Archive for February, 2012
Last Saturday was such a beautiful sunny day, we decide to walk around the Gordon Square neighborhood and visit some of the unique shops. We finished our stroll when Michele noticed the Sweet Moses marquee. She remembered hearing about the place an urged a visit. Jeff was all too happy to oblige. When has he ever passed up a sweet treat?
This is a fun place. When you open the door, the elegant scent of chocolate entices you. The old storefront has been transferred to a time 75 years ago. (Perhaps as old as the building?) According to the notes and signs scattered around the interior, antique parlor chairs and tables were collected from across the country; booths and table were rescued, stripped and refinished. The marble counter was abandoned forty years ago and is now back where it is intended to be, in a soda shop.
But there is more! All of the ice cream is made on premise, the ingredients are all fresh, a barrel behind the counter holds handmade Root Beer and a case full of chocolates and flavored popcorn in the front, could easily force a person to max out their credit card. A less restrained person could easily have a chocolate overdose here. Proving our mettle against this sweet foe, we decided to share a hot fudge sundae. The ice cream was dense and full of vanilla flavor. The hot fudge, made in-house was rich and more flavorful than we have had in years. Together, they had us fighting for the last scrape of the antique fountain glassware.
We’re coming back! Jeff noticed that they make phosphates. The last phosphate he had was at Corky and Lenny’s about two decades ago. This combination of carbonated water and chocolate syrup pushes Jeff back to a different time. Michele wants to try the chocolate covered Rice Krispy treat, even more yummy with the addition of almonds. Sodas, Malts, Floats, chocolate Buckeye’s, white chocolate bark, white cheddar popcorn…yikes! We could start eating here in the morning and leave a week later without having consumed the same thing twice. We think that return visit will be sooner than originally planned!
Got a hankering for something from the past? Get ye to Sweet Moses! Ye won’t be sorry!
http://www.sweetmosestreats.com/6800 Detroit Avenue Cleveland, OH 44102 216-651-2202
Following the Dimora corruption trial quote from Frank Russo stating that, “Everybody knew Jimmy liked to eat and wanted good food.” The Plain Dealer recently recapped some of the places our faithful public servants visited in their quest for good meal. Of course, the courts will decide if Jimmy Dimora is as guilty as Frank Russo, but Jeff and Michele will determine if Frank and Jimmy were in-fact eating the “good food” Jimmy so desperately sought.
XO Prime Steaks – It has been a while since our last visit to XO because of their concentration on steaks, but we do know that food was always very good there. If they are preparing steaks as good as past fare, Jimmy was eating well. Score +1.
Delmonico’s – Jeff has had many lunches here and we have had a few dinners. For the most part, the food here is positive. There is no culinary adventure taking place in the kitchen, but some good honest food is being prepared. Score +1.
Shula’s 2 – If someone else was paying, there is no excuse to go to a place one step below Longhorn for a steak! Sorry Jimmy, Score -1.
Lockkeeper’s – We have enjoyed this restaurant during each visit, our only issue is that it is priced too high. You can eat at the best restaurants in Cleveland for less than Lockkeeper’s, so why bother? Then again, Jimmy wasn’t paying, so, Score +1.
Calla Club – How anyone can run up a $200 tab at this now closed dump of a restaurant took real effort. While we appreciate his cast iron stomach and “can-do” attitude, we have to vote thumbs-down (the throat?) Score -1.
Mallorca– When it first opened, this place was a joy to visit. At our last trip, the food became tired and sloppily prepared. Jimmy could have done better! Score -1.
Teamz, Deep Springs Trout Club and Stancatos – Sorry Jimmy, we’ve never been to these places and none of our learned contacts have either. To keep this fair, we’ll call these a draw and score 0.
Finally, London Pickle Works. Really? The London Pickle Works! He was right to only go here for drinks, but even the beer mugs are greasy! If Jimmy was a Subway co-worker wishing an exiting fellow employee bon-voyage, OK, but after you’ve passes 22 years old, there is no reason to visit the London Pickle Works. Score -2.
Total Score – minus 2 – Sorry Jimmy, you lose! You were not eating good food. Better luck in court!
http://xoprimesteaks.com/cleveland_steakhouse_home/ 500 West St. Clair Cleveland, OH 44113 216-861-1919
http://hrcleveland.com/delmonicos.php6001 Quarry Lane Independence, OH 44131 216-573-1991
http://www.donshula.com/locations.php?l=2&restid=186200 Quarry Lane Independence, OH 44131 216-901-7852
http://lockkeepers.com/8001 Rockside Road Valley View, OH 44125 216-524-9494
http://www.clevelandmallorca.com/indexflash.html1390 West 9th Street Cleveland, OH 44113 216-687-9494
http://www.londonpickleworks.com/7265 Fitzwater Road Brecksville, OH 44141 440-526-0707
I guess you might consider us Zack Bruell groupies. We eat often at his assortment of restaurants and have enjoyed every meal. We collectively believe Parallax is the best restaurant in Cleveland and think L’Albatros may soon overtake it. Michele always feels a certain “elegance” upon entering Table 45 and Jeff loves the rustic selection at Chinato. With these expectations, we entered his fifth and latest eating establishment, Cowell and Hubbard and we were not disappointed. We expected nothing less.
Michele started with the Romaine Salad, featuring a fennel anchovy vinaigrette, but most interesting, tomato dust. She forgot the tomato dust was mentioned on the menu and could not place the flavor. Michele told Jeff that it tasted like tomato, but looked like paprika. She asked the waitress for an explanation. The waitress indicated that they dry and make their own dust in-house. It may have been the defining element of the salad. Jeff ordered the Escargot appetizer. It was a delightfully rich crock of tender escargot, rounds of fingerling potatoes, cherry tomatoes and crispy rice in a buttery-cream sauce that forced Jeff to borrow Michele’s tea spoon to finish (Hint to Zack – send a spoon along with this dish, we noticed the next table doing the same thing! No one wants to waste a drop of this broth!)
Jeff’s entrée was the Sweetbreads, a thicker slice than is typically served, but ever so tasty. It was accompanied by a tart collection of artichokes, lemon, caper berries and potato rounds. A lemon aioli waited on the side to gently touch each slice of the tender sweetbread. It was a winner. Michele had the Pacific Rock Fish. It was gone in a flash…after the second plate arrived. The initial piece was cool and undercooked and the staff graciously replaced her first plate. It is important to understand that this restaurant has been opened only a few weeks and the reason little advertisement exists is to work through just these types of issues. She was told that the menu is typically presented medium-rare and the replacement was medium-well. We suspect that this will be one of the things mentioned by the wait staff in the future, again, part of the start up process. While not mentioned on the menu, the fish was served atop a bed of tart greens and dumplings or light gnocchi. Michele proclaimed she would order it again, always a winning endorsement.
Dessert was a dense Mocha Pot de Crème. Rich and flavorful, it was a microcosm of the entire dinner, full flavors, perfect execution and beautifully presented.
Clevelanders of a certain age will recognize Cowell & Hubbard as the name of the chic-chic jeweler that occupied this corner of Euclid Avenue and E 13th Street for decades. The building is still formidable and the clean white and rich red added by Bruell’s design team complement the stunning interior. The space matches the food that matches the history. With this perfect symbiosis, maintaining the name makes so much sense…but then again, with Chef Bruell at the helm, would you expect anything else? We didn’t, but then again, we are predisposed to enjoyment, being Zack junkies, and all.
http://cowellhubbard.com/ 1305 Euclid Avenue Cleveland, OH 44115 216-479-0555
Last year, prior to a trip to Orlando, we did a lot of research to find good food in the land of corporate meals. You can’t go a block without stumbling into a chain serving lackluster [fill-in the blank.] After a little work, we learned about K Restaurant and Wine Bar. It was everything we hoped for and when Jeff’s work again called him back to the area, we both knew immediately that another trip to K was imminent. We are happy to report; our second meal was just as good as the first. This is a first-rate place.
Jeff started with a beet and goat cheese salad, followed by a perfect duck breast with confit risotto and topped with red cabbage. It just does not get much better than this! Michele traveled that day, so she forwent a salad and jumped right into a perfectly seared salmon alongside potatoes. As we remembered, all was excellent.
In our research this year, we came across what sounded like the new “king” in town. The Ravenous Pig has garnered some impressive reviews and customer comments. The next day, we drove to Winter Park to see for ourselves. Reservations for Tuesday at 6:00PM were not available! The host suggested that the bar area was typically not filled and it served the same menu. Taking a chance we arrived at a bustling business, the bar tables already filled! No fear however, outdoor dining was available and six seats at the chef’s counter were also open. We of course took our seats at the counter and spent the next two hours ogling the parade of goodies coming from the kitchen. The only thing bad about the seat was our inability to choose just one to eat! Eventually, we did and there is good reason for this place to be filled. Food could not have been better.
Michele ordered the rock shrimp Tacos appetizer as her main course. She unfortunately had a large lunch. She desperately wanted to also try the Farmer Salad, as it looked wonderful exiting the kitchen, but knew much of the food would go to waste. Despite her being full, the tacos disappeared instantly. The shrimp was plump and tasty and balanced nicely with the cabbage, avocado and cilantro filling. Jeff had worked all day without a bite, so he was just the opposite, ready to eat! He ordered the Shrimp and Grits appetizer and it was remarkable. The shrimp were perfect and the chorizo oil gave it a touch of heat. He combined this dish with some excellent Biscuits laced with Gruyere cheese and served with sea salt butter. These are a must, if you go.
For his main entrée, Jeff ordered the stuffed Quail. A beautiful blend of fennel sausage and a mixed soffrito topped the tiny birds that in-turn sat over a bed of polenta. It was perfect. Michele shared in the S’more Tart dessert. The marshmallow top was fired a beautiful brown and the bottom, crunchy graham crackers. A delightful cocoa ice cream sat to the side. This was a wonderful end to the meal.
After Michele left town, Jeff took two business associates to a well regarded Cuban restaurant, Padrino’s. Jeff had an excellent Black Bean Soup and tasty slow cooked pork, Lechon Asado, although the yucca side was less successful. Another person had tempting ham Croquetas and a Cuban sandwich he pronounced very good. The third person was less than happy with his House Salad and grilled pork chops. They appeared blanched and looked as tasteless as he claimed. If you decide to go here, order carefully, the wait staff was of little value in assisting in the selection.
Orlando is the home of the magic kingdom and more corporate food per square mile than most places in America. This just means that discerning palates must work a bit harder to find good food. In the long run, the effort is well worth it.
K Restaurant (There appears to be something wrong with their website, kwinebar.com)1710 Edgewater Drive Orlando, FL 32804 407-872-2332
http://theravenouspig.com/1234 N Orange Avenue Winter Park, FL 32789 407-628-2333
http://www.padrinosbistro.com/home.htm13583 Village Park Drive Orlando, FL 32837 407-251-5107
A few weeks ago, we went to a small Italian restaurant in the West Park area of Cleveland. We never heard about it, but it was recommended by a friend. After the first bite, we knew this was not the place for us. We hadn’t expected much and the food provided just that. Not much.
Fast forward to Dragonfly. The buzz has been good. We heard good things. We then made the mistake of visiting. Michele likes seaweed salad, but didn’t even finish this version. She felt it lacked flavor and on the ride home came upon the idea that it tasted like it was sitting in a refrigerator for an extended period. Jeff ordered the Fennel salad and enjoyed it. It featured a wide variety of greens, thinly sliced apples, pecans and some nicely pungent bleu cheese. The vinaigrette was nicely salted and despite Michele’s misfortune, Jeff looked forward to the next course.
Michele was luckier with her entrée. She ordered the Salmon Tataki, sesame crusted salmon that was to have been served seared, but she asked it be cooked full-through. It was accompanied by sticky rice cakes. While not blown away, she liked it. To have, “liked it” would have elevated Jeff’s evening. He ordered the Char Su Glazed Pork Loin. The smoked pork shoulder was excessively dry and tasteless; the accompanying braised pork belly was just a fraction more flavorful. (How do you dry out a pork belly?) It was topped with a fried egg that was likely supposed too have been soft and split over the rice, but instead was fried to a burned bottom and “hard-boiled” inside. The underlying fried rice was a nice, flavorful mix of red onions, been sprouts and scallions. Overall it was a horrible disappointment.
Michele was ready to quit. Overall, the food we had up to that point did not warrant a dessert. Jeff flashed back to the Italian restaurant. He knew immediately a dessert was not in order there, but this place has had some favorable reviews. He felt we must have ordered improperly and figured one more course could be a tie-breaker. It was a tie-breaker, but not in the positive way. The Guava & Mascarpone Empanadas were heavy crusted pockets…of dough. The filing was good, the red-wine reduction sauce was tangy, but the dough was, well, doughy and because there was so much of the dough accompanied by a squirt of filling, it naturally took a front seat in taste. Too bad.
We really wanted to like this place. We’ve had a few forgettable meals recently and needed a win. There are a number of other new places in Cleveland. Perhaps they will be the winner. Dragonfly is not the one.
http://dragonflycleveland.com/ 1865 West 25th Street Cleveland, OH 44113 216-696-7774