What restaurant in Cleveland OH shouldn't be missed for a great dinner?
Saturday night, not too saucy and not a chain please....
First of all, I feel bad leaving out some excellent casual, ethnic restaurants but I get the feeling that you're interested in upscale contemporary American. Please correct me if that's not the case. I'm sure we can all provide many wonderful suggestions in any other direction you had in mind.
fire food and drink (http://firefoodanddrink.com/). It's in Cleveland but right at the very Eastern edge. It's on a charming, historic square in a beautiful space. I like the chicken liver appetizer and the pork chop entree.
Parker's (http://parkersrestaurant.com/) is one restaurant that regularly brings national acclaim to Cleveland. Parker Bosley is a sustainable, local, seasonal, ingredient food pioneer for our region. They're closing at the end of 2006. The last time the Cleveland Chowhound team fielded a similar thread, the inquiring chowhound ended up at Parker's and gave a glowing report (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...). For me, I think the vegetables steal the show at Parker's. Unbelievable.
Cleveland is very excited about Lola (http://www.lolabistro.com - under construction) right now. It's recent re-opening was long overdue. In the short time that it's been open I've been able to sample several fantastic things. Grouper. Squab. Veal cheek ravioli appetizer. Lamb sausage appetizer which appears occasionally as a special "charcuterie of the day." I'd take a gamble on the charcuterie no matter what it is.
Moxie (http://www.moxietherestaurant.com/) isn't in the city of Cleveland. It's about 5 mi east (12 mi from downtown) but it's definitely worth the trip. Try the baked hot chocolate dessert. The website has a flash intro search engine invisibility cloak, flash interstitials, counter-intuitive flash navigation, pdf menus and it makes noise so turn down your speakers if you're at work.
Don't leave reservations for the last minute at any of these places. fire and Moxie are popular. Parker's is closing. Lola is hot enough that I'd recommend calling ahead even for weekday reservations.
I also recommend Lola. If you can't get a reservation there, try it's "little sister" Lolita (just a short cab ride from Downtown Cleveland in Tremont.)
Lolita is a great restaurant with a super variety or exotic and experimental dishes. Everything we ordered was a delicious surprise.
I disagree about Parkers. I thought it was overpriced and overrated. The waiter was great. But the food was average.
Lola's was also not great, at least the appetizers. The lobster corn dog was like a fried brick and the onion soup was a heavy, sour,red paste. My husband's pork on polenta was great. And the service is also really good.
In all honesty, the Skyline Chili was a better Cleveland meal than Parkers.
i havent been in quite awhile either but i still hear good things and i would highly rec JOHNNYS BAR ON FULTON in the ohio city nabe as a quintessential cleveland experience. very cool clubby place. bring your appetite.
FIRE as mentioned is another nice one. i'd just add they make great use of a tandoori oven. it's in beautiful shaker square.
no one mentioned BARICELLI INN in little italy? its one of the best restos in the city. despite the nabe its in, the approach is french. they are noted cheese mongers so for sure have a cheese course.
please do report back!