Suggestions- 40th birthday dinner in Cleveland
I'm looking for a venue that has amazing food (New American, preferably) with an intimate and romantic feel for a small group of women to have an amazing culinary adventure (not ruling out a tasting menu) and deep conversation. Someplace not very noisy but also not stuffy. I'm also open to off the wall ideas as well. Help!
"The little sister who's planning the big sister's birthday"
Fire is a nice choice, at Shaker Square. They have a private dining room, but maybe it's too big for your group. The regular dining room affords good conversation; maybe Chef Katz will do a tasting menu, if you organize it in advance.
For off the wall but excellent food, I recommend the tiny but delicious La Campagna in Westlake. Reservations are required, as the place is very small. The food is amazing. It's family-owned/run and informal feeling and a little kitschy because they sell gourmet food gift baskets out of there as well, so the walls are adorned with a variety of shelf-stable, imported food items.
I've never had a bad meal there.
Spice is the best restaurant in Cleveland. They use the best ingredients available, they combine them thoughtfully but without getting weird and they execute flawlessly. Nothing is on the plate to look good or sound good. Everything has a good flavor. Seriously, it's a shame that you have to mention that when you're talking about Cleveland's elite restaurants, but nobody is as consistent as Spice. I knew they were legit from my first visit over a year ago and since then I've taken several people. No one just likes it; everyone loves it.
I can't even recommend something from the menu. They offer so many nightly specials that I've hardly touched the menu even though I eat there at least a couple times a month.
Doug Katz and his restaurant, fire food and drink, are as conscientious as Spice about their ingredients. It's a beautiful restaurant and the food is well presented, too. It's considerably more expensive than Spice.
I've had a couple really good meals at The Willeyville. It's off the beaten track, hidden away in the ruins of The Flats.They are also very ambitious in terms of doing as much as possible in house. I've only eaten there a small fraction of the times that I've eaten at Spice or fire, but if you're looking to earn points for finding something before everyone is already talking about it, then I think this might be a good bet. I have high expectations for them.
I tried to upload a few more pictures of food from Spice. Chowhound seems to be having a hard time with a post that includes more than a couple pictures. I hit post and I've been watching that little animated "please wait" .gif for a few minutes, so I'm not sure that it's going to work. I didn't want to link to my own pictures, but I tried uploading a couple times already and chowhound is making this much harder than it should be.
I would look at Flying Fig and Lolita. You might also want to contact the Tremont Tap House because they have nice private room upstairs.