Harvest Kitchen and Lounge in Solon

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This past weekend we took our good friends Jenna and Andrew out to celebrate their wedding since we kinda were in Hawaii during their wedding!   I picked Harvest Kitchen and Lounge because I’ve wanted to go there for quite some time now and this was the perfect opportunity to try it out.

Food
Our waiter went over the menu with us and pointed out some of his favorite dishes.  There were so many choices that caught our attention, it was hard to pick.  I opted for the special fish of the day, which was a crab crusted Alaskan halibut.  I ordered it with spicy braised greens and of course some duck fat fries and garlic aioli.  I was not disappointed at all with anything on my plate.  The piping hot fish was cooked perfectly and the crispy crab crust added just enough texture and flavor without taking anything away from the fish. The braised greens were just mildly spicy, but that is a good thing since the fish did come with a curry based sauce that had some real kick to it. The garlic aioli that came with the fries was outstanding and it was hard to not finish every last fry!   I was a big fan of my dish, and so was our friend Jenna who also ordered the same dish.  If you see this on the menu again, I would highly recommend it.

My wife ordered the hanger steak with duck fat roasted fingerling potatoes and salsa verde. The steak was cooked to medium as she had ordered it, but since it was presliced by the time her dish had arrived at our table the plate was hotter than the actual steak. The steak was not cold, but we both agreed it was lukewarm at best.  Fortunately, this was not a deal breaker because the seasoning on the steak and the flavor was great.  The salsa verde that came with it really had a well-balanced kick to it and did not overpower any other flavors on the dish. The potatoes were simply delicious with the savory and slightly crispiness the duck fat added. I would order this dish again, but simply would ask that my steak be left unsliced.

Our friend Andrew ordered the grilled ribeye. When he was finished, his plate did the speaking for him…it was empty!  The steak was cooked just as he had ordered it. Thanks to his kindness, I can tell you that it tasted amazing.  The overall temperature of the steak was also much warmer than the hanger steak as well.

Drinks
Harvest offers a large wine list and a fully stocked bar.  What we all appreciated most about the drink menu was the large selection of craft beer.  They had around 40 different bottles and 4 draft selections which included a 3Floyds handle and a Jolly Pumpkin handle.  For only $8 you can get a flight of all four draft brews and the 4oz pours were much closer to 6oz which made the deal even better.   I was very pleased to find a very fresh keg of 3Floyds Dreadnaught on tap, something not too common around Cleveland.   Cheers to Harvest for putting some very good craft beer on the menu to go with some very good food!

Atmosphere and Service
Harvest is a warm and inviting place that makes you feel very comfortable.  I feel like I could walk in and have a beer at the bar, take my wife out for a fancy date night, or even head out to the patio for some small plates with friends.   Either way, Harvest really has done well with the space!   Our service for the night was excellent.  Our waiter was knowledgeable about the menu, and was quick to move from table to table.

Overall
Good food + great beer list + inviting atmosphere + friendly service = we will be back for dinner again!

Cleveland Indians Ticket Giveaway

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I’m going a little off of my food and drink theme with this post, but I promise to tie food and drink into it at the end!

I’ve been an Indians fan for all 32 years of my life.  I watch them on TV as much as possible and I might just be the biggest Tom Hamilton fan ever!!  I also try to attend a handful of Indians game each year.  So after Chris Perez’s recent comments on booing, fan attendance, and being “unhappy” I started to think.

First, should fans boo if a player or team is not playing up to expectations? Hell Yes!!! As a paying fans we have the right to boo and cheer, especially considering how much money they players are making to play a game!  Personally, I try to be positive when I attend games, but on occasion I’ve thrown out a boo at a hometown player or manager. I don’t care that Chris commented about this, in fact I love his passion for winning and hope it sparks the team and the city positively! Honestly, we all want the same thing…A competitive and winning team!!

Second, I do agree with Chris’s comments on fan attendance. We all need to get down to more games, myself included!  It saddens me to see so many empty seats each night, especially when teams like the Pirates and Orioles are drawing larger numbers than us!  It doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to get in these days, especially the upper deck and bleachers, but I am sad to say that I have not yet been down to the “Jake” this season. (For the record I’m well aware of the name change to Progressive Field, but to me, it will always be The Jake!)  Now not being there in person yet in 2012 doesn’t mean I have not been watching or listening to almost every single game. It really has been a matter of my personal schedule keeping me from heading down. That is all about to change this summer because I already have tickets for at least 7 games, and I’m sure we will get down to even more games than that.

Finally, I love supporting the Tribe as much as possible, so to help with the cause I’m going to give away five of my BP scratch off tickets which are good for 2 tickets to select Tribe games. This is my way of trying to get the stadium just a little more packed for a winning summer of baseball here in Cleveland! To be entered to win the giveaway just follow the directions below.

And the winner is….Comment #20 by Crystal as selected by Random.org. 

 

There are 3 ways to Enter The Giveaway

1. Leave one comment on this post telling me where your favorite place to eat and drink is outside of the “Jake”.

 
2. Share this post on Facebook by posting this link: http://hops.me/53y1
Then come back here and post a comment with your Facebook link.  You can only do this once, and it counts as one entry.
 
3. Share this on Twitter
I want to win 2 tickets to a #Cleveland @Indians Game from @CleFoodandBrews: http://hops.me/53y1 #GoTribe #Windians #BatMagic
Then come back here and post a comment with your Twitter link. This will count as one entry. You can do this every single day. Just make sure to leave a comment each time you tweet!
 
Rules:
–You have until Monday,  May 28th, 2012 at 9:00pm EST to enter.
–The winner will be picked at random using Random.org.   
–Only comments  with links left on this post will count.  If you tweet, facebook or enter in any other way be sure to leave a comment here telling me you did it with the link to that post.  
–You must leave a SEPARATE comment for each Entry, otherwise your entry will only count once.  
–Winner has 24 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. 


Disclosure:  I am doing this giveaway because I love the Cleveland Indians.  The BP Fill-Up Cards are my own. 

Emerging Chefs Garden Party Recap

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It has been a few months since we last attended an Emerging Chefs event. When we heard that Chef Jeff Jarrett was on board for Garden Party, we knew we didn’t want to miss this event.

Our dinner started with shaved lonzino, which is dry-cured pork loin, and some pork rillette fennel mustard mortadella.  This assortment was shared with the whole table and was actually prepared by Chef Melissa Khoury who will be doing the upcoming May Emerging Chefs event.

The first official course of the night was Spring Pea Soup.  This came topped with ramp creme fraiche, lemon oil, and pea tendrils.  The freshness of the peas used to make this soup was immediately apparent.  The soup was lightly seasoned, which was perfect because the combination of the peas, creme fraiche, and amazing lemon oil was a crowd favorite!
The second course of the evening was Mushroom Mousse.  It came with a tart cherry compote, micro fennel, and grilled bread  The mushroom taste in the mousse was actually pretty light. The sweetness from the compote was a great complement to the earthy mushroom flavor.  The best combination was to spread a bit of the mousse on the bread and top it with a few of the cherries. I don’t care for mushrooms, but I really enjoyed this dish.
Our third course for the evening was Goat Cheese Gnocchi.  The goat cheese used to make the gnocchi came from Lake Erie Creamery.  There was also pork belly croutons, asparagus, drunk fig jam (figs soaked in red wine and then pureed), and pepper-crest.   The goat cheese gnocchi was good, but a little too dense and the flavor of the goat cheese really didn’t come through as much as we would have thought.  The pork belly was very tasty and a bit on the smokey side.   The fresh asparagus and greens were a nice addition that helped to lighten up the dish a bit.
Our fourth course was Sous-vide lamb loin was paired with farro, fresh peas, cauliflower puree, and a bit of truffle oil.   The lamb was absolutely perfect in terms of temperature, texture, and seasoning.  I’ve never eaten farro before, but after tonight I’ll be actively seeking it out.  The farro, pea, and cauliflower puree was simply amazing. It was creamy with a hint of sweetness from the peas, and the farro added a great texture.  This was my favorite course of the night!
Our fifth and final course was the dessert round.  For dessert we had baked apple barley pudding, with a cinnamon tuile, and Snowville creamery anglaise.  This desert was simply delectable.   The use of the barley added so much texture to the baked apples and cinnamon.  The entire table sort of went silent while we all cleaned our bowls of this wonderful dessert!
The decor for this event was different from other Emerging Chefs events. The AMP150 vibe was the main focus of the event. The Garden Party theme was very apparent in each course but did not shine through with the venue. Another slight change from the usual Emerging Chefs events was the courses were not paired with cocktails but the price of the tickets remained the same as previous events with drink pairings. Overall, Chef Jarrett and his crew did a great job preparing fresh garden style food.  We all loved how he took time to go around to each and every table to discuss the dishes.
The next Emerging Chefs event, Snout to Tail,  will be taking place on May 24th and will feature
Melissa Khoury of Washington Place Bistro and Inn.
Get your tickets today at: http://hops.me/52i9
Disclosure: A single Media Pass was provided for me.  My fiancee’s ticket was paid for with our own funds.   All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% our own. 

Spring Fabulous Food Show Info and Giveaway

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Let the backyard barbeque battles begin! The first edition of the Spring Fabulous Food Show pays homage to the masters of the flame April 28 & 29, 2012, at the I-X Center in Cleveland, Ohio. Tickets are on sale now for the best celebrity grillers in the business, from Fabulous Food Show favorite Bobby Flay to first time appearances by Emeril Lagasse, “Barbeque Bible” grilling authority Steven Raichlen, and Weber Grills’ Jamie Purviance!

Spring Fabulous Food Show Tickets on Sale Ticket prices: 

One-day Admission ticket: $25 (advanced) online at www.fabulousfoodshow.com, or $30.00 onsite and online April 28-29, 2012, at the I-X Center. Each ticket includes admission to exhibits and seating to see one of your favorite celebrity chefs, and also allows patrons to see other celebrity chefs on the day of the visit — on a firstcome, first-served basis.
Event Hours: Saturday, April 28 — 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM and Sunday, April 29 — 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Giveaway
Ready for some good news?  I’ve been given two general admission tickets to give away to one lucky reader. To enter the giveaway simply read the directions below!

And the winner is…Random.or has picked comment 24 from Stephanie!  

 
 There are 3 ways to Enter The Giveaway
1. Leave one comment on this post telling me which chef you are most excited to see.

 
2. Share this post on Facebook by posting this link: http://hops.me/4rat
Then come back here and post a comment with your Facebook link.  You can only do this once, and it counts as one entry.
 
3. Share this on Twitter
I want to win 2 tickets to the @FabFoodShow from the @CleFoodandBrews Giveaway: http://hops.me/4rat
The come back here and post a comment with your Twitter link. This will count as one entry. You can do this every single day. Just make sure to leave a comment each time you tweet!
 
Rules:
–You have until Friday,  April 20th, 2012 at 9:00pm EST to enter.
–The winner will be picked at random using Random.org.   
–Only comments  with links left on this post will count.  If you tweet, facebook or enter in any other way be sure to leave a comment here telling me you did it with the link to that post.  
–You must leave a SEPARATE comment for each Entry, otherwise your entry will only count once.  
–Winner has 24 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. 

Stamper’s Grill Pub in Fairview Park

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A special thanks to my good friend Gretchen for this guest review of Stamper’s Grill Pub in Fairview Park.  Recently, her and her husband Steve decided to visit Stampers and she offered to do a guest review.  I graciously accepted and she did a stellar job covering all of the details of their meal!

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Within the past year, Stamper’s has undergone an image transformation. While the bar looks the same both inside and out, the menu, beer list, and music scene have all had a face lift. When a few friends of ours recently visited and spoke highly of the “new” Stamper’s, my husband, Steve, and I decided that we should check it out for ourselves. We were most excited to view the new beer menu as Stamper’s claims to be moving into the craft beer direction, even adding the words “craft and belgian beer” to its new sign and website.

Food
The extensive menu of bar food that Stamper’s used to have has been replaced by a sleeker one-page menu. You can choose from bar snacks, small plates, salads, gourmet burgers, sandwiches, fatbread pizzas (no that is not a spelling error), entrees, cheese, and desserts. There is also a Specials board as you enter.

For some reason, I was in the mood for a fish fry. Every year at this time, I have to sample at least one fish fry from an establishment where I have never ordered one before. I don’t normally eat fried food, but the delicious aroma and crunchy breading always beckon to me in the spring. Fortunately, almost every restaurant has a fish fry special during lent. When I saw fried fish skewers on the Specials board, I was in my glory. Stamper’s offers great Happy Hour Specials, which almost made me order the sliders, as they are half off during Happy Hour, but I simply couldn’t pass up on the fish.

Steve ordered the Grind of the Week burger, which was made of chorizo, a favorite of his. I, of course, ordered the fish skewers, and assuming that they would be small, I also ordered half of the goat cheese salad. Steve and I had just finished completing our tax refund, which may have made us extra hungry, because we also ordered the soft pretzels as an appetizer.

The pretzels weren’t anything special. I feel as if I could have had almost the same quality from the frozen box of Super Pretzels that I used to microwave as a kid. The two redeeming qualities of the pretzels were the sweet and spicy mustard sauce and the lingering softness that the pretzels retained. The ones I microwaved always seemed to get chewy and hard after a few minutes. The smoked cheddar stout sauce was flavorless.

My salad was shockingly bland. Goat cheese is my favorite food. I love it for its funkiness and biting flavor. This goat cheese just didn’t have that. The balsamic vinagrette also tended towards the flavorless side. The saving grace of this salad were the candied walnuts and the dried cranberries.

The fish skewers were huge. I was not prepared for this. I’m not sure why I assumed that this was a smaller portion, so it is only my own fault that I didn’t ask the server how many pieces were in a skewer order. At first bite, the skewers were everything I had hoped for when craving a fish fry. The breading was crunchy, the fish was flaky and moist, and the tartar sauce was incredible. I’m not sure what exactly went into the tartar sauce, but I would have to guess that jalapenos were present. There was the perfect amount of kick to go along with the thick, creaminess of the sauce. However, when I tasted the fish skewers without adding tartar sauce, there simply was no flavor. The texture was spot on and, to be honest, I’d rather have crunchy flavorless fish skewers than soggy flavorful ones. As the skewers sat for a while (I was eating my salad), they unfortunately, became grease bombs. I couldn’t continue to pick them up and pry them off of their skewers, as my fingers kept slipping.

Steve’s burger was also a redeeming food item from our visit. The chorizo was spicy enough for someone who likes things a bit hot, and may have been too hot for people with a sensitive palate. Steve likes his food to have major kick, so it wasn’t quite spicy enough for him, however, that isn’t necessarily a surprise as restaurants have to cater to all of their clientele. While he ordered his burger medium-rare, and it was borderline medium-well, it was still moist and juicy. The only real problem with his burger was the bacon on top. The picture doesn’t do it justice, but some pieces were crispy and others had bulbous sections of inedible fat that had to be removed prior to consumption.

The french fries reminded me of fair fries and I could have picked at them all day. They weren’t crispy, which I usually prefer, but they had the wonderfully fresh potatoey taste that trumped all need for crispiness. Stamper’s chef attempted to fancify the fries by adding sprigs of rosemary. However, at least on this visit, there was no rosemary aroma or flavor to be found.

I would recommend ordering a burger. It was definitely the best bite on the table. Plus there is the added bonus of french fries as a side.

Drinks 
The draught list had 24 beers available, plus the always popular domestics like Bud Light. Whoever planned the menu attempted to consider that not every visitor would have craft beer knowledge. Therefore, they set up the menu in a few interesting ways. First, the beers were listed in order of darkness. Beer closer to the top of the menu was lighter and those near the bottom were dark. There was also an advisory about head, and that certain glasses may not be filled all of the way to compensate for a thick head on the beer. One of the major problems with setting up a menu this way is that the color of a beer doesn’t always mean it will have a particular flavor. For example, currently on Stamper’s menu is Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale. This beer is near the bottom of the menu because of its color. However, this is a hoppy beer that is similar in flavor to an IPA, which are often light in color. If the beer drinker is expecting to get a thick, dark stout, such as those beers that surround the Self-Righteous, they will be in for a surprise, and potentially not a good one.

There are these little symbols all over the menu. And while Steve and I believe that we figured them out, there is no map key for us to be sure. We assume that the little airplanes mean that you can purchase the beer in a flight for the lower dollar amount listed to the right. We assume that the little wine glass means that the beer will taste a bit like a wine, as it was pictured next to a lambic. We are not sure what the boot symbols mean. We are kind of hoping that they mean the beer will be served in a boot, but honestly don’t know and didn’t ask.

I ordered a Columbus IPA, which is one of my favorite summer beers. I realize that it isn’t summer yet, but the weather was exceptional and people were eating on the patio. Steve ordered a Great Divide Oak-Aged Yeti Stout. Both beers were priced reasonably. The size of the pour was also clearly displayed on the menu so that we knew exactly what we were getting prior to ordering it.
As a craft beer snob of sorts, I appreciate that Stamper’s is trying. They have done a nice job of moving away from all domestic beers. Some of the beers on their list may be a bit common, but others are not. Overall, their beer menu would be a good option for craft beer snobs and those just getting their feet into the craft beer waters.

Atmosphere and Service
We were greeted immediately upon entering the restaurant by the hostess who also became our server. She was extremely friendly and had great knowledge of the food side of the menu. Not once did she appear at our table without a smile on her face and I could overhear her talking to other tables with the same positive persona. The only real snafu was that even though we ordered an appetizer and two dinners, she brought out the pretzels, salad, and fish skewers all at the same time and the burger didn’t arrive for another 5 minutes or so. This could have been more of a problem if I wasn’t eating with my husband, but we are past the point of waiting for each other to eat, which is good since the longer my fish skewers sat, the greasier they became. Our waitress checked back on us multiple times and empty dishes never sat at our table for long. Either our server swung by and removed them or the owner did. There was a rather long wait to bring our check, however, the place was packed and most likely a bit understaffed for a crowded Wednesday night. We do not fault our server at all for this delay.

The atmosphere at Stamper’s has not changed much since its upgrades. The interior is still decorated the same and there are dark areas in the back and by the bar. What has changed though is that people must no longer feel that this is just a bar anymore. (I’ve always felt the word “grill” is a distinguishing word for people to bring children inside.) Patrons of all ages were in the dining area. From a family with two small children to another family of high school aged children, everyone was welcome.

Overall, The word “pub” is not a descriptor that I would use for Stamper’s. Pub makes me think of one of two things: either a dark bar that only serves food that can be cooked in a deep fryer, or a gastropub where the food and beer are equally outstanding. Neither of which applies to Stamper’s. I would classify it as somewhere in the middle. Stamper’s is a nice place to grab a beer with friends and eat a juicy burger at the same time.

Hodge’s Cleveland Preview

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My fiancee and I were invited to Hodge’s Cleveland for a sneak peak at a few dishes last night.  I quickly wanted to share them with you so you’ll have a better idea of what to expect when you walk in the doors.  Outside of the food, the decor at Hodge’s is wonderful.  If you have ever met Chris at one of his food trucks the restaurant fits his personality perfectly.  The outside patio will seat over 100 people and will be a real treat before heading to some Indians games. There is also a hodgepodge selection of brews with something for everyone.
Every table at Hodge’s will be treated to a small bite to start their evening.  Tonight we sampled two of those selections.  First we had Baked Potato Tater Tots served with bacon bits and a sour cream and chive dip.

Next we were served a Corn Bread in a cast iron skillet (do not touch, it is very hot!)  It was paired with whipped bourbon maple butter.

For our first taste of the menu items we had Tuna Poppers.  These bite sized poppers consisted of a crispy rice cake topped with Ahi tuna and ponzu.

Next we tried Chris’s take on Pork and Beans.  This was a piece of house braised bacon with pressure cooked pine nuts.  It was served with red cabbage and parsley.

For our third tasting we tried the Certified Angus Beef Hanger Steak. The steak itself was marinated overnight in balsamic and once cooked, topped with a fresh salsa verde that was made with numerous green herbs including mint.  The steak came with tomato creamed heirloom beans and crispy fried potato shards.

Next we had “Peas and Carrots”.  This came with a seared lemon scallop topped with a piece of grapefruit. It was served with smashed peas, a pea soubise, a cumin chef’s garden carrot and a touch of cilantro.

The final treat for the night was the Fried Apple Pie.  Chris told us his inspiration for this none other than McDonald’s apple pies we all had as kids.  The fried apple pie bites were topped with cinnamon and sugar and then served with a swipe of bourbon caramel.

We are looking forward to heading back to Hodge’s Cleveland for dinner one evening and a full review of our experience.  In the meantime, I hope this preview gives you an idea of what Chef Hodge has up his sleeve.  Cheers!

Burntwood Tavern in Rocky River

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Back in November of 2010 my fiancée and I tried the newly opened Burntwood Tavern in Chagrin Falls. Recently, a new Burntwood Tavern opened in Rocky River, so we ventured over to the Westside to see what this Burntwood had to offer.

 

Food
My fiancée ordered the Asiago Crusted Chicken ($16). It was served with crispy potatoes and wilted spinach, then topped with fire roasted marinated tomatoes. The crust on the chicken was light and crispy while the inside remained juicy and tender. The asiago however didn’t really come through in the flavor like my fiancée would have hoped. The crispy potatoes were really unique. These smashed and pan fried potatoes were really crispy on the outside and perfectly soft on the inside. We both though this was the perfect starch side for this style of dish. Finally, the spinach that was cooked in a lemon vinaigrette was absolutely delectable.  Even though the asiago flavor was minimal at best, this dish was still excellent and we would recommend it.

I ordered the Prosciutto Wrapped Scallops ($24).  The 3 medium sized scallops were grouped together and then collectively wrapped in prosciutto. They were then seared & served on a bed of roasted root vegetables and finished with basil oil. When I ordered this dish I expected each scallop to be wrapped in its own piece of prosciutto, so when it came out as a cluster wrap I was somewhat surprised. This wasn’t a major issue because the scallops were all cooked perfectly and the amount of prosciutto wrapped around the bunch ended up being just enough to get a piece with every bite of scallop. I personally love scallops wrapped in prosciutto or bacon because of the way the fat from the meat plays on the soft delicate flavor of the scallop. The root vegetables helped to add texture and even more flavor to the dish. These vegetables had a wonderful roasted, almost smokey flavor that really was enjoyable. The dish also came with just a few sweet potatoes chips that were excellent.  I wish there would have been a handful of the chips on the dish because were so tasty and added another layer of crunch to the dish. I do think the portion size was a little on the small side though for the price. Overall, I was very pleased with the flavors on this dish and would recommend it to any seafood lover.

Drinks
The drink menu at Burntwood offers everything. Wine lovers will enjoy a fairly extensive and reasonably priced wine list. Cocktail and mixed drink fans will find a pretty unique and hand crafted cocktail list as well. Finally, the craft beer fan will be happy because the Rocky River Burntwood location has nearly 20 taps, plus a nice bottle list. My choice of beverage for the evening was a Brew Kettle 4Cs, while my fiancée decided to go with a nice glass of the house red wine.

Atmosphere and Service

When you walk in the restaurant you quickly notice that there is a large wrap around bar with a large dining area just on the other side of it. The entire restaurant makes great use of the space. Natural brick and recycled wood are everywhere and really make the restaurant a warm and inviting place to eat. We sat out in the patio area which was completely enclosed in glass for the winter. The roaring fireplace just behind us made a great backdrop for our dinner. Our service for the evening was very good too. Our waitress was knowledgeable about the menu and was more than willing to find the answers to all the questions we had.  Our food came out quickly, and both dishes were fresh out of the kitchen and clearly did not sit for very long. Overall, we were impressed by the new Rocky River Burntwood Tavern.  I would recommend it to both east and west side residents!

 

 

Noodlecat in Downtown Cleveland

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Recently, we decided to take advantage of Downtown Cleveland Restaurant week by visiting Noodle Cat for dinner for the first time. I’ve attended a few special dinner events there, but we have never actually gone and eaten off the regular menu. During restaurant week Noodlecat was offering one Goyza, any two bowls of noodles, and one desert for only $30. This deal was too good to pass up!

Food
The Goyza we were offered was a seafood variety. We mentioned that my fiancée doesn’t care for seafood so our waiter offered to check if they had another variety they could substitute. Within a few seconds he was back and offered us the pork Goyza, which made us both very happy. This crispy take on a Japanese dumpling were very flavorful and were amplified by the peanut based dipping sauce. We both enjoyed this very tasty starter.

For my fiancée’s noodle dish, she picked the College Ramen ($9). This came with poached chicken, shiro chicken broth, corn, peas, chive, scallions, & chicken salt. The first comment she made was about how this really did bring her back to her college days at Bowling Green. The flavors in the dish were all well balanced and the poached chicken was very tender. The corn and peas added a little sweetness to the dish.  The noodles themselves were cooked perfectly and were delicious.

My noodle dish was the “Roscoe’s” Fried Chicken and Ramen (Priced at $13 with two pieces of chicken). I ordered this dish because I was very curious as to how they would prepare the fried chicken after reading the description. It came with two pieces of fried chicken that were coated in panko breadcrumbs, butter, hot sauce, and maple syrup. The noodles came with kale & fried chicken broth. I’ll start by saying the noodles, greens and the fried chicken broth were outstanding. I loved how “slurpilicious” this dish was. It not only had flavor, but it was very fun to eat! The fried chicken however was on a totally other level. The ultra crispy skin was both packed with heat and sweet notes that simply were amazing! After biting through the skin, I found chicken that was perfectly cooked and very moist. This dish for me was a homerun and I really look forward to getting it again.

After these two courses we were both pretty full, but we couldn’t pass up on the olive oil cake desert. The cake was light and moist with a subtle orange flavor.  A nice ending to a very filling meal.

Drinks 
Noodlecat offers Happy Hour every day of the week! It was still Happy Hour when we arrived. The happy hour prices on drinks is a great deal. They only have 4 draft beers, but they are all of good craft quality. I had a Dogfish Head 60min IPA, but they also had the Victory Greenhouse Tavern Lager, Sapporo, and a 4th draft that slipped my mind! In addition to these drafts they carried at least a dozen different canned beers and a dozen different bottled versions too. If you are in the mood to share a brew, they also offer 22oz and 750mL bottles. For how small of a restaurant Noodlecat is, I give them props for offering a very respectable craft beer selection. Of course it wouldn’t be officially a noodle house if they didn’t offer some Sake! I’m not an expert in the Sake department, but from the looks of the extensive list I’m sure you can find something that will suit your needs!

Atmosphere and Service
Noodlecat is a fun place to eat. The décor features many pieces of recycled metal and lumber which looks kind of rustic, but it also has a modern feel as well. The service for the night was excellent. We were clearly ahead of the dinner rush, because the restaurant was not really busy. That being said our service for the early evening dinner was excellent. Our waiter was quick, prompt, and very knowledgeable about the menu. Being knowledgeable about the menu was very helpful for us because we don’t eat at many Japanese restaurants.

Overall our first official dining experience at Noodlecat was a success. We loved the food, my beer was tasty, and the service was excellent. We look forward to going back to Noodlecat, especially once Cleveland Indians Baseball season starts! Go Tribe!

Sunday Supper: Orecchiette with Chicken, Caramelized Onions, and Blue Cheese

For this installment of Sunday Supper the recipe once again came from our Food and Wine Cookbook and was called Orecchiette with Chicken, Caramelized Onions, and Blue Cheese.   We choose this particular recipe because we both were in the mood for pasta, and the combination of chicken and blue cheese really grabbed our interest.

Ingredients we used:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, quartered and cut into thin slices
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 pound orecchiette pasta
  • 3 ounces crumbled blue cheese (1/2 cup)

Directions
1. In a large nonstick frying pan, melt the butter with 2 tablespoons of oil over moderately high heat. Add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring frequently, until well browned, about 25 minutes. Remove.

2. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan and reduce the heat to moderate. Season the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper and add to the pan along with the rosemary. Cook the chicken until brown, about 5 minutes. Turn and cook until almost done, about 3 minutes longer. Add the garlic. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Cover the pan, remove from the heat, and let steam for 5 minutes. Cut the chicken into 1/4-inch slices.

3. Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the orecchiette until just done, about 15 minutes. Reserve about 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and toss with 2 tablespoons of the pasta water, the onions, the chicken with pan juices, the blue cheese, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. If the pasta seems dry, add more of the reserved pasta water.

Just the smell of the caramelizing onions is reason enough to make this dish.  That being said, the taste did not disappoint.  The sweetness from the caramelized onions was a perfect balance for the saltiness of the blue cheese. The amount the recipe called for really did strike a perfect 50/50 balance.   This balance of salty vs. sweet also really helped the rosemary to remain noticeable, but not overpowering.   Finally, the chicken picked up just enough of the garlic and rosemary flavor to also add more depth to the dish.   This is another dish from our Food and Wine cookbook that we will be cooking again, just next time for friends and family because it was so good!  Cheers!

Sunday Supper – Roasted Chicken with Bourbon Maple Pepper Glaze and Sweet Potatoes

This Sunday we decided to invite a few friends over for dinner.  Our plan was to roast a whole chicken and when we saw the recipe in our Food and Wine cookbook that called for both bourbon and pure maple syrup we had to try it out!

Ingredients:
2 pounds sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons fresh-ground black pepper
1 chicken (3 to 3 1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces
6 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons bourbon
Directions:
1. Heat the oven to 425°. In a large roasting pan, toss the sweet potatoes with 1 tablespoon of the oil, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Push them to the edges of the pan, leaving a space in the center for the chicken.
2. Rub the cavity of the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper. Twist the wings behind the back and tie the legs together. Put the chicken, breast-side up, in the center of the roasting pan. Coat the chicken with the remaining tablespoon oil, sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper, and dot with the butter. Roast the chicken for 30 minutes.

 

3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the maple syrup, bourbon, and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Remove the roasting pan from the oven and stir the potatoes. Brush the chicken with about 2 tablespoons of the glaze and drizzle the potatoes with about 1/2 tablespoon of the glaze. Return the pan to the oven and cook, stirring the potatoes and brushing the chicken with the remaining glaze 2 more times, until the chicken and potatoes are just done, about 30 minutes longer. Transfer the bird and potatoes to a plate and leave to rest in a warm spot for about 10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, pour off the fat from the roasting pan. Add any accumulated juices from the chicken to the liquid in the pan. Serve the chicken with the pan juices and sweet potatoes.

Out of all of the Sunday Supper posts I have written up, this one might go down as my favorite!  The chicken was moist and packed with a rich maple flavor. I would have liked the skin to be a bit crispier, which could have been helped by turning on the broiler for the last few minutes.  The bourbon didn’t come out as much in the chicken as it did in the sweet potatoes.  Speaking of the sweet potatoes, I could have eaten the whole batch myself they were so good.   If you are looking for a very fun and tasty recipe that was fairly easy to execute, I’d highly recommend this one!