Cleveland Bound

7 Apr

I have fallen off the face of the world again, but this time for good food, friends, and work.  Last week I scurried over to the Cleve to see some curling friends and the Boss.  The turnpike makes the trip fast, the radio stations are not the best, but it is a smooth and fast ride to the city.

I met up with my former teammates from the Kzoo nationals for some happy hour fun at Paladar, a latin kitchen and rum bar; that has slow service.  We ended up eating some guacamole with cucumber and pickled onion (it needed more pickled onion), beautiful root chip that had tortilla chips hiding in the bottom (I was not happy to see this), and yucca fries (dips were not great).  I really enjoyed their root vegetable and plantain chips with the guac, very good.  Besides the great company we inhaled their mojitos.  I splurged for the fresh mango, while Court just went with the classic mojito.  I should have ordered the prickly pear to do something new.  Shame on me.  We moved on to another restaurant after one more friend joined us.

Next order of business for eating was the B-Spot, Micheal Symon’s award winning burger joint.  OMG it is simple, good, and fun.  Plus, it was sooooo busy.  Boss said I should go and I am happy I did.  The 4 of us went to the jam packed B-spot.  Court’s hubby met up with the girls for dinner, he is too funny, he really is.  The table shared the fries & onion rings and each of us ordered a burger, well Court got the walleye sandwich; it is Lent.

  • Shroomage burger with portabella, blue cheese, Lola steak sauce, griddled onions
  • Thin Lizzy burger with griddled onions, cheddar, mayo, pickles
  • Breuben burger with corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss, Russian dressing

There were lots of interesting items like fried bologna, salami, coppa, eggs, and more to either be served alone or to top a burger.  A very fun and exciting menu.  Good sized portions too, not over the top.  All the burgers are cooked to order, there is a pickle bar, and an extensive condiment caddy at the table with a coffee BBQ sauce it is KILLER.  B-Spot also has a good number of beers on draft and in bottle, plus “Bas Ass Shakes”.  Yes, I had a Vanilla bean apple pie bacon bourbon shake. OMG it was good, next time I would want the root beer float or the chocolate espresso.  Good burger binging!

The next morning I had to drive in to see the Boss, but stop off and fetch some bread at On the Rise Bakery.  I walked into the bakery and bam, I was smacked in the face with the smell of fresh bread, yeast, sugar, and just a lot of yum.  A huge grim came to my face.  God, I love great bread.  The smell, the feel, the shape, and the taste.  This was bread nirvana.  I also met and spoke with Adam, the owner and head baker of On the Rise.  He loves his bread, I enjoyed my time with him.  A man with true vision.

The staff were so friendly and welcoming.  Just an all around great place that sells high quality, hand crafted bread.  I purchased 5 french baguettes, pain au chocolate, jam croissant, and got a cookie.  All were fantastic.  I love slicing into bread goods and seeing the layers of laminated dough in the pain au chocolate or the irregular holes in the baguette. Hmmmm I wish I had one now.

The middle of the day was so much fun.  Working with my boss, hanging with his family, and learning the ropes.  I also got to spend quality time with his wife.  I am very happy with my employer. 🙂  Smiles all around.  We talked shop about books, business, and future projects.  My heart was racing with all the excitement.  It still is.  Oh, I want to share, but I can not.  So, we will move on to more food.

Found out at the end of the day that there was the Indians home opener.  That meant, we need to leave the house NOW to get downtown.  We started off our feast at The Greenhouse Tavern that is owned by Jonathon and Amelia Sawyer.  A really down to earth, energy filled, farm to table restaurant.  To me it the Greenhouse Tavern embodies the philosophies of many midwestern chefs.  There is something different about midwestern folk.  It does draw us back to the farm to simplicity, even if we live in the bigger cities stuck in the middle.

The items on their menu are exciting and filled with fresh ideas.  I love the fact that there is poutine on the menu.  If you have no idea what that is then check it out.  It is heaven!  Below are the dishes the three of us shared.  I enjoyed all of them.  I liked the hominy and the foie clams.  So delicious.  I need to give props to them for the chicken wing confit.  This is a great idea!  I hope to see more places doing this technique with the wings.

  • Crispy Hominy with pork shin cracklins, pickled red onion & lime juice
  • Foie Gras Steamed Clams with butter, red onion brûlée, late harvest viognier vinegar & grilled bread
  • Whole Grilled Padrón Peppers with heirloom garlic cilantro pistou & lemon zest
  • Crispy Chicken Wings Confit with roasted jalapeño, lemon juice, scallions & garlic

We scarfed up our meal.  The staff were very accommodating and friendly, as they are in the midwest.  I know when I go back to Cleveland I am coming back here.  It fit my personality just so.  Plus, I loved their use of acid/citrus; overbearing in one dish, but I was happy to see its appearance.  Thanks!

The last stop before I had to head home on the pike was to Micheal Symon’s Lola Bistro.  I have only read about this place, so I was very happy we had the opportunity to quickly eat there.  The Boss gave the green light and we were escorted to the chef’s table that is nestled beside the open kitchen.  I love open kitchen’s.  The intensity, the heat, the clatter of pans, quick busting flames.  It is so exhilarating.  I can get lost in all the movement and action.

We quickly perused the menu.  Boss ordered our dishes and we were inundated with staff who were waiting to talk with him.  So many questions, so many stories.  All exciting to hear and to be around.  Below are the dishes we ordered.  I enjoyed the pork belly and the bone marrow.  The marrow is the sexiest food around.  Nothing beats it’s lusciousness, well maybe a perfect torchon.  The only thing I really wanted here to make some of the dishes pop was some acid.  Overall beautiful flavors, presentation, and service.

  • Pork Belly: butternut squash, apple, blood orange, cilantro, ginger
  • Crispy Bone Marrow: various accompaniments
  • Ceviche: jalapeno, Fresno, red onion, lime
  • Beef Cheek Pierogi: wild mushrooms, horseradish, crème fraiche
  • Sea Scallops: warm spring pea tart, english peas, shaved radish & pea tendril salad, lemon essence

During our quick meal, stories were flying around about Symon and Keller.  I could not believe my ears.  Great stories, ones I can only file away.  I am so happy that this is my future.  That these two people I am sharing dinner with are the ones I get to work with everyday.  I hear their ideas and help them as best as I can, so they can be excellent. Wow!  Intertwined in the conversation in an instant a glimmer of green caught my eye in the kitchen.  Green with a thin base of brown.  I kept watching and then it was revealed.  Thinking it was dessert, caught off guard it only came to be an entrée.  It was the scallop dish.  We had to get that and we did.

The scallops were seared perfectly and were accompanied with a warm spring pea tart, that is what we thought dessert was.  The green was reminiscent of a pistachio tart or cream.  The tart was rich and lovely, it made me think of English mushy peas.  The salad on top was nice, but the dish cried out for some more acid to cut through the richness of the tart and the scallop.  Besides this, a beautifully executed dish both technically and visually.  All in all I was very impressed with Lolas.  Another place I will return to, but I also need to eat at Roast in the D.

Dinner came to an end and the evening did to.  This was one of the best working days I have ever had in my life.  So much excitement and enthusiasm for what I do and who I work with.  I have so much respect for the two of them.  One armed with words and the other with photo.  The two meld together to make it work.  It is perfection.  I still can not get over it.  I am waiting for a pinch or to wake up.  Nope, it is really happening.  So, I wait for my text, the email, or the call from them.  Ready to hop into action, to get done what needs to get done, to ask questions, to make it work.  This is what I do and sometimes it is with a full stomach of great food.

To all of this… Thank you M & D.

28699 Chagrin Boulevard
Woodmere, OH 44122
Phone: 216-292-5567

28601 Chagrin Boulevard, Suite 900
Woodmere, OH 44122
Phone (216) 896-9020

On the Rise Bakery
3471 Fairmount Boulevard
Cleveland, OH 44118-4265
(216) 320-9923

The Greenhouse
2038 E 4th Street
Cleveland, OH 44115

Lola Bistro
2058 East 4th Street
Cleveland, OH 44115


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