Archive for December, 2011
Of all the ethnic restaurants in Cleveland (and boy, do we have a pile!) Mexican cuisine is the one we are least likely to patronize. We love Momocho, but it is atypical. Burritos, tacos, etc. have never been “gotta-have” food for us. Yes, we occasionally visit Mexican restaurants, but VERY infrequently. That is likely the reason we had not been to Lopez for years. We had just seen a performance of “The Seafarer” at Dobama and wanted a place close by. The options are limited on Sunday so we figure, “What the heck!” We booked a reservation.
Michele took a bit more convincing. Her stomach has a difficult time with spicy food and beans, so a typical Mexican restaurant is cause for concern. Ordering takes time because she must carefully review each option to be certain whether one or more ingredient will cause her some digestive issues. Because she wanted a place close to the theatre, she reluctantly agreed.
Jeff had hoped to sample the Black Bean soup special, but when Michele ordered the grilled Caesar Salad, the GREAT waiter indicated that the salad was big. “Would you like to share?” Michele was at a disadvantage, so Jeff agreed and it was very good. The large shaft of Romaine was grilled and topped with Manchego cheese and roasted garlic. Michele was happy and things were looking up.
For her entrée, Michele decided on the Lobster Enchiladas. Rich, creamy lobster and rock shrimp were wrapped inside a soft tortilla and topped with cream sauce and queso fresco with a touch of lemon. It was good, but so rich, much of it went home with us. Jeff ordered the exciting special. A perfectly prepared duck breast was sliced and fanned out under Smoked Gouda quesadilla and topped with a spicy arugula salad. It was excellent. Dessert was a spicy apple crisp with cinnamon ice cream, without question, not your grandma’s crisp!
About half-way through our entrée’s Michele said to Jeff, “Next time we’re here. I want to try the trout…or maybe the roasted salmon.” That was a good sign. Jeff had his eye on the Pulled Pork and Shrimp and Grits. It is likely a return visit will occur sooner then anticipated.
(P.S. – one of the reasons Lopez returned to our radar was because of the addition of Michael Herschman as executive chef. We have loved his food way back to the Cena Copa days, a few steps away. When we heard he landed at Lopez, we again paid attention to this Cleveland Heights landmark. Maybe it was Chef Herschman, maybe it was the time of day, maybe it was almost 30 years of food service, regardless, well be back to Lopez, soon!.)
http://lopezonlee.com/2196 Lee RoadCleveland Heights,OH44118 216-932-9000
Many years ago, the restaurant that introduced us to the intoxicating flavors ofIndia, the Saffron Patch was beginning to slip in quality. A newIndiarestaurant came on the scene. Café Tandoor opened and became an immediate success. The food was excellent, the staff was helpful and friendly and the dining room was always filled with anxious eaters. Since that time, restaurants serving Indian fare have come, gone and some have prospered. We have been told by reliable sources that Indian Delight onDetroit Avenueis now a kitchen that requires respect. Regardless, Café Tandoor is about a mile from home and we both had an exhausting day. After a few years absence, we thought we’d try it again to see how it has matured.
From the outset, nothing much as changed. Tables, chairs and menu are much the same as when we first visited. The crowds had thinned and there was less a buzz than we remembered. Michele always enjoyed their soups and this visit was no exception. The creamy lentil was as good as she remembered. In the past, the lightly spiced tomato soup was also enjoyable and she often shifted between the two. Jeff moved between the Paneer Pakora and Samosas. He ordered the Paneer this time and they were good, but not what he remembered, a bit of the finesse had gone, but the accompanying chutneys remained excellent.
For dinner, Jeff typically rotated among the wide collection of lamb dishes. Some are curry, some tandoor cooked, but all featured excellent raw materials. This visit he ordered the Lamb Shahi Korma, bits of lamb in a cashew cream sauce. Again, it was good, but like the Paneer, some of the cooking finesse had disappeared. It could also have been warmer, at the end of the dish it was a bit too cool to fully enjoy. Michele likes Saag Paneer, the same non-dairy cheese in Jeff’s appetizer, but this time mixed with creamed spinach and mild spices. She pronounced it average and still prefers Saffron Patch’s version. Together we shared the Saffron Pullao (rice) and Pratha Lachhedar wheat bread, both very good, especially the bread.
While we like Indian food, we are by no means experts. After over twenty-five years of sampling the food, we have come to expect a level of quality and taste. While Café Tandoor established that bar for us years ago, we now believe it has slipped below it. Yes, it is good, but we do not believe it is as good as before. Time marches on and things change. Like the food ofThailandbefore it, we remain on a quest for good food of this variety. Like Map of Thailand, hope springs eternal. Maybe Indian Delight is the answer. We’ll soon find out.
http://cafetandoorcleveland.com/2096 South Taylor Road Cleveland Heights,OH 44118 216-371-8500