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A weekend in Cleveland

t
tdmort Jun 4, 2010 09:51 PM

My DH and I are traveling to Cleveland next weekend for my birthday. We will be there Fri-Sun. Already on the list is a trip to WestSide Market. That should be sufficient for lunch one of the days. I was thinking of one of Michael Symon's places - but service seems hit or miss at Lola. Is the food good enough to make up for the service? Also - would stopping by Melt on a Sunday on the way home be good or not? Is there a time when it's not busy? And can you order off the regular menu on Sunday early or is it only brunch? Lastly, are there any good seafood restaurants in Cleveland? Sorry - I know it's a lot of questions. We just decided tonight to go next weekend. Thanks Cleveland Chowhounds!

  1. jes7o Jun 5, 2010 05:54 AM

    We stopped at Melt on a Sunday on the way home once and even at 2:30 in the afternoon, we still had an hour wait. It was well worth it though, the food was fantastic and I'd definitely make it a point to stop .

    6 Replies
    1. re: jes7o
      t
      tdmort Jun 5, 2010 10:32 AM

      Thanks for the post. I believe we will do the same thing - stop at Melt before getting on the road.

      1. re: jes7o
        n
        nemis Jun 5, 2010 07:37 PM

        I was just at Melt at their newer location-service was good but the food was ok, both grilled cheese were not close to being crispy or the cheese melty. I had a great dinner at Momocho on Fulton. Lucky's cafe is a great spot in Tremont, we also enjoyed The Greenhouse Tavern downtown-fantastic duck fat frites!

        -----
        Momocho
        1835 Fulton Rd, Cleveland, OH 44113

        The Greenhouse Tavern
        2038 E 4th Street, Cleveland, OH 44115

        1. re: nemis
          t
          tdmort Jun 6, 2010 02:49 PM

          I just called and made reservations for Momocho. The only table available was the chef's table. I have no idea what this means but I guess I'll find out. I'm looking forward to it - guacamole is a staple in my house! :) Saturday morning I'm planning on going to Lucky's Cafe for breakfast. I'll check into the Greenhouse Tavern and also Pier W. Just need to figure out dinner for one more night. Thanks for your help!

          -----
          Momocho
          1835 Fulton Rd, Cleveland, OH 44113

          The Greenhouse Tavern
          2038 E 4th Street, Cleveland, OH 44115

          Pier W
          12700 Lake Avenue, Lakewood, OH 44107

          1. re: tdmort
            l
            LizR Jun 9, 2010 12:24 PM

            Chef's table at Momocho is fantastic! You sit at the end of a bar and watch the kitchen, chatting with the chef and tasting all sorts of treats. I've done it a few times (a few years ago--don't live in Cleveland anymore) and it was fantastic.

            -----
            Momocho
            1835 Fulton Rd, Cleveland, OH 44113

            1. re: LizR
              t
              tdmort Jun 9, 2010 01:01 PM

              Liz...thanks for the reply. Sounds great - I can't wait. It will be fun to sit so close to the kitchen!

              1. re: LizR
                uhockey Jun 9, 2010 05:49 PM

                Crop is identical - for all the people who love Momofuku Ko in NYC, the scene, experience, and service at Crop's Chef Counter is vastly better bang for the buck.

        2. s
          stuart Jun 5, 2010 07:11 AM

          Siam Cafe is a seafood restaurant. At least that's what they put on their sign. It's something I've seen other Chinese restaurants do even though they just seem like standard Chinese restaurants. I've always wondered about the cultural context behind this phenomenon.

          Anyway, Siam Cafe is not your standard Chinese restaurants. It's head and shoulders above any other Cleveland Chinese restaurant and I've had many meals there that would match up favorably with anything I've ever had in New York or San Francisco. My last meal there had two fantastic fish dishes. One was a flounder and the other was a tilapia. One was fresh out of their tanks. One was steamed and served with a black bean sauce. The other was sauteed with vegetables. Both were just perfect.

          But when I think of seafood in Cleveland, I think of Moxie. They're not a seafood restaurant either, but they have a half dozen fish dishes on their menu. The fish is always prepared perfectly. They get their fish fresh daily. And Moxie is also generally one of the area's best restaurants, so your salads, soups and sides will also be excellent. Moxie is closer to the Lola end of the price spectrum than then Melt end. If you go on Friday, you'll be there for the first week of their Summer grilling promotion. Every Friday, they're setting up grills in the parking lot and running a grilled special. The grilled dish may be seafood too, but I wouldn't count on it.

          3 Replies
          1. re: stuart
            t
            tdmort Jun 5, 2010 10:56 AM

            Thanks for the rec. Just curioius - have you ever ate at Siagon or Sasa? I do love Asian food and have come across both of those on another web page. Thanks!

            1. re: tdmort
              s
              stuart Jun 6, 2010 06:12 PM

              For sushi, I like Pacific East on Coventry. It's the best sushi in the area. They also have some very good Malaysian food.

              For other Japanese food, I like Flying Cranes. They have a very small menu and I don't have much experience with the non-Japanese items. The udon noodle soup and the pork cutlet with curry are both fantastic, though. They also close early during the week, so call ahead to confirm their hours.

              For Vietnamese food, I like Superior Pho. Their pho is great. Also, the pork noodle soup.

              And I like Siam Cafe for Vietnamese food in addition to Chinese food. They have a large and diverse menu, but they manage to do most of it very well. The Vietnamese pork chop, bun bo hue, chicken chop, char broiled beef and banh cuon cha lua, for instance. Also, the Vietnamese hot and sour soup.

              1. re: stuart
                t
                tdmort Jun 7, 2010 02:28 PM

                Thanks for the info stuart! I think I need to stay a few extra days just to get to sample all of the great places to eat!

          2. r
            running aunt Jun 6, 2010 09:46 AM

            The Market closes at 6p Friday. If you go Friday night, stop at the happy hour across the street at Belgium Bier Market. If you don't make it to the Bier Market on Friday night I believe they are open for lunch on Saturday since the Market is also open. Excellent food and prices. Walking distance from the Market. For seafood try Pier W, but make reservations for Friday or Saturday night. You will have a great view of Lake Erie while dining. It is expensive but it's your birthday. Enjoy
            I have been to Melt four times but never eaten there. The one hour wait has always discouraged me. My friends who have waited do speak highly of the place.

            -----
            Pier W
            12700 Lake Avenue, Lakewood, OH 44107

            1 Reply
            1. re: running aunt
              t
              tdmort Jun 7, 2010 02:29 PM

              Pier W looks awesome. We have a reservation for 8:00 on Saturday. Thanks for the suggestion!

              -----
              Pier W
              12700 Lake Avenue, Lakewood, OH 44107

            2. uhockey Jun 7, 2010 05:38 PM

              Skip Lola, Do Crop.

              18 Replies
              1. re: uhockey
                t
                tdmort Jun 7, 2010 06:27 PM

                I checked out their menu online, looks really good.

                1. re: tdmort
                  NancyH Jun 7, 2010 07:43 PM

                  dmort - Mr. Hockey has his prejudices, based on a single meal at Lola that he did not enjoy (I respect that he reports his honest opinion - but it is based on a single dining experience). I have been to both places on multiple occasions - you cannot go wrong with either Lola or Crop - enjoy Cleveland! I have never had a bad experience at Lola over several lunches and dinners. If something should go amiss - the staff will happily fix it if you tell them. Crop is likewise very dependable. Pier W is headed by Reagan Reik, who trained under Dominic Cerino - I haven't eaten there, but I hear nothing but positives. For Tremont - Lolita and Dante are both wonderful, and downtown, Greenhouse Tavern and Chinato are also worthy of a stop. Please report back!

                  -----
                  The Greenhouse Tavern
                  2038 E 4th Street, Cleveland, OH 44115

                  Pier W
                  12700 Lake Avenue, Lakewood, OH 44107

                  1. re: NancyH
                    t
                    tdmort Jun 8, 2010 04:01 AM

                    Thanks for the tips Nancy. I am torn between Pier W which I already have a reservation for and Lola. I really wanted to try a Michael Symon resturant while in Cleveland.

                    -----
                    Pier W
                    12700 Lake Avenue, Lakewood, OH 44107

                    1. re: NancyH
                      i
                      Indy 67 Jun 8, 2010 05:48 AM

                      My husband and I visited Cleveland this past weekend and dined at both Crop and Lola. We had good experiences at both restaurants, but, I particularly preferred Lola. My criticism of Crop is that there was a sameness to my meal that could have been avoided if either the menu had been more specific or if the waiter had been more alert.

                      Specifically, my husband and I shared the scallop and calamari appetizers. Next, we shared an order of the Beet, watercress, and creme fraiche vinaigrette. Then, I had the seared tuna entree. He had the lamb loin.

                      The scallop appetizer is described as Seared Nantucket Scallops, Seared Potatoes, Truffle Emulsion." While we knew about the cream in the vinaigrette for the beets, there's no mention that the scallop emulsion contains cream. Emulsion doesn't have to include cream and the word "cream" wasn't on the menu description so I was not thrilled to see versions of the same ingredient show up in two dishes. This was further compounded by the miso sauce on my tuna.

                      Miso isn't cream, but the mouth feel is definitely creamy so this would be my third creamy dish. In addition, the miso that Crop used skewed to the sweet and my personal taste is to avoid sweet with meat. (I wouldn't be surprised to be told that cream and butter were added to the sweet pea mash that accompanied the tuna, it was definitely more than mashed sweet peas.) On the plus side, the restaurant told me that the tuna would be prepared medium rare and I asked that it be seared only. The dish arrived at the table with a tiny rim of cooked tuna around a large center of raw tuna. Perfectly cooked as ordered!

                      Bottom line: The food was very good, but included enough personal drawbacks that the meal wasn't a complete success. If we visit Cleveland again, I'd consider eating at Crop, but I'd sure ask a lot more questions of my waiter.

                      Lola impressed us in every way except one, which I'll detail at the end of my praise. Our welcome was exceptionally warm and accommodating. We were first led to a two-top next to a table set for eight diners. I pointed out that this table was likely to be especially festive and, therefore, noisy. We asked if another quieter table was available. We were given a four-top table in a much quieter location. I was very impressed that the restaurant was willing to instantaneously and smilingly seat us at a larger table turning two seats into "unproductive" revenue sources on a busy Saturday night.

                      For appetizers, I ordered the sweetbreads and my husband chose the beef cheeks pierogi. For entrees, I had the scallops and my husband had the braised pork shank. For dessert, we had the 6 a.m. dessert. Other than the fact that the cripsy sweetbreads could have been cooked about a minute or two less, there wasn't a thing to criticize about my entire meal.

                      Symon's scallop preparation was in a soy broth accompanied by shaved asparagus and sliced shiitake mushrooms. The yuzu which I had exected to be juice added to the broth, in fact, turned out to be yuzu-marinated thin strips of something crunchy (jimica???). This was a delightful counterpoint to the rest of the elements of the dish. In "competition scallop" the lighter, cleaner Symon dish triumphed for me over the creamer Crop version. My husband adored his hearty pork shank. Reading the menu, my husband had been drawn to the pork shank, but, before ordering, he asked the waiter for his opinion between the pork chops and the pork shank. The waiter said that the pork chop is the more popular dish, but that he preferred the shank. My husband was thrilled with his choice.

                      The dessert was fantastic comfort food with a twist. I can see why this is a signature dish. We're from the Washington, DC area where a well-regarded restaurant offers a similarly playful "breakfast" dessert. However, we've never been that impressed with the taste of the DC-version of dessert. Sure the technical skill and wit is impressive, but Symon's version just tastes better. The "toast" in the DC verison is nothing more than a well-prepared piece of pound cake. That same pound cake gets gussied up in Symon's version to become French toast. The DC "bacon strips" are nothing more than thin chocolate and vanilla striped shortbread cookies. I'd rather eat Symons' version with real bacon incorporated into ice cream. Finally the DC "fried egg" is nothing more than a pleasant-enough mousse topped with a scoop of lemon curd. There's no equivalent element in Symon's version, but I didn't need it with all the delicious other elements in the dish.

                      Rounding out a lovely meal, the service was pleasant, informed, and attentive. So what's my complaint? The silverware! The shape of the handles was such that it rolled in our hands unless we consciously put more pressure on the utensil that typical -- or than should have been necessary.

                      Cleveland, we had a great time in your city. Our visit to the Rock Hall was fun and we ate very, very well. We'll be back.

                      1. re: Indy 67
                        j
                        janbo19 Jun 8, 2010 07:13 AM

                        Indy,

                        I'm inclined to agree with you about the silverware! We've eaten there many times in the past few years, and that's our only complaint, as well. Other 'n' that, we've had some of the "best evers" there and we're old fogies who've been around many restaurant blocks. If you come back and it's on the menu, try the root salad. It's out of this world. Also, the chicken dish is on my "best ever" list.

                        1. re: janbo19
                          i
                          Indy 67 Jun 8, 2010 09:51 AM

                          Put us in the old fogey category, too! However, that night, we were feeling very young having relived our youth at the Rock Hall.

                        2. re: Indy 67
                          t
                          tdmort Jun 8, 2010 11:36 AM

                          Indy....thanks for your report. It is nice to get the perspective of another visitor to the area. Scallops are one of my favorite dishes and while glancing at the menu I had already decided that I would have the scallops if we do go to Lola. I will be visiting DC this fall...and cannot wait. If you have any tips for not miss favorites please do let me know!!

                          1. re: tdmort
                            rockandroller1 Jun 8, 2010 11:50 AM

                            Pier W is really only worth visiting for the view IMO. I would go with Lola if deciding between those 2.

                            -----
                            Pier W
                            12700 Lake Avenue, Lakewood, OH 44107

                            1. re: rockandroller1
                              t
                              tdmort Jun 8, 2010 12:48 PM

                              Thanks rockandroller.

                            2. re: tdmort
                              i
                              Indy 67 Jun 8, 2010 02:17 PM

                              The DC board is a friendly board. In fact, you've gotten some good responses to the questions you've already posted with the notable exception of your C & O Canal boat ride post. The problem is that there are two canal rides in two distinctly different locations and the Georgetown one isn't even in Georgetown. I've posted a reply to your question on the DC board with some suggestions for specific questions to clarify so we can help you more with food ideas. However, having read that you're not going to have access to a car, I'm not confident you'll be able to pull off either location. Great Falls is significantly north of DC and I don't think the Georgetown ride is actually in Georgetown.

                              I would recommend a meal at Rasika, a place that offers a contemporary take on Indian cuisine. There are lots of discussion about this restaurant with specific recommendations for their signature dishes. No one has mentioned that place because it hasn't been particularly pertinent to the questions you've already posted.

                              At some point, why don't you post your plans for the trip along with the restaurant choices or yet-to-be-filled spots?

                              1. re: tdmort
                                uhockey Jun 8, 2010 06:38 PM

                                I just returned from DC and have posted myriad dinners on the DC board (as well as lunches on my blog.) I will say that the DC dining scene is only a peg below New York and Chicago for my favorite in the country. If you have time to plan ahead, I urge you to plan for Vidalia24 - potentially the best experience for the price in US.

                                The Chef's counter at Crop would be another contender for "best dinner with a show" for its price. I know this board is all about Symon, but dollar for dollar the experience at Crop (and Greenhouse Tavern) was better. That isn't to say the food at Lola is good.......it just doesn't warrant the hype.

                                http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                                -----
                                The Greenhouse Tavern
                                2038 E 4th Street, Cleveland, OH 44115

                                1. re: uhockey
                                  t
                                  tdmort Jun 9, 2010 04:29 AM

                                  hockey...I will check out your blog. I've read some of your other reviews (I live in Michigan) and in fact was inspired by your review to check out Zingerman's Roadhouse in AA (which I LOVED by the way).

                                  -----
                                  Zingerman's Roadhouse
                                  2501 Jackson Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48103

                                  1. re: uhockey
                                    j
                                    janbo19 Sep 1, 2010 10:29 AM

                                    I have a friend who goes to Crop JUST for the popcorn. It sounds heavenly!

                                2. re: Indy 67
                                  t
                                  tdmort Jun 8, 2010 05:25 PM

                                  Ok, I'm sold on Lola. Canceled the reservation for Pier W and made one for Lola. Although I had to take an early one because I procrastinated. Is dress code business casual?

                                  -----
                                  Pier W
                                  12700 Lake Avenue, Lakewood, OH 44107

                                  1. re: tdmort
                                    rockandroller1 Jun 9, 2010 04:49 AM

                                    You can wear whatever you want there, though I probably wouldn't opt for shorts and a t-shirt. The servers wear jeans. I would dress business casual.

                                  2. re: Indy 67
                                    uhockey Jun 8, 2010 06:42 PM

                                    Nice reference to Citronelle - alas Michel took that dessert of the menu while the "EggCeptional Meringue" replaced it.

                                    They are CLEARLY different restaurants - but Citronelle's kitchen and service are miles beyond Lola (and the pricetag significantly more)

                                    http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                                    1. re: uhockey
                                      i
                                      Indy 67 Jun 9, 2010 03:58 AM

                                      Although I liked the taste of Symon's breakfast dessert better, I'm reasonably confident Michel Richard should get props for innovation. His cuisine has long been characterized by witty culinary puns and trompe l'oeil. I know his "Kit Kat bar" dessert was on the menu when the restaurant opened in DC in 1994. (I had to look up the date; I remember significant dishes/meals but not dates.) When the Kit Kat bar came off the menu, the breakfast dessert appeared. At the moment, Richard's delectable "Begula" pasta is a prime example of this tendency to pun.

                                      I'm glad you had such a sublime experience eating in DC. We certainly had a lovely experience eating in Cleveland, in spite of my criticisms.

                                      1. re: Indy 67
                                        uhockey Jun 9, 2010 05:48 PM

                                        FYI, the Kit Kat is now at Central and a mini-version is served on the Chocolate Degustation. :-) The Begula was unreal, as well.

                            3. c
                              catdoc2 Aug 31, 2010 02:09 PM

                              For those out of towners looking for dining in Cleveland. I recently spent 6 weeks there, ashamedly, until the last weekend, all in Beachwood/Eastern suburbs. For others like me, do yourself a favor: GO DOWNTOWN, at least a couple of times. A qualification: I'm vegetarian (ovo/lacto) so that does impact my experiences. I'm not repulsed by meat, so if it's on the menu, that doesn't skew me (I ate more than once at Fleming's in Woodmere).
                              I went with my husband on a Thursday night to Crop, did the Tour de Crop/Chef's Table combined. My husband is not veg, I am, and they completely accomodated (though we were prepared to both do veg, it's what's on their website: whole table has to be the same).

                              Let's just say, WOW. Clearly, if you're going to Crop you're looking for clean and fresh, not classic heavy French cooking, and that's what you're going to get. At some point, I'll list the courses, but we were duly impressed. In my opinion, there were a couple misses mixed into the many courses, but they were misses that involved experimentation, and they weren't horrible, more just a B+ instead of an A+. My husband's opinion: there were no misses, he can't stop raving.
                              The cocktails were great, really. I'm not a frou frou cocktail gal: more classics. But I went with some of their "specialties" and wasn't disappointed.

                              The food: fresh, clean, and smaller portions so we could actually enjoy the creativity. Waiter service was actually "meh" but not sure if that's because most of our food came directly from the kitchen so we really didn't interact with him much, save for ordering drinks.

                              We went to Momocho the following night (more on that on another post, but all 4 of us were terribly disappointed) and though we had planned to go to another restaurant Saturday night, after raving to our friends who had flown in for the weekend, they insisted we take them to Crop. Didn't do the Tour de Crop that night, but did do the Chef's table and everyone loved it. One in our group travels extensively for work (with an accompanying padded expense account) and he went away grinning from ear to ear, compared to his normal griping about 2/3 of the restaurants he visits...

                              Sorry, a little discombobulated, but from an out of towner who loves food and isn't afraid to spend money to get it, go to Crop when you are in town. Avoid Momocho, Moxie is pretty good for the suburbs and sadly, aside from that, my time in Cleveland was completely wasted as far as sampling some of the great restaurants this town has to offer (we were very very pleasantly surprised!).

                              PS don't mean to imply Crop HAS to be expensive (the cocktails killed our bill, but we knew it would!). Thursday night's bill, including tip, was ~$245 for two (but we each had at least 2 cocktails and I think we actually had 3 each) and Saturday's bill, for four, including 4 appetizers, 4 entrees, 3 desserts, after dinner coffee, cocktails (think we limited ourselves to two each), and an after dinner bottle of Proseco was just $280 or so including tax and tip. We were splurging and really, ~$70/person for the amount and quality of food and drink we had is a bargain to me!

                              -----
                              Momocho
                              1835 Fulton Rd, Cleveland, OH 44113

                              Crop Bistro & Bar
                              1400 W. 6th Street, Cleveland, OH 44113

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: catdoc2
                                uhockey Aug 31, 2010 03:34 PM

                                Crop is a gem - possibly the best restaurant in Ohio, in my not so humble opinion. :-)

                                http://uhockey.blogspot.com

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