Thursday, December 30, 2021

Square Scullery

It was a race to the finish, but with 3 days to spare...we completed the 2021 To Dine Challenge list!

This involved a snowy drive down to Akron on a Tuesday night, but just one restaurant left to check off the was a must. We headed to The Square Scullery. With the COVID numbers rising and more and more people that we know with breakthrough cases, we had planned on just getting takeout. The restaurant announced that starting that same day, they were switching back over to carry-out orders only. Wild times out there, folks.

Luckily, you can order on their website and schedule a pick-up in 15-minute increments. It made it so easy for us to schedule and time it right with our drive from Cleveland. 

We tried to select food that would travel back the 36 minutes ok, but a Connecticut-style Lobster Roll ($28) with Old Bay fries didn't sound like it would and it was a must-try for us. So we snacked on it right in the car!

But we saved the rest for home and enjoyed the Pork Belly Bao Buns ($12) with 3 sweet steam buns of house smoked pork belly, pickled daikon radish, hydroponic pea shoots, fermented black bean paste, and gojuchang aioli.

And Crystals Fried Chicken Sandwich ($15) of a crispy fried chicken smothered in New Orleans’s staple Crystal's hot sauce with fresh lettuce, pickles, and buttermilk bleu cheese dressing.
Of course none of it was as good as it would likely be if dining in, but overall we enjoyed the food and would absolutely dine there again if we find ourselves in the area. Nothing was so memorable that we'd do the drive for it again, but I'll happily recommend this place for anyone that lives nearby or is looking for a spot in that area. 

They started in 2015 as a food truck, intended to open a ghost kitchen in the 400sq ft brick-and-mortar, and then took a chance and converted it into the "tiny restaurant" it is today. I love hearing stories like theirs, of a small business growing and making investments in our area. Definitely go check them out for yourself! 

And just like that, another year comes to a close. And another To Dine Challenge completed! 

Square Scullery
783 W Market Street
Akron, OH 44303
(330) 983-9387

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Battiste and Dupree Cajun Grill

Two more to go as the year nears an end! I'm racing to complete my 2021 To Dine Challenge list of 10 restaurants that YOU helped select. Next up was Battiste and Dupree Cajun Grill in South Euclid. 

A very small little place, immediately with a lot of character and charm.

We had placed a takeout order in advance (reasonable 60-minute wait on Saturday evening), so Mr. H just picked up our food at the bar and chatted with the owner for a few minutes about supply chain issues and the impact the pandemic continues to have on our local restaurants. He was so nice!
We wanted to try a little bit of a lot, so we did some sharing of a few items.
Shrimp Etouffee ($16.50)
Cajun Fried Shrimp 3/4 lb of fried shrimp served with remoulade ($15.00)
Cajun Fried Perch Dinner with 4 pieces and any 2 sides ($16.25)
Red Beans & Rice
Mustard Greens
Creole Green Beans
Chicken & Sausage Gumbo 

Everything had such good, classic Cajun flavor. It totally reminded us of our trip to New Orleans. While it has some spice to several of the sauces and seasonings, it isn't heat and you shouldn't shy away. There wasn't a "standout" dish that I'd be dying to get again, but overall, we were just happy with the meal and to support a small business during these challenging times. 

Battiste and Dupree Cajun Grill
1992 Warrensville Center Road
South Euclid, OH 44121
(216) 381-3341

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Good Meal Jane Update

I previously shared our experience with the mouth-watering Detroit-style pizza from Good Meal Jane

While they no longer have a stand in the building on the corner of West 25th and Detroit, they are still slingin' some pies for pre-order pickup in the parking lot of a convenience store in Old Brooklyn. Because the good news is that they've secured a new brick-and-mortar spot on Memphis Avenue, and plan to open after some renovations. 

They'll be introducing new menu items as well, like the Sheesh Burger
Two 5oz smash patties, pickles, Flaming Hot Cheetos brioche bun, nacho cheese, and American cheese.
This may sound like it would be a hot mess, or even unappealing to some, but

I mean, look at the smile on that guy!
Smash burgers and Cheetos are two of my favorite guilty pleasure foods, and I certainly never thought I'd see them together! I'm already anxiously awaiting their opening in my neighborhood. Although this could get dangerous... 

Disclosure: I was provided with the meal complimentary in exchange for my honest review and postings on social media. All opinions stated are 100% my own.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Black Box Fix

The countdown is on. The holidays are here, the end of the year is looming, and it's a race for me to finish my 2021 To Dine Challenge list! With three to go in December, can we get it done? Let's go!

First up, we hit Black Box Fix for a Saturday takeout lunch. Located in Legacy Village (second location in Columbus, OH), it can be a great option as you're shopping or there for services. But the parking around there doesn't make it ideal for a single stop on its own. After some circling, we did manage to time it right to slide into the Pick-up meter spot across the street. 

Since it was just lunch and they really are known for their overstuffed sandwiches, we decided to share one. We never turn down an opportunity to try a cheesesteak, so we ordered the "Best Damn Cheesesteak" ($15) with a half-pound of seasoned grilled steak, onions, Swiss cheese, provolone, and Cajun queso. Added on a side of Garlic Parmesan Fries ($5), but it was hard to choose from the yummy flavors they have available!

While my favorite local cheesesteak is still from Original Steak & Hoagie in Twinsburg (Capo's being number two), this was a very good cheesesteak that I do recommend. I would have preferred that the bun be buttered and toasted, but the queso sauce with just that little bit of spicy heat to it was what set this apart from others. 

Online ordering is available, which really helps speed up the takeout process. 

On to the next!

Black Box Fix
25359 Cedar Rd.
Lyndhurst, OH 44124

Monday, November 8, 2021

Thyme X Table

After buying a gift certificate for ourselves when we purchase one for my in-laws in December 2019, we finally made it in to Thyme Table Restaurant and Bar in Bay Village. The pandemic really delayed us getting there, but this certainly won't be our last visit there!

We immediately loved the cozy and chic atmosphere. It kind of reminded us of our favorite place that closed, The Black Pig. A great craft cocktail, beer, and wine list also won us over easily. 

We let our server select our appetizer from the couple that we had narrowed it down to. I could have made a meal from them alone! But he picked the Arancini with Blackberry Compote, Brûléed Cheese, and Marcona Almonds. Very nice dish, but no longer available on the winter menu. We were there just before the menu changed for the season.
Which leads to me to the next dish. I should have known better, because half of the components were out of season. But it just sounded good! Striped Bass with Creamy Polenta, Sweet Corn, Peaches, and Pea Shoots. It didn't arrive very warm, so that hurt the texture and flavor of the fish and polenta, but overall there was very little flavor and the fish was overcooked and dry. The whole thing ate pretty bland and it was disappointing. I did bring it up with our serve once he returned. 
Lucky for me, we were doing a bit of sharing and Mr. H had ordered the Roasted Vegetables and Risotto ($19) with wild mushrooms, asparagus, caramelized onions, creamy garlic risotto, and basil pesto with lightly dressed greens. It was fantastic, and we'll be recreating this dish at home soon! They changed the vegetables slightly, but you can still enjoy this dish on the new menu. 
Aside from the one disappointing dish, we really enjoyed our meal and the vibe of the restaurant. Service was good, despite it being very busy. They have a dedicated parking lot right next to the building. Highly recommend checking them out if you haven't already.

Thyme Table Restaurant and Bar
583 Dover Center Road
Bay Village, OH 44140
(440) 617-6964

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Small City Taphouse

Things are quiet over here these days. My new small business, Evy Lena Vintage, is keeping me busy during every spare minute that I have. I'm learning a ton, finding such joy in running my shop, and achieving goals that I set for myself. To put it is good. Like real good.

But that doesn't mean that Mr. H and I aren't still having some dining adventures. Now they just might include a thrift store stop or center around picking up winnings from an estate sale auction. Which is how we found ourselves in Sandusky one Saturday afternoon. 

I went to Twitter for your recommendations, and boy did you follow through! We looked at a few menus, and settled on Small City Taphouse for their Asian cuisine and extensive craft beer list.

Several items in the Appetizers section sounded good, so we went for the SAMPLER ($12) with 2 soft spring rolls, 2 crispy spring rolls, 2 toasted shrimp, 2 jumbo crispy shrimp, and 2 fried pork dumplings. 
A good way to try a little bit of everything. Our favorite was the Toasted Shrimp. Everything was good and we enjoyed it, but nothing was noteworthy. 

The second appetizer that appealed to us was the BANH MI WITH MEATBALL ($7), served with pickled carrot, cucumber, cilantro and pepper.
When it arrived at the table, it wasn't at all what we were expecting! Which is always kind of fun. I thought maybe it would be a slider, steamed bun, or crostini. It was tasty, but I was kind of missing a more traditional version if I'm honest. 

Lastly, they have a good amount of sushi on their menu, so we decided to share two House Special Rolls. I loved their use of chili crisp! 
We enjoyed our lunch and the casual sports-bar feel of the restaurant & bar, and even enjoyed a new-to-us stout so much that we bought a crowler to take home.
While we won't be making a special trip here, it's definitely a good spot to stop at if you're in the area. Family-friendly atmosphere, walkable area, and easy public parking on the street. 

202 Columbus Avenue
Sandusky, OH 44870
(419) 502-0099

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Happy Cows Group Share

The owner of Happy Cows Group Share reached out to me to share a little about her business and asked if I'd be willing to come in to check out their retail location in Seven Hills.

It is exactly the type of local business that I like to bring to you guys. They offer locally raised meat in convenient, affordable, and customizable shares.
They have bulk pricing, so you buy by the share, instead of by the cut. 
They also have an extensive line of locally produced pantry goods.
Including some of our favorite brands...
...and several that we hadn't heard of yet.

We were gifted a pound of their Ground Beef. Mr. H whipped up some homemade brioche buns for the first time, and wow that was a good Smash Burger!
We also took home Short Ribs...
...that Mr. H smoked...
...and seared...
...before turning it into Smoked Short Rib Steamed Buns. Yum, yum!
You should definitely go check out their retail store and meat shares. When you shop with them, you are supporting local farmers and makers and getting such quality products to feed your family. 

7529 Broadview Road
Seven Hills, OH 44131

Disclosure: I was gifted the meat in exchange for my honest review and sharing my experience on social media. All opinions stated are 100% my own. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Aqua di Luca Opens in Downtown

This post I'm catching up on from July (whoops), but we headed to the newly opened Aqua di Luca in Downtown Cleveland. Normally, we don't head right in when a new spot opens up. We like to give them time to settle in and fix any opening issues. But this was opened by the folks behind one of our very favorite restaurants in the city, Luca (and Luca West). So we made an exception. 

Plus, we wanted to celebrate a successful first month of my small business! That meant delicious cocktails from their bar. 

Sappy moment...this guy has been so supportive, encouraging, and involved in my starting my dream business. I feel pretty lucky to have him by my side, and there's no one else I'd rather celebrate with!
We started with the Sashimi Grade Tuna ($15) with honeycomb and spicy peppers. It's a simple dish, but one that I think is a not-miss if you're dining there. We were inspired to try making this at home.
We split the Cacio e Pepe ($10), but this dish needs some work before I'd recommend it. There was not enough dressing on the plate, and very little flavor to it. Iceberg lettuce needs assistance. 
Mr. H ordered the Salmone con Ravioli ($45) with Jumbo Lump Bluecrab and Lobster Ravioli. 
I had the Filet Mignon and Lobster Gnocchi ($55).
There were definitely some opening growing pains in food execution and service, but I have no doubt it will settle in to be a staple of Downtown Cleveland dining. The space used to be XO Prime Steaks, but you wouldn't recognize it from all of the gorgeous work they've done inside. Outdoor seating available, and a nice long bar for more casual dining.

I'll give it a little more time, but you bet that we'll be back!

Aqua di Luca
500 W St. Clair Avenue
Cleveland, OH

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Istanbul Grill

 Well, that was an unexpected two-month hiatus from the blog. But not surprising. I have NEWS! I started my own small business, selling vintage housewares on Etsy and Instagram. It's called Evy Lena Vintage, after my grandmother and great-grandmother, and it's been an "if money was no object, what would your dream job be" for a while. This pandemic and other recent big life events really put things into perspective for me, and I decided to stop holding myself back from chasing that dream. But it leaves very little time, energy, and interest for this space of the internet. So the posts will be fewer and far between as I navigate this new phase of my life. Thanks for coming along with me all these years.

In an effort to still complete the 2021 To Dine Challenge, Mr. H and I swung by Istanbul Grill in Avon the other night (I had some estate sale auction winnings to pick up, so win-win!).

This one had made it to the list because there used to be an Istanbul Grill (no relation) in Tremont that made this particular dish I loved, and this restaurant also had that dish on their menu.
We were greeted with seasoned bread and two dips, a cool yogurt-based one and a slightly spicy almost marinara-like one. A mix was Mr. H's favorite!
He ordered the Sultan's Delight "Hunkar Begendi" ($19.99) with tender cubes of lamb, red and green bell peppers in a tomato sauce, served over a creamy bed of pureed eggplant and cheese. The portion was huge, piping hot, and quite tasty. 
I was there for the Iskender Kebab with Yogurt ($19.99) of fresh Doner "Gyro" served with croutons and topped with a tomato butter sauce and a side of yogurt.
I remember liking the Tremont version a bit better (flavor of sauce, texture of pita), but this was very good too and I'd happily order it again.

We don't find ourselves out that way very often, but I'd pop in here again in a heartbeat. Open for lunch and dinner, has a kids menu, plenty of free parking, and lots of vegetarian options. 

35840 Chester Road
Avon, OH 44011
(440) 937-0733

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