Archive for August, 2010
Two old timers like us have no right to say, “Twitter” or “Tweet” much less actually partake in this cultural phenomenon, but we are! We have started to post Twitter comments at: JeffMicheleEat. If you’re so inclined, please feel free to follow these short snippets of food comments, usually centered on the visit of a restaurant that we have reviewed already.
Despite our age, we’re having fun playing with these new forms of social interaction!
Despite the economic crisis, restaurants have had an amazing staying power. New places have opened and old standbys remain…until recently. A rash of places just closed and it started us thinking about our favorite departed restaurants.
Of the recent closures, we were most upset that Darna Moroccan Cuisine could not find a client base. During all of our visits, there was a sparse group dining along side us. The food was creative and well prepared; the staff was friendly and helpful. This place had everything, except customers. This is a big loss for Shaker Square.
Of course the closing of the Baracelli Inn was sad, but it did have a long, fabulous run serving some of the best food Cleveland has ever tasted. Each time we dined there was a treat and we will remember it fondly.
We were never big fans of One Walnut. It is not on our list because of the marginal food served and fairly expensive prices. Michele really liked the salads at Go Bistro! But Jeff always had a hard time finding something on the menu. As mentioned two postings ago, we REALLY liked La Boca and are happy it has been reinvented with exciting food and interesting people.
Over the years, many of our favorite places failed to catch on, some simply played out their hand and folded. If we had the power, two places would return. Sage was located in the building that now houses the Bistro on Lincoln Park. It was an amazingly inventive restaurant that mixed comfortable foods and upper-crust eats. The menu changed seasonally and there were always multiple dishes to try. In the many years and frequent visits, we never had a bad meal.
Years ago, in the shadow of Jacob’s Field, tucked into a corner of a building next to Dewey’s Planet was Harry Corvairs. A play on the French word for green beans (haricot verts,) the interior was retro 50’s and the food was out of this world. Chef Jonathan Kish was constantly in the kitchen carefully watching and periodically circling the dining room to make sure everyone was satisfied. The wait staff top notch. Nothing needed improvement, except, apparently the relationship between the owners and the chef. We always felt eating at Harry Corvairs was a privilege and we miss that honor.
Every year, businesses close and new ones open. The food biz is no different. Some closings are of little consequence and others, like those mentioned above are much more poignant. Still, change is good. When Brandt Evans left Kosta’s, there was no reason to go there again. It closed and that made way for Parallax, probably the best restaurant in Cleveland. AMP 150 opened in the West 150th Street Marriott replacing a forgettable steak house. Wow, what a transformation and valuable addition to Cleveland food. Parker’s made way for the equally inventive, Light Bistro. That Place on Bellflower had had better days, closed and we now have one of the best new places in Cleveland L’Albatros. The world turns and the tummy says, “Feed me!” It might not be satiated at an old favorite, but the new place might even be better.
We used to frequent Aladdin’s often, especially when they first opened. They were not a multi-state chain at that time, simply a Westside and Eastside location with very good, fresh food. Little has changed since they got larger. Prices have gone up, portions are slightly smaller and some of the ingredients could be better, but still not bad.
We always share the hummus. We find it rich and creamy and our favorite since the Middle East restaurant on Prospect Avenue closed too long ago. Sometimes we have the lentil soup. Michele likes it with the cheddar cheese, Jeff prefers the feta topping. For dinner, we have a lot of favorites. Michele likes the chicken shawarma wrap and the Fatayer Plate (spinach and feta pita served with a salad). Jeff likes the shawarma rolled, Sfiha Plate (spiced ground meat stuffed in a pita also over a salad) and on the rare occasions when hummus is not shared, the hummus shawarma plate that has the nicely spiced beef and lamb strips surrounding a pool of hummus. Each is good and satisfying regardless of how we mix and match them. Almost since opening Jeff find the Anchor Steam beer to be a perfect companion to this flavorful food.
Dessert is a must at Aladdin’s. Michele always moves to the display case to select something decadent. Desserts are now a bit more commercial tasting then they were initially, but a sweet is a nice way to end a meal here. Good, healthy and reasonably inexpensive. This is food that is hard to beat.
Just as we began to tell everyone to visit La Boca, like it predecessor Crazy Mac, it closed. This corner must be jinxed! Let’s hope not, because (like its two predecessors) the food at the new RoseAngel is very good.
We spent a nice afternoon at the Lakewood Arts Festival and on the way home stopped at this spanking new restaurant. If you remember what it looked like in the past, you will think you walked into the wrong building. Entering from the corner door, the bar room is electric orange and gray with wonderful copper mesh lighting fixtures. The next room is deep magenta red with white table dotted with black. With such a nice overhaul, you might expect an expensive menu, but nothing could be farther from the truth. This is a modern-day tacqueria, filled with interesting filling choices, all at a VERY reasonable price that invites adventurous eating simply because of the low cost. Would you try a braised beef tongue taco? At $4.25, your darned tootin’ you would!
We started with a dish of guacamole and house made chips. The “guac” was creamy with just enough spunk to demand one last scrap of the dish with a finger before being whisked away. The menu offers a platter of three tacos for $11.75, so we assumed three was a typical meal. All three must however be the same. We opted for the ala carte option and each ordered three different tacos. First, three tacos is a LOT of food. Michele took the luscious perch taco home and Jeff soldiered on and barely finished his avocado. Michele would immediately reorder the Walleye. A beautiful piece of perfectly grilled fish sat atop diced tomatoes and cilantro pesto. Jeff started with the duck confit and corn salsa, both also included flavorful cabbage, rather than the typical taco lettuce. This crunchy green made a big difference. Soft or hard shells are available. We both choose soft and think it was a good idea, they were easy to wrap around the heap of filling and the whole grain goodness really stood up to the flavorful insides. Michele’s Shrimp taco was less successful, the pepper and onions apparently were not enough to enliven the wrap. Jeff found the braised pork to be almost as tasty as the duck. The green chili and onion was spicy, but not in a way that deadened taste buds. To gently cool down the combo, diced pineapple was included. What a nice combination! The Avocado was mixed with cilantro and onion, but most importantly dense sweet soy. Again, the mixture was a winner.
Even after all of this, we still had to have dessert! The rice pudding with currents was house made. The rice was nice and nutty with a bit of a crunch in the center. Best of all was the poblano whipped cream that slowly melted down the cracks and crevices of the warm rice mixture. The spicy pepper on the sweet finale summed up this restaurant. They really know how to mix ingredients!
There is no question we will be back!
List Status: Added
5800 Detroit Avenue Cleveland, OH 44102 216-961-5800
We have been unfaithful to our Cleveland restaurants. Jeff was working in Maryland and Virginia, so Michele flew to Baltimore where she met Jeff and together we cheated…and oh, what tasty deceit!
Our intent was to spend a decedent weekend eating nothing more than crab cakes. Jeff did a little research and found that there are dozens of “top ten” crab cake lists, even more “best of” lists and healthy arguments in the various blog sites dedicated to Baltimore. Taking a systematic approach, we reviewed each site and list, tossed away the places in the suburbs and looked for reoccurring names. The names that appeared most often became our targets. With hopes of lunch and dinner, we figured we could squeeze in five places for five different versions. Our targets were Duda’s, Pierpoint, Phillip’s and Obrycki’s. We figured we leave one spot open for a wild card. The best made plans often melt away and so did ours. We made it to Duda’s and Phillip’s and used our wild card after talking to the hotel concierge/entertainment director. She suggested, Mo’s, as long as we understood the place was a bit of a dive. In the airport, we picked-up some frozen Obrycki’s, so it almost counts!
Michele’s favorite was Phillip’s. Served as a sandwich on a light potato bun, it did look the most polished. The restaurant was the “nicest” and the tarter sauce added to the flavor, rather than overpowering it. Number two was Duda’s. She appreciated the smaller portioned side dishes and left the tavern without a bloated feel, despite the full 5 ounces of crab meat. Last was Mo’s. It was so large; she could not finish her meal. Perhaps the bowl of rich seafood bisque didn’t help.
Jeff ranked them differently. The jumbo cake served by Mo was flavorful with nary the slightest taste of filler. Yes, it was big, but it was also the most flavorful and the best bargain of the three we tried. After Michele surrendered, Jeff finished the remainder. Like Michele, Duda’s was second. Good flavor, perfect size and preparation, it was a great preamble for the weekend. Last was Phillip’s. Despite its light appearance, the sandwich bread added filler that overwhelmed the crab. Regardless, Jeff’s accompanying Chardonnay was a perfect match for crab cakes. If only all of the places had this crisp, floral version.
We could argue endlessly about semantics, but the facts are, each and every one of these crab cakes was near perfect. If you ate any one of them you would likely start to write poetry about the love of crustacean. Hence our reason to write a blog.
Yes, we did eat some other meals, we had crab crepes one night and crab risotto with late night drinks the next and we have yet to prepare the Obrycki’s version, but we’re certain the only flaw will be the fact that they were not made fresh in an eclectic Baltimore kitchen. Well be back to try again!
Duda’s Tavern 1600 Thames Street Baltimore, MD 21231 410-276-9719
www.mosseafood.com Mo’s Fisherman’s Warf 219 President’s Street Baltimore, MD 21202 410-837-8600
http://www.phillipsseafood.com/index.cfm?page=menus&id=8 Phillip’s Harborplace 310 Light Street Baltimore, MD 21202 410-685-6600