Archive for May, 2010
Pulling into the Porte cochere of the Intercontinental Hotel, waiting for the valet to come to the car, Michele stated that dining at Table 45 made her feel, “rich.” This is an immediately engaging, stylishly trendy and surprisingly warm and comfortable room. The design of the space and the lighting are perfect complements to the creative foods that come from the kitchen. A mix of Asian, Mediterranean, Indian and middle-eastern cooking, the menu is exciting to read and even better to eat. Sitting in this fabulous space being served wonderful food, should make everyone feel “rich.”
Michele started with the Rustic Gazpacho soup. Different from the typical “red” version, this warm brown mix of vegetable was refreshing and summery, despite the bleak weather outside. Rather than an entrée, she followed that with Caesar salad. Sadly, no anchovies were available, but regardless, their Bangkok-style is very good indeed.
Jeff immediately honed in on the Cumin Braised lamb. Served with lightly minted couscous, the incredibly tender meat was packed with flavor and when mopped up with the tiny beads, the combination was wonderful. A side of coriander chutney and a cauliflower-pea curry mix made this one of the best meals he’s had in this restaurant filled with great food. To begin, the server suggested the ceviche, thin sliced scallops that were elegantly spread along a plate with papaya, lime juice and jalapeño. Our server was right, it was a nice balance for the lamb he was about to enjoy and a perfect combo for the evening.
For desert we shared the chocolate ravioli served with cherry gelato and cherry whipped cream. Warm chocolate oozed from the chocolate pockets and mixed among the cherry gelato for a dish that warranted continuous scrapes and finger dipping. Not what you’d likely do in a restaurant that makes you feel rich, but surely one that cooks such amazing food.
List Status: Existing
http://www.tbl45.com/ 9801 Carnegie Avenue Cleveland, OH 44106 216-707-4045
According to our waitress, “Naya” means “fresh” in Lebanese. It was easy to see why they selected this particular word to represent the restaurant. Tucked into an unassuming suburban strip, next to a Qdoba and around the corner from a Panera, once entering the room with dense red walls, white drum pendants and a wall of textured wave, you are immediately transported into a comfortable and “fresh” setting that belies the neighborhood.
The building sets a high bar for the food and the kitchen mostly delivers. Jeff started with the grilled polenta topped with red wine braised wild mushrooms. A small clump of greens and sun-dried tomatoes added some color to the best part of the menu we tried during our first visit. Michele, always a fan of lentil soup enjoyed their richer, fuller version. She followed this with herb-crusted chicken served over a bed of spaghetti squash. While good, it was not stunning enough to garner high praise. Jeff ordered the gnocchi, not a typical favorite, but the combination of spinach, blue cheese, chorizo and sun-dried tomatoes sounded too good to pass by. Again, while good, it was somewhat unmemorable. For desert, we shared the peanut butter crunch. A peanut butter mousse is sandwiched between chocolate ganache and chocolate cake mixed with Cap’n Crunch Peanut Butter cereal! A creative idea that was interestingly good.
There was enough creativity here to warrant a second visit, but enough boring to avoid one. This one is a toss-up. We think people should consider a visit, if only to see the beautiful room in the suburbs.
List Status: Undecided
http://www.nayabistro.com/ 6323 Wilson Mills Road Highland Heights, OH 44143 440-446-1234
Crop on a Sunday is like no other restaurant in Cleveland. “Sunday Supper” offers a handful of entrées. That’s it. For a fixed price, that entrée is accompanied with a family style salad, side and a desert. Despite the menu’s brevity, this may be the best bargain in Cleveland’s fine dining community.
The descriptions are brief, allowing for maximum kitchen creativity and the variety is sufficiently wide to cater to fish loving Michele and “other” loving Jeff. The salad this week was a nice mix of greens with red and yellow beets, grated cheese and mild vinaigrette. Michele had the grilled hamachi, Jeff the pulled pork with gravy. The shared side was orzo with sun dried tomato and slivered peppers. For desert, we each enjoyed our own (not typical) portion of pound cake topped with peanut butter mousse and drizzled chocolate syrup. As with their regular menu during regular hours, everything was flawless.
We really support this creative diversion. A kitchen that has the ability to experiment once a week can test new ideas and the chance to work “outside the box” makes the daily hard work a bit less like work. Apparently, we are not alone in our support. While we were among the first diners to arrive, the house was packed when we left. Word has gotten out that one of the best restaurants in Cleveland wants to feed you for a bargain price with creative new cooking. Can you think of anything better? We can’t!
http://cropbistro.com/ 1400 W. 6th Street Cleveland, OH 44113 216-696-CROP (2767)
When Parker’s decided to close, we assumed this lovely space in Ohio City would go through a series of owners before someone finally figuring out how to overcome the memory of Parker Bosley’s fabulous food. While we fondly remember the remarkable meals we shared at both Parker locations, after our first visit to the new Light Bistro, we immediately welcomed the new.
Chef Matthew Mathlege has borrowed Parker’s passion for locally produced foods, but he has interpreted them into a different presentation. While Parker prepared traditional courses, Mathlege has developed a menu that invites multiple eating options. Tapas, soups, pizza, paninis, salads, burgers, sandwiches and conventional plates. Regardless of what you crave or your level of hunger, Light Bistro has a meal for you.
Saturday was a dreary day and we wanted to eat early and get home to watch the next Netflix disc of the hilarious series, “Weeds.” Many places close after traditional lunch hours and finding an open spot is usually difficult. We called a few establishments to see if they served lunch, but came up empty handed. We then decided to consult Open Table. http://www.opentable.com We searched for reservations at 3:00PM and were presented with a few intriguing options. We hadn’t been to Light Bistro for a while and thought we’d check out lunch. After arriving, we were momentarily disappointed. The lunch menu is boring when compared with the outpouring of creativity found at dinner. The saving grace was the note that stated “specials will be presented by the server.”
Michele ordered the “special” roasted salmon served over grilled asparagus with slivered peppers and a cream sauce atop. The fish was perfectly prepared to avoid the tackiness often found from less proficient kitchens. Jeff had the “special” grilled flat iron steak with arugula and feta cheese. The smoky slices of beef were the perfect foil for the salty feta. Not ordering beef very often makes one appreciate its core difference as a meat and this is a great place to experiment. Desert was a vanilla bean crème brulee. As with all of our previous visits, everything was perfect.
Selecting lunch, with this abbreviated menu was easy. Choices at dinner are much more complicated. Each tapas offering is better than the next, Michele loves the assortment of salads and the bacon wrapped pheasant is one of the best uses of this horribly underused fowl Jeff can recall. All combined, Light Bistro is one of the best restaurants in Cleveland. Parker Bosley must be happy, we know we are!
http://www.lightbistro.com/ 2801 Bridge Avenue Cleveland, OH 44113 216-771-7130