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Cleveland recs

linguafood Oct 25, 2011 03:53 PM

Heading to Cleveland next week Wed-Sun for a conference. Staying @the Crowne Plaza on E. 9th St, not sure if that's near anything. Also not entirely sure what Cleveland is famous for, food-wise.

Thanks to the conference organizing crew and some threads here, I've made a rez at Chinato for the night of our arrival. Thursday we got a rez @Lola's, Saturday @Great Lakes Brewery.

That leaves a few lunches and dinner on Friday -- any recs welcome (not too pricey & perhaps in walking distance, at least for the lunch)?

OTOH, if your pubic transportation system is decent, I don't mind traveling if it's worth it.

Muchas gracias.

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Chinato
E 4th St, Cleveland, OH

  1. rockandroller1 Oct 25, 2011 05:15 PM

    Hi lingua! You're in a good location at the Crowne, though the hotel itself is nothing to write home about. Definitely think you're doing right with Chinato and Lola. As far as great lakes brewery, the beer is fantastic. The food is...well, the beer is fantastic. The brewery is in a neighborhood very close to downtown (but not walking distance) called Ohio City. Saturdays are bustling there as our famed West Side Market is open from early morning til 4pm. I highly recommend a quick trip in even if you don't buy anything to take home, it's impressive both from an architectural standpoint and a food standpoint - an old world, Euro style market with produce vendors outside and a plethora of stands inside, mostly focusing on fresh, local meats of all variety (you'll see pig heads, regular old steaks and chicken, sausages of all kinds), cheeses, bakery, coffee and a variety of cooked foods that people chow on while shopping. Frank's bratwurst sandwich and maha's falafel wrap sandwich are 2 favorites. This would be your easiest place to access using public transit but it's $4.75 round trip and you can usually find free parking, and if you're paying for parking at the crowne already that's going to be quite a bit extra. If you're without transportation though, it's easy to get to. You want to take what's locally known as the "Rapid," which is our light rail line, and you want the redline, which goes W of downtown - Ohio City is the first rapid stop west of downtown. You board in Tower City center in the lowest level of the mall. Tower City is on Public Square, the main center of downtown. From the crowne, exit out the St. Clair side (not the E 9th street side) and proceed to your Right or West down St. Clair. You'll come to construction that will force you to cross the road. Continue W and when you see the big fountain plaza in front of the Marriott hotel, cross diagonally through the plaza. You will come out on the SE quadrant of public square. Continue NW through public square and you'll see tower city. Or, if you're street oriented, proceed down St Clair to E 3rd and go south to Superior. Turn R (west) and proceed to public square. cross ontario. Tower City is on your left. Go in, past caribou coffee you will find escalators - take the ones going down 2 levels (the same way you're walking), that's the entrance to the RTA (rapid transit authority) and the redline is on your R. There are machines you pay and then a turnstile for your ticket. Crop Bistro recently relocated to O. City and I highly, highly recommend it. I don't think they are open for lunches just yet and reservations would be a must as it is very hot and new in this location, but well worth it.

    If you want to stay within downtown you have many additional great choices for lunch or dinner. I am a regular at Jonathan Sawyer's Noodlecat (on Euclid just E of Public Square - Euclid is one street S of the aforementioned Superior) and his Greenhouse Tavern, which is on E 4th with Lola and Chinato (entrance off Euclid by the way). To get to E 4th easily, go out the crowne on the E 9th street side and proceed north to euclid and then turn R/West, it's only a couple of blocks to E 4th, which is on your left as you walk west on Euclid. Both of those are great choices for lunch, GHT I recommend more for dinner though as you have more choices of their full, awesome menu.

    If you're looking for just a cheap sandwichy type lunch I have 2 good recs for you. In the building RIGHT next to the Crowne on the other side of St. Clair, that's the IMG building, you walk in the front doors off of E 9th and right past the elevators is a small cafe that's open to the public run by a very nice local chef named Anna Houvaris, it's called Good to Go Cafe. She does great food, locally sourced and has a lot of nice options. AT least one soup of the day, great sandwich specials, some salads, fresh baked cookies. Cash only but worth it. Next to IMG is a CVS pharmacy. Across from that is a small plaza with an ok slice place (Captain Tony's) and a good sandwich shop called Tomaydo Tomahdo (I recommend the grilled Italian Classic, one of the pizzas, or any of their salads are good too). Another 2 blocks up 9th is a fabulous "stations" type place heavy on local and greenly sourced products called the Market Cafe, which has very good food and does a great lunch.

    Let me know if I can help with anything else and I hope you'll report back!

    -----
    West Side Market
    1979 W 25th St, Cleveland, OH

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

    Chinato
    E 4th St, Cleveland, OH

    Noodlecat
    234 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH 44114

    5 Replies
    1. re: rockandroller1
      linguafood Oct 25, 2011 10:30 PM

      Hey!!! Thanks so much for your reply, which I will digest more thoroughly tomorrow.... in the meantime.... that Japanese noodle soup place where you've been doing all the slurping -- is that Noodlecat? 'cause that sounds like the perfect late lunch one of those days.

      I'll also look into the Greenhouse Tavern. It may be more than we want to spend. Also, Bourdain's in town next Friday, did ya know? I might look into tickets....

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

      Noodlecat
      234 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH 44114

      1. re: linguafood
        rockandroller1 Oct 26, 2011 05:40 AM

        yes indeedy, that's the one. GHT is also good for lunch - the wings and frites are can't miss.

        Tix for tony are $57! I love him, but not that much.

        If you're interested in an in-person meet-up for a weekday lunch, I'd be happy to meet up.

        1. re: rockandroller1
          b
          billygoat Oct 26, 2011 05:43 PM

          Chiming in to agree with RnR'er...Great Lakes is a great place for a beer -- or two! And they just tapped this year's Christmas Ale (I'm not big on this genre of beer but some are!) so worth a stop. I would, however, suggest hitting Flying Fig which is across Market St. from Great Lakes. Karen Small and crew consistently crank it out -- I like to dine at the bar and order small plates...it can be (sometimes) a lively and somewhat spirited room, but I'd highly recommend. As for RnR'ers other suggestions...I'd second -- he routinely provides great CLE food/dining advice!

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          Flying Fig
          2523 Market Ave., Cleveland, OH 44113

          1. re: billygoat
            rockandroller1 Oct 27, 2011 06:23 AM

            Totally agree about Flying Fig, a great place to add to the list.

            @billygoat - thx for the compliment, glad I provide good advice. FWIW, I don't shout it from the rooftops online but I am a she. :)

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            Flying Fig
            2523 Market Ave., Cleveland, OH 44113

            1. re: rockandroller1
              b
              billygoat Oct 29, 2011 07:15 AM

              RnR'er -- Thanks for the X/X chrom heads up! ;)

    2. s
      stuart Oct 27, 2011 07:42 AM

      Bar Cento is my favorite restaurant in Cleveland. There's a new brisket dish on the menu. If you have a high tolerance for fatty food, this is great. Their hanger steak is some of the best beef around. Salads are great. The "big board" has house made charcuterie and pickles. I highly recommend it. The fries with the aioli assortment are some of the best fries around here. The pizzas are nice, but two in particular are tremendous: the potato pizza and the "sunnyside" (runny egg) pizza. The chef mentioned that duck will be coming back to the menu in the appetizer section. They have an amazing source for duck. It's the best that I've ever had. With any luck, it will be back in time for your visit.

      I can't speak to the overall quality of our public transport, but Bar Cento is easily accessible from downtown. It's across 25th from the West Side Market and across Market St from The Flying Fig. It's one rapid stop from Tower City, which is a short walk from your hotel.

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      Bar Cento
      1948 West 25th Street, Cleveland, OH 44113

      1. linguafood Oct 27, 2011 08:11 AM

        I guess at this point I'm good with lunch recs (not sure what my exact schedule will be once there), but Friday night -- decided against the Bourdain thing -- I'd probably need a rec for a place where one can show up unannounced in a large/r group, say, 6-10 people.

        The problem at these conferences is that you bump into all kinds of friends, and then you have this throng of folks with you, and you're lucky enough if you can agree on a place where everyone is happy. It being a Friday night doesn't help, I'm sure, but are there low-key places like pubs with good grub that aren't too expensive and could accommodate a group?

        I'd love to be able to make some suggestions. At a conference in Seattle on a Saturday night, we were 12 folks trying to find a place and ended up at an INDIAN place. INDIAN! In Seattle. Arrgh.

        I'd like to avoid that :-D

        3 Replies
        1. re: linguafood
          s
          stuart Oct 28, 2011 11:30 AM

          None of the restaurants recommended in this thread will be reliably able to accommodate your party on such short notice. You might want to consider Siam Cafe. It's a big restaurant and they run a smooth operation. It would require a bus trip, but it's only 1.5mi and the service is door-to-door. You might think that Chinese in Cleveland is a lot like Indian in Seattle, but I think you may need to give a little on something or you'll loose control of the process and you might end up eating Indian food in Cleveland, too. At least Siam Cafe is tasty.

          If you end up at Siam, consider these dishes:
          Chinese: fried tofu, braised tofu, ham hock (good for a large group), salt baked shrimp, chicken noodle soup, beef noodle soup with shrimp dumplings, fried chicken, boiled chicken, braised beef brisket, steamed bread, potstickers

          Also, they have live fish. Pick a fish and match it with a preparation: fried, steamed, black bean sauce, etc...

          Vietnamese: char broiled beef, hot and sour soup, banh cuan cha lua

          Thai: Hot and sour soup

          Honestly, just steer clear of General Tso's chicken and all the other Americanized Chinese classics and you'll be fine. Not that the Tso's is bad. It's just not the reason to go to this restaurant.

          -----
          Siam Cafe
          3951 Saint Clair Ave NE, Cleveland, OH 44114

          1. re: linguafood
            s
            stuart Oct 28, 2011 12:00 PM

            My recommendation is that you call Bar Cento when you're ready to leave and if they can't accommodate you, go to Siam Cafe. But, if you go to Ohio City and Bar Cento is full, you're in the right neighborhood to find an alternative. Within a block or so, there are a lot of restaurants: Crop, Touch Supper Club, West Side Market Cafe, Flying Fig, Great Lakes Brewing, Bar Cento, Nate's, Ohio City Burrito, Market Garden Brewery, Phnom Penh, Orale, Garage Bar, Around the Corner, Dragonfly, Kan Zaman, Alaturka, Light Bistro and ABC the Tavern.

            After Cento, I'd head to ABC. It's a bar with good food. I like the hot dog and the lamb quesadilla. On Sunday's they have good chili during football games. They frequently have interesting specials.

            Then, I'd probably move on to some of the places that I haven't been to yet. Orale just opened. I've always been impressed with the stuff that the owner sells at his stand in the West Side Market.

            1. re: stuart
              linguafood Oct 28, 2011 01:50 PM

              Thanks, stuart. Those are all great suggestions. I hope I can push at least one of them through when a crowd is involved '-)

              And I promise I'll report back.

          2. linguafood Nov 3, 2011 02:05 PM

            Dinner report on Chinato -- I was really excited to see two sweetbread dishes on the menu -- a pasta and a fritto misto as well as a few other very appealing dishes. I was also starved and ready to EAT.

            The salmon crudo was a small portion of good quality salmon, some orange sections, fennel fronds and fennel pollen. Nice starter.

            The chilled risotto with caponata and tuna tartare, also under the Crudo section, was a massive portion for an appetizer. Quite overwhelming, I'd say. I'm not crazy about raw tuna, as it tends to be rather bland (unless you get the really fatty stuff), and I found the caponata to be overly acidic. I make a killer caponata myself, so this was a bit of a letdown.

            The antipasti platter also consisted mostly of pickled vegetables, more caponata, braised radicchio, olives and pecorino. Waaay too vinegary, most of it. We didn't finish half of what was on the plate.

            The octopus salad consisted of a decent amount of sliced tentacles which were perhaps a bit overdone, the salad was a bed of wild arugula which was freaking fantastic. I'm a lover of all things salad, so this was probably the winner of the night -- simply for this one quality ingredient.

            We had ordered two paste as our mains -- the col buco (curly spaghetti) with slow-roasted pork shoulder, tomato & white wine and the garganelli with sweetbreads, giblets, radicchio, butter & parmesan.

            Surprisingly enough, we were both rather stuffed after our appetizers and asked to switch to half portions. That was not a problem at all, and the half portion was definitely enough.

            Maybe I would have appreciated the pasta more if I hadn't already been so full, but I found the sweetbreads in this application didn't quite work. I like them pan-fried with a nice crust on the outside, so I may have been better off getting the sweetbreads fritto misto. The giblets were nice, cripsy noblets, and the butter & parm 'sauce' was crazy rich, of course. No room for dessert, even tho the almond panna cotta was calling my name.

            Dinrks were a nice Gavi di Gavi after a couple of GLB Dortmunder lager.

            Lunch today was at Market Place (which serves no breakfast after noon? WTF!) -- they were out of their sandwich special, so I just got a grilled cheese w/tomatoes, cole slaw on the side. Very nice cole slaw, but my clothes smell like I've spent all day behind the grill there. Ugh.

            Lola coming up in a bit.....

            -----
            Chinato
            E 4th St, Cleveland, OH

            1 Reply
            1. re: linguafood
              rockandroller1 Nov 4, 2011 11:03 AM

              Thanks for keeping us posted. Disappionted about the uneven Chinato meal. The col buco is my favorite thing there but I mostly go for lunch so it's a more limited menu then. Looking forward to your follow ups.

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              Chinato
              E 4th St, Cleveland, OH

            2. linguafood Nov 4, 2011 02:36 PM

              Anyone have any thoughts on Phnom Penh near WSM?

              -----
              Phnom Penh
              1929 W 25th St, Cleveland, OH 44113

              4 Replies
              1. re: linguafood
                rockandroller1 Nov 5, 2011 04:25 AM

                It's ok but nothing special.

                1. re: rockandroller1
                  linguafood Nov 5, 2011 07:58 AM

                  We liked it quite a bit, even tho unfortunately they mixed up our order with another table, and so we ended up just getting one of the noodle dishes we ordered (and not the extra spicy one that I wanted, dammit).

                  The Phnom Penh salad was actually so good that we got another order, and a shrimp dish had very complex flavors. Sucked down a 6-pack of Dortmunder Gold & it was all good.

                  Had a nightcap at the "Speakeasy Bar" in the Bier Markt. Eh.

                  -----
                  Phnom Penh
                  1929 W 25th St, Cleveland, OH 44113

                  1. re: linguafood
                    k
                    Kelli2006 Nov 6, 2011 01:34 AM

                    Ive been to Phnom Penh many times and they have never messed up an order or confused what tables that they belong with. I agree that the salad is very good.

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                    Phnom Penh
                    1929 W 25th St, Cleveland, OH 44113

                    1. re: Kelli2006
                      linguafood Nov 6, 2011 08:20 AM

                      Consider yourself lucky, then. If I recall, the waiter got about half of the dishes we ordered right. He seemed rather confused, which is weird, cause our order wasn't really all that complicated. 2 apps. 2 noodle dishes, one shrimp dish.

                      We got 2 apps, 1 beef dish, one shrimp dish, one noodle dish.

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