Shaya, New Orleans LA



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warm pita with olive oil and za’atar

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baba ganoush – creamy eggplant, green garlic, olive oil

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tershi – pumpkin spread with crispy garlic and chili oil

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ikra – paddlefish caviar spread with shallots

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hummus – lamb ragú, crispy chickpeas

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foie gras – rose tahini, carob molasses, toasted challah

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crispy halloumi – kohlrabi, persimmon preserve, hazelnuts, carob molasses

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milk and honey – labneh cheesecake, mixed nut granola, burnt honey ice cream

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warm chocolate babka – poppy seeds and halva ice cream

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apple upside-down cake – sweet potatoes, pistachios, sweet cream


Owned by Alon Shaya and a best new restaurant nominee in countless publications during 2015, Shaya sees the Chef departing Domenica to take on modern Israeli cuisine in an upscale, Magazine Street environment, reservations with less than 2-weeks notice almost an impossibility since the restaurant opened its doors.

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Stylish and lengthy, a small hostess podium up front while a patio offers al fresco dining behind a stone oven turning out hot Pita Bread in back, it was just past the 4pm transition from lunch to dinner that a seat at the full-service counter reserved for walk-ins was sat down at, the bartender proving both friendly and efficient with good recommendations, though at times the length of the bar and number of drink orders made simple duties such as refilling water or clearing plates feel like a bit of a task.


Minimalist in its design with unnecessary music playing soft enough that it can thankfully be ignored, Shaya’s menu embraces small plates much like many Middle Eastern restaurants, some of them essentially just a few bites with others meant for sharing, a $15 “for the table” trio comprised of Babaganoush, Ikra and Garlicky Pumpkin all great for slathering on the pillowy charred Bread pockets, as was the complimentary Za’atar with toasty Sesame Seeds and the aromatics of Sumac.


One of those menus where everything sounds good, the best bet being to arrive with a group – or at least to come hungry – Hummus at Shaya is served traditionally with Tahini or topped in five other configurations, the version topped with Lamb Ragu and crisp Chickpeas highly recommended by the bartender-come-server and absolutely delicious whether eaten by itself or when scooped onto a second round of piping-hot Pita.

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Not shying away from luxury ingredients or lofty prices, the tiny slice of Foie Gras certainly not worth $20 by way of its size, but making up for quantity with quality, the addition of Molasses to both it and crispy blocks of Cheese presented beneath ribbons of Kohlrabi was an inspired choice that saw both plates come across sweetened without being ‘sugary,’ the same to be said for a trio of $9 desserts from which the Upsidedown cake ate something like Sticky Toffee pudding while the Chocolate-swirled Babka was actually bitter at some points, the Labneh Cheesecake anything but traditional, and all the better for it as the creamy cylinder found balance in a quenelle of ice cream that tasted like Bit-o-Honey Candy atop a bed of crunchy Granola.

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Shaya Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Bread Basket, Dessert, Foie, Foie Gras, Food, Ice Cream, Louisiana, New Orleans, Vacation

See-Saw Pretzel Shoppe, Cleveland OH


SeeSaw Pretzel Shoppe

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Roasted Ohio Garlic & Parmesan Bretzel with Pimento Cheese

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Cinnamon Toast Bretzel with Maple Icing


Continuing a trend that has seen gourmet dining options populating arenas and ballparks from Citi Field to Staples Center, Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland joined FirstEnergy Stadium in tapping local Beard Award Winner Jonathon Sawyer to upgrade their food options, SeeSaw Pretzel Shoppe on the lower level turning the typical doughy boxed stuff into a treat worth shelling out a few more dollars for.


Having seen the increasing cost of sports tickets mirrored by food inside, a recent trip to the Superdome featuring $8 Domestic Beers and $6 Hot Dogs that would cost less than a sixth at any local convenience store, those approaching SeeSaw will note that little but the food differs from the confines of more typical lower-bowl snack shops, the servers friendly in the expedited manner that their job calls for as the hand-formed twists are visibly being made in the background, a plain going for $6.50 with upgraded options adding a buck.


Deciding to go one sweet and one savory, the $15 bill steep but not out of line in the setting of a $5 SUPERPRETZEL down the way, first bites of the Roasted Ohio Garlic & Parmesan Bretzel showed a crispy crust of baked Cheese overlying a dense yet pillowy base loaded garlic, the sidecar of Pimento Sauce made at nearby Greenhouse Tavern giving the composition a little more kick with a mind towards enhancing, rather than overwhelming the dough’s natural flavors.

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Equally excited for taste two, the addition of Sugar and Cinnamon found both within and atop the weighty golden braid, fans of Aunt Annies or even Cinnabon are encouraged to stop by SeeSaw for the Cinnamon Toast Bretzel, the texture both crunchy and soft without coming across too buttery – that effect left to the thin yet sweet Maple Icing in a cup.


Posted in Cleveland, Dessert, Food, Ohio, See-Saw Pretzel Shoppe, SeeSaw Pretzel Shoppe, Vacation

noodlecat, Cleveland OH



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Housemade Ramen Pork Miso – Roasted Pork, Crispy Garlic, Sesame, Scallion, 6-Minute Egg

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Ohio Udon Crispy Beef Short Rib – Pork Dashi Broth, Kimchi, Sweet and Sour Bone-In Ohio Short Rib

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Fresh Bacon Bun – Sugar Cured, Lightly Smoked and Roasted Ohio Pork Belly with BBQ / J-Fried Chicken Bun – Naturally Raised Amish Chicken, Sweet and Spicy Power Ketchup / Ohio Beef Burger Bun – Ketchup and Miso / Tempura Lake Fish Bun – Fresh Lake Erie Fish, Lettuce and Miso Sauce


More than a little impressed by Trentina, an average visit to Greenhouse Tavern too far in the past to cause any concern about Jonathon Sawyer’s other recent ventures, it was admittedly with skepticism about Ramen in general that I sat down at noodlecat prior to the Cavs World Championship banner raising ceremonies, the trendy spot on Euclid Avenue jammed-packed with World Series Game 1 also going on that evening, which may partially explain service that was an unmitigated disaster.


A long and narrow space across from The Arcade and not too far from 4th Street, entry to noodlecat sees diners first in a foyer with magazines and to-go sheets before passing a second set of doors to the hostess podium where ordering sheets and pencils await, a few tiny two-tops still unoccupied, though thoroughly uncomfortable with metal stools.


Left without water, service or even a semblance of acknowledgement for nearly ten minutes, a man who seemed to be a busser eventually flagged down and handed the check-boxed order, it was beneath the dull roar of a full house and restaurant-standard Rock Music that another lengthy wait passed before a jug of Water arrived, all three plates fast to follow and immediately making the table overcrowded.


Happy to see that Sawyer had taken it upon himself to challenge my primary complaint with Ramen, the typical package noodles offered but only beneath housemade Ramen and Udon on the menu, it was in two large bowls that my appetite was invested, the bowls no more expensive than those offered in many U.S. Chinatowns despite the Chef’s Beard Award winning credentials and his well-known fondness for locally-sourced, organic ingredients.


Tasting a few Bao while the steaming soups cooled, the pillowy Steam Buns par for the course with a quartet of toppings, the Beef Burger unfortunately came across as an overcooked slider topped in non-traditional condiments including Miso, the Pork Belly and Fried Chicken both far more tasty while the fried local Fish was a flashback to days on Lake Erie with my grandparents during childhood.


Moving on to the main event(s,) medium-springy Housemade Ramen ordered in creamy Pork Miso topped in fried Garlic and Scallions with Sesame and a sous-vide egg alongside thick Udon with bone-in Short Ribs slowly dissolving in Dashi modestly spiced by Kimchi, those skeptical of a Midwesterner making Asian Noodles will be happy to know that although non-traditional both bowls were complex and boldly flavored with a clean finish, a lot of soup left over at the end of the meal when it would have almost been easier to walk out without paying than to flag down a server for a bill.

Noodlecat Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Cleveland, Food, noodlecat, Ohio, Pork, Vacation

Sweet Moses Soda Fountain & Treat Shop, Cleveland OH


Sweet Moses Soda Fountain & Treat Shop


Sample – Butter Pecan

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Bar

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The Bob Feller Sundae – Salted French Caramel Ice Cream, Homemade Caramel Corn, Hot Fudge, Spanish Peanuts, Whipped Cream and a Cherry

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Located well outside the downtown area, a Detroit Avenue location putting the storefront near Gypsy Beans & Bakery in the slowly evolving Arts District, Sweet Moses Soda Fountain & Treat Shop has received regional acclaim by way of its oldschool approach to one of The Buckeye State’s many obsessions – homemade Ice Cream along with several other styles of sweets and confections.

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A sizable space focused on tradition, nearly everything housemade including copper kettle Candies and slow-churned Ice Cream, those fortunate enough to visit Sweet Moses are immediately transported to a time long past, those over forty left to reminisce of the “good ol’ days” while Millennials have a chance to see something rarely seen anywhere in the Modern era.

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Featuring traditional Phosphates and Sodas, retro Bar Stools at a counter joining more comfortable tables in one of two rooms, servers behave far more like those of the 1950’s might have than those at hip and trendy Ice Cream Shops, a sample of Butter Pecan followed by seasonal Pumpkin Spice each showing a smooth base beneath bold, not overly-sweetened flavor.


Making everything small batch, the Fudge and Chocolates admittedly quite tempting, there was simply no way to pass on the Sundae named #1 by investigators, a tribute to the late Indian’s Right Hander featuring fresh Caramel Corn atop Salted French Caramel Ice Cream with Hot Fudge and Spanish Peanuts, everything from the textures to sweet and salty balance on-point at a bargain basement price of just $7.00, an equally tasty Chocolate Chip Cookie Bar saved for later offering up crispy edges and a thick, soft center.

Sweet Moses Soda Fountain & Treat Shop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Cleveland, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Ohio, Sweet Moses, Sweet Moses Soda Fountain, Sweet Moses Soda Fountain & Treat Shop, Vacation

Crust, Cleveland OH



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1-Lb Slice with Housemade Meatball

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Mushroom Ricotta Gnocchi – Mixed Mushrooms, Fresh Rosemary, Garlic, White Truffle Oil, Parmesan Cream Sauce

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Another locally-owned favorite in trendy Tremont, Crust has made a name for itself amongst Clevelanders looking for Pizza a very *Big* way, the small shop on Kenilworth Avenue filling up both patrons and it’s counter with oversized slices – an average of one pound each even before toppings are added.


Admittedly divey from the outside, an interior of hightops plus a wall-based menu and cold-cases not particularly eye catching either, Crust nonetheless adheres to the strict standards of a scratch kitchen by hand making all Breads and Pastas in-house while sourcing local, regional ingredients as possible, nothing encountered in house straight from a box or a bag with Dough given time to ferment as the team visibly chops other fresh ingredients.


More than fairly priced for the portion size and product quality, solos slightly limited simply as a result of limited stomach capacity, it was after chuckling at three enormous pies that an order was placed with a young lady at the counter, one pre-made slice topped with slices of an enormous meatball before being placed in a warming oven.


A total of perhaps six minutes passed between order and delivery, the substantial slice now hot and melty with just a touch of char imbued in the crunchy crust, suffice it to say that Crust is not simply a ‘shock and awe’ spot hoping to hit a homerun with large portions, the flavor was actually better than much of what can be found across America as the zesty sauce is unsweetened and lightly acidic beneath creamy Mozzarella – that same word entirely appropriate when describing a bubbling hot bowl of Potato Dumplings and tender Mushrooms taking a bath in Parmesan that tastes faintly of Truffle Oil and much more robustly of Rosemary and roasted Garlic.


Crust Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Cleveland, Crust, Food, Gnocchi, Italian, Ohio, Pizza, Pork, Truffle, Truffles, Vacation

Presti’s Bakery, Cleveland OH


Presti’s Bakery

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Sausage and Pepperoni Pizza

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Amaretto Lobster Tail

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Lemon Biscotti, Slivered Almond Cookie, Pignoli, Nut Horn, Turtle Cookie, Helen’s Date Nut Bar, Raspberry Thumbprint


Located at 12101 Mayfield Road, just a few hundred yards from Corbo’s and the rest of Cleveland’s Little Italy, Presti’s Bakery has long been a favorite of neighbors, tourists and Case Western Reserve University students, the family-run space originally founded in 1903 most certainly having withstood tough times, yet still doing great business.


Sizable in its selections as well as its seating options, a lack of the latter admittedly a problem at its nearby competitor, entry to Presti’s sees diners confronted by nearly one hundred selections both sweet and savory, everything from Pizza and Pasta served as early as 6am with Pastries rolling out all day to replete diminishing favorites.


Using an old-school ticketing system, many diners unaware and thus delayed in placing their order at the counter as they are redirected to the red device on a poll, it was after a bit of perusal that most composed an order by way of ever-patient servers, a total of eleven pieces comprised mostly of cookies delivered in boxes and paper trays at the end of a $16 tip and tax inclusive assortment.

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Approaching 10:30am, essentially lunch hour taking the day’s plan as a whole, dining began with a flimsy slice of square Pizza that strongly resembled something from a Highschool cafeteria, even after rewarming, all but a few bites discarded before progressing quickly to the pre-filled Cannoli, the Mascarpone filling smooth and sweet, but the shell already besieged by sogginess.


Happy to again see Sfogliatelle, small bits of Fruit giving this iteration a leg up on Corbo’s despite a shell that was not quite as springy and shattering, best bites of the meal were found in the lightly Almond scented Lobster Tail piped full of Cream filling, the Date Bar and Pine Nut Pignoli also highly praiseworthy while the Nut Horn and Slivered Almond Cookie each begged for something more than water to combat a texture that was more dry and stale than nutty and crumbly.


Presti's Bakery & Café Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Breakfast, Cleveland, Dessert, Food, Ohio, Pizza, Pork, Presti's, Presti's Bakery, Vacation

Luna Bakery & Cafe, Cleveland OH


Luna Bakery & Cafe

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Sticky Bun Bread Pudding

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Almond Croissant

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Cinnamon Roll

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Salty Caramel Macaron, Pumpkin Spice Macaron

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Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie, Ginger Chewie


Progressing down Fairmount Boulevard from On The Rise to Luna Bakery & Cafe, another Cleveland Heights Restaurant expanding on the quick, casual concept by adding Crepes, Burritos and Egg dishes to a menu of Sandwiches and Baked Goods, suffice it to say that the Eastern Suburbs are not for lack in terms of independently owned Artisan dining options.


Larger in floor-plan than the competition, the choices also more plentiful though slightly inconvenient in their low presentation along a waist-height counter where patrons are prone to stand while placing an order, it was as I waited in line that I slowly perused some two-dozen choices, the eventual selection of seven a combination of modest highs and near-misses.


Slightly less expensive than On The Rise with service just as busy and slightly more pleasant, it was with items unbagged that seats were found in a recessed dining area of white brick and wood, first bites of the Sticky Bun Bread Pudding making one wish in-house warming was an option, the chilled slab well flavored but the texture unfortunately a bit gelatinous below the lightly browned exterior ring.


Finding a Cinnamon Roll much more pleasant, the wispy curl well imbued with butter and spicy aromatics beneath a sugary shellac in place of Frosting, the Almond Croissant unfortunately took a step backward by coming across doughy and minimally filled, a far cry from the Parisian quality served at Bloom on The Square or On The Rise Artisan Bakery.


Doing better with their Macarons, the shells dainty and crackling with a good portion and texture to the fillings, Luna Bakery & Café also excels in terms of their more American Cookie choices, the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip featuring a thick, soft center while the Molasses-soaked Ginger Chewie certainly lived up to its name with bold aromatics and a sticky, melting consistency.

Luna Bakery Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Bread Pudding, Breakfast, Cleveland, Croissant, Dessert, Food, Luna Bakery, Luna Bakery & Cafe, Luna Bakery and Cafe, Macaron, Macaroon, Ohio, Vacation

On The Rise Artisan Breads, Cleveland OH


On The Rise Artisan Breads

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Almond Croissant

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Pear Frangipane Tart

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Apricot Croissant

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Sticky Bun with Nuts

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Oatmeal Raisin Cookie / Jennifer Cookie – Chocolate Chips, Toasted Pecans, Pulverized Oats, Shaved Chocolate


Located on Fairmount Boulevard and shockingly well attended considering an eight o’clock arrival on Tuesday, On The Rise Artisan Breads has quickly made a name for itself as one of Northeast Ohio’s go-to spots for Baked Goods, Soups and Sandwiches, the team’s passion for local products and skilled craftsmanship highly evident in each of their creations.


Technically a part of Cleveland Heights, the wealthy suburb allowing for prices necessary to make products the right way, On The Rise features a variety of seating options sprawling left and front of the open kitchen and glass cases, the list of temptations numbering about twenty during this visit and said to change frequently throughout the week as well as the season.


Busy but pleasant in service, Coffee service near a hallway en route to the back and bathrooms, it was with seven items bagged or plated that seating was secured for pictures and some tasting, a child and his father enjoying story time over Almond Croissants to the right as the youngster played with toys kept in the restaurant, first bites of that same pastry sending golden shards skyward as layers of lamination gave way to pure nut filling.

Finding the Apricot Jam Croissant every bit as compelling as the more tradition Almond version, no sog at all found amidst the Butter-rich core, Bostock unfortunately came across far drier than those tasted overseas or at Tartine in San Francisco – the course immediately back on track as the Sticky Bun unraveled in elegantly caramelized ribbons beneath Cinnamon Roasted Walnuts.


Unable to resist a good Cookie, the Oatmeal Raisin sweeter than many but still excellent with a center as soft as a bowl full of cooked Oats, the signature “Jennifer Cookie” is perhaps even more compelling as Chocolate Chips and Pecans dial up the toothsome circle’s texture, a Pear Frangipane Tart rounding out the morning with more than half of the delicious Almond base and soft Fruit proving just as tasty several hours later.

On the Rise Artisan Breads Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Breakfast, Cleveland, Croissant, Dessert, Food, Ohio, On The Rise, On The Rise Artisan, On The Rise Artisan Breads, Vacation

Dante, Cleveland OH




Iced Tea

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Olive, White, Whole Wheat Bread with Paprika Hummus

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Charcuterie – Country Terrine, Mortadella, Duck Confit, Chicken Liver Mousse, Pork Prosciutto, House Made Slim Jim, Lamb Prosciutto, Duck Prosciutto, Lamb Sausage, Spicy Beef Sausage, Finocchiona, Pickles, Raisin Tomato Jam, Moustarda, Crackers

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Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras – Apple Pie ‘ala mode’

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Linguine alla Carbonara – Poached Egg, Pancetta, Truffle Oil

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Pappardelle Bolognese – Ragu of Beef, Veal, Pork

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Beet Fettucine – Goat Cheese Crema, Toasted Walnut

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Polenta – Maple Glazed Pork Belly, Pumpkin, Sage

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Carnaroli Rice – Butternut Squash, Mint, Oranges / Black Forbidden Rice – Candied Ginger, Shiitake, Macadamia / Red Bhutanese Rice – Red Wine, Red Apples, Red Onions

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Spiced Pumpkin Nutella Parfait – Candied Hazelnuts, Rice Krispie Treats, Nutella Cream / Apple Torte with Butterscotch Buttercream – Fried Pecans, Cider Sauce, Apple Vanilla Ice Cream / Pistachio Mousse Tartlet – Orange Curd, Pistachio Biscotti, White Chocolate Orange Sherbet


One of Cleveland’s gastronomic old-guard, a modern-Italian and Mediterranean eatery housed in a former Bank in Tremont, Dante had long been a place worthy of consideration for a special event in Northeast Ohio, the recent launch of a 21-course tasting raising eyebrows though the daily a la carte menu had long offered plenty of room for variety with value.


Owned by Chef Dante Boccuzzi, his collection of restaurants now bolstered by the casual Dante Next Door and a Cleveland-based Pizzeria in addition to spaces in cities further East, entry to Dante sees diners met by a hostess podium lined with candy beneath low lighting, the ceilings reaching skyward as Motown plays lowly and vibrant paintings decorate the walls.


Seated and greeted by a young female server, the restaurant menu accurate to that online with the addition of a few daily specials, it was only after substantial discussion of plates and portion sizes that decisions were collected, a dozen plates served in five courses beginning with three housemade Breads and piquant orange Hummus.


Making everything from Bread, Pasta and Desserts to Charcuterie in house, those favoring a good board would be foolhardy to pass on Boccuzzi’s $18 platter serving no less than eleven Meat selections in addition to Pickles, Jams and Crackers, both Lamb selections as well as the Terrine and Confit particularly impressive, and by itself more than enough to serve as a proper meal.


Intrigued by the description of Foie Gras ‘ala mode,’ a seared Steak proving to be exactly that when plated next to an unsweetened apple pie topped in a slowly melting Vanilla sphere that added a mellow top note to each bite, course three presented a trio of pasta “tastes” alongside a creamy mound of Cornmeal, the Linguine alla Carbonara unfortunately a touch undersalted while the Beet Fettuccine and ribbons of Pappardelle were each exemplary beneath their rich Sauces.


Attempting to show some restraint by sending back part of the Mascarpone Polenta after finishing more than half, in addition to the roasted Pumpkin and Pork Belly, course four was clearly more than was expected from $6 Risotto tasting portions, the all-red Bhutaneese, Wine, Onions and Apples a pleasant shock to the senses by way of its focus on acid while the Carnaroli and Black Forbidden Rice were both appropriately textured, though slightly overwhelmed by the addition of poignant herbal ingredients.


Happy to see a dessert tasting also offered, essentially three half-portions from the menu at a cost of $18, one would be strained to fault any aspect of the complex Pumpkin Parfait or forgivingly light Pistachio Mousse with Orange Curd and Sherbet, the Apple Torte with Butterscotch nonetheless an overwhelming favorite as fried Pecans were melded to the cake by way of Ice Cream, dehydrated Fruit Chips and sweet Cider Sauce.



Dante Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Bread Basket, Cleveland, Dante, Dessert, Foie Gras, Food, Ice Cream, Italian, Ohio, Pork, Truffle, Vacation

Citizen Pie, Cleveland OH


Citizen Pie

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Margherita – Mozzarella, Basil, Crushed Tomatoes, Olive Oil

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Tartufo – Frozen Dark Chocolate with Rum, Amarena Cherry


Soon expanding its Neapolitan concept to a second store, Citizen Pie has quickly made its name amongst Clevelanders as *the* place for artisan Pizza despite a somewhat out-of-the-way location at 15710 Waterloo Road, the limited menu in no way indicative of a lack of craftsmanship, though lessons in customer service could certainly do the youthful staff some good.


Quick-fire in its concept, a single communal table and bar offered for dining in after orders are placed at the counter up front, it was to a disinterested young man that a few questions were directed before making a selection, a patron apparently seen as a distraction to conversation with his beanie-clad friends.


Told that they ‘don’t do’ water by the glass, a seat thus taken with nothing to drink, it was in brisk motions that dough was stretched, topped and placed in the oven, a few turns and twists seeing the piping-hot pie soon presented tableside with plenty of blisters and a great deal of yeastiness, the sauce pure and unsweetened with a center that was droopy but not ‘wet.’


Deciding to order dessert, the pre-made Tartufo tiny but rich with Cocoa and Rum, it was once again in an attempt to engage the staff that inquisition was made about the wood imparting crusts with such smoke and flexibility, the answer “I dunno man, it’s a blend I guess,” again making one question the team’s passion, though a later message from the owner via Social Media assured me that such behavior was not what Citizen Pie stands for, and that it would be addressed.


Citizen Pie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Citizen Pie, Cleveland, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Ohio, Pizza, Vacation

Pour, Cleveland OH




Single Origin Pour Over


A quick stop while downtown, Pour is one of those hip and stylish Coffee Shops that seems to be entirely based on the concept of being seen or acting cool, the baristas abrupt and generally treating customers as an inconvenience while slinging cups of Beans reoasted elsewhere, the quality certainly superior to Starbucks but not on par with Duck + Rabbit Coffee or the shops which their selections are bought from.

Pour Cleveland Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Cleveland, Coffee, Ohio, Pour, Vacation

Mabel’s BBQ, Cleveland OH


Mabel’s BBQ

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Brisket, Pork Belly, Burnt Ends with Cleveland Pickles and Cleveland Kraut


Cracklin’ – Salt and Vinegar & Lawson’s Chip Dip


J.W.Potatoes – Mabel’s Style with Scallions and Vinegar

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Banana Pudding – Nilla Wafers

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Key Lime Pudding – Graham Crackers and Coconut Cream


Attempting to make “Cleveland-Style Barbeque” a thing, Mabel’s BBQ sees Celebrity Chef Michael Symon taking time away from television to serve up some spicy sides and slow-cooked meats in half-pound portion, the a la carte only menu problematic for solos or small groups while the price point is almost an insult the city from which it comes from.


Located on trendy East 4th Street, the combination of an upcoming World Series and Cavaliers Banner raising making Northeast Ohio the current center of the Sports World, it was shortly after opening that entry was made to the Bi-level space with a billboard menu and industrial flourishes, the space sallow to fill over the course of an hour with Business Suits prone to order Lean over Fatty Brisket.


Not doubting Symon’s skills in the kitchen, Lola a modest disappointment but the food at Detroit-based Roast well made with great ingredients, Mabel’s sees the Chef and his team utilizing infrequently seen Eastern European influences in their dry-rub while offering only two Barbeque Sauces, one a tangy Mustard-base paying homage to the Ballpark with another presented as the Chef’s personal favorite entitled “Secret Aardvark.”


Opting for two half-pound servings of meat, no combination plates available in a very obvious attempt to maximize profits, a $7 pile of Pig Skins was perhaps one of the most ridiculous upcharges in the history of Barbeque considering they are given away freely in the Carolinas and Texas, the ‘signature’ side oddly cribbed straight from Jonathan Waxman with the addition of a touch of Vinegar and Scallions.


Ordering Brisket fatty, the smoke-ring deep and the meat meltingly tender with a good bit of char on the crust, Pork Belly unfortunately proved far too dry to be enjoyed without a liberal application of the sauces, the majority of it still left on the steel tray as dessert was ordered, the Banana Pudding clearly scratch-made and far lighter in sugar than many while the Key Lime flavor was smooth and tangy, a pleasant end despite its $6 cost contributing to an all-in bill after tax and tip just shy of $65.

Mabel's BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Bread Basket, Cleveland, Dessert, Food, Mabel's Barbecue, Mabel's Barbeque, Mabel’s BBQ, Ohio, Pork, Vacation

Bloom Bakery at Public Square, Cleveland OH


Bloom Bakery at Public Square


Granola Bar and Brownie Sample

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Almond Croissant

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Cinnamon Roll

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Carrot Cake

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Peanut Butter and Jelly Beignet

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Oatmeal Raisin Cookie


Located in Downtown Cleveland, the monument-centered traffic circle just outside its doors and to the right, Bloom Bakery at Public Square is not just an Artisan Café built to serve the city’s business denizens, but also a social experiment – the non-profit “Towards Employment” and Chef Maurice Chaplais combing the idea of a restaurant with the ideals of teaching people job skills that can lead to career advancement.

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Located in a large office building adjacent The Arcade, street entry from Euclid complimented by an indoor storefront accessed from East Roadway, patrons entering Bloom Bakery are quickly greeted by several cheery faces, a half-dozen or so daily breads offered in whole or as part of a sandwich while tempting baked goods line a pair of glass cases.


Offering samples of a Granola Bar in the morning, some small bites of a fudgy Brownie put out as the lunchtime crowd lined up later, it was with five items that a mid-morning snack was crafted, first bites of the Oatmeal Raisin Cookie seeing a pudding-soft center surrounded by crisp edges before taking a taste of the Cream Cheese Frosted Carrot Cake, the majority of a moist and aromatic wedge saved for further indulgence later that night.


Focusing now on items best consumed fresh, the Weekly Special Beignet unfortunately a bit doughy despite good Peanut Butter and Jelly filling, better bites were found in two laminated options, the Almond Croissant featuring yawning caverns around a core of pureed Nuts and no Frangipane while the Cinnamon Roll was a tightly wound coil of perfection, the exterior literally crackling to the tooth while the interior was soft and butter-soaked with a whole lot of Cinnamon.


Posted in Bloom, Bloom Bakery, Bloom Bakery at Public Square, Breakfast, Cleveland, Croissant, Dessert, Food, Ohio, Vacation

Lucky’s Café, Cleveland OH


Lucky’s Café

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Oatmeal Raisin Cookie, Ginger Chewie

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Blueberry Corn Muffin

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Pumpkin Brioche Bread Pudding with Currants

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Ohio Sour Cream Apple Pie with Vanilla Oat Crumb

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Ohio Sweet Potato Pie with Toasted Meringue

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Salted Caramel Brownie

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Tucked away on Starkweather Avenue in Tremont, the space itself long and shotgun straight with a nextdoor garden patio built for al fresco dining when the weather is right, Lucky’s Café offers a limited menu beginning at nine o’clock in the morning daily, the more intriguing aspect of the restaurant being a collection of baked goods sold for dining-in, or to-go from a counter up front.


Focused on local sourcing and scratch production, daily specials often presenting the market’s best ingredients both in the dining room and from the glass cases up front, it was just past 8am on Monmday that I entered the empty space to peruse the options, the start of breakfast not to begin for an hour and thus seeing seven items ordered in two courses, the staff nice enough to rewarm as appropriate, though the lack of a Microwave means this entails a short wait.


Apparently visited by Guy Fieri in 2009, his suggestions offered boith online and in-store, it was at a small table near the kitchen that I sat to enjoy the selections, a few patrons coming and going for Coffee or Office orders, free WiFi providing entertainment as bites of two cookies proved well-crafted while the Blueberry Cornbread was unfortunately far too mealy to eat.


Receiving hot Bread Pudding after approximately ten minutes, the hefty wedge of Pumpkin Brioche punctuated with dried Currants amidst Custard-soaked cubes beneath a toasty darkened top, suffice it to say that the thinly-sliced Sour Cream Apple Pie is another selection worth the wait for warming, a Salted Caramel Brownie presented more like a flourless Cake Slice topped in Nuts and Icing while the Sweet Potato Pie rivals the best in the business with a lightly sweetened base juxtaposing the nearly weightless Meringue topping.


Lucky's Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Bread Pudding, Breakfast, Cleveland, Cornbread, Dessert, Food, Lucky’s Café, Ohio, Vacation

Melt Bar + Grilled, Independence OH


Melt Bar + Grilled

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Mac & Cheese Bites – Batter, Fried with Cheddar Cheese Sauce and Parmesan

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Half-Chorizo and Potato – Fresh Ground Spicy Sausage and Hearty Potato Hash, Sharp Cheddar + an Egg

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Half-The Dude Abides – Homemade Meatballs, Fried Mozzarella Wedges, Basil Marinara, Roasted Garlic, Provolone, Romano

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Half-Cuban War Pig – Honey Ham, Mojo Glazed Pulled Pork, Fried Pickle Spears, Honey Mustard, Swiss

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Half-Monte Cristo – Honey Ham, Smoked Turkey, Swiss, American, Crispy Battered and Deep Fried with Powdered Sugar and Berry Preserves

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Voodoo Zombie Jerk Chicken Melt – Roasted Pulled Jerk Chicken, Fried and Smashed Plantains, Caribbean Pickled Peppers and Onions, Peach Habanero Marmalade, Pepper-Jack Cheese with Zombie Dust Seasoning

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Half-Peanut Butter & Banana – Caramelized Banana, House Made Peanut Butter, Sweet Cream Cheese, Candied Peanuts, Berry Preserves

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Peanut Butter Halloween Candy Bread Pudding – Homemade Chocolate Candy Bread, Rich Peanut Butter Frosting, Peanut Butter Glaze, Vanilla Ice Cream, Whipped Cream, Powdered Sugar


At this point probably the most famous Cleveland eatery outside those owned by Michael Symon, it was prior to expansion that I paid my one and only visit to Melt Bar + Grilled, a long day of Roller Coasters with family leaving all of us famished and thus in a perfect state to re-visit owner Matt Fish’s Grilled Cheese concept in its latest and greatest format, the Independence location at least quadrupling the original’s tiny floor plan.

Now sporting some half-dozen restaurants, all thriving including those in Akron and Columbus, it was just past 9:00pm that our party of three was offered seating amidst televisions and luminescent plastic lawn ornaments, a middle-aged server with the company since nearly day one explaining a few daily specials before leaving us to our decisions, the recent addition of half-sandwiches allowing a whole lot of variety including appetizers and dessert.


Showing Sunday night football in below a soundtrack of tunes spanning the sixties through the eighties it was with still more people entering to fill our section that items started arriving, three golden Mac & Cheese Bites followed by two more with a joke about the cook’s math skills, the gooey insides somehow still featuring springy Pasta with extra Cheese sauce added for dipping.

Unable go halfsies on specials, the Voodoo Zombie Chicken Melt thus arriving in whole and flanked by a quartet of half-Sandwiches, those looking for a bit of heat will be happy to know that the Halloween themed dish packed plenty without going atomic or tongue-melting by way of Pickled Peppers and Plantains, the housemade Chorizo actually a bit more poignant as the breakfast favorite was topped iun crispy Potato Hash and an add-on soft-poached Egg.


Spinning the classic Meatball Sub forward with fried Mozzarella triangles, the Big Lebowski themed title not particularly sensible unless there is a subtle Italian reference in the film that I missed, more great bites were found amongst the messy Cuban War-Pig that sees Havana’s famous Sandwich re-created with Frickles and Honey Mustard, the fried Monte Cristo going all-in with both Ham and Turkey plus Swiss and Raspberry Preserves, a rarely seen combination that some will say is true to the dish’s earliest diner origins.

Not particularly interested in Fried Twinkies, another Half-Sandwich joining the Seasonal Bread Pudding to round out our meal, my only regret was not ordering the Peanut Butter & Banana Sandwich with a trip to the deep-fryer, the results still tasty but lacking in the face of Custard soaked Chocolate Bread wrapped around Peanut Butter Frosting atop a bed of housemade Whipped Cream and crowned with an oversized scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream.


Melt Bar & Grilled Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Bread Pudding, Cleveland, Dessert, Food, French Toast, Ice Cream, Independence, Melt Bar + Grilled, Melt Bar and Grilled, Ohio, Pork, Vacation

Kiedrowski’s Simply Delicious Bakery, Amherst OH


Kiedrowski’s Simply Delicious Bakery

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French Butter Streusel Croissant Donut

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Blueberry FryCake

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Old Fashioned Sour Cream Donut

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French Cruller


Apple Turnover

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Peach Fritter

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Autumn Corn Cream Cheese Muffins with Butter Streusel

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Walnut Kolachy, Cream Cheese Kolachy, Hungarian Cinnamon Walnut Kiffle



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Located in the city of Amherst, about 40 minutes West of Downtown Cleveland, and famed for the “Snoogle” as well as Pirogies plus several styles of Polish and American Baked Goods, Kiedrowski’s Simply Delicious Bakery proved to be a fortuitous stop between the Hotel near Hopkins Airport and “America’s Roller Coast,” all twelve items selected well-crafted with a focus on doing things in old-school, time honored fashion.

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No doubt a local favorite, the line a dozen long before, during and after arriving at 9:45am, Kiedrowski’s is a tight space with limited outdoor seating and the majority of its footprint used for baking and displaying, the indecisive at a disadvantage as the queue moves quickly, the staff accommodating at patient…at least moreso than grumbling natives who just want to grab a Snoogle, Frycake or Muffin.

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Certainly not a looking to reinvent the wheel, the majority of the glass cases’ contents focused on Quick-Breads, Donuts or Cookies, it was with a large box in hand that the store was exited, a mere $14 for the lot almost unheard of in 2016, first bites of a Blueberry Frycake and Cruller fine though not revelatory while the Peach Fritter and Old Fashioned Donut were each reference standard, the outsides crisp and glistening while the inside was moist but not the least bit oily.


Taking a different look at the “Cronut” by placing a freshly made Butter Croissant in the deep fryer before topping it with Streusel and shellacking it in a sugary shell it seemed unnecessary that the same treatment was given to an otherwise tasty Apple Fritter that unfortunately proved far too sweet to be enjoyed past a bite or two, the Kolachy and Kiffle both as good as homemade while the “Wahooski” was simply a good Sugar Cookie celebrating the Cleveland Indians advancement to the World Series.


Taking a bit of chance on the Corn Muffin, results shining as the sweet yet toothsome batter was piped full of a zippy Cream Cheese core, it was finally here that a “Snoogle” was partaken in, the mashup of a Cheese Danish and Puff Pastry like that of a Cream Horn justifying its fame as the shattering shell gave way to gooey insides, a word to the wise being to enjoy this concoction in an outdoor space, or at least somewhere that cleans up easily.


Kiedrowski's Simply Delicious Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Amherst, Breakfast, Cleveland, Croissant, Dessert, Food, Kiedrowski’s, Kiedrowski’s Bakery, Kiedrowski’s Simply Delicious Bakery, Ohio, Vacation

Gypsy Beans & Bakery, Cleveland OH


Gypsy Beans & Bakery

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Carrot Cake Muffin

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Blueberry Scone

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Oatmeal Raisin Cookie

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Cinnamon Roll

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Banana Nut Bread

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Butterscotch Brownie

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Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Muffin

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Located on Detroit Avenue and providing locals with everything from Vegan Cuisine and Good Coffee to local Art and Sounds, Gypsy Beans & Baking Company is an independently owned Bistro offering an all-day menu plus baked goods in a comfortable setting, a sampling of seven items on Sunday morning showing good skills with a focus on Quickbreads, Brownies, Cookies and Muffins.


Located in a slowly growing Arts District, patrons on this particular day sparse as the restaurant did good business with to-go orders, it was after lengthy perusal of options that choices were selected, the still-warm Cinnamon Roll undoubtedly the best of the group beneath a slather of Cream Cheese icing while the Carrot Cake Muffin was also quite good and chock-full-of spice beneath an even thicker layer of the same Frosting.


Disappointed in the dried-out Banana Nut Bread, while the Scone was more a triangular Muffin than the British version juxtaposing pockets of Butter to those of Sugar, better bites were found amongst the fluffy Peanut Butter Muffin studded with Chocolate Chips, the Oatmeal Raisin a well-done bakehouse standard but not particularly memorable when compared to the thick and fudgy Brownie topped in Butterscotch Chips.


Gypsy Beans & Baking Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Breakfast, Cleveland, Dessert, Food, Gypsy Beans, Gypsy Beans & Bakery, Gypsy Beans & Baking Co., Ohio, Vacation

Jack Flaps, Cleveland OH


Jack Flaps



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Pecan Pie Flapjacks – Cinnamon Spiced Pecans, Chili Brown Sugar Syrup, Cereal Milk Whipped Cream

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Sweet Punkin French Toast – Eggy Bread with Pumpkin Mousse, Blackberry Syrup, Toasted Pepitas

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Croque Madame – Grilled Bread, Pork Belly Ham, Fontina, Bechamel, Fried Egg

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Shrimp And Grits – Peppers, Onions, Creole Vinaigrette, Bacon Crème Fraiche

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Bruleed Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding – Almond Granola, Berry Compote


Impressed by El Carnicero, in love with Breakfast and unable to make it to Momocho due to their hours it seemed only logical to visit Chef Eric Williams’ kitschy breakfast nook, Jackflaps, on Sunday before heading West to Cedar Point, the experience a bit more hit n’ miss than the prior day’s brunch, though the majority of five plates were still pretty great.


Located on Lorain Avenue and pairing the narrow room to a well-culled menu of innovative fare plus a few monthly specials diners entering Jack Flaps before eight o’clock are likely to find little-to-no wait with the line expanding exponentially as 9:00am approaches, the service a blend of off-the-cuff fun and overall professionalism, a few small questions answered as coffee is filled…and kept full consistently.


Amused by the photographic depictions of Milk in motion and commenting on what a messy photoshoot that must have been it was after perhaps twenty minutes that plates began to arrive en mass from the kitchen, the Shrimp and Grits a competent spin on the Southern Classic with a lot of nuance added by Bacon Crème Fraiche while the otherwise well-made Croque Madame was marred by Bechamel that was slightly over-thickened.


Moving on to two sweet specials and one item whose order was inspired by brunch at El Carnicero, those fancying Pumpkin will be disappointed to know that the “Sweet Punkin” French Toast really tastes nothing like the orange Gourd that it is presumably named, after but instead like aromatic Spices and the included Blackberry Syrup – the “Pecan Pie” Flapjacks doing a far better job of rousing thoughts of its namesake while the torched Rice Pudding may be the best darn version on this side of the Atlantic as shattering sugar gives way to mixed textures of soft grains juxtaposing housemade Granola and fresh Berry Compote.


Jack Flaps Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Breakfast, Cleveland, Coffee, Food, French Toast, Jack Flaps, Ohio, Pancakes, Pork, Vacation

Trentina, Cleveland OH



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Primo Assaggio (Charcuterie di Trentina) – Polenta Crackers with House Cultured Butter and Ohio Egg Botarga, Beef Tongue, House Speck, Llama Sausage, Pickled Carrots, Pears and Broccoli Stems

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Morsi (Chef inspired Tramezzini) – Ricotta Fritter, Tomato Powder, Sweet Pepper Crema

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Crudo di Mare o Terra – Beet Cured Steelhead Trout, Paw-Paw, Pickled Asian Pear, Sea Beans, Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil

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*ADD-ON* Woof Fired Potato Pizza – Ash Roasted Potatoes, Beef “Sudo”, Provolone, Rosemary & Oil Poached Farmer’s Alium

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Funghi – Grilled Maitake Mushrooms, Chestnut Puree, Hot Mustard Seeds, Bamboo Rice Arancini

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Table Bread – Wild Ferment Pane Pita, Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Beef Suet Candle

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Gnocco – Crispy Potato Gnocchi, Sweet Potato Chips, Sweet Potato Puree, Spiced Apples

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Fuoco Pesce Arrosto – Red Snapper al Catoccio, White Wine Lemon Sauce, Artichokes, Microgreens

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*ADD-ON* Beef Osso Bucco – Red Wine Braised Ohio Beef, Semolina Gnocchetti Sardi, Dehydrated Olives, Grilled Herb Salsa Verde

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*ADD-ON* Wood-Fired Lasagna – Thinly layered Pasta Sheets, Bolognese Bianco, Ricotta, Mozzarella, Seasonal Vegetables, Trenta Grana Parmesan

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Estruso – Rigatoni with Sablefish and Country Ham XO Sauce, Braised Kale, Trenta Grana Parmesan

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Farmhouse Vegetable – Roasted Delicata Squash, Toasted Squash Seeds, Ricotta Salata, Apple Cider Vinaigrette

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Beast – Foie Gras Roasted over Hay, House Focaccia, Pistachio Butter, Concord Grape Puree

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*ADD ON* Cavatelli En Fonduta – Blistered Grapes, Brown butter Radicchio, Taleggio, Brewer’s Sugar

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Re-Do – A Second Look at a Course you Enjoyed previously

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Formaggio – Trenta Grana Custard Tart, Smoked Almonds, Ohio Honey

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Seasonal Single Origin Drip Coffee from Rising Star Coffee Roasters

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Dolci – Fennel-Orange Panna Cotta, Fennel Frawns, Chocolate-Anise Cookies, Tomato and Basil Powder

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*ALTERNATIVE DESSERT* S’mores – Toasted Marshmallow Fluff, Dark Chocolate Semifreddo, Cocoa Nibs, Graham Cracker

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GRAZIE – Carrot Cake Bites, Date Syrup, Smoked Cream Cheese Frosting


Having watched the buzz about Jonathon Sawyer grow slowly ever since a since a somewhat hit-and-miss experience at The Greenhouse Tavern in 2012 it was with great anticipation that a reservation at Trentina was made for three people at 6:30 Saturday evening, the $115 Menu Bianco proving not only that the Chef has indeed developed over the intervening years, but also that there may be a place for upscale locavore dining in Cleveland.

Opened in 2014, a James Beard Award for the Chef soon to follow, Trentina sees Sawyer and Chef De Cuisine David Kocab take on the concept of Northern Italian cuisine by way of Ohio Farmers, the classic plates of the Trentino region reinterpreted with a focus on bold flavors focused on simple elegance at the peak of season.


Taking over an old building on the edge of CWRU Campus, the interior sparsely designed but decorated with bold abstracts that couple with the mellow soundtrack to offer a casual elegance to the night, it was at one of several four-tops that our trio was seated and with menus already in place the only question was how much a la carte to be added, the eventual decision being three plates plus one significant substitution.

Well portioned for a tasting, each course following Thomas Keller’s idea of the plate being satisfying while still leaving diners for want of ‘one more bite,’ dining began with three forms of housemade charcuterie including Llama Sausage plus shaved Egg ‘bottarga,’ the richness and funk well compensated by way of house pickles including semi-sweet Pears and otherwise thrown-away ‘rescued’ Broccoli stems.


Preaching whole food usage and sustainability, Ricotta Fritters dusted with the dehydrated peel of Tomatoes while a plate of raw Trout found nuance in Beets, Pickled Pears and Paw-Paw, course four featured the first “add-on” option, Trentina’s much praised Potato Pizza showing brightly with yeasty bubbles and great pliability beneath a hint of ash, rich Ragu and Provolone Cheese tinged in Rosemary.

Showing a great degree of diversity as the menu progresses, courses to follow including Grilled Maitakes over an unfried cube of Bamboo rice “Arancini,” Pan Seared Sweet Potato Gnocchi brought into season with Cinnamon and Apples plus a delicate filet of Red Snapper unbagged tableside with notes of Wine and Artichokes, one of the highlights of Trentina’s everyday menu is undoubtedly the Bread service, a crisp balloon of air and sour notes already delicious and all the better when dipped in the slowly melting Beef Fat Candle.


Adding three portions of pasta to the meal, two available in an appetizer size while the crispy-edged Lasagna is only offered as a weighty full rectangle, one would be hard pressed to fault any aspect of the trio’s price-point or execution, the “Beef Osso Bucco” pairing Shank to springy Gnocchetti while Cavatelli went off the grid to set seared Grapes next to Radicchio poached in Brown Butter, the tasting-only ‘Estruso’ perhaps envisioned during a brainstorming session for Sawyer’s Noodlecat concept as the tubes of Rigatoni sang beneath funky “XO Sauce” and Parmesan.

Well sated at this point, even a single added plate likely too much for the average diner when put on-top of the Menu Bianco, savories ended in roasted Delicata Squash from a nearby farm followed by a slice of Duck Liver given the “PB&J” treatment over housemade Focaccia, the clever concept of a “Re-Do” presented giving diners a second look at a course he or she enjoyed previously.

Using regional Italian Cheese to make a custard topped in smoked almonds and local Honey before moving onto dessert, the Panna Cotta an all-out disaster both in terms of its rubbery texture and off-putting flavor, better bites were found in the campfire favorite Semifreddo accompanied by toasted Marshmallows and Graham Cracker crumble, one last bite of Carrot Cake better than either of the desserts in the opinion of nearly everyone in the dining room and thankfully sending all off with fond memories of what is the first ‘destination-worthy’ meal I have had in the State of Ohio.

Trentina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Bread Basket, Cleveland, Coffee, Dessert, Foie, Foie Gras, Food, Gnocchi, Italian, Ohio, Pizza, Pork, Tasting Menu, Trentina, Vacation

Duck-Rabbit Coffee, Cleveland OH


Duck-Rabbit Coffee

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Single Origin Pour Over

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Proving that great Coffee can now even be found in ‘fly-over country’ Cleveland’s Duck-Rabbit Coffee takes the “do one thing, do it well” concept to a Brooklyn or Portland-esque level by house roasting every Bean served on premises, the cutesy logo and name no indication whatsoever that these folks are not serious about their craft.

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All exposed brick, reclaimed wood and metal stools, the money more importantly invested in high end burr grinders, hoppers, roasters and an industry standard Espresso machine from La Marzocco the choices at Duck-Rabbit Coffee are relatively straightforward with three varietals and a focus on Pour-Over, Espresso, or Cappuccino, the careful medium-roast clean and smooth regardless of brewing method, a slight hint of residual acid making sweetener completely unnecessary amidst the single-origin Kayon’s jammy notes and a bold Cocoa aroma.


Posted in Cleveland, Coffee, Duck-Rabbit Coffee, Ohio, Vacation