegan food that I've had in a while. 

I'd love to try more of their theme nights (Taco Tuesday, Soul Food Sunday), but you can catch April's Burger Night on 4/23 in Euclid. 

(216) 245-2128

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Honeymoon Grille

Mr. H and I had to head down to Akron to receive our first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination (thank you, Acme!). So, why not make more of an excursion out of it and pick up lunch to eat in the car? 

After doing a quick search online, it looked like Honeymoon Grille was just down the street from the grocery store and it had a good rating and reviews on TripAdvisor. Maybe that should have been my first clue...

The inside was nothing special, but big, bright, and properly spaced for the pandemic. 
The menu looked very diner-esque but up a notch, with breakfast and lunch served all day. So Mr. H went with the BLT & Egg Wrap ($6.99) with egg, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and your choice of cheese and wrap. 
I ordered the Crab Cakes ($5.99) and Basket of Fresh Cut Fries ($3.99). Dining Deals Alert!
First, no way those were fresh cut fries. Cleary a frozen product, and very close to my potato nemesis...the shoestring fry. The small, skinny fries were unseasoned and left a lot to be desired. 

As did the food overall. It was certainly fine, but just average at best. I think there are much better restaurant options in Akron, so this one is a pass.

Honeymoon Grille
3458 Manchester Road
Akron, OH 44319
(330) 644-4355