Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Our new favorite activity, afternoon vacations...

Hannah and I decided to try this new concept for the first time last week and Noodlecat was the restaurant of choice!

Hannah had been dying  to go here for a while now, so she was super excited.  I was excited but I ate here for the first time during the Winterfest this year, where I was lucky enough to meet Jonathan Sawyer as he passed out spiced ciders outside.  He was super sweet and of course adorable.

This time we were able to take advantage of the Happy Hour, which apparently was voted Best Happy Hour in Cleveland by scene magazine.  They also made the list for Best New Restaurant.

The happy hour was for sure one of the best I have been to.  Our entire meal came out to like $23 bucks a person and that included two drinks each and all the yummy food we ate, and after you read on you will be thrilled as well.

We started with the drink special of gin and ginger beer, which I must say might be my new favorite drink, it went down so very smooth.  We shared the large size of the "Super Salad"  Yes that was what it is called but it really is Super.  It is by far the best salad I have ever had, I am craving it writing about it right now.

It was a salad of Kale, topped with adzuki beans, dry blueberries, green tea granola and ancient grains, garnished with mandarin oranges and avocado.  The dressing was light and full of flavor, sort of citricy.  It was sweet and salty, it was satisfying without being over dressed and it was filled with equal amounts of the all the ingredients which made it possible to enjoy all the flavors in every bite.  I was tempted to order another just to take home!  A must try at any first time visit.

Next we both ordered a Steam Bun, which is a special on the happy hour menu.  There are two that I can eat as a vegetarian.  We both tried the Tsukemono Pickle one.  My picture did not come out but it was super yummy.  The bun is a fluffy white flour bread that almost has a not all the way cooked texture but is so tasty.  It was stuffed with cucumbers, miso, mayo and sprouts.  A perfect bar food for us vegetarians at happy hour.

For our main dishes I went with the Tempura Veggie Plate.

Another winning dish.  It seems simple or overdone, but this was done just right.  It was tempura fried snap peas, mushrooms and veggie cakes.  I could have ordered two of these because it was so good.  The veggie cakes, not something I had before were crunchy on the outside and stuffed with veggies, like zucchini.  It reminded me of a potato pancake but sweeter with all the veggies.  I have also never had fried peas and they were delicious and the mushrooms were also a hit.  The dip also paired perfectly, it was very spicy but I just could not stop eating it.  Winning dish to share.

Hannah went with a small order of the Ohio Beef Brisket and Matzo Ramen.

Hannah enjoyed the dish.  It was chicken broth,brisket, a matzo ball, dill, carrots and surrounded by ramen noodles.

Hannah finished by enjoying a milk stout that the waitress recommended as a good choice for those people that don't quite enjoy stouts but are adventurous. 

She did not hate it, but I am not sure she believed it was far off from the stouts she knows she does not enjoy.  I am more of a stout lover and enjoyed the taste of this beer.  It was not nearly as heavy as a typical stout but did still have the bitter taste that may not be desired by some. 

I ended my meal with another gin and ginger beer and tried the dessert version of their Steam Buns.

A very creative dessert.  It was a chocolate peanut butter banana steam bun.  My favorite part of this dish was the shot of milk.  I am not a milk drinker but found it to really make the dish whimsical.  This was a perfect size dessert.  Large enough to satisfy your sweet tooth and small enough to not weigh you down.  Highly recommended!

Bottom line, Jonathan Sawyer got it right again.  Greenhouse is my favorite restaurant and Noodlecat is a close second.

Don't forget to stop by the Cleveland Clothing Company while here though and pick up something to show your support for our city, we did!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sans Souci

My first St. Patrick's Day downtown was a blast.  Erin, Alex and I were able to stay in Erin's family's hotel room at the end of the long day.  We stayed at the Renaissance. When we began the day, we discussed hoping to end the evening with a night cap in the extravagant bar downstairs.  Sadly, this did not happen but luckily we were able to enjoy the amenities of the hotel by eating brunch in the restaurant the next morning.

The restaurant was decorated in a traditional European like style.  Big picture windows overlook downtown.  We sat all the way at the end of the restaurant in a little den area with a wooden fireplace.  The staff was friendly and attentive and something about the whole experience made me really feel like I was vacationing.  It didn't feel like the morning after brunch rather a preparation brunch for a site seeing adventure.

The menu was small but perfect.  It had several choices for me, far from boring.

We started with the necessary coffee and received a complementary Strawberry smoothie, which I could have had in a much larger portion because it was so yummy and fresh.

I decided to go with the eggs benedict dish, but I substituted the ham for spinach.

This was seriously one of the best dishes I have had.  The flavors were spot on.  The egg could not have been cooked more perfect.  The size was right on point, where there was an equal amount of each ingredient in each bite and where I did not feel weighed down at the end of the meal but super satisfied.  I cannot say enough good things about something that seems so simple, but this was for sure a gateway meal that will force me to return for dinner.

Alex ordered the egg white omelet.

 The description sure sounded good, west side market chicken sausage, swiss, spinach, and a side of seasonal fruit.  It seemed like Alex enjoyed this.  I'm sure with the quality of my meal it would be impossible for anything on the brunch menu to not be delicious.

I for sure anticipate eating dinner here at some point but would enjoy returning for brunch again soon.  If you have any plans of staying downtown stay here or at least eat here!

Crop Bistro

Formal located on W.6th in a small space, but with very elegant interior designs, now located off W.25th in an old bank building with an unbelievable amount of space, high ceilings, an open kitchen, and overall a beautiful place to enjoy any meal.

I had eaten here once before, but had the pleasure of returning with my food group a few weeks ago.
The first time I went I started with the well known balsamic popcorn appetizer.  Cara decided to try it this time so I could try something new.

This is such a creative dish and so very yummy!  It has onions, cheese and herbs and of course smothered in balsamic dressing.  Ashleigh described this dish as bruschetta meets popcorn which I think is a perfect description. You can not go wrong with this dish, definitely enough to share so you can try something else too because there are a lot of exciting appetizer options.

I tried the lobster and mango lettuce cups.

These were delicious.  The lobster and the mango paired super well together.  I didn't eat too much of the green curry vinaigrette although it was tasty.  The pickled onion and fennel were perfect garnish's to the wrap.  These are a must try for anyone who enjoys sushi or seafood in general.

Jack got the deviled eggs.

These were good for your typical deviled eggs.  They were topped with prosciutto but tasted like the meat may have been in the egg mixture as well, it had a very smoked flavor.  This is a good choice for you meat lovers.

For my entree I had the black pepper and goat cheese ravioli. 

This was a perfect size pasta dish.  The pasta was light and fresh and the goat cheese was very mild.  It was topped with thick cut vegetables which they did not skimp on and covered in an herbed tomato sauce.  It was not the most creative thing I have ever eaten for the price but thoroughly enjoyed the flavors and quality. 

John ordered my second choice the Seared Ahi Tuna.

It photographed really well and cooked to perfection.  The outside was seared just enough and the inside was still a bit cold an chewy.  This is an entree I would for sure order on my next visit, more worth the price also.

Cara ordered the Braised Short Ribs over Mac and Cheese.

She seemed to enjoy this dish, the meat fell right off the bones and the fondue mac looked super creamy.  I would order that just as a side if that were an option.

Jack ordered the Duck Duck Chicken entree.

Seared Breast, Fried Egg, Duck Confit, Bacon, Sweet Potato Hash, Cranberry Demi, I didn't ask too many questions on the dish but I'm sure he enjoyed it.

The first time I ate here I ordered the popcorn, a Salmon entree and the jalapeno ice cream with chocolate cake dessert.  My second visit was just as pleasing as my second.  I was sad to not have any room left for the jalapeno ice cream this time, but recommend it for anyone with a desire to try something so unique, it is by far the best dessert I have had to date. 

The only disappointing thing about this visit was not being able to sit in the vault.  We had about 12 people, but were several hundred dollars short to reserve the room.  But if you have a 100 people and $2500 dollars you can enjoy the experience of this dinning area, otherwise make a trip down there at some point anyways.  Prepare for this to be a pricy dinner but so very worth it.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Touch Supper Club

Last year my friend Erin got me a gift certificate for Touch Supper Club and all we talked about was when we were going to go, a year passed of me losing the certificate and then finding it and finally making the time to eat here.  The irony is that as of the first of the year Touch no longer accepts these Restaurant.com certificates, although I was disappointed, I was not discouraged from eating here that night.

There was a small room in the front, then the long dinning room with art on the walls from a local artist Tony Trunzo and then another cute room in the back with a booth that lined the walls.  Our waitress Emma was probably my most favorite waitress I have ever had anywhere.  She was patient with my bad mood from the day, but helped me turn it around with a yummy pomegranate martini that she suggested.  She took the time to answer questions and give us descriptions and opinions on what we asked.

As much as the entrees looked delicious we all know I prefer to order 3 small things over one big thing.  So I had my eye on the Calamari app.  It was Calamari two ways.  Fried calamari in a lemon garlic aioli and sauteed calamari with parmesan, sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives and herbs.
It was good.  It was very heavy and meant to be a shared dish for sure.  I would have to sadly say it was not my most favorite calamari dish, but definitely enjoyed all the flavors.

Erin started with the grilled flatbread with sardinian olive oil, herbs and cheese.  She paired it with a side of their tomato basil bisque.  This was the perfect app, size and taste.

Next I ordered the chef's sides special.  The app was so big that at this point I was not going to be able to eat much more, but needed to try more than just the calamari.  The sides were fried risotto and sauteed cabbage.
The fried risotto was very good.  It would be perfect for like a bar snack for us Vegetarians.  The cabbage was good a little too salty for my taste but it could have just been eating the two together.

Now the waitress told us about the dessert, which was home made baklava and I needed to save room for that.
This dessert was amazing.  The baklava was the best I have ever had.  The ice cream and cherries turned a basic bakery case dessert into a upscale dish.  Also, for the price the size was perfect and for sure another dish to share.

As Erin and I were leaving we met the owner and the chef asked to follow my blog when the waitress saw me taking me pictures.  They mentioned how good the Sunday brunch was and so this is my new favorite meal time to try I was super excited to plan the visit.

Ironically, this morning after a fun night out for a friends birthday, we decided we should return for brunch.  We got there around 11:15 and they were busy but not enough that we had to wait.  After about an hour or so the restaurant filled up with a line out the door of people waiting.  After eating, I knew why the wait was long, and would have been worth it if we had to wait.

So the guys started by trying the Bloody Mary bar.

Cara and I went with a pomegranate mimosa, it was delightful!

With the exception of Cara, we all ordered the breakfast burrito.  This was the most delicious breakfast burrito I have encountered at brunch so far.  It was packed from end to end with eggs, cheese, potatoes, sour cream, peppers, onions and salsa.  Also, came with a side of tatter tots that tasted fantastic in their homemade hollandaise sauce that was perfect.

Now, Cara's decision to not get the burrito like the rest of us was a good one because what she ordered was most creative, big in size and so darn tasty.  The Fruity Pebble pancakes!!!!
Yes, they tasted like the cereal.  They were topped with yet some more fruity pebbles in a butter.  They were fluffy and super flavorful, they did not skimp on the amount of fruity pebbles they used.  I will be honest, what excited me the most was what they would look like and I was definitely pleased!

Last we ordered the potato pancakes to share with the table.  They were big enough to be a shared plate when combined with our main dishes.
They were worth ordering.  They were crispy on the outside and still very soft and almost creamy in the middle.  They fell apart easily but in a good way.  A must try for potato pancake enthusiasts.

I am glad I made it back to Touch Suupper Club so soon after my first visit and will continue to return for the brunch.  If you have been thinking about going here for as long as I have, make it happen sooner than later.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Amp 150

As with many of the places I want to go, the build up happens for weeks and sometimes months.  I usually examine the menu several times, read reviews, look up pictures and learn about the chef.  I had heard about Amp 150 sometime in the Summer.  I read good things and the menu looked interesting.  I did however make one mistake that I'm sure more of us have made.  I discounted it's credibility because it was located in a hotel right off the highway on 150th near Lakewood.  Now recently, I have driven past this location quite often and something just told me to give it a try.  So Saturday, I did just that.

Apparently the theme is Amplifier as in music.  I did not get this.  The hotel has large guitars around the area and the restaurant plays mild rock music.  It is a completely open dinning room, which takes up a large section of the lobby.  It's upscale yet comfortable and inviting.  There are several small tables and then about 4 big round booths in the middle of the dinning room that are lighted by loud, unique chandeliers, they really set the tone of the restaurant and I loved it.  There is also a nice size private room which I regret not utilizing for my birthday party the night prior.   

The best quality of this place was the waitress.  She was polite, energetic, attentive and knowledgeable about not only their menu but food overall.  If every restaurant had one of her eating out would be an even better experience.  The bus boy and the lady that filled our water and the woman that brought out our meals were all also overly polite, I enjoyed every second of being there.

The menu is broken down into small plates, apps and entrees.  This is my favorite kind of set up because it makes it so much easier to try the many things that usually jump out at me and not be uncomfortably full.  There was a lot of seafood on the menu, as well as the special of the night which was sting ray.  I very much wanted to try that and several of the other seafood dishes, but narrowed it down to just one. 

The seared scallops small plate.  This was accompanied by spaghetti squash in a basil pesto and topped with dehydrated olives.  This dish melted in my mouth.  From the perfectly cooked scallops, to the just right amount of seasoned lightly spaghetti squash all in the pesto and ending with the bite of the olives, it just worked.  Behind that you will notice that I also ordered the house made chips.  I had see like 3 people already order it already and the malt vinegar aioli, dortmunder aioli just sounded so good I needed to try it.  Let me just say, this was one of the best appetizers I have ever had.  The chips were a nice balance between kettle and original chips.  They were crunchy and sweet and each of the aiolis just seemed to make the whole dish go from just a potato chip to upscale dinning.

For my entree, well I was a bit worried because even though the vegetarian pasta dish did sound good, in most cases basic pasta dishes at restaurants seem to lack creativity and even worse flavor.  I was pleasantly surprised as I began to eat my entree that the flavors were there and the creativity was achieved to some degree.  It was called Pasta Al Ceppo.  It was zitti like pasta, in a balsamic like thin sauce with pine nuts and cheese and topped with an eggplant confit.  Like I said, it was super flavorful for a basic pasta dish, the eggplant confit had to grow on me however, because I was thrown off by the meaty like texture. 

I would probably not order this dish again, but I would recommend this to a picky eater.  There were so many other things on the small plates and apps sections that I would like to try next time.  There will be a next time though, because the atmosphere was for sure my style and the menu was creative and I would go back for those chips any day!

Lesson learned, do not underestimate a restaurant in a hotel!

All things Black Bean

So the other day as I enjoyed the black bean burger I had so been craving, everyone that walked in mentioned how good it looked and just wanted to know what it was.  As I explained to everyone, not very many of these meat eaters were convinced that this burger minus the meat could even compare to the real deal.  What they failed to realize is how much they were interested to find out what it was because it looked so darn good.  But, I will not hold that against them.  During this conversation it occurred to me, that maybe this should be the topic of my next blog.

The best black bean burger!!!  I have tried black bean burgers at so many different places and at this point I am convinced I have found my favorite. 

Now, sadly I will not have pictures to back up my findings so I hope my descriptions will suffice. 

Brown Bag Burger - located in North Olmsted.  I was lucky enough to not only try the black bean burger here, but was a former customer while I ate meat.  I can tell you one, this place is one of the best burger joints and the black bean burger does not fall short.  I get the burger topped with sauteed onions, mushrooms and guacamole.  It has more of a chick pea texture then black bean alone, but with the more traditional burger toppings this one is the closest to the real thing than any of the others.

Houlihan's - the one in Strongsville.  It was stale!  The waitress had the nerve to let me know she gets a lot of complaints about it and assured it was not stale.  Bottom line, it tasted moldy.  I have yet to try it again.  They have some decent things on the menu for Vegetarians, more now with a recent menu change, but do not eat the black bean burger.

Buckeye Beer Engine - located in Lakewood.  Here you can take the black bean burger that they serve and replace the classic burger for any of the creations on their menu, I liked this option.  I had the black bean southwestern burger.  Might have been a bad way to test the black bean burger however, because it was very spicy.  It was also very good and would most definitely return to try another variation of burgers offered.  The best part was the fried pickle spear served on the side.

Treehugers Cafe - located in Berea.  The burger we ordered this day was just wrong.  The texture was too much to bare. It was made with oats and a few black beans here and there.  Not a good burger, and not a place I will return to.

Winking Lizard - located all over, my favorite location the new location in Independence.  These are my favorite black bean burgers around.  The texture is chewy like a real burger, spiced to perfection, topped with onion straws and a side of salsa.  If you are feeling adventurous and would like to put a non burger to the test with the real meat, please choose this one.

Burger King - way too many locations.  Considered a veggie burger, but thought I would add into this discussion.  Ultimately, just wrong.  A friend of mine wanted burger king one day and I was hungry so had no choice but to order.  Let me just say I ate one bite and threw it away.

Morning Star Spicy Black Bean Burgers - located in the freezer section.  Amazing.  By far my favorite soy item.  They have black beans, corn and jalapenos or chillies in them for some spice.  I saute them for approximately 4 minutes and top with cheddar cheese and or sour cream.  Makes a quick and satisfying dinner.

Earth Fair Black Bean Burgers - located in the freezer section at Earth Fare.  I love Earth Fare, but these burgers are just bad.  The texture is way too soft.  They have really no flavor or spice to them.  I topped them with an overload of cheese and still had a hard time swallowing.  Reminded me of baby food.

As a vegetarian black beans are a staple in my diet as a good source of protein so I am quite happy I enjoy black bean burgers so much and that they are offered at so many places in so many varieties.  I wanted to add to this post a recipe that I have grown found of the last few weeks and mentioned to someone at work that I would post about.  It is a black bean and corn polenta piePolenta is also a new favorite ingredient of mine.  It is basically corn meal and used in place of so many starches.  In this recipe it replaces mashed potatoes.  I have renamed this meal the Vegetarians Shepherds Pie.

You take the polenta.  I use the already made and pre packaged one that you can find in the organic or pasta isle at the grocery store.  And I press it into a round pie pan until it is flattened and spread out like a pie crust.  I then saute white onion, green pepper, tomato, corn, black beans and chiles and then once blended about 3/4 a cup of cheddar cheese.  Melt and mix. Whisk one egg and 3/4 cup of sour cream and pour into the saute pan and mix.  Pour everything into the pie pan top with a hand full more of cheese and cook for 35 minutes at 375 degrees.  It is super simple, inexpensive and can be left overs for days.  I also enjoy to cut up an avocado as a garnish.

Finished project.

So in conclusion on all things black bean, try a black bean burger, as a vegetarian or meat eater you will be pleased.  If I ever went back to eating meat I am confident I would remain a black bean burger eater still because I think they are just tastier.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Deagan's Kitchen

So if you have been following along you probably noticed that I have posted about Deagan's before!  We enjoyed Sunday brunch there a few months ago and I had been dying to have dinner there ever since. 

Well not only did I get to finally make it out there, but I went two nights in a row!  It was that good.  I mentioned the atmosphere already, but the menu, geeze, there were so many things I wanted to try that one night was not enough.  Not only what is on the menu, but that the chefs enjoy creating unique dishes with ingredients on hand.  I will tell you more on that in a minute.  Bottom line I wanted to try so many things.   

Erin and I went first on Friday night.  Again, the atmosphere, the crowd and most importantly the staff are just always above excellence.  Both waitress from Friday and Saturday were so accomadating to my Vegetarian needs and Erin's Vegan needs.  Aside from that, they went out of their way to make us feel special and that no other table mattered at that minute.  For me, the food already would have tasted good to me just based upon service.  But it really was amazing.

Anyways, so Friday night I went simple and just ordered an entree.  I went with the lobster mac and cheese.
It was to die for, literally.  It was white cheddar cheese, with huge lumps of lobster meat and roasted shallots.  The petite salad on the side was also super tasty for a salad.  The dressing was sweet and the salad was dressed with just the right amount of it.  For the mac and cheese, it was one of the best mac and cheese's I have ever had.  In keeping with that, it was one of the heaviest I have had as well.  It was a great dish, but not one to be had before a night on the town.  Comfort food, for sure!!

Erin being a Vegan was strong enough to not eat the cheese nightmare I encountered, rather she had the chef whip her up something unique.  The waitress was so willing to hear Erin's likes and dislikes and then discuss them with the chef to help prepare the best thing he could with what was on hand.  They did a fantastic job achieving this.
The end result was a little bigger than a small plate size amount of quinoa with root vegtetables, I believe toped with sprouts and then drizzled with some pesto like cream.  She enjoyed every bite and it looked straight out of a Health food magazine, I loved it.

Night two.  Lisa and I went there this evening and this time we shared a few things so we could try some of the other things that were sticking out to me the night before.  
In the back we have the spicy shrimp tacos, with avocado, corn, white cheddar, and micro cilantro.  One of Lisa's favorite dishes and now mine.  Every bite was filled with flavor the shrimp was accompained by the avocado which just blended perfectly.  The micro cilantro left you with that bite in every mouth full.  I am craving this dish as I write about it.  On the left side, we tried the Vegan Strudal, it was a puff pastry filled with killbuck valley mushrooms and roasted shallots then garnished with petite mache, a green that I have never experienced before.  It was a good dish.  It was filled with flavor from a Vegan standpoint.  From the girl who had the mac and cheese the night before, it needed cheese!  Overall I recommend giving it a try for anyone who believes there is no flavor without meat. Lastly, we had the crab rangoons, also a recommendation of Lisa's.  These were no ordinary chinese food place, frozen crab rangoons.  These were stuffed from end to end with crab, the cheese was folded into the crab leaving  a complete marry of flavor in each bite.  Simply, the best bar food snack there is!  During our sampling of small plates we enjoyed a Red wine from Napa which we really liked and seemed to go well with all 3 dishes.  

I have recommened it once, I will do it a second and a third time, go to Deagan's, you will not be let down! 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Michael Symon's Lolita

Finally after discussing eating here for the last several months, my friend Hannah decided to have her birthday party here.  Of course I was excited, not only to eat here but to be around a group of people who would allow me to try their dishes as well.  I had been once before, but only for drinks during The Taste of Tremont.  It was the perfect size, the bar is right in front of you when you walk in, with the open Kitchen at the end.  Then the large open dinning room is filled with several tables, including my favorites, the ones in the corners that have curtains covering either side making it feel private and elegant.  Also, where we were lucky enough to sit, a big booth like table lining the window over looking Tremont.

Now on to the food.  I started with the Roasted Beets Starter.  After eating at Quince, beets have become one of my favorite things to eat.  This starter definitely did not let me down.  It was served with fennel, kalamata olives and feta.  Almost like a deconstructed salad, I loved it.

Lesile started with the cured meat pate, this consisted of pork, duck, foie gras and black currants.
It was also served with bread and raw carrotts, as to make it look good I guess, I mean it worked but as far as taste, Lesile was pleased.

Hannah started with something she had been looking forward to for several weeks, maybe even the main reason we went, the Roasted Bone Marrow.
Hannah seemed to very much enjoy the bone marrow.  It had a strong meat smell and a funny slimy like texture, but even the other ladies seemed to enjoy it, so for all you brave meat eaters, give this one a try!

The other set of girls order the Garlic Bruschetta.  It look and tasted great and went fast!

A few of the girls decided to give the pizzas a try for their entrees.  Lesile enjoyed the mushroom pizza.
This pizza was loaded with Killbuck Farm mushrooms, rosemary, garlic, Ohio swiss, and toped with arugula.  It was big, smelled great and tasted fantastic.  Even more perfect was the fact that she had left overs because it was so big.  That is my favorite way to eat a pizza, because it is almost always better the next day.  I will go back for this pizza any day.

Another one of the girls had the Soppressata pizza.
Tomato sauce, spicy salami, ricotta, and basil made this pizza sound desirable to any one that eats meat, I was sad I could not take a bite of this one! 

The pizzas were a huge hit this evening as Maire also ordered pizza.  Keeping with her simple yet fantastic taste she stuck with a margherita style pizza.  Which was sure to please.

Renee ordered the Porcini Crusted Sirloin.  Again, this was another entree this evening that I was craving to take a bite of.  Based upon description, presentation and smell.  This dish was so outstanding it inspired Renee to photograph of it.  That made me proud. 

Michael Symons's menu is not quite designed for a Vegetarian, I respect this, but had it not been for the fish of the evening I would have been stuck eating a plethora of side dishes.  The special was a walley atop a bed of pureed cauliflower, with pickled cauliflower, arugula and sliced almonds.
 The pickeld cauliflower was not a fav of mine, but the puree was perfect, as well was the fish and all the flavors that surrounded the fish. 

Hannah's entree was also one of the specials this evening.  Now, this does not happen often, but the full description of this dish has slipped my mind.  The level of creativty of this dish went above what I have experienced yet in my journey.  Hannah enjoyed the dish, again leaving with left overs which were just as good the second day.  The dish reminded me somewhat of a beef wellington in apperance, but what would be puff pastry on this dish was some sort of animal fat.  Then stuffed inside was a thyme or rosemary flavored sausage.  In most cases I pay close attention to what my meat eaters are enjoying, I just missed it on this one. 

Each of the entrees included a side dish.  It was hard to only pick two, because in this category I had several choices.  We had been craving the fried brussel sprouts since we looked at the menu.  The brussel sprouts were pan fried with anchovies, capers and walnuts. 
These were amazing.  I could have eaten this as my entire dinner.  They were crispy yet remained soft on the inside and the flavors of all of the other ingredients cooked around them married wonderfully.

The other side dish we got was the soft polenta with mascarpone and parmesan.
I related the taste of the polenta to that of grits.  It was creamy, cheesy and packed with flavor.  I had some to take home and was just as good that morning and I have craved it ever since.  It's amazing that something so simple left me so satisfied. 

Lastly, as much as we all wanted dessert, we just tasted Hannah's birthday Pumpkin Panna Cotta.
This was a perfect dessert, because it paired sweet and salty, by being toped with pumpkin seeds.  I also love almost anything pumpkin so that helped.  It was a yummy dessert that we all agreed on.

In conclusion, check out Lolita's in Tremont.  Of course, I just love Tremont and if for nothing else you should stop in for a drink, while there peak at the menu and get a feel for the ambiance.  The staff were friendly and knowledgeable about the menu, and the bartenders were efficient.  They were also extra attentive as I felt I never wanted for anything, it was right there as I needed it.  
Michael Symon and his menu is inspiring, if I ever decide to eat meat again, Lolita or his other Cleveland restaurant Lola, will be the first place I go.   

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Quince Restaurant

Located in historic Olmsted Falls known as Grand Pacific Junction, you will find Quince! 

Of course if you have not been to this area I highly recommend it.  It really makes you feel like you are in another time period, the houses and store fronts are old and very beautiful, there are little antique shops, tea and ice cream places and unique restaurants.  Also located within walking distance, the Metroparks, which surround the area with trees, streams of water and walking trails.  The parks alone are worth the trip, although why wouldn't you stop for something to eat afterwards?

Walking past the store front of Quince you would never assume that the menu inside was so stylish.  Even more exciting, the fact that the menu changes with season, which is not expected of most places.  When you step inside, you will feel like you are stepping into Grandmas dinning room, with big family style dark wood tables, hard wood floors, walls covered in little Italian chefs decorations and old celling fans.  At first I was thrown off.  The decoration, though comfortable, does not match the updated menu.  The crowd, definitely local, may not be ready for a change, but if updated could open the door to some younger and larger business.  Also, the concern of not offering a bar menu concerned me at first, but then I was relieved to see that they offered a decent size wine menu as well as some bottled beers.

Now for the menu, everything on the menu was in season.  It was a good size for always changing, very Vegetarian friendly, with 5 seafood specials that made your mouth water as they were explained by the knowledgeable and polite server.

I started with the fall squash bisque, apple fennel slaw and apple tempura chips.

The soup was sweet and creamy, it had small peices of squash that I would catch with every other bite and it just made me want more.  The apple chips were outstanding.  It reminded me of refined fair food, "I could have ordered a pound of them to go!" The apple fennel slaw was good, very fresh, a good side dish for Thanksgiving dinner.

Hannah started with the composed chopped salad

The salad consisted of cauliflower, bacon, lentils, pear, gorgonzola on a bed of spinach with a roasted onion sweet and sour vinaigrette.  She seemed to enjoy this, description alone sounds fantastic and full of flavor.  The dressing for this salad was only one of the several unique dressing combos that they offered that were above and beyond your basic Italian or ranch.

Lesile started with the beets, beets, beets app. 

This is one of the most intriguing starters that I have come across.  For only $8 dollars you get to experience beets in 4 different ways.  First the beet borscht, a cold beet soup, with a tarragon bite at the end.  Yummy!  Next the honey glazed beet doughnut, which was similar in taste to a glazed doughnut with the earthy end of the beet and the chew similar to a protein bar.  I enjoyed the taste, it fit well into my need to experience food in a new form.  Then we tried the pickled beet with the apple pear basil salad.  Again, a yummy creation.  Last, was the roasted beet with the cinnamon aioli apple slaw, which again really entertained my taste buds.  The dish as a whole really worked and left us talking about it in rounds to come. 

Next I ordered another starter, the sweet potato pierogi

This was a fantastic dish.  The pierogi was filled with fresh sweet potato, toped with caramalized carrots and parsnips, that sat on top of a pear and apple puree and paired with an herbed riccota.  The dish worked deliciously as one peice.  Separately the puree was similar to a modern, sexy applesauce.
Both of the dishes I had, with the cream and potato were very heavy, so the two starters left me satisfied, as well as my glass of pinot that married well with my dinner. 

Hannah ordered the pork bolognese for her entree

We read somewhere that the entrees were very big, and this was no let down in that area.  The dish was allspice roasted pork, sweet and sour cabbage, pears, sweet potato gnocchi, and a sherry ricotta cream.  She said that the pork was seriously tender and the gnocchi was pleasing.  We believe it was toped with shaved squash but not sure that we ever concluded that this was true.  Overall, she enjoyed her entree.

Lesile ordered a shrimp special as her entree

This dish consisted of blackened shrimp atop apple fritters surrounded by cranberries and two maybe three lovely sauces that we could not confirm origin of, but complemented the dish well.  As sad as I am to say, based upon my overall feeling of the night, the shrimp really failed.  It was overcooked, but worse than that the fishy after taste was so over powering it was hard to swallow.  The fritters underneath paired with the sauce and cranberries really worked.  Sort of wish the dish all fritters and no shrimp at that point.  

We made our way through the menu with the idea of dessert completing the meal.  We listened to the list of specials that had lots of chocolate and again paired with seasonal options.  We even looked around the room to see the presentation of the last course, looking just as stunning as the others.  But, sadly we did pass, as we were entertaining the idea of dessert consisting of a holiday beverage at another spot instead.  

I would of course recommend this restaurant to those that are willing to think outside of the box, and I will return as I see the unveiling of the next seasons menu!  

As for our dessert we stoped up the street for a new restaurant to the area, Taqueria Junction, formaly known as Agave from Crocker Park.  The bartender Randy, or as he wanted to be called Animal, was very hospitable.  We started with newly taped Great Lakes Christmas Ale with a cinnamon sugar rim.

Then as we were enjoying our Christmas Ale, Animal encouraged us to try The Explosive Elf, a shot created using Christmas Ale, Kahlua as well as a few other liquors. 

Other than throwing it back, we sipped to experience the flavors of this exciting holiday shot, now one of my favorites!  After the shot, we walked down the road to explore another gem in the area, to find out it was closed.  So we had no choice but to take a trip right back to Taqueria for our Explosive Elf night cap.  

The night was a success, we are now planning Taste of Olmsted Falls 2.  We will see you there!