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Review of Crop (Cleveland) Aug. 2

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We had dinner at Crop Sun Aug. 2 and if we had known or realized the meaning of the "heads up" phone call we received in the afternoon, we would have chosen somewhere else. The hostess called to advise there was a street festival going on and the street they are located on (West Sixth) was closed. We appreciated the call and simply thought they were advising us to either walk (12 blocks from our hotel) or cab it (we did, I am mobility challenged). In hindsight, I think they were hoping we would cancel. When I asked about the chef's table, I was told it has bar stools and we declined as I have problems with my legs and can't let them hang for 2 hours. It looked like fun, but no one was sitting there when we arrived.

We arrived precisely at 7 p.m., time of our reservation - my mother, DD (18) and me. We knew from other reviews and their web site that Crop does a 3 course fixed price dinner on Sundays. The room was very interesting, very masculine with dark wood, white tableclothes. The space is not enormous but we looked around and there were 2 other couples in addition to our table in the entire restaurant. So, the street festival was a bad sign.

There were no appetizers to choose from on Sundays, they do a large communal salad with several types of greens including parsley and tarragon (Mother was terrified it was cilantro, she is very allergic). The salad also included cubes of red and gold beets, which were perfectly cooked and looked like small jewels atop the lettuce and a type of balsamic or other dark red based vinaigrette.

I was really looking forward to the bread basket per another Chowhounder's review. Alas, we were only offered chunks of French bread, which was good, but I was hoping for corn bread and more variety. There were 4 or 5 slices which were not replenished when we finished them with the salad.

Mom had the salmon with lobster sauce, which she enjoyed very much. Portions are generous, none of us left hungry. DD had pork enchiladas, which she said was possibly the best she has ever had. I had the hangar steak, which came med rare as ordered with a delicious brown sauce and assorted mushrooms. The communal vegetable dish was a cold arrangement of many types of beans (green, black, white, pink) dressed in a sauce tasting of citrus. We did not detect oil, didn't think it was a vinaigrette.

The only dessert option was a peach cobbler. It was terrific. The peaches were not overly sweet nor overly thickened, just the right hint of perhaps vanilla, very fresh. The cobbler was a corn muffin which lived up to expectations. No vanilla ice cream, but a light topping of real whipped cream. Mom & I ordered decaf coffee, which was disappointing on several levels. First, the coffee had to be brewed, which took longer than our dessert took to consume. Second, it was so strong as to make Starbuck's look very weak in comparison. I enjoy coffee with my dessert, but the lapse was easily 15 minutes from ordering and we didn't want to wait much longer.

Service was OK. The same waiter served all 3 tables. Not great, not good, merely competent. Mother did not want a big deal made that we were celebrating both our birthdays (actually Friday), but clearly the waiter must have overheard when we sang her Happy Bday. No response from the waiter at all. Perhaps because they knew we are from out of town? We were not looking for free food, but a congratulations was clearly in order. Not very friendly.

My overall impression? We came on a bad night. The restaurant should have closed that night. Would I recommend this place to others? Yes, the makings of a great meal are there, the value is good, but we had bad karma.

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  1. I'm sorry to hear that. We're planning to try Crop's Sunday supper very shortly - I'll let you know whether your experience was typical. Were they doing food for the street festival?

    1. I just read this not-so-glowing review of Crop today:

      http://www.skilletdoux.com/2009/08/cr...

      I've never been but have been looking forward to going. However, if it's true that they are creating these heavy dishes, I'm a little bit bummed out because I guess I was expecting fresh, clean, and simple uses of their local ingredients.

      1 Reply
      1. re: emmaleeb

        His critiques are valid, I guess - but aside from the drinks he doesn't say anything is un-good. I ordered the foie and scallops both and enjoyed them a great deal.

        I still consider Crop the best meal I've had in Ohio and rank it favorably on my "all time" list.

      2. Crop is one of our favorite restaurants in the city. We dine there at least once a month and most often it is on Sunday night. Sunday night supper is a great concept $25.00 for 3 courses. A salad served family style, choice of 5 or 6 entrees and dessert. They are smart for what they do by using up ingredients still in stock from the weekend, or to experiment on potential new menu additions. It is the best bargain in town for what you get, hands down.
        On the other hand I can see why you may not like dining on Sundays because the menu is limited and you can not order seperate apps, desserts etc. My guess is if you asked for something not on the menu and it was available they would accomodate you. Having had a minimum of 20 dinners there, we have never been disapointed. Steve and Jackie who own the restaurant are awesome, as is Tom the chef. We have had some situations that we had trouble parking there because of the Browns games or special area events and try not to go when these are taking place.

        1 Reply
        1. re: rf24230

          I agree with rf, though I've not had sunday supper there. Fact of the matter is that if you go for a bargain menu with set choices you can't really complain too much if the choices aren't exactly what you wanted. While the mains were darn good, the apps were even better on my visit.

        2. Diane - I am so bummed that your experience was below-par. We enjoyed the Sunday Supper at Crop this week, and it was pretty darn close to perfection (the only flaw was the grilled corn - overcooked and a little old).

          Our table of 6 received two amuses - Chile Deviled Egg, followed by a small cup of Crop-spacho. Sounds like our salad course was similar to yours - a gorgeous salad with two types of beets, assorted lettuces, small cubes of an extremely mild Swiss cheese (I'm not normally a big fan of Swiss, but I liked this), cucumbers, and a bacon topping. The dressing was a simple balsamic vinaigrette.

          Our bread service was the house made cornbread with compound butter. An intermezzo after the salad was a honey-lime "Crop-Sicle."

          For entrees - two people had the hangar steak -one med rare and one rare. It was accompanied by Chimichurri sauce and topped with salsa and tasted wonderful. Two people had the Seared Hiramasa (Amberjack) and Scallops, my taste was delicious.

          I had Herb Crusted Baked Sole With Citrus Cream that was simply wonderful. Chef/Owner Steve Schimoler served the cream at the table, then remarked that it also would go well with the Hiramasa/Scallops and proceeded to pass the siphon around the table so the two people with that plate could add some Citrus Cream.

          The last diner had Tasmanian Salmon with Coconut Curry, which I did not taste or photograph (she was on the other side of the table), but which she pronounced delicious.

          The sides were a bean salad that sounds very similar to yours, but wasn't citrusy and definitely had balsamic in the dressing; it was topped with shredded cheese, and grilled Ohio corn, which as I noted, was the only item that didn't hit a home run.

          The dessert was Plucot in pastry, topped at tableside with unsweetened, house made whipped cream. A perfect ending to a wonderful meal.

          Service was top notch; Chef Schimoler wasn't just schmoozing, he was serving, and two other servers also took care of our tables, plus a busser. The house was probably about half full at its peak, including one solo diner enjoying Sunday Supper at the bar.

          My husband enjoyed the excellent beer list, and I had wine - there are many choices at all price points for both.

          I have to conclude that, as you realized too late, you picked a bad night to go to Crop. I have to believe that if Chef Schimoler was aware of what happened (was he in the house the night that you were there?), he would want to make it up to you. You should let him know.

          My photos of the dinner are here: http://funplayingwithfood.blogspot.co.... We'd go back to Crop anytime!

          2 Replies
          1. re: NancyH

            I like it Nancy. :-)

            The dessert sounds awesome.

            1. re: NancyH

              Nancy, so glad you enjoyed your meal. As mentioned in my review, it was bad karma the night we were there. We don't get to Cleveland very often, otherwise I would insist we return and try again.