CLE Restaurants

Gamekeepers Simple and Sophisticated Summer Menu

I've never been one to subscribe to thought of exotic game being taboo. I think you should try a food at least a handful of times before making up your mind that it's not for you. After all, there are some chefs that can transform things you've never liked before into a dish you'll adore. Gamekeepers Executive Chef Craig Fitzgerald is one of those kind of chefs. It really doesn't matter what he makes, I'll try it. I trust him immensely with my taste buds. He took over as Gamekeepers Executive Chef about a year ago after working in Pittsburgh, where he attended culinary school and interned at 11 Restaurant, and then onto Boca Raton where he worked at Cafe Maxx with Oliver Saucy. Thankfully for us, this St. Ignatius grad came back to the Cleveland area because he missed the seasons and his family. Upon his return he has worked at Three Birds in Lakewood as well as West End Bistro right next door to Gamekeepers.

Executive Chef Craig Fitzgerald

Chef Fitzgerald is admirable for far more than just his talent in the kitchen. He is a genuinely nice guy. Inspired by working for former Gamekeepers Executive Chef Alonzo Norman and seeing that a you didn't need to be a tyrant to earn respect, he has continued on that path. It must be contagious because everyone on staff at Gamekeepers has a great attitude and becomes a quick friend.

Recently, I got to enjoy a preview of Gamekeepers new Summer menu items. Since Craig took over as executive chef, he has been reintroducing more game meat to the menu. Aside from that he has is a commitment to fresh, quality and local ingredients which really shine through in the artfully plated dishes. "I'm trying to bring it back to the idea of Gamekeepers. The field and stream kinda deal. We live in a great state where we can get local produce, local meats, you can forge for things right outside in your backyard and that really appeals to me. A good product, prepared fairly simple so you can taste it," Craig explains. Taste it I did! Here is a rundown of my meal:

First Course: Appetizer Trio (Emu Empanada | Crispy Pheasant Thighs | Fried Green Tomatoes)

Appetizer-Trio

The empanada dough, based on a pierogi recipe once given to Craig, is so light and crisp. Its a perfect balance of dough to filling without a hint of grease that you'll often find with an empanada. The pappadew pepper is a tasty treat and I couldn't leave a drop of the black bean puree behind.

The pheasant thighs with a maple and jalapeno glaze are crave worthy for those of us that love a little heat with our sweet. Pickled red onions keep it fresh and bright.

Once told by a sandwich shop owner that he believes about 1/3 of the population dislikes tomatoes, I consider myself solidly part of that group. I try them a lot and every once in a blue moon I can enjoy a nice tomato because it's been done so incredibly well. I consider these fried green tomatoes to be in that well done category. Meaty tomatoes with a thin breading and a house made buttermilk ranch. They are as enjoyable as I can imagine tomatoes to get.

Second Course: Chilled English Pea Soup

pea soup

I had the pea soup the first time I went to Gamekeepers and I was very excited to have it again because it stayed with me. After the peas are blanched there is no additional heat applied to this simple pea and olive oil soup. Accompanied with a tasty piece of prosciutto that a used as a delightful spoon.

Third Course: Cumin Carrots with Garlic Sour Cream

carrots

This dish is a treat! A tasty cold vegetable dish is a real rarity in restaurants. I love that a restaurant focused on game is churning out such delightful ones. The cumin sets it off as exotic and the crushed dried chick peas give it a crunchy texture that blends well with the garlic sour cream.

Fourth Course: Tuna Ahi Wonton

Tuna

I've found tuna to be something that takes some finesse to make well so I don't order it too often, but my trust in Craig pays off because this is an incredible disk. This tuna is so incredibly light that it melts in your mouth. Along with the crunch of the wonton and the pop of the caviar I am so glad I got to enjoy all this dish has to offer.

Fifth Course: Venison Tartar

tartar

Tartar is not something I shy away from. I was introduced to it as a kid which makes it familiar to me somewhere deep in my psyche. This is truly some of the best I have had. You'd expect a gaminess from a venison tartar, but there is honestly not hint of it. The pickled grapes are so delightful I could eat them alone all day. They add a burst of sweet with each bite.

Sixth Course: Seared Halibut

halibut

Halibut is such a lovely light fish. This is seared so beautifully on top of fresh corn, topped with pea tendrils and a cream on the side to pour in for a creamed corn experience.

Seventh Course: Duck Breast

Duck

I adore duck so this was one of my favorite dishes. To me it tastes like duck bacon with its nice crusty exterior and tender juicy center. Aside from the tasty duck the fingerling gnocchi are unbelievable! They have a nice sear on them which compliments their smooth texture.

Eight Course: Elk Loin

Elk

Elk is something I don't have any experience with outside of eating it at Gamekeepers, but I found it to be bold in flavor and tender in texture, complimented by white asparagus. It is something I wouldn't hesitate to order again.

Night Course: Gingerbread Pudding

ginger-bread

Gingerbread pudding with ice cream and caramel sauce! What a nice comforting dessert to close out the end of the evening. It settles in your stomach like a warm hug.

drinks

Can't forget the drinks! They have a great wine and cocktail list. For something really unusual try the Fireball! It's got Sriracha and pickle juice. They have the most incredible cocktail cherries and make an awesome Old Fashioned with them. They are also really good at just hearing what you like and making you something you'll like, which I really appreciate.

I highly recommend heading to Gamekeepers if you're looking for a quality meal made by one of Cleveland's best chefs, served in a gorgeous space (the patio is incredible), by a staff that you'll become instant friends with. Its an A+ experience all around and relaxed enough that you'll feel right at home.

Let Flour Take You on a Tour of Italy

Minestra

When reading Rust Belt Chic, what stood out to me the most were stories of immigrants moving to Cleveland and finding comfort once they connected with the people and things that reminded them of their heritage. There are all kinds of pockets of culture here in Cleveland, preserving things from foreign lands to comfort some and introduce to others. Recently I went to a tasting at Flour in Moreland Hills with my friend Rita, who was born and lived in Italy growing up. Flour is running a series of tasting dinners featuring 'new school' versions of dishes from different regions in Italy, starting with Calabria. You'd find this region in the toe of the boot and specializing in eggplant and fish. It was a little bit of comfort of the past for Rita and an introduction to something new for me.

Introducing - Menu Calabrese This was all foreign to me so I just sat back, took pictures and enjoyed the ride.

menu-calabrese

Course one: Minestra di Fava e Cipollo This Fava Bean and Red Onion Soup was possibly the most intricate soup I can ever remember having. Yea, it might not look very soup like in the picture below, but that is because there is a thin crackery crisp on top. The crisp melts into the soup as you dig in and also melts in your mouth in the most delightful way.

Minestra2

Course two: Tortiera d' Alic The Baked Anchovies and Breadcrumbs dish was by far the most foreign to me, but I love to try new things and feel comfortable doing so in when its come from a great chef such as Matthew Mytro. This was one anchovy coated in fluffy delicious breadcrumbs on top of a tomato floating over a bold creamy sauce. The tomato was meaty in texture and flavor and the whole thing worked very well together.

tortiera

Course three: Melazane all'insalata I'm all about the Eggplant Caponata! This was my favorite dish. Wafer thin eggplant thins sandwiched in between light creamy eggplant with bits of chocolate sprinkled in. I would order this as a dessert! It was the perfect balance of sweet and savory that permanently embeds a flavor memory into my brain.

eggplant

Course four: Baccala alla di Pate Squid Ink Gnocchi and Salt Cod was a work of art! It took me forever to take a bite because it was just so pretty to look at. The flavor on the gnocchi was really surprising. Very fresh from the sea taste with a silky texture. This is a dish I would order again and again.

baccala

Course five: Sorbetta Barbabietola This Beet Sorbet with Lemoncello was a palate cleanser.  I adore beets used in creative ways. This was very refreshing and it sat in a pool of olive oil as thick and sweet as honey. Simple dish of complex flavors that worked together very well!

sorbetta

Course six: Braciole alla Bagnara The Swordfish with Parsley, Lemon and Ccapers, was a big, juicy and impressive steak of a fish. Rita felt this dish really took her back to Italy. The flavor combinations reminded her of how they cooked back home.

braciole

Course seven: Collo di Agnello Lamb Necks with Polenta was a small dish that packed large flavors! Beautifully creamy polenta in balsamic with a tender ball of lamb perched on top. This was deep comforting flavors presented with such delicate textures.

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Course eight: Tartufo al modo di Pizzo Ice Cream Truffles, need I say more? Oh, but I must say it was a peanut butter truffle with jelly filling. Hard not to love, it was a great and whimsical last course.

truffle

Whether your trying to reconnect with something from your past or looking to try something new I highly recommend heading to Flour with some friends for this tasting. Even the espresso was exquisite and transports your to another place. And you can even add wine pairings! Make a night of it!

espresso

#Bakers4Life: Philomena Bake Shop

I admit that I partly wanted to write an article about Philomena Bake Shop so I could spend some time with two of the coolest girls I know. Caitlin Shea and Liz Wineclaw are always a blast to hangout with and they are also the busy baking entraprenures behind Philomena Bake Shop. The other reason I wanted to write about them is their delightfully delicious products are handcrafted works of art and deserve to be shared.

Liz and Caitlin

These ladies live to bake and bake to live. Caitlin and Liz met while working at a local bake shop and discovered they had complimentary skills that would make them a great team. Liz credits her grandmother for getting her into baking. When she was a little girl her grandmother started catering on the side for people that she knew in Cleveland's Slavic Village. While being bossed around by her grandmother catering for the local funeral home Liz fell in love with baking. When it was time to head off to college Liz opted for the culinary school instead. Caitlin had similar fond memories of baking from childhood. Her mother would not let them buy sweets for the house so if they wanted something they would have to make it and make it she did! She started baking professionally when she worked for a community center in Toronto where they had started their own farmers market. The community center was equipped with bread ovens and so Caitlin started making and selling bread to riase money for the community center.

Caitlin Baking

What sets Philomena Bake Shop apart is they are making things the old fashioned way, from scratch, with quality ingredients. Their icings aren't made from crisco or shortening, they're made from butter. They also have access to wholesalers where they can get fine chocolates and beautiful fruit purees that aren't easy to come by for the home baker and aren't being used by most bakeries due to the thin margins in the industry. You'll taste every bit of what you've been missing in those supermarket cakes and sweets when you bite into one of Philomena Bake Shop's treats.

Apples

Today Caitlin was experimenting with vegan/gluten free apple spice cake, which she'll test out at the retailers supplying their goods - Pour, Cleveland Tea Revival, Rising Star, Juma Coffee House. Not all of their baked goods are vegan/gluten free, but they offer a tasty variety of things that are, including a peanut butter brownie that is so amazing you won't miss that sweet, sweet gluten or the butter or the eggs.

Apple Cakes

Philomena Bake Shop recently went through a name change. They threw the challenge out to the public via Facebook/Instagram to help with the task of coming up with a new name.  They received a lot of creative entries like, Kratos God of War from a young video game fan at the Cleveland Flea, but ultimately decided on something meaningful to the both of them. While kicking around that they are both daughters of men named Phil and finding Daughters of Phil to be a better band name than bake shop,  Elizabeth of Chill Pop Shop said "what about Philomena" and Philomena Bake Shop was born.

liz

Liz was working on some Blood Orange Pate de Fruit for the center of their French Macarons. Their French Macarons are to die for! They are a must try! Beautiful and delicate, I love giving them to people as gifts, but they are hard to part with so always buy some extra to keep for yourself.

Pate de Fruit

Right now the business does about 50/50 retail/private catering. It can be hard to advertise exactly what they do without the aid of a physical shop. Their goal is to eventually open a shop on the west side of town, but for now they make their products in the Cleveland Culinary Launch & Kitchen. They make everything from wedding cakes/birthday cakes to sweet tables/petit fours.

coconut

I wasn't going to waste my time with these ladies by not asking for some baking tips. After all, it wasn't all that long ago that I baked my husband a cake using salt instead of sugar. As of late I've found baking to be therapeutic and enjoyable, so I wanted some tips from the masters!

  • Tip #1 - Get a scale and measure everything in grams to get more accuracy.
  • Tip #2 - Don't pay attention to the bake times. Get to know what it looks like when they are done and test with a toothpick. All ovens are different. Try getting an oven thermometer to see how accurate yours is.
French Macarons

I asked these queens of the sweets where they like to eat for a night out on the town. For Caitlin she recently enjoyed a meal at Momocho, while Liz likes to hit up El Carnicero, both Eric Williams restuarnts. "Eric Williams could cook for me everyday and I would let him" says Liz. I'll second that!

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If you want to get a taste of some of these treats get in touch via the Philomena Bake Shop website, check them out at PourCleveland Tea RevivalRising StarJuma Coffee House or catch them this weekend at The Wine Spot in Cleveland Heights (details below).

FEBRUARY

12

, 13, 14 - 

ALL DAY

Valentines Weekend Bubbly and Philomena Bake Shop Sweet Plate

Thursday - Saturday, February 12, 13 and 14 - Valentine's Bubbly and Specialty Philomena Bake Shop Sweet Plate Offer Enjoy a very special weekend with a very special offering from

The Wine Spot

and

Philomena Bake Shop

. We have hand selected a french Grower's champagne and matched it perfectly with hand made treats from Philomena Bake Shop of Cleveland. No need to RSVP, just stop in Thursday, Friday or Saturday of Valentines Day weekend and enjoy a special treat with your significant other.

Hearts

Don't Miss: Honeybucket's Third Birthday Bash

Honeybucket Cleveland

We have such a great local music scene here in Cleveland. I've been to some killer shows over the years, from Mahall's to the Beachland Ballroom, Grog Shop to the Agora. I think it's important to support local and try new things whether it be food, music, art, or clothing. It's a lot of fun seeing new places like the Music Box Supper Club, serving locally sourced foods, bringing food and music together in Cleveland. Really, what goes better with food than music anyways? I sat down with Honeybucket to chat about their upcoming Third Birthday Bash this Saturday, Oct 25th @ Music Box Supper Club. Get your tickets now!!! Honeybucket is a Cleveland Newgrass Band, composed of Adam on acoustic guitar/vocals, Brendan on mandolin/vocals, and Abie on upright bass/vocals. They formed on Halloween night 2011 so their yearly Birthday Bash shows are like a big Halloween Party - costumes are encouraged! Adam and Brendan had been playing together for a year when they decided to pull in Abie, who was playing in a death metal band at the time.

Honeybucket - Cleveland Newgrass

How'd they get the name? They wanted something rustic (bucket) and thought it would mix well with something sweet (honey). Only later did they find out what a honeybucket actually is...Google it!

They've played all over the city. They fondly remember shows at the Bottle House, where they first headlined, and music festivals like BRITE Winter and Burning River Fest, where they learned to command a big stage and crowd. They have even played the beautiful and intimidating Severance Hall. While playing at Cleveland Hostel to a hot, sweaty room jam-packed with amped up people dancing as it snowed outside, they almost brought the floor down onto Campbell's Sweet Factory located below.

Honeybucket - Cleveland Newgrass

What I found so fascinating is that each one of the guys writes songs. Their process is to show up with an almost finished song and then hash out the arrangement together. You can usually tell who wrote it by who is singing it.

They all bring such different musical backgrounds to the group. Abie has been playing the upright bass since he was 11 and has a lot of classical and jazz training. His influences include classic rock and punk. Brendan is into the blues and a big Jimi Hendrix fan. He also really didn't start playing the mandolin until the band was formed, switching from electric guitar. Adam is an acoustic guitar fan, influenced by Paul Simon and brings the band their ballads. The common thread among them all is a love for Led Zeppelin and the Beatles.

Here is a sample of Whistles and Wheels. You can really get a sense of their love of the Beatles with the harmonies they are using (1:30).

Of course I had to ask the guys about getting hit on after the shows. While they all take their turns getting hit on, depending on the current moon cycle, Adam is all business and likes to talk business after shows and Abie can typically be found geeking out about something totally nerdy. Brendan certainly wouldn't mind a little extra lady attention after the shows, but apparently its the men folk who find the mustache to be sexy.

Finally, I had to ask them where they love to eat. Adam is a big fan of Spice Kitchen and Bar and L'Albatros. Brendan who works at Greenhouse and loves their food also says "Toast is my jam" and has a special place in his heart for Jukebox perogies. Abie is drawn to El Carnicero and their tamales. They were all excited about the new Crop opening in Cleveland Heights, who's Chef Steve Schimoler has his own band, Cream of the Crop, and has jammed with Honeybucket.

Totally great guys and great music! I had so many laughs chatting with them and found it unbelievable how good they sound just practicing in an apartment. Their shows are filled with energy and just a really fucking good time. Make sure to get your tickets for the Birthday Bash and pick out a good costume for the show! GET TICKETS HERE

Gimme Booze and Burlesque Cleveland!

The Bettie Page

Two things I truly love, booze and burlesque! Thanks to Cleveland Cocktail Week for bringing those two things together. I was super excited to head to Booze and Burlesque at one of my absolute favorite Cleveland restaurants, the Black Pig. The night started with a fun performance from the Bishop Brothers as the crowd starting showing up.

 

The Bishop Brothers

https://vine.co/v/OutW1220dtu

While the band rocked the front of the bar we started getting our booze on. The cocktail list featured burlesque themed drinks using Ciroc vodka, El Jimador tequila, and Old Forester bourbon. Very creative and well done cocktails with a lot of fresh ingredients, which is exactly what I would expect from the Black Pig.  It's one of my favorite places to grab a cocktail and small plate at the beautiful bar.

the Black Pig

The Corset Old Forester Bourbon, Lemon, Grenadine , Absinthe

The Corset

The Bettie Page El Jimador, Chartreuse, Salers, Lime

The Bettie Page

Show Girl Circo Vodka, St. Germaine, Grenadine, Sparkling

Old Forester Old Fashioned Old Forester Bourbon, Sugar, Bitters, Orange

Showgirl and Old Forester Old Fashioned

The absinthe in the corset gave the drink a nice kick without being overpowering. The Bettie Page was a complex, but smooth tequila cocktail. Show Girl was such a pretty drink that lots of ladies were enjoying and I am so glad they had an Old Fashioned since that is my hubby's favorite drink. He has them all over town and is constantly comparing them and he really loved this one.

Thankfully that had some awesome snacks to serve too! Left to right - Fried Zucchini Blossom Tacos, Pork Belly Tacos, Lambs Tongue Tacos. The fried zucchini  tacos were completely out of control! Pork belly from the Black Pig is always to die for. The lambs tongue I was not going to pass up. It was incredibly tender and delicious.

Black Pig Tacos

With a full belly and cocktail in hand it was on to the show! If you've never seen Cleveland Burlesque show you've got to get out to one. I adore Bella Sin! She is sweet, beautiful and knows how to put on a great show. The crowd was so into it. The room was lined with loads of smiling faces cheering on the performers.

From hula hoop to strip tease you are in for a great show! There was a brief magic act and lots of crowd participation time full of liquored up giggling.

HulaStrip

The lovely Bella Sin opened and closed the show. You can always catch her mingling with the crowd before a performance as well.

Bella SinBella Sin Bella Sin

This was such a great event! I have much love for the Black Pig and Bella Sin. Couldn't be happier to live in Cleveland seeing them come together in such an inventive way. Get your booty down to the Black Pig if you haven't been! Eat, drink and be merry. They have some of the bestest food and drink in town. Also, get yourself to a Cleveland Burlesque show if you haven't been. Trust me, you'll have a super fun time. You'll laugh, clap and smile from ear to ear.

 

Deagan's, What Bar Food Should Be

It can be hard to get my husband to a bar sometimes. He's not a bar dude. He doesn't enjoy chicken fingers, Bud Light or ESPN. I don't enjoy those things either so I can't complain, but I like to get my drink on from time to time. Finding Deagan's Kitchen & Bar in Lakewood was eye opening for us. It was everything we wanted in a bar. The beautiful wood decor has soaked up loads of stories and laughs that bring me comfort as soon as I sit down. We ordered a few cocktails to kick off our visit. I love to order a Pimm's Cup. Its a refreshing vintage cocktail with the right amount of sweet. My husband always enjoys a White Russian in blistery weather.

pimms

I enjoy little plates and Deagan's is a great place to load up on sharing little plates. First, we ordered from the Bar Snacks. The Deviled Eggs Sampler was delicious! Goat Cheese, Pork Belly and Crab were the varieties that night. All excellent. Very rich and filling.

Deviled-Egg-Sampler-goat-cheese,-crab,-pork-belly

The #1 reason we love Deagan's so much and feel they are what bar food should be is their vegetable dishes. They can make a vegetable the star of your meal. They don't even have to batter and deep fry your veggies to make them something you'll crave. I can't think of many bars that pull that off.  The Shaved Brussels Sprouts with bacon, walnuts, smoked blue cheese is something I crave. It's an amazing bar food loaded with flavor.

Shaved-Brussels-Sprouts-bacon,-walnuts,-smoked-blue-cheese

Another great love I have at Deagan's is the Cured Meats & Cheese Boards. You can get a big board of everything or pick and choose. It comes with a little sweet and a little savory. Fresh warm bread, honey, jam and nuts. We got the salami tartufo with the 18-month beemster and red dragon. They were all amazing, but the red dragon was one of the best cheeses I've ever had. It's the mustard-like textured one at the top. It was the right amount of creamy.

Cured-Meats-Cheese-Boards

To close out the meal I ordered a Wired Irishmen with Guiness & Van Gogh’s Espresso Vodka. You can't find beer cocktails everywhere so I order them when I see them. This was a good kick in the pants at the end of the meal.

Wired-Irishmen-Guiness-&-Van-Gogh’s-Espresso-Vodka

Being able to pick at cheese boards and small plates leaves plenty of room for dessert. The Apple Peanut Butter Créme Brulée was incredibly rich. It had a bit of a pb&j flavor going on and resembled nothing like the creme brulee you conger in your mind, but was every bit delicious and amazingly creative.  Not your average bar dessert.

Apple-Peanut-Butter-Créme-Brulée-caramel-corn,-cranberry-coulis,-butterscotch

If you haven't been to Deagan's please check it out! They have some great specials like Wednesday Vegan's night and Taco Tuesday.

Deagan's Kitchen & Bar Website Deagan's Kitchen & Bar Facebook Deagan's Kitchen & Bar Twitter

Tay Do - The Best Restaurant You've Never Heard Of

Vietnamese food is our favorite cuisine. We eat it multiple times a week between going out and making it at home. If we had to choose only one Vietnamese restaurant in the Cleveland area to go to it would be Tay Do in Parma. They don’t have a website I can link to or a Twitter account or even a Facebook page to direct you to. In fact, they don't speak much English so make sure to order by number because if you don’t there is no guarantee what they will bring you. We’ve being going to Tay Do for at least a decade. We’ve never had a bad meal or a bad experience. I hate seeing some of the bad reviews out there about it. Most of the issues seem to have come from the language barrier. The owner has remembered us every time we’ve gone in. While there isn’t a lot of things we can talk to her about she always asks us about work and is happy for us for that we have jobs. We always enjoy Mrs. ‘Tay Do’.

Anthony Bourdain expressed his love for the Vietnamese because they always drink tea while waiting for their coffee.  I couldn’t agree more.  Sipping jasmine tea while waiting for the coffee to slowly drip through the phin is a comforting feeling even in the summer. Vietnamese coffee has a strong, bold flavor and is made unbelievable by the sweetened condensed milk. To try this order 1-1-7.

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We used to eat at Tay Do at least once a week while living in Parma.  We didn’t move that far, but still don’t get there as often as we like. So when we do, we order our favorites that we’ve been craving and we share.  Mrs. ‘Tay Do’ gave us a big smile when we told her we’re going to share – family style dining is something she has always encouraged and seems to be very important in Vietnamese culture.

First up, was pho with rare beef and beef meatballs.  Clear rich broth with lots of herbs – it’s not revolutionary but it is the backbone of a Vietnamese restaurant and of course they do it well.  Mrs. ‘Tay Do’ encouraged me to eat all my pho because the noodles are good for me! To try this order number 29 – we went with the small.

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Next up was the grilled pork rice plate served with cucumbers, tomatoes, a fried egg, and seasoned fish sauce.  The warm egg yolk mixes with the fish sauce and rice and makes a heavenly combination. The pork was tender and so tasty I was gnawing on the bone. To try this order number 52.

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Last and certainly not least was the bun bowl with grilled pork and fried egg rolls. The vermicelli noodles are always perfectly cooked and the entirety of the salad is very refreshing. To try this order number 81.

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I realized while writing this that we ordered the dishes that every Vietnamese restaurant serves because they are some of our favorites, but not necessarily what sets Tay Do apart.  We’ll be doing a follow up blog post soon featuring some of the dishes that make Tay Do unique!

Cleveland Cheap Eats: Brunch, Lunch, and Dinner - Part I

I truly adore a good cheap eat. It's lovely to have a fantastic meal out with my hubby and spend less than $20 for the two of us. When you can get great food at a good price from a locally owned restaurant, why ever visit a national chain? Thankfully, we have plenty of amazing, locally owned, cheap eats to take advantage of in Cleveland. This week we brunched, lunched and dined for <$20 each meal. Brunch Waking up late and eating a meal that soaks up the previous night's debauchery is a beautiful thing. Brunch always leaves me feeling warm and fuzzy inside just like this art at the Borderline Cafe in Lakewood.

cheap-eats.04Borderline Cafe is a fun little cheap eats brunch. They don't have a website/facebook/twitter page, but they do have a Google+ you can check out. They also only accept cash, but since you won't be spending much that's not such a big deal.

The front page of the menu has some real creative dishes. Some are closer to the $10 range, but there are plenty of things on the menu for <$6.

I tried the Breakfast Pizza. The tomato salsa was excellent. I expected a traditional salsa, but it was like a cross between a salsa and pizza sauce. Very well done dish for the price! I can see why they were packed.

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My hubby ordered the Traditional - two eggs, toast, homefries with sausage. I usually require my homefries covered in ketchup and/or hot sauce, but these were spiced to perfection. They didn't need a thing.

Exceptional food at a great price! I even had a nice sized glass of chocolate milk and we still got out of there for less than $20.

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Lunch Something about this being a tiny little place with a just a few outdoor tables off Bridge St. made Bogtrotters Doorstep highly appealing to me. Some of my favorite NYC eateries are little shops so I guess I've come to expect big flavors from little shops and Bogtrotters didn't disappoint!

cheap-eats.07 They just serve au jus sandwiches, but that's all they need to serve because they do them very well. I got the Porkopolis, au jus on the side and crunch (chips) on the top. Their sandwiches have meat for days and the greens were very well done. The sandwich was $9 and left me full for hours.

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My husband got the Clevelander, which he never even shared a bite of! Those onions looked amazing.

The most impressive part of the sandwich was the bread. This baguette can handle au jus! Even when soaked it still kept form and had flavor. No wonder Momocho Chef Eric once had a two-a-day habit.

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Dinner Getting dinner for 2 for under $20 can be a harder find, especially when you enjoy dessert with your dinner as much as I do. Thankfully, we discovered Sweetie Fry and their hand-crafted ice cream and impossibly good fries.

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Fries for dinner works! Impossibly good fries is a fitting description. We shared a large order of the Bacon Cheddar Melt Fries. They are every bit as good as they look and I am more than ready to go back and try more. It was plenty of food for the two of us for dinner.

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Since we got just a one scoop cone they gave us the kids price of $2.50 and you still get the little scoop on top with it too! We tried the French Toast ice cream with a little scoop of the strawberries and sour cream on top. The French Toast was excellent. Very bold flavors! I couldn't imagine eating more than just one scoop.

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A little bit of money goes a long way at these awesome Cleveland restaurants. It was my first time trying each one and they all hit it out of the park so I'm ready to go out and find some more Cleveland Cheap Eats for part II!

Townhall Proves You'll Enjoy Eating Vegan

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I've noticed plenty of people wrinkle their noses at the mention of eating something vegan, as if it must be bland and horrible. In reality, sure there are plenty of boring vegan dishes out there, but a chef that knows flavor can bring it to any dish. TownHall is proof that you can eat vegan and eat happy. Aside from having plenty of daily vegan options, they have a special vegan menu on Mondays. You don't have to be a vegan to enjoy vegan dishes. What's wrong with taking a break from meat once in a while? There are plenty of health and environmental benefits to eating less meat. The world's current meat consumption isn't sustainable so at some point meat won't be as available as it is now. Thankfully, there are chefs out there working hard to make vegan dishes enjoyable to the masses.

TownHall's Black Bean Hummus is a dish vegan and non-vegans alike can adore. If you like hummus and jalapenos this is a must try. I really loved the heat; it creeps up on you and stays with you, but packs tons of flavor too.

TownHall - Black Bean Hummus

I was certainly surprised to see a Cesar Salad on a vegan menu, but it was an awesome side to this meal. Townhall's vegan friendly Cesar has all the creaminess of the traditional dressing with these wonderfully light croutons and very fresh, crisp lettuce.

TownHall - Cesar Salad with vegan dressing

The Pan Roasted Corncake came highly recommended and it was incredibly delicious. Crispy on the outside, but nice and soft on the inside. The avocado creme fraiche brought the whole dish together. The corncake rested on a bed of quinoa, which is one of those things that can give a vegan dish a bad name. Most of us have met a health buff or two who eat quinoa for every meal and it never looks appealing. I've certainly had plenty of bland quinoa, to the point that I don't look for it on a menu, but this was great! I'm always impressed by a chef that makes it well.

TownHall - Pan Roasted Corncake Cheese is something a lot of vegans miss. Thankfully there are some good vegan cheeses on the market these days, but to walk into a restaurant and be able to order a grilled cheese that anyone would love is a rarity. These Grilled Cheese Bars were some of the best grilled cheese I've ever had. The roasted roma tomatoes brought so much sweetness to the bars and worked very well with the sourdough. The tomato soup is worth a mention too. It was slightly sweet and very fresh; it tasted straight from the garden.

TownHall - Grilled Cheese Bars and Roasted Tomato Soup

The Faux Pho: the name alone makes it fun to order. I was blown away by the chili marinated tofu. It had such bold and fresh flavor I could eat it everyday. The loads of fresh veggies were a great touch to this dish too. What I liked about this dish, and this went for all the vegan dishes, is that it isn't just a copy of Pho, it's a reinvention of it.

TownHall - Faux Pho What a unique dish the Tofu Etouffee. I don't believe I've ever had blacked tofu before. It was very enjoyable. Another reinvention of a traditional dish; it had lots of  bold flavor, but still had a wonderful balance.

Townhall - Tofu Etouffee

Balance was a common thread for the entire meal. Each dish was perfectly balanced, not only in flavor, but texture as well. The produce was so incredibly fresh and high quality. Even the decor was balanced. From the long bar to the people watching heaven of the front patio - the place is beautifully designed.

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Eating dessert out can be another pain for vegans. Milk and eggs are common in a lot of desserts. TownHall carries Samadhi Love's Vegan Gluten Free Desserts! Avoiding diary, eggs and gluten and still making a dessert taste amazing is a feat, but Samadhi is up for the challenge. She replaces those things with love and it shows. We tried her chocolate cookie that was so soft and light for being gluten free. If you've tried gluten free bread products, they are often rock-like in texture.  We also tired the brownie that came with ice cream and caramel drizzle. The brownie had a great texture and creaminess from oats and avocado. The ice cream was made from coconut water and the caramel sauce was made with cashews.

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I hope to see more people embracing vegan food. TownHall certainly makes it easy to eat vegan and still be a foodie. Do your part and skip the meat/dairy every now and then. If you're eating these dishes you'll enjoy it!

Learn more about TownHall: TownHall Facebook Twitter

I'll be Bac

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I grew up in a town that only had one extremely Americanized Chinese Restaurant, but I would come to Cleveland often to visit my Aunt who was a regular at Minh Anh.  I have nothing but fond memories of meals at Minh Anh, my aunt chatting it up with Van and my first tastes of Vietnamese food. It was so different than anything I had ever had that it quickly became my favorite food. Today, I still find many people who have not tried Vietnmese food. I imagine it can be intimidating to examine a menu that is completely alien to you, which is why I have so often overheard people order from the standard Americanized section of the menu and totally missing out. Thankfully, Bac Nguyen, who grew up in his families restaurant, Minh Anh, is bringing those flavors to his own restaurant, Bac in Tremont. Bac is exactly where I would take someone to introduce them to Vietnamese food.

I was so impressed with the Coconut Milk Crepe. It reminds me very much of the crepes at Minh Anh that come in a giant order. This was a nice size portion and a good way to get a little taste of this traditional Vietnamese dish, which is one of my favorites.

Bac - Coconut Milk Crepe

Another extremely well done traditional dish is the Green Papaya Salad. Shredded papaya may sound a little out there, but it so incredibly refreshing. My lunch date ordered it, but I could not stop eating it. You'll find this dish at just about any Vietnamese restaurant.

Bac - Green Papaya Salad

I have an pork obsession so I started with the Pork Buns. These are a must try snack. You get your pick of meat, but this pork was cooked so perfectly that I highly recommend trying it. Buns are some of my favorite food. All the flavors of a banh mi packed into a fluffy little steamed bun.

Bac - Pork Buns

Due to my pork obsession I also got the Pork Rangoon. Pork and cream cheese...I'll be bac! So good! This a great place to order a bunch of apps and chill out on the patio.

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Bac has a great drink menu as well. Lots of sake, beers, wine and fun cocktails. I had a refreshing Pimm's Cup, one of my favorite summer cocktails.

Bac - Pimm's Cup

I just left and I already can't wait to go back. Whether you want to try some traditional Vietnamese dishes like the crepes and papaya salad or some tasty pork apps like the buns or rangoon, you won't regret a trip to Bac.

Check out Bac: Website Facebook Twitter

Step back in time at the Katz Club Diner

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Every photo and article I've seen about the Katz Club Diner drew me in until I couldn't stay away any longer. I adore seeing this historic diner restored so beautifully. It is a step back in time dining experience.

The Katz Club Diner

Every detail of this place is well done. I found it really comforting as if I was not just getting a taste of great food, but of simpler times.

The Katz Club Diner

My date ordered the pan fried chicken with tomato-mushroom spaghetti casserole, which I had choose for him. The chicken was light and buttery without a hint of greasiness. The cheese on the spaghetti casserole was a tasty touch. I stole more than my fair share of bites.

The Katz Club Diner - Pan Fried Chicken with Tomato-Mushroom Spaghetti Casserole

As usual, I look for something on the menu that I've never seen anywhere else before and I found the eggplant reuben! Very different and extremely well done. It had a nice thick slice of eggplant. It's a surprising combination, but the eggplant, sauerkraut and cheese went together perfectly.

The Katz Club Diner - Eggplant Reuben

Everything in the bakery looked incredible. They make their own ho-hos! I am for sure going back for one of those. They are giant! I decided to sink my sweet tooth into a Black Cherry Float. The whipped cream is the real deal and the ice cream is the creamy yellow vanilla-bean kind. I loved the way the soda mixes with the ice cream to create a sweet foamy deliciousness. It was a dreamy as it looks.

The Katz Club Diner - Black Cherry Float

Check out the Katz Club Diner: Website Facebook Twitter

 

Sunday Bloody Funday

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A good brunch is the best way to kick off a Sunday Funday and Touch Supper Club has one of the best brunches in town. Not only do they have a large and creative brunch menu, they have an amazing Bloody Mary bar! My favorite thing on the menu is the Chorizo and Cornbread. It's a great take on the traditional biscuits and sausage gravy. The chorizo has a nice kick to it that goes very well with my mostly hot sauce Bloody Mary.

Touch Supper Club - Chorizo and Cornbread

They always have an awesome special like this Breakfast Bowl. A generous portion of tater tots with cheese sauce, chorizo, and scrambled eggs topped with fresh tomatoes and green onions.

Touch Supper Club - Breakfast Bowl

I am not one to order a Bloody Mary since I don't typically enjoy tomato juice, but something about being able to make it myself makes me all about it! They have every imaginable hot sauce. I threw in some sriracha and sesame sauce which gave my Mary an Asian flare. The blue cheese stuffed olives will knock your socks off!

If you haven't been to Touch you'll have to check it out. It's in my top 5 Cleveland Brunch spots. If you like pancakes you'll have to try their fruity Pebble pancakes! There is even Fruity Pebbles in the butter. But be prepared to share. The pancakes are HUGE!!

Check out Touch Supper Club: Website Facebook Twitter

 

Cleveland Culinary Launch Tasting

Chill Pop Shop

It's been a fun foodie journey starting this blog. I have met so many great Cleveland people and of course enjoyed so much Cleveland food. One of the best things to have come from this blog is being a part of the pilot program of the Cleveland Culinary Launch & Kitchen, LLC Food Business Incubator Program. We were lucky enough to get a heads up about the program from Sylvie, who runs the awesomely fun Dishcrawl here in Cleveland. We mentioned our interest in starting a food truck when talking during the Tremont Dishcrawl and she tweeted us a link to info about the program. We submitted our application and a presentation to ECDI and we made it in! Monday was week two of our classes - product development week. All 10 businesses in the program brought in food for testing. The evening started with some great talks. The first one by Tom from Cleveland Whiskey and then Terri of the Kitchen's Bounty. Terri even brought in a little gift bag with a sample of her Amazing Rub.

Here is a glimpse of the 10 awesome businesses in the program and the food being produced in Cleveland.

Mason's Creamery  Mason's handed out samples of their Cleveland Whiskey Ice Cream. While I have been lucky enough to have had it before I was more than excited to try it again. I love getting a taste of that Cleveland Whiskey flavor without the overpowering heat of alcohol. It's pure flavor and it's delicious. If you have a chance to try it in a Coke Float you will not regret it.

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HooftyPlates I care greatly about where my food comes from and I know that a lot of other people do too. HooftyPlates has extensively researched to find the best local food sources and has created some amazing and healthy food from the best of the best. They brought in a sample of their Sweet Broccoli Salad. The best broccoli salads I have had are covered in mayonnaise and topped with bacon, but this was far better than any of those without using either!

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Clark Pope Catering Clark is like the jack of all trades in the kitchen. He has created a ton of products for Fresh Fork Market so he had a lot for us to sample. He is a master of tomato so he brought in a BBQ Sauce, Tomato Sauce, Blueberry Sauce and a Bloody Mary Mix. I am a big fan of fruit sauces so I was really drawn to the Blueberry Sauce. It was nicely balanced and not overly sweet like you find in a fruit sauce all too often.

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Chill Pop Shop I have had a lot of popsicles in my life and I figured a popsicle is a popsicle. That is until I put one of these in my mouth! I was immediately blown away by these Watermelon Lime Pops. There is a very powerful freshness built into these. My husband loves watermelon, but hates artificial watermelon flavors. I have learned to steer clear of giving him watermelon treats, but he LOVED these because it is actual watermelon vs watermelonish flavoring.

7.17.2013.chill.pop.shop Randy's Pickles Pickles are just so much fun to eat! Randy's brought in their Pepper Chips, Hungarian Peppers and Dill Pickles for us to try. Any pickle fan would love these. If you've never had hungarian peppers they are a must try. They are currently working on a mega hot new pickle recipe.

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Olivia Rose Confections I take pictures constantly so I always appreciate when my food is also beautiful. Olivia's food is incredibly photogenic. She brought in Cupcakes and one of her beautiful Fat Baby Cakes. The cupcake was so pretty I didn't want to eat it, but I am glad I did because it was incredibly light and moist.

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Sweet Bean I love that Sweet Bean is named after their dog, who's nickname is Sweet Bean. They also call their round candy bars bark as a play on words. Too cute! I was so excited that they brought in some dark chocolate items. That is my favorite! These little candies pack a ton of big flavor. The little dark round ones are filled with a peanut butter and jelly mix that is oh so good.

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Really Good Bacon From the moment I heard that name I was excited to try this bacon. As soon as my husband and I finished our first bite all we could say was "that is really good bacon." The name really says it all. David also brought in some amazing sliders. They were a mix of ground beef and bacon and I could not stop eating them! Best slider I've ever had.

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Bay Branch Farms Bay Branch does urban farming in Lakewood. They have some amazing produce you can pick up at the Lakewood Farmers Market and LEAF. They brought in a beautiful and fresh salad made from their garden veggies and a blueberry fruit leather. We've all had an over-processed fruit rollup, but you'd think of fruit rollup differently after trying one of Bay Branch's fruit leathers. You get all the real fruit flavor in the familiar rollup form. I've had high quality fruit leathers from the grocery store before, but they were far closer to cardboard than fruit rollups. These were the real deal.

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Wok 'n' Roll Yes, that's the name of our future food truck! :) We are hoping to launch in Spring 2014. For now we are just a concept, but by the end of program we want to have a solid business plan to get us started building our truck. We brought in a few treats that represent us. BBQ Pork Cookies and Mini Vegan Curry Pies. What was so great about this tasting was hearing peoples descriptions of our food. People are very curious about the Pork Cookies, but as someone said, "they are exactly as they sound." The Pork Cookies are a sweet cookie with an even sweeter pork inside. I enjoy the crumbly cookie dough. The pies were described as similar to a samosa. The cool thing about these are that they are a baked version of a samosa instead of fried.

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At the end of the program we will have a graduation type event that will be open to the public. I'll be sure to tweet info when the time comes. Foodies and bacon lovers alike should come out to sample these local goodies and support these Cleveland businesses!

Li Wah - It's all that and Dim Sum

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I would choose 1 bite of 10 different things over 10 bites of one thing any day. So needless to say...I love Dim Sum! I am super excited to have recently discovered this Cleveland gem, Li Wah. They serve Dim Sum daily from 10am to 3pm. Steamed Spare Ribs and Pork Dumplings While bone-in spare ribs with chopsticks are a little intimidating, the flavor is incredible. It's got a very comfort food stew taste and a tender meat. Most everyone has tired pork dumplings. I enjoy ordering them to get the sauce so I have some dipping sauce to go with all the dishes. It is also a great sauce to mix up with some of the chill sauce they have at the table to add a little sweet and spicy kick to your dim sum.

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Baked BBQ Pork Buns and Sticky Rice BBQ Pork Buns is a dish anyone would love. These sweet baked rolls filled with an even sweeter BBQ pork are not a dish you want to pass on. The sticky rice was excellent. It had an amazingly big flavor that I didn't expect. It's not your typically filler rice, it stands on its own.

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Steamed BBQ Pork Buns I you like the baked you'll like the steamed ones too. They have a doughy texture to them which I enjoy. They are a little cloud of BBQ Pork. Both the steamed and baked buns heat up well if you have extras to take home.

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Shrimp Rice Noodle Rolls I had never tired these before, but they are a new favorite. They have a great lightly fried texture and fresh shrimp flavor. While they are a little difficult to handle with the chopsticks they are well worth the effort.

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More Dumplings These are your dim sum poster children and they are delicious! Pork and shrimp shu mai on top and shrimp dumpling on the bottom.

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If you've never experienced Dim Sum it is a great time! It's fun to be adventurous and try new foods. I highly recommend Li Wah.

Check out Li Wah:

Website Dim Sum Menu

 

 

Superior Pho is Un-pho-gettable

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I’ve heard more than once that Superior Pho has some of the best Vietnamese food in the greater Cleveland area and after trying their banh mi at the Cleveland Asian festival, I’m not sure why it’s taken us so long to get there. I love this type of restaurant. They don’t worry about décor or some type of ‘hook’; they put all their energy into making awesome food quickly and affordably. I heard the diners next to us declare that it is a most fulfilling and cheap way to get ready for a night on the town. We decided to order the combo meals so we could get a little taste of big portion of their menu. The food took less than 5 minutes to reach our table even though it was a bustling Friday night. My dinner companion ordered meal #4. A piping hot fried spring roll and the Vietnamese sandwich. The sandwich was just as good as it was at the Asian Festival maybe even better with the addition of sriracha.

 Superior Pho - Vietnamese sandwich - Bahn Mi

I went for meal #3 with a spring roll, chicken cabbage salad and small #3 pho. The pho was great and very large considering it was a ‘small’ size. But the star was the chicken cabbage salad. The cabbage was sliced so thin my dining companion thought it was noodles and it had a very liberal amount of rau ram – which is one of my favorite flavors.

 Superior Pho - Pho and Chicken Cabbage Salad

I stopped by today for lunch to try meal #6 - grilled marinated pork on broken rice with a summer roll. The summer roll was very fresh and full of herbs. And the sauce was awesome – peanut sauce with a dollop of Sriracha floating in the middle. The pork was juicy and slightly charred and full of flavor. With the cucumbers, pickled veggies and seasoned fish sauce, it was a great combination. My only complaint is that I’m so full it’s hard to keep my eyes open… ;]

 Superior Pho -  Grilled Marinated Pork on Broken Rice with a Summer Roll

Follow Superior Pho:

Website - http://www.superiorpho.com/ Instagram - http://instagram.com/superior_pho# Twitter - https://twitter.com/superiorpho Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/SuperiorPho

Tremont Dishcrawl

When we vacation we love to go on food tours and bar crawls. It's a great way to get a feel for a neighborhood and try a lot of different dishes. I'd always rather have one bite of many things than many bites of one thing. Cleveland is the perfect place to have food tours and the massive crowd at the Tremont Dishcrawl proves it. Stop 1

The Tremont Dishcrawl started at the South Side. It was a beautiful space to start off the evening. The executive chef even came out to discus the dishes that were served and thank us for coming.

The South Side served us an incredible three dish tasting starting with the mussels. They had a slight spice to them and a rich sausage. Then they brought out the flatbreads, which had a nice creaminess to them and a fresh pop from the green. If that wasn't enough they bought out the very inventive almond fried brie, which was almost like a dessert. The wild berry jam was absolutely perfect with it. I was really impressed with the food and presentation. They had a great wine list as well.

The South Side - PEI MUSSELS

The South Side - CHICKEN FLATBREAD

The South Side - ALMOND FRIED BRIE

Stop 2

Press Wine Bar and Restaurant is new to Tremont. They had a great patio and party space as well as a beautiful main room with a large bar. They brought out hors d'oeuvre style dishes. Deviled eggs with shrimp, smoked salmon on rye toast with a cucumber spread and pineapple with blue cheese. Each item was beautifully presented and well balanced, which is extremely impressive when it comes to pineapple and blue cheese. I thought it was very creative and couldn't believe how well it worked. I am a big wine geek and enjoyed browsing their wine menu. They have a lot of reasonably priced bottles and things I am not seeing on other wine lists. I am a big fan of the Michael & David "6th Sense" Syrah 2010 (my tasting notes).

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Stop 3

The Treehouse was next. I can't believe I've never been here. I loved the food and atmosphere. At this point in the evening we had been 3 for 3 on great patios!

Treehouse brought us a little sampling of their hummus, wonton and peanut noodles. It packed some BIG flavors. Their food is extremely well done. I wanted more of everything!

The Treehouse

Stop 4

Dessert time took us to Dervish Grill. Ethnic food is my thing so I was so excited to come here. They are open despite the construction. I got to browse their food menu and can't wait to go back, but I also loved this dessert so much that I have cravings for it daily. They gave us a generous dessert sampler with baklava, the best I can ever remember having, Kunefe, which is filled with cheese, and my favorite, the Kazandibi, which is a milk custard. It tasted like marshmallows. They also had great cocktails and Turkish wines.

Dervish Grill - Dessert Sampler

The Dishcrawl was a super good time! I highly recommend giving one a try. It's a great place to hang with other foodies and you get an incredible amount of food for the cost. Get info on upcoming Dishcrawls: Website Facebook Twitter

Flour Power

Flour - Bianca with egg, arugula, basil

I walked into Flour with no expectations. I knew nothing about it except that they had pizza and there were lots of people buzzing about the place. As soon as you set foot inside this beautiful modern restaurant you'll know it isn't going to be your average pizza place. Then the food blows you away! They have a nice wine and cocktail menu. I always love places that have bubbly by the glass and Flour offers three different kinds at a variety of price points. The Rockefeller has a nice balance of heat from the Bulleit 10 Bourbon and sweet from the cherry juice.

Flour - the Rockefeller and Prosecco

I really love to let my date order for me. I like to be surprised! He decided to start our meal with the Beef Carpaccio. I had no idea until later that beef carpaccio meant raw beef, so I got to try it without the stigma of "I'm about to eat raw beef". (Not that I am a stranger to raw meat as my family was feeding me steak tartare at an age where most children only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers.) It was very acidic with a saltiness brought on from the cheese and capers. It was a fresh and refreshing dish! I'm really glad I got to try it and my date adored it.

Flour - Beef Carpaccio

I really wanted to try a pizza so I ordered a Bianca (ricotta + cauliflower + fennel pollen) with the egg/arugula/basil addition. It was a perfectly crispy and chewy crust. The fennel pollen gave it a hint of sweet licorice. The egg was a great addition. It gave a rich smooth texture that complimented the soft roasted cauliflower. The basil and arugula added a nice freshness as well.

Flour - Bianca with egg, arugula, basil

My date ordered the Porchetta Alla Romana and this dish absolutely blew me away! As he was snagging bites of my pizza I jokingly asked if he wanted to trade, but I was dead serious. The polenta was lightly spiced with a creamy texture. I could have eaten a plateful of just the polenta and been perfectly happy. The herbed pork was very juicy and it was topped with delicious grilled cauliflower. I could eat this dish every day. That was the most exquisite polenta I have ever had.

Flour - Porchetta Alla Romana

It isn't the end of the meal to me until I've had some chocolate so bring on the Snicker Cake! A fluffy, airy cake topped with a chewy peanut caramel layer and a rich chocolate fudge topping with salty, buttery popcorn sauce. It was a perfect balance of salty and sweet. Flour - Snicker CakeFlour certainty lives up to the hype and made me rethink the idea of a pizza place.

Follow Flour: Wesbite Facebook Twitter

Mad Good Peppers

Last Friday was the perfect weather for dining outdoors. We headed over to Stone Mad Pub to check out their beautiful stone patio. The booths are actually made of stone and covered with nice little cushions to keep it comfy.

We grabbed a few cocktails as we waited to get a spot outside. My date ordered his favorite cocktail, an Old Fashioned. He has been trying them all over town. This was a fun one with mashed oranges and cherries at the bottom. I picked out the Charles Dickens. It was the perfect patio drink. It was refreshing and sweet with a great ginger flavor.

Stone Mad Pub - Old Fashioned and the Charles Dickens

We wanted to try a lot of different things so we went with ordering appetizers and sides.

We started with the BBQ Shrimp appetizer. The grill and pancetta gave it a smoky flavor and I loved the sweet Guinness BBQ sauce.

Stone Mad Pub - BBQ Shrimp

I adore brussel sprouts and this is most certainly my favorite way to eat them...with bacon. The side of Curried Cream Corn was my favorite dish! I have never had anything like it. It had all the buttery and creamy aspects of cream corn with a mild curry taste. I just wanted to drink it!

Stone Mad Pub - Brussel Sprounts and Curried Cream Corn

I highly recommend the stuffed peppers. They used a nice spicy pepper. It is stuffed with a lovely rice and sausage mixture and there was a nice crispy texture to the rice. It all worked very well with the sauce, which was excellent.

Stone Mad Pub - Stuffed Peppers

Since we just loved hanging out on the patio we finished up with a few beer cocktails and enjoyed the atmosphere. This place is beautiful inside and out.

Stone Mad Pub - Beer Cocktails

Check out Stone Mad Pub: They don't have a website, but you can see inside on Google Maps! Facebook Twitter

Cooked Tofu Perfection

Johnny Mango posted a photo of a cherry margarita the other day that made my mouth water! I have yet to go there so I went in for a lovely and refreshing lunch yesterday.  I've been eating poorly this week after missing a trip to the grocery last weekend to go out of town. Eating some fresh food felt like a spoonful of medicine. They have the funnest drink menu. I tried the Pomegranate Sparkler. Pretty, fun and refreshing!

Jonny Mango - Pomegranate Sparkler

They have a very diverse menu. Lots of vegan and gluten-free options.

My lunch date went with the Shrimp Fried Rice. The rice had a great crispiness to it, but was still light and fluffy. I love rice with a little bit of a crispiness to it. It's one of my favorite things about the Korean dishes served in the lava hot bowls. I let the rice crisp up on the side. This fried rice dish was certainly cooked to perfection. It also didn't skimp on the fresh veggies!

Johnny Mango - Shrimp Fried Rice

I ordered the Shrimp Pad Thai. I don't always like how restaurants interpret Pad Thai, but I like peanuts on my food so I order it a lot. This was an excellent Pad Thai! It had an explosive fresh lime flavor. Not something I've ever experienced with a Pad Thai, but I loved it. While I loved the lime, the tofu stole the show. I have never had such perfectly cooked tofu! It was like a light fluffy marshmallow. I couldn't even believe it was tofu.

Johnny Mango - Shrimp Pad Thai

Damn, I am jealous of people who live close enough to walk to Johnny Mango. I would be there all the time. I can't wait to try more tofu dishes and I need to go in for some drinks! Do you live in walking distance to some cool restaurants? Where do you go?

Check out Johnny Mango: Website Facebook Twitter

Birthday Bar Crawl

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For my nerdy better half I planned a night out barhopping in Ohio City as his Birthday treat! Last year I took him to NYC and we had a crazy night of drinking in the West Village. We started at Marie's Crisis, an awesomely fun gay piano bar (I wish we had one just like it in CLE), the White Horse Tavern, where Dylan Thomas supposedly drank himself to death, and the Slaughtered Lamb, where our waitress, who had on a barely-there top, bent over us again and again to light the flaming drinks we couldn't stop ordering. We topped off the night a Gray's Papaya for a 2 a.m. legendarily drunk food fix. This year I took him up to Westfield, NY for the weekend, where we got to taste a lot of wines, but we made it home just in time for a little CLE bar crawl! We made four stops along this Bar Crawl. All places we've been wanting to go, but hadn't had the chance to yet.

Stop #1 - Nano Brew Our journey started at Nano Brew. They have an extensive local beer list, including a few of their own. We thoroughly enjoyed the hoppy Nano Namber Ale and the fruity Market Garden Citramax.

Nano Namber Ale They have a super cool menu. I can't wait to go back and try the PB&J, peanut butter, bacon, jam and arugula. We decided to start off the evening with the Stoner Fries, waffle fries with chorizo chili, cheese sauce & scallions. They were truly a stoner's wet dream! The chorizo chili had the greatest spiciness to it.

Nano Brew - Stoner Fries Follow Nano Brew: Website Facebook Twitter

Stop #2 - The Black Pig We were crazy impressed by the food and cocktails at the Black Pig. It's the kind of place I want to take my mom to so she can see why we are so in love with the Ohio City neighborhood and she would leave getting it.

I am a sucker for an inventive cocktail menu! We started with a Blood and Sand (left), it had a fantastically interesting smell that I just couldn't place, and the Millionaire (right).

the Black Pig - Blood and Sand | Millionaire

We couldn't choose between the Braised Pork Belly and the Smoked Salmon so went with both. The smoked salmon was outrageously delicious! The combination of the salmon with the pickled onions was so smokey and sweet. The Salmon really stole the show, but Braised Pork Belly is always awesome. The Vietnamese make something similar to this dish, but with a hard boiled egg. It reminded me of a comforting chicken pot pie on a cold day. Bad day? Come get this ultimate comfort food dish along with a cocktail. I paired it with the Centennial, which tasted like a chocolate/coffee grasshopper. It worked.

the Black Pig - Salmon and Braised Pork Belly

Follow the Black Pig: Website Facebook Twitter

Stop #3 - ABC Tavern We made a quick stop at ABC Tavern to get our drink on. I picked an Ace Apple Honey Cider off the board on the wall. It was like drinking a sour apple jolly rancher and I absolutely loved it! It seemed really crowded for a Sunday night in Ohio City, which gave us a fun kick in the ass to liven it up. What a a great Sunday Funday spot. I'd like to go back and try some of the fun food. I spotted Hush Puppies on the menu.

ABC Tavern

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Stop #4 - Market Garden Brewery

The Market Garden Brewery was last, but certainly not least. I rarely turn down the chance to have a Beer Cocktail and I there was no way I was going to turn down a Beer Cocktail called the Joan Harris. It was as good as you would imagine drinking a Joan to be. I would for sure get it again. Market Garden Brewery - The Joan Harris Beer Cocktail

The Sriracha BBQ Chicken Wings were unbelievably good. I am a true Sriracha lover and know that just a few drops of a fresh bottle of Sriracha can scorch, but these were very mild. They had all the awesome Sriracha flavor without the burn. Anyone who can tolerate a little heat could go for these. The Smokey BBQ Popcorn was a great bar food that pairs well with spicy Kennett Ale.

Market Garden Brewery - Srirachi BBQ Wings and Smokey BBQ Popcorn Since I don't bake it was probably best to get cake out. The Lemon Pound Cake with Raspberry Sorbet and Banana Bread with Brown Butter Ice Cream with Carmel Sauce were far better than any cake I could have pulled off. They were also the icing on the cake of our Birthday Bar Crawl.

Market Garden Brewery - Lemon Pound Cake with Raspberry Sorbet | Banana Bread with Brown Butter Ice Cream with Carmel Sauce

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