Posts tagged ‘Spice Kitchen & Bar Celveland’
This was a great year to eat in Cleveland. Only a few places closed, most unmemorable. The best places remained and seamed to thrive and get better (see L’Albatros and Crop.) The reason we started this blog is because we are excited by Cleveland cooking and 2012 is the perfect example of that excellence.
We are convinced that Spice is the best new place to open in 2012. The attention to detail here is amazing, the raw material is fresh, the menu changes almost every time we have been there, so that adds to the excitement and somewhat importantly, the prices are more than fair. They could actually charge more and the value would still survive. We have been encouraging everyone we know to sample this place. We’re convinced, in a year, this is going to be the hottest restaurant in Cleveland.
Giving Spice a run for their money is late entry, Accent. While Spice has pared meals down to some very simple flawless preparations, Accent is a bit more complex. The interesting thing here is the cooking method. Generally, most of us don’t really care HOW the meal was prepared, as long as it is good. The unique high-heat cooking methodology creates some very exciting foods. The combination of Korean, Spanish and Central American ideas results in a menu that will require multiple trips to fully appreciate (and we’re just the couple to do that!) We think Accent has legs.
The West 25th Street food scene is another amazing highlight of 2012. This small stretch is jam-packed with culinary excitement. If you are attempting to dazzle out-of-towners with Cleveland, there can be no better place than Crop. The building is amazing, the food is remarkable, and the impact is unforgettable. Bar Cento, with its “senior status” on the street, remains a treat, even after Jonathan Sawyer left. Market Garden Brewery has become something of a go-to place for us. The reasonable prices invite you back often and the beer is very good and continually changes. SOHO consistently excites. The southern menu is fun and flavorful with a staff that matches. Orale! Contemporary Mexican may be the smallest restaurant on the street (if not Cleveland!) but it packs a wallop of flavor into the compact room. Boy do they offer some great salsa! The one “bad-apple” in the bunch was Dragonfly and it has thankfully been replaced by Black Pig, which still has some growing pains, but sold Jeff the best Pork Belly he’s had in years. We often decide to go to West 25th and on the way determine which restaurant. That is impactful.
Just as the only good Thai food restaurant in Cleveland closed on Coventry (replaced with a poor impression) salvation arrived on Payne Avenue with Map of Thailand. This is excellent, perfectly prepared and beautiful food, served by friendly, helpful folks. If you like Thai food, this is THE place in Cleveland for the very best.
When talking about best food, two things don’t often come up, the Westpark neighborhood of Cleveland and Donuts. All of the rules are out the window with Peace, Love and Little Donuts. Located on the corner of Rocky River Road and Lorain Road is a mod-era throwback serving excellent little donuts. If you gave up these circular treats when the last independent donut shop closed, try them again. This is good stuff…man!!
Another place that fills the cravings provided by a sweet tooth is Sweet Moses on Detroit in the Gordon Square area. The sweets are hand prepared, things you haven’t had in years are available (remember your last Chocolate Phosphate?) and the décor is 90’s (1890’s) wrought iron tables and wooden booths. Step inside and go back a few years.
If you miss the Grapevine wine store on Cedar-Fairmont, salvation has arrived on Lee Road with The Wine Spot. In the former Seitz-Agin Hardware store, a classy urbane space has been established and shelves are filled with a wide selection of wines from around the world. Owner, Adam Fleischer is a talented tour guide of the world of wine and can be an amazing resource to help you pick a bottle or case that matches your palette.
Indeed, 2012 has been a good year, but what is happening next year? Around the corner, smart cooks are planning interesting ideas for 2013. We might actually have a permanent restaurant in the diner cars on Lee Road. More storefronts will be filled in the emerging Uptown development. Some spots in Tremont are being repopulated by chefs with excellent credentials. We can’t wait for 2013!
http://www.spicekitchenandbar.com/5800 Detroit Avenue Cleveland, OH 44102 216-961-9637
http://www.accentcleveland.com/11460 Uptown Avenue (Euclid Avenue) Cleveland, OH 44106 216-721-8477
http://cropbistro.com/ 2537 W 25th Street Cleveland, OH 44113 216-696-CROP (2767)
http://barcento.com/ 1948 W 25th Street Cleveland, OH 44113 216-274-1010
http://marketgardenbrewery.com/ 1947 West 25th Street Cleveland, OH 441 216-621-4000
http://www.sohocleveland.com/ 1889 W 25th Street Cleveland, OH 44113 216-298-9090
http://www.oralecmc.com/ 1834 West 25th Street Cleveland, OH 44113 216-862-3117
http://theblackpigcleveland.com/ 1865 W. 25th Street Cleveland, OH 44113 440-454-0300
http://www.mapofthailandrestaurant.com/3710 Payne Avenue Cleveland, OH 44114 216-361-2220
Peace Love & Little Donuts – 3786 Rocky River Road Cleveland, OH 44111 216-862-9806
http://www.sweetmosestreats.com/6800 Detroit Avenue Cleveland, OH 44102 216-651-2202
http://thewinespotonline.com/2271 Lee Road Cleveland Heights, OH 44118 216-342-3642
The competition for new restaurants in Cleveland is tough. Over the last few months, a pile of really fine places have opened. Perhaps best of all is Spice Kitchen and Bar on Detroit Avenue in the Gordon Square Arts District. Absolutely respectable openings are Cowell & Hubbard, finally offering good food in the Playhouse Square district and SOHO, Market Garden Brewery and Orale! Contemporary Mexican Cuisine adding to the already overflowing wealth of food on West 25th. In addition, Noodlecat has grown the reach of Chef Jonathan Sawyer and Crop has successfully moved to a new and even more popular location near the Westside Market, while Club Isabella in Little Italy has been totally reinvented into a stellar dining room. In this environment, the opening of an OK place is going to quickly be trampled. That is our fear with Hodge’s.
There was a lot of good here. Jeff loved the leek and goat cheese tart appetizer. The inside was rich and creamy; the crust itself was crunchy and flavorful. The onion jam was a nice tangy-sweet counterpoint. The amuse bouche was a fun container of tatter-tots with a delightful sour cream dipping sauce and bacon accents. Jeff ordered the duck entrée and the Brussels Sprouts were perfectly grilled, the barley risotto was nutty and flavorful, especially when mixed with the accompanying golden raisins and onion, all set upon a puddle of thyme butter sauce. These things would have easily encouraged a second visit.
On the opposite side however, Michele found the Market Salad only acceptable. The greens were fresh, but the crouton too large to actually eat in one bite and too hard to cut, witnessed by the fact that half spent the remainder of our evening under the table after a failed attempt at splitting. She also felt the salmon only passable and was a bit taken aback by the rich veal reduction sauce accompanying the light fish. While he enjoyed everything else, Jeff was very disappointed by the actual duck breast in his entrée. He found it tough and almost completely without flavor, a real disappointment, especially with such nicely done sides. The Brownie dessert was good, made better with the addition of Mitchell’s rich ice cream.
If this were the only new restaurant opening in a few months, it might be worth a try. If parking in the inhospitable Euclid Avenue area weren’t such an issue, it might be worth a try. If prices weren’t a good 20-25% higher than Spice, SOHO and Market Garden Brewery, it might be worth a try. None of that is the case and there is little compelling reason to visit. Worry not, as mentioned earlier, Cleveland has many excellent new options ready to please.
http://hodgescleveland.com/668 Euclid Avenue Cleveland, OH 44114 216-771-4000