Archive for June, 2010
Michele was to attend a business dinner downtown at Blue Point (lucky lady!) and Jeff agreed to drop her off and pick her up. Knowing she was about to enjoy a great meal, Jeff desperately tried to figure out how to spend his time. Food was of course the answer!
Both of us have visited Bar Cento in the past. Under the ownership of Jonathan Sawyer, Jeff always enjoyed the eclectic menu and the unusual beer choices available. Michele could only find limited things to eat, usually centering on the roasted chicken. She always felt it was good, but was displeased to find only one desirable item on the menu. For that reason, we did not visit often.
With Michele away, Jeff felt this was the perfect time to see what has happened to the place (and more importantly, the food) since ownership has been switched. He is pleased to report that the food is still good, but a bit of the oblique creativity and polish that was evident when Chef Sawyer was on hand may be lost. Regardless, this is a fine place to catch a meal and a drink.
The beer special of the day was Belgium Blanc de Chambray. There is something elegant and wholly flavorful about Belgium beer. The taste is unlike beer from anywhere else. On a warm Monday evening, the definitive sparkle was welcome. A small salad arrived before the main course, rich with Parmesan cheese and greens. The wild mushroom and duck confit pappardelle had only one flaw. The wide pappardelle noodles were a bit TOO al dente. A few more seconds in the boil, they would have been perfect; a few additional stirs and they would have avoided sticking together. Regardless, the duck, arugula and wild mushrooms were bathed in a buttery rich sauce that made each spin of the pasta a heavenly mouthful of flavor. Jeff did something uncharacteristic once the last of the food was gone; he sopped up the remaining liquid with the crusty bread. The plate went back to the kitchen, almost ready for the next patron. It was that good. Michele usually pushes a shared treat toward chocolate, but without her influence, Jeff ordered dessert with two things he really enjoys, lemons and bread pudding (lemon bread pudding) to finish the evening. Made from flavorful fresh slices of crusty bread that has been cubed, soaked and baked, the edges were crunchy, the center soft, tart and the whole lighter than most bread puddings.
Despite Michele missing from across the table, Jeff really enjoyed the evening. When he picked-up Michele at the end of her meeting, she reported a wonderful evening of crab cakes, calamari, lobster mashed potatoes and perfectly prepared grouper. Blue Point has always prepared a fine dinner, but not fully reviewed here because this was a catered menu. Jeff believes the highlight of the evening was a return to a restaurant that he would not otherwise suggest. Perhaps more of these singular outings are in order…but not too many. We still love to eat together at great Cleveland restaurants.
List Status: Existing
1948 W25th Street Cleveland, OH 44113 216-274-1010
As indicated in our comments on Fire, Parallax is our favorite restaurant in Cleveland. On every visit, we are treated with remarkable food, a classy urbane environment and professional staff. The level of quality afforded the customer is what all good restaurants want to be “when they grow up.” Our latest visit was no exception. As always, we walked away happy and satiated.
Both of us “swear” the waiter said, “Cauliflower and Leek” soup, so were quite surprised when the soup of the day arrive and it was green. Puzzled, we both dug in to the delightfully sharp tang of chilled “Cucumber and Leek” soup with a shrimp and cilantro garnish. We almost never order the same thing, (how can we possibly taste multiple foods if we did?) but the description was too intriguing and we were vacillating over the menu’s collection of interesting appetizers and salads. When we both tried to lay claim to the soup, Michele stated, “We’ll both have the soup!” We’re both happy we did.
For the main course, Jeff did what he seldom does, he ordered fish. The tuna was seared on the ends and sliced and served alongside a light mix of greens, peas, olives and feta. Michele had the Black Cod served with bok choy and a tangy glaze that worked well with the black sesame peppered fish. Together we shared the dessert special, chocolate mousse cake with fresh red raspberries and blackberries. This may have been the quintessential summer meal of light preparation that allowed the lovely fresh flavors to emerge. Fabulous.
Time and again, the local (and national) spotlight continues to fall on Michael Symon and Lola. We have nothing but admiration for him and his place and have enjoyed many meals there, but we have said it before and will continue to believe that the real genius and dean of Cleveland cooking is Zach Bruell. If you have not been to Parallax or one of his other places, we urge you to remedy that error and sample the best of Cleveland’s food.
2179 W 11th Street Cleveland, OH 44113 216-583-9999
MANY years ago, Sutters was located on E 140th Street in a typical neighborhood tavern-sized building. If you wanted food, without waiting, you got there early. The owners then inexplicably built a HUGE new place down the street, very near the I-90 freeway. The food was still great and they did manage to entice patrons despite the continued deterioration of the neighborhood. Inevitably, people stopped risking the trip and the restaurant closed. Sometime after, they moved to Route 87 in Newbury, bringing with them recipes for the some of the best veal in town. Now unfortunately, if we want Weiner schnitzel, it is an hour trip instead of a 15 minute ride. Every few years we fill the tank and take a journey to the relative eastern end of the planet (or at least Cleveland.)
There is really only one reason to drive an hour. It is for the veal. If you don’t like flattened, breaded extremely tender and luscious veal or sautéed slivers of scaloppini perfectly prepared, don’t go. About 85% of the menu items are variations on veal. Each entrée comes with a salad. Choose between Italian or ranch dressing and bide your time waiting for the meal.
Over the years, Jeff has found two favorites, Weiner schnitzel ala mode and Veal Marsala. Michele rotates, this time ordering the Veal Swiss. Ala mode is topped with mushrooms (still prepared better than almost anywhere) and a sherry-cream sauce. Swiss is topped with ham, mushrooms and Swiss cheese. The side dish today was herb-garlic sautéed potatoes. Uneventful, but again, you’re here for the veal. Always keep that in mind. Almost twenty-five years after our first visit, it remains the draw and the preparation remains very close to the first time we visited. We’ll leave it up to you to decide if the drive is worth it, but we’ll be back in a few years and we’re reasonably certain that Sutters will still be serving up some of the best veal this side of Pennsylvania.
List Status: Existing
10665 Kinsman Road Newbury, OH 440-564-9656
Normally, we do not write about chain, corporate or franchise food establishments. We occasionally dine at these places, but instead prefer to give our business to local chefs and owners who reside in the Cleveland area. When a chain restaurant moves into a community, the corporate food people usually send one of the experts to the new location to train and assist in the food preparation. For example, when Maggiano’s first moved into Beachwood Place, the food was tremendous. We went a number of times. After about three months, the quality slipped to its normal passable version. The same occurred when Bravo and Bahamas Breeze opened in Woodmere. Good, good food at first and then a slip into what becomes the norm. We no longer frequent any of these places.
Today, we’ll break our self-imposed rule, because after many years and numerous visits to the Woodmere location of The Original Pancake House, the food is still remarkable.
Since opening, we have tried a number of the options, but like so many places with a consistent menu, we have adopted favorites and have stuck by them. Jeff finds it near impossible to order anything, other than the Dutch Baby. It is like no other breakfast food you’ve had. The “baby” is a thin, rich layer that is curled up at the perimeter, which is baked crispy. Rather than gooey syrup, fresh lemons, butter and powdered sugar are served. Jeff advises using ALL three. Squeeze a lemon across the open top of the whole, wipe the butter (don’t forget the crispy ends) and then gently tap some of the powder sugar over the lot. The tangy lemon and sweet, sweet sugar mix with the butter and the “baby” for an exceptional breakfast treat. Michele likewise has trouble moving beyond a favorite. Hers is the Georgia Pecan Pancakes. Like all of the pancakes we’ve tried, they are light and fluffy with this version filled with toasted pecans. A smattering of pecans is also spread around the top. Served with whipped butter and citrus based warm tropical syrup, they are gone in a flash. Recently, she found they offer a small portion and that has removed some leftovers from our refrigerator that Jeff usually finished off. We’re not so certain how Jeff feels about that decision.
If we have one complaint about the place, it is the coffee. It tastes like something this place has avoided since opening, corporate. If it was better, you’d assume this was a chef-owned and spouse managed little place run by a couple of Cleveland natives. How ever this management team has accomplished this feat, let’s hope they can continue. This is one franchise we’ll frequent again and again.
28700 Chagrin Boulevard Woodmere, OH 216-292-7777