Weekend Food Bites – Cleveland Edition
Everyone seemed to have enjoyed my previous Weekend Food Bites post so I decided to put one together for my recent trip home to Cleveland. I hope you enjoy and that I may even surprise you that Cleveland does have some foodie surprises.
Reddstone - I recently went home to celebrate my boyfriend’s birthday (he’s an old man) and we had the pleasure of cashing in a Groupon at Reddstone. Reddstone is located on the West side and when it comes down to it, is just a neighborhood pub. We called ahead to reserve a table (not something I typically do in Cleveland) and it was a good move since the dining space is tiny.
I walked in to find one of those beautiful rustic wooden bars along one wall and the small dining section running parallel to it. I’d estimate that there are around 10 or so tables. We were seated against one of the walls at a nice high top. I was also right next to a heater which is perfect given the time of year. The music and ambiance were great and Reddstone feels like a neighborhood pub with character. So far, so good.
On to the food…
The Groupon limited the options from the menu so we decided to cash it in for its face value and get whatever we wanted. For a starter, we picked the Five Spice Beef Noodle which is flank steak with sautéed asian vegetables, spaghetti, and spicy Saigon sauce.
The steak was cooked medium rare and was juicy. The vegetables still had a bite to them and the sauce had a slight spice with a subtle sweetness. However, it was a lingering heat that built with each bite. This dish was on the verge of being too hot for me but I loved it so much that I kept eating.
As for the mains, I was craving a burger. I ordered a burger with balsamic onions and mushrooms cooked medium rare with a side of truffle fries.
The burger was huge and actually cooked medium rare. I could only make my way through half of it but it satisfied my craving. The fries were crisp and had a nice truffle flavor.
Lolita – I performed hours of due diligence in deciding where I should take my boyfriend for his birthday. It may come as a surprise, but Cleveland actually has a pretty good little food scene going on. You may have seen my previous reads where Guy Fieri even thinks Cleveland is a place worth checking out!
Back to the task at hand, I finally settled on Lolita which is ONE of Michael Symon’s restaurants in the Cleveland area. For those of you non-foodies, Michael Symon is a James Beard Foundation Award winning chef and more commonly known as the winner to Food Network’s The Next Iron Chef competition. Symon originally hails from Cleveland and has paid homage to his roots by opening Lola and her sister restaurant Lolita.
I was very excited and surprised by how many people were dining on a cold Sunday night in January. The restaurant has an open layout while still having character. Lolita strikes the balance to achieve modern comfort that doesn’t look out of place given that it is still Cleveland!
We started with some adult beverages and then picked two appetizers to start. I can’t resist Roasted Dates. They taste like candy! We went for those and the Maple Glazed Pork Belly with celery root puree, pickled celery, apples, chilies, and almonds.
As usual, the dates stole the show for us. They were meatier and not as sweet as the ones I typically get but that didn’t stop me from devouring them in record time.
The pork belly was fattier than I’m accustomed to but the celery puree and the acidity of the apples helped really bring out the flavors. Overall, it was a good dish.
For the main event, I picked the Duck Confit with local butternut squash puree and mustardo vinaigrette. He went for the Porcini Crusted Sirloin with truffle butter, balsamic mushrooms, arugula, and parmesan reggiano. We picked the Cauliflower Gratin and Crispy Local Potatoes to share as sides.
There isn’t much to say about the duck, it was cooked properly so it was still moist and had a nice earthy flavor but it just didn’t wow me.
The sirloin was flavorful but once again didn’t impress. Maybe our expectations were set too high on this one.
However, we absolutely loved the Cauliflower Gratin. My avid readers already know that I’m a sucker for vegetables and I loved the play on a gratin with a vegetable other than a potato.
The potatoes were good, a bit boring, but the touch of citrus (orange I think) added a nice brightness to your traditional potato side.
Don’t get me wrong, the dining experience we had at Lolita was good but it still left us underwhelmed, especially for the price point when we were in Cleveland. That doesn’t mean I won’t give Lola a shot!
Cleveland isn’t a top tourist destination. However, if you find yourself there, be content to know that good food can be found!
Till next time, peace out food ninjas!