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The extensive menu of bar food that Stamper’s used to have has been replaced by a sleeker one-page menu.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!

Grizzly Peak Brewing Company in Ann Arbor, MI

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On our recent beercation to Ann Arbor, we had dinner at Grizzly Peak Brewing Company.   We heard from many friends and even some local Ann Arbor folks that Grizzly Peak was one of the places we needed to visit.  I was curious to see what this brewing company had to offer both in terms of both food and beer.

Food
My fiancee ordered the Grilled Steak Salad. This came with grilled hanger steak sliced over a salad of quinoa and mixed greens with manchego cheese, marcona almonds, roasted red beets and a side of basil pesto ranch dressing for $13.95.  The steak was cooked to a perfect medium temperature and paired well with the quinoa and beets.  The basil pesto ranch dressing was amazing.  I am not even a fan of ranch dressing and I would have eaten an entire salad topped with this dressing.  The only real criticism of this dish is that my fiancee wished there would have been more nuts and beets to help balance the meat and greens on the plate.   That being said, she would highly recommend this dish for the salad/steak lover!

It took me all of ten seconds to make my dinner choice. When I looked at the menu and saw Hanger Steak with a red Thai Chili reduction, I knew I had to order it! The dish was also served with mashed potatoes and fresh sauteed Swiss chard and red onion for $18.95.  The steak itself was cooked to a perfect medium. The combination of the steak and the red Thai Chili reduction created a perfect bite.   I loved the rich, tender flavor of the steak.  The reduction added a perfect balance of both sweet and spicy to everything on the plate.  I even ended up dipping every bite of the well seasoned mashed potatoes in this reduction!   Simply put, this dish was well proportioned, delicious and very reasonably priced.  I’d order this dish again in a heartbeat.
After dining at Grizzly Peak we understand why so many people said we had to eat here.  We were very happy with the food, and we gladly eat dinner here again!

Drinks
When we arrived, we had about a 20 minute wait before we were seated.  We took this opportunity to order a sampler from the bar so I could see what Grizzly Peak had to offer.  The sampler prices were very reasonable.  Six four ounce samples were $6.95 and for every sample over six they only charged a dollar more.

From left to right we ordered the Pale Ale, Porter, Warm-Up Winter Ale, Irish Stout, Cask IPA, and the Cask Junicade Red Ale.  Of these six the pale ale and the cask IPA were the most drinkable.  Their flavors were light but well balanced.  The porter and the cask stout were next, but really lacked body for the styles.  Finally, the winter ale and the red ale were our least favorite.  The winter ale had a very odd spice to it which really threw it out of balance.  The red ale had a buttery note which was really off putting and we did not finish the sample.  The beers at Grizzly Peak didn’t wow either of us.  I felt all of the beers were very “safe”. Luckily they are owned by the same group that owns North Peak and Jolly Pumpkin, so they had a good selection of North Peak beers in bottles.  I picked a bottle of the North Peak Dubious Black Chocolate Stout to drink with my dinner.  This 5.5% abv. stout is light in alcohol, but not in body or flavor.   This is one of the best session stouts you’ll find anywhere, and is available here in Cleveland.

This was the best I could get with the lighting in the bar.

Atmosphere and Service
The atmosphere at Grizzly Peak is what you would expect at a very nice brewpub.  Fun, friendly, and a little noisy thanks to the group of guys standing behind our table. Our server for the evening was very friendly and  was open to giving suggestions about both food and beer.  When I asked her what North Peak offerings they had, she didn’t remember, but quickly found out and told me about each and every one in detail.   We also liked that the brewery took the time to add recommended beers to each and every dish on the menu.
Overall
Grizzly Peak didn’t wow us with their house-made beer, but they did with the food.   The good news about the beer is that they carry a full line-up of North Peak beers which are usually very flavorful and very sessionable in terms of the abv. content.   If you visit Ann Arbor, we would recommend stopping by Grizzly Peak for dinner and a sampler as we did.  If you do, let us know your thoughts!  Cheers!

Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week February 27 – March 4, 2012

Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week kicks off on February 27 and goes through March 4 with more than 40 participating restaurants! Of the 40+ restaurants, each will offer $30 3-course menus for one or two diners, and a $15 lunch option at select restaurants.

A full list of participating restaurants with menus is available here.

New to Downtown Restaurant Week

Pura Vida by Brandt – Wholesome cuisine, craft cocktails, exceptional service in a one-of-a-kind Cleveland atmosphere

Taza – Lebanese grill with vegetarian, fish and meat lover appetizers and entrees inspired by traditional home-cooked meals

Prime Rib Steakhouse– Juicy, melt-in-your-mouth prime rib carved at your table to your specifications from gleaming silver carts

Pacer’s Ribhouse – Award-winning ribs

Noodlecat – A slurpalicious Japanese-American mash-up from Chef Jonathon Sawyer, inspired by Tokyo noodle worship and New York City noodle houses

“Restaurant Week Foodie Dream Package”

Interested in dining downtown for an entire year – for free? Restaurant Week diners will receive a small postcard with their meal at participating restaurants. A QR code on the back of the card will direct them to a form where they can enter to win a grand prize, including gift cards from participating downtown restaurants. Multiple other winners will be selected for special prizes.

Park and eat

During Restaurant Week, several downtown parking facilities will offer $2 parking to diners who show their special Restaurant Week parking voucher. The $2 parking special will be available to diners beginning at 5 p.m. each day during Restaurant Week.

The $2 parking voucher must be printed out prior to using it at participating lots.  You can find the voucher here. To see participating parking lots and garages, click here to view the map.

Free Food Giveaway!

The kind folks at the Downtown Cleveland Alliance have offered up a $30 gift certificate to one lucky reader!  The $30 gift certificate to Prime Rib Steakhouse that can be used anytime!

And the Winner is….. Comment #13 from @ohionewbie!  Congrats and please email me your name and contact information at clevelandfoodandbrews at gmail.  Cheers!

There are 3 ways to Enter The Giveaway

  1. Leave one comment on this post telling me where you hope to eat during Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week.
  1. Share this post on Facebook by posting this link:  http://hops.me/jsb

Then come back here and post a comment with your Facebook link.  You can only do this once, and it counts as one entry.

  1. Share this on Twitter:  I want to win a $30 GC to Prime Rib Steakhouse from@CleFoodandBrews and @DowntownCLE: http://hops.me/jsb

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 Friday,  February 24th, 2012 at 4:00pm 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.
–The winner will get their tickets via mail.
Disclosure:  The DCA has provided a single $30 GC for this giveaway.  All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. 

Momocho Mod Mex in Ohio City

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My fiancee wanted to go to Momocho for her birthday dinner.  After reading all of the glowing reviews and even seeing them on Unique Eats, we just had to see what all the hype was about.  It turned out that we met another couple for drinks before hand and asked them to join us for our meal!  This would be our first time eating dinner at Momocho.

Food
We started our meal with the guacamole sampler.  This gave us a chance to pick three different guacamole.  From bottom to top in the picture below we picked the goat cheese with tomato chile and poblano peppers, the jicama with pineapple, chile habanero, and mint, and finally the garlic confit with bleu cheese, and chile verde.  The goat cheese really stood out in contrast to the avacado. I enjoyed how each bite packed a punch. The sweet pineapple and jicama blend was my personal favorite because of the way it blended with the heat that came in late, and lingered on until the next bite.  The bleu cheese had a lot of potential, but only a few bites actually got a bite of bleu cheese, the rest was just normal tasting guacamole.


We decided to try several different taquitos for our entrees. At the bottom of the picture we started with the pato, which was slow cooked duck confit with chile ancho and a pomegranate barbacoa.  The duck was very moist and tender and the pomegranate sauce really had a nice balance of sweet to go along with the spiciness.  This was my personal favorite of the four.  Second from the bottom we had the machaca, which was coffee and ancho braised beef brisket with guacamole.  Although the coffee didn’t really come out, the flavor and the tenderness of the meat was outstanding.  Third from the bottom we tried the special for the evening which was the mole beef. The beef was in a chocolate based sauce and the richness of the chocolate stood out. This was my fiance’s favorite dish because the beef was even more tender than the braised beef brisket.   Finally, the top dish in the picture was the carnitas, which was adobo braised pork with a honey-chipotle mojo. We were told this was one of the most popular dishes, and the flavors explained why.  Simple, yet bold spices combined with tender and juicy pork.

To end our dinner some deep fried ice cream was brought to the table for the birthday girl!  The presentation of this dish was very fun and the combination of flavor and texture of this dish were amazing.  This really was a great way to end our fantastic dinner.  I have to say that the hype that surrounds Momocho is well deserved because we would go back and order any of the taquitos again.  Momocho offers bold flavors, perfectly cooked protein, and prices that are extremely reasonable considering the high quality of food!

Drinks
Momocho is known for their margaritas so we each decided to try what many consider their best, the cucumber margarita. All four of us felt the amount of sour mix used in the drink was just too much.  We asked if it was possible to get it remade, but we were informed that it was already premixed, and would likely taste exactly the same.  This was a slight disappointment because we have tried this drink at Momocho before, and this time it really fell flat.  As far as beer goes Momocho offers your standard Mexican brews such as Corona and Dos Equis.

Atmosphere and Service
The room was dimly light and the environment is full of flair.  The picture at the top of this review is just a glimpse at some of the artwork that is posted up all over the restaurant.  Momocho’s atmosphere definitely says fun, but also has a very relaxed feel to it which we very much enjoyed.  Our server for the night was outstanding.  Her service was everything you would want and expect at a restaurant.  She was friendly, funny, knowledgeable, and very helpful when it came to questions about the menu and the food.   With service and food like we had during this dinner experience it is no wonder so many people rave about Momocho!

Lee Anne Wong Pop Up at Noodle Cat January 21st Giveaway

Lee Anne Wong’s first trip to Noodle Cat for a Pop-Up dinner was a huge success.  If you missed the first event, you won’t want to miss her second trip back to Cleveland on January 21st at 6:30pm to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Lee Anne Wong is best known for her success on the first season of Bravo’s Top Chef, where she then went on to be the supervising culinary producer. She has competed on Iron Chef America and is the host of Unique Eats on the Cooking Channel. Lee Anne lives and works mostly in NYC, but enjoys traveling and cooking all over the world.

The dinner for this event will feature 5 courses for $69.
The Menu Includes:

  • Crispy Fish Salad w/ romaine, parmesan & lemon sesame dressing
  • Char Siu Pork Jiaozi w/ soy chili dipping sauce
  • Seamed Fish w/ sizzling oil, green onion, ginger & soy
  • Kung Pao Prawns w/ celery & rice salad
  • And much more!!
Giveaway
Ready for some good news?  I’ve been given two tickets to give away to one lucky reader. To enter the giveaway simply read the directions below!
 
 There are 3 ways to Enter The Giveaway
1. Leave one comment on this post telling me which of the three posted courses you are most interested in trying.

 
2. Share this post on Facebook by posting this link: http://hops.me/bte
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 @bricknmortar216 pop-up featuring @leeannewong!  Check out the @CleFoodandBrews Giveaway: http://hops.me/bte
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 Thursday,  January 19th, 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. 
–The winner will get their tickets at the door when they arrive for the event.