Short Time in Cleveland
A very simple request.
Where is the best place to eat, downtown?
right downtown? prob ONE WALNUT.
BARICELLI INN, a french resto in little italy east of is another.
CLASSICS is another fine dining spot just east in university circle.
JOHNNYS ON FULTON west of downtown in ohio city is a fav esp if you like an old school clubby atmosphere.
PARKERS, also in ohio city is fine dining using all local ingrediants. it is well heralded and sadly it is closing at the end of the year.
Parker's is a fantastic choice. You can see that I'm very enthusiastic about them from a review of recent Cleveland threads.
I'm equally enthusiastic about Lola but I haven't had any opportunities to recommend it. Everyone's questions all seemed to have some criteria that made Lola a questionable fit. I'm happy to be able to recommend it now because it's easily as good as any restaurant in the region.
I've been twice since they opened a couple months ago. I had grouper on my first visit and it was the best fish I've ever had. I also had lamb sausage and veal cheek ravioli both of which were wonderful. On my second visit I had squab with foie gras. With steak and lamb and a Berkshire pork chop on the menu, I was worried that I made a boring choice as soon as I ordered it. But I was glad after I tasted it. It was juicy and full of flavor. And while it should be unnecessary to add that the foie gras was also delicious, I'm afraid that I've had some pretty mediocre foie gras over the last several years. This was certainly not mediocre. In fact, it was excellent.
They used dry aged beef and they salt and season far enough in advance of cooking so that the sodium doesn't pull the moisture out of the meat. So even though I've never even tasted it, I feel confident recommending the steak. I bet it's the best in Cleveland.
If you are strictly sticking to downtown-one walnut is very good, but very dull and stodgy in atmophere (well,keep in mind this coming from me in my 30's) Older folks may think otherwise. Johnny's has a w.6th location as well which is reported to be excellent. Older crowd as well. I would go with Lola though if given the choice. If you expanded your net to ohio city and tremont (all about a 5 min cab from downtown) you would catch some winners.
If "Downtown" is bounded by East 18th to West 9th, then I would probably recommend Johnny's or Lola over One Walnut (I agree about OW's stodgy atmosphere). You might also consider Sans Souci and Muse (in the Renaissance and Ritz, respectively), XO (steaks) and Vivo (Italian). If we extend "Downtown" to include Tremont and Ohio City (both 5 minutes by cab), your choices expand considerably. Best bets are: Flying Fig (my favorite), Parallax, Fahrenheit, Lolita, Momocho (mod-Mex), and Parkers.
Stay away from Johnny's Downtown. Overpriced, food is strictly...eh...service is just okay. Blue Point Grill has always been great. I agree that making the short trip to Tremont is worthwhile, particularly for Parallax and 806 Wine & Martini Bar for a pre- or post- dinner cocktail. Great atmoshpere! I don't understand people's fascination with Lolita, average at best.
I TOTALLY agree with gourmanda with regards to Johnny's DT and this is coming from a person for whom Johnny's on Fulton is a long standing fave and who adore Johnny's Bistro when it was open.
I've not been big on downtown dining in Cleveland for a long time but now that Lola is open.... GO!!! It is absolutely wonderful. Wonderful menu and space.