Michaelangelo’s

Thanks to a good review by Jeff and Michele Eat Cleveland, we decided to try Michaelangelo’s in Little Italy.  We are so glad we did.  It is a little gem that we didn’t know existed.

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FRIED ARTICHOKES STUFFED WITH CRAB AND ROASTED RED PEPPER PUREE

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KOBE BEEF TENDERLOIN CARPACCIO, LEMON, CAPERS, PARMIGIANO REGGIANO

He said…Who doesn’t enjoy fried food!  I liked the combination of the artichoke and crab and thought the roasted red pepper puree was a nice complement.  However, the carpaccio was easily the star of the evening.  The combination of the components tasted fresh and delicious.  It’s definitely a dish I would go back for.

She said…The fried artichokes were interesting.  I liked the concept, and I really wanted to like them, but I found them to be a little bland.  Maybe it was because the carpaccio was so bursting with flavor.  This is the best beef carpaccio that I have ever had.  The flavors were so fresh and bright.  I loved every bite!

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PAPPARDELLE ALLA BOLOGNESE
FLAT RIBBONS OF PASTA, VEAL, MUSCOVY DUCK, GUINEA FOWL
AND TOMATO-BAROLO RAGÙ

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SACCHETTI AL TARTUFO
RICOTTA AND BLACK TRUFFLE STUFFED PASTA AND BLACK TRUFFLE CREAM SAUCE

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RAVIOLI DI VITELLO CON FUNGHI E TARTUFI
VEAL AND TRUFFLE RAVIOLI, MUSHROOM TRIFOLATA AND FONTINA CHEESE

He said…I thought two of the pasta dishes were excellent, but the sacchetti al tartufo was my favorite.  The dish was very rich and I’m not sure I could have finished an entree size portion by myself, but it was the standout of the three that we tried.  My next favorite was the ravioli, however, I’m partial to any dish with mushrooms.  Last, I thought the bolognese was a tad under-seasoned.

She said…My favorite of the three pasta dishes was by far the ricotta and black truffle.  It was utterly amazing!  The pasta was so fresh and perfectly cooked in all the dishes, but that cream sauce was so creamy and decadent, it surpassed the others in overall satisfaction for me.  The veal ravioli was also good.  I liked the earthiness of the mushrooms and the overall saltiness (but not too much) of the dish.  The bolognese was my least favorite of the three.  There just wasn’t as much flavor in the sauce as I had expected.  I prefer the bolognese at Dante, which is full of that rich, meaty flavor.

After all of that food and a great bottle of Brunello to go along with it, we were stuffed and happy.  The service was fantastic, and we also really liked the atmosphere. We will definitely be back!

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L’Albatros

We love overnight date night!  We recently spent a night at Glidden House  and made the most of a night out (and a lazy morning) without kids.  Glidden House is a lovely boutique hotel in the University Circle area.  We dined at L’Albatros, which is conveniently located within walking distance.

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Selection of five cheeses

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“French Toast” with ragout of wild mushrooms and balsamic syrup

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Escargots with toasted garlic and fennel butter

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Goat Cheese Tart with olives and sun dried tomatoes

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Veal Short Rib with wild mushroom risotto and veal jus

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Cassoulet – braised white beans, pork belly, lamb, duck confit and sausages

He said…I had a more favorable impression of the restaurant after our second visit.  I loved the cheese course, which our cheesemonger helped us navigate through the many choices.  Our server mentioned that the preparation of the cassoulet was a deconstructed version of the classic dish and I was very eager to try it.  The dish was right up my alley as it was a meat lovers dream!  All the pieces of meat were cooked beautifully and the duck confit was very rich in flavor and taste.  The sausages were good but not as flavorful as I would have preferred.  Overall, however, the dish was a perfect meal on a cold winter’s night.

She said…I keep hearing about how everyone loves this restaurant.  I guess I’m the exception.  This is the second time I’ve eaten here, and I’m just not a big fan.  The best part of this meal for me was the cheese.  I loved all of the selections that the cheesemonger picked for our table, and I’d honestly go back to just sit at the bar and eat cheese and drink wine.  It’s mostly that I’m just not that into this style of cooking.  It’s a little too traditional for my taste.  I enjoyed the appetizers more than the main dish.  I thought the take on French toast was pretty interesting and the goat cheese tart was tasty.  The veal short rib dish was just ok.  It wasn’t as tender as I expected, and the flavors were very one note.  The last time I ate here I had the beef bourguignonne, and it also wasn’t as tender and flavorful as I had hoped.  I think I’ll stick with cheese.

Although we may have differing opinions about L’Albatros, we do agree that it was a great night with great friends, and we won’t wait too long before we do it again!

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Spice Kitchen and Bar

We’ve been wanting to try Spice Kitchen and Bar for a while now, and finally made it to Gordon Square with friends recently on a Saturday night. We had a great experience at the last Plated Landscape Dinner we attended earlier this year, which was catered by Spice of Life, so we were excited to see what was on the menu at their restaurant. The menu is small (generally a good thing in our book) but contains a good variety of dishes.

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MUSHROOM BEIGNETS honey goat cheese crème fraiche

We liked the beignets. They had a subtle mushroom flavor and were perfectly crispy on the outside while remaining light and fluffy on the inside.

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PAN-SEARED WALLEYE cauliflower purée, rapini, chermoula sauce

He said…I liked this dish a lot. The fish was perfectly cooked with a nice crust on the outside. However, I thought the cauliflower purée put this dish over the top. The purée was creamy and very flavorful.

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PUMPKIN RISOTTO shaved parmesan, mushroom salad

She said…This dish was just OK for me. The risotto was cooked well, the ingredients were certainly fresh and of high quality, but I didn’t really care for the chunks of pumpkin in the dish. I wouldn’t order this again, but I would definitely go back to try something else.

Our friends were happy with the dishes they ordered including the polenta chickpea fries, the grilled ribeye and the porkstrami sandwich.

We really enjoyed the atmosphere of the restaurant, and the service was very good as well. We love that owner/chef Bebenroth grows much of what he uses himself, and sources most of his other products locally. It shows in the quality of the dishes. We will definitely try Spice again, and look forward to different seasonally inspired dishes.

Spice Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon

Accent

Accent, a new restaurant from the owner of SASA in Shaker Heights, recently opened in University Heights.  We had the chance to check it out with some friends recently on a Saturday night.

There were quite a few unique cocktails on the menu, so we each started with a different choice.

She said…Mine was a blood orange margharita.  It was good, but a little on the sweet side for me.

He said…Mine was the Vesper martini.  I enjoyed the cocktail, which had both gin, vodka and hint of sweetness.

We started with a couple of appetizers.  They were out of the Accent Crudo (tuna, hamachi, salmon) appetizer that we ordered.  Unfortunately, that would be the first trip of many that our server made back to our table to inform us that what we ordered was not available.

Kim Chee and Beef Bulgogi Flatbread topped with Goat Cheese

SASA fries

She said…I liked both of the appetizers.  The flatbread was crispy and full of flavor.  I didn’t know what bulgogi was, but after a quick google search found out that it is a Korean dish that usually consists of grilled marinated beef, chicken or pork.  The fries were also crispy, and the dipping sauces were bold and tangy.

He said…It’s been awhile since we’ve been to SASA and one of my favorites there are the fries.  They certainly did not disappoint and the sauces were both very good.  I really enjoyed the flatbread.  The beef bulgogi was very flavorful and the goat cheese was a nice complement to the dish.

Josper Grilled Hanger Steak with Chimichurri Glaze and Roasted Vegetables

She said…Two of us at the table ordered the hanger steak, but they only had one order left.  Our friend was nice enough to let me have it.  According to Accent’s website, the Josper Oven, a unique style of cooking that originated in Spain, combines the features of an oven with the traditional characteristics of charbroiling.  The flavor was unique, and I liked it.  The outside was slightly charred, but without tasting at all burnt.  The quality of the meat was good, and it was cooked to medium rare as I ordered it.  I didn’t care for the strange little pickles pictured at the top, but I did really like the sweet potato salad (the dish at the top left).

Josper Roasted Korean Short Ribs with Root Vegetables and Onigiri Rice

He said…The short ribs were the one item on the menu that stuck out for me so I decided to try it.  I realize that short ribs are a fatty cut, however, my short ribs were too fatty for my taste.  That said, the flavor was delicious.  The rice was very good, however, I’m not sure why the potatoes were also on the dish.  Aside from the cut of meat that I had, I would probably get this dish again.

Shiitake and Tofu Ravioli- House Made Ravioli with Vegetarian filling of Tofu, Oven Roasted Tomatoes & Shiitake Mushrooms. Topped with Carrot Glaze

She said…Our friend ordered the ravioli and was nice enough to let me try one.  I thought the flavors were great, but the pasta itself was a little tough and rubbery.

Accent Smores

Daily Crème Brulee

She said…The smores were good, and we probably should have just stuck with those.  They were out of yet another thing we ordered, the pumpkin bread pudding, so we went with crème brulee.  Mistake.  The flavor was ok, but the consistency was watery.  They also did not have any coffee.  What is up with that?

He said…I agree that the crème brulee was just OK.  Our friends ordered the smores, which everyone enjoyed.

The service was good, but we were continually disappointed that they were out of what we ordered. Overall, we thought the food was good, but nothing really knocked our socks off.  We wouldn’t rush to go back, but we wouldn’t refuse to give it another try either.

Accent on Urbanspoon

Hodges

We’ve wanted to try some of Chris Hodgson’s comfort food since we watched him on The Great Food Truck Race.  We made it to his new restaurant in downtown Cleveland recently on a Saturday night.  It was a casual and lively atmosphere.  The place has a great patio, but the weather kept us inside for this visit.

He said…I love how they start you off with some crispy tater tots and sweet corn bread.  I had a Dark and Stormy while She had a French 70 Something.  The drinks were good, but I wish She would learn that every French 75 She orders (or in this case French 70 Something) never quite lives up to the one at the Velvet Tango Room.

pish sticks — crispy house smoked pork, cilantro, sesame, “tarter” sauce

He said…I really wanted to like these.  I loved the crunch, but the flavor just fell flat.  I didn’t like the tarter sauce as the accompaniment for this dish at all.  Our whole table agreed that these would be much better with a spicy barbecue sauce.  Also, I felt the pork was a little under seasoned.


lucky penny goat cheese + leek tart — onion jam, arugula, parmesan

She said…Most things with goat cheese usually get high marks from me and this dish was no exception.  It was creamy and flavorful, and I loved the onion jam which added just a hint of sweetness to the dish.

pan roasted scallops— sweet corn risotto, poblano pepper, grilled corn, cumin vinaigrette, corn shoots, and feta cheese

She said…A friend and I decided to share the scallops and the 6 veg.  The scallops were perfectly cooked, and I really liked the flavors in the risotto.  It was a winner in my book.

6 veg – potato shards, cumin roasted carrots, stewed greens, roasted cauliflower, snow peas, brussels sprouts

She said…This was a little disappointing for me.  The potato shards were delicious, but the dish went downhill from there.  The brussel sprouts had a nice flavor and I liked the golden raisins, but the sprouts were a little undercooked.  The carrots were also a little undercooked (like hard to cut into), and I really couldn’t taste the cumin.  The greens were soggy and swimming in vinegar.  The cauliflower and snow peas didn’t have a whole lot of flavor either.  I would not order this again.

duck breast – black barley ‘‘risotto’’, brussels sprout, golden raisins, bacon, thyme brown butter

He said…I’m a sucker for a good duck entree and was excited to try this dish.  However, I wasn’t crazy about the duck.  I prefer to have the duck fat rendered a bit more.  Also, the black barley risotto was a bit bland, which is surprising since there was bacon in the dish.  Overall, I was disappointed with the dish and probably wouldn’t order it again.

‘‘fluffer nutter’’
fried peanut butter and marshmallow fluff sandwich, Mitchell’s banana ice cream

She said…Yum!  I loved it!  The crunchy outside, the gooey inside, and banana ice cream is generally not my flavor of choice, but with this…perfect!

He said…I really liked the dessert.  I love banana ice cream and the quality of the ice cream was excellent.  Who doesn’t like Mitchell’s ice cream?  It’s second only to Jeni’s in my humble opinion!

Overall, there were some hits and misses in our first visit to Hodges.  The service was great and Chef Hodgson was visiting tables throughout the restaurant.  We like the restaurant’s interpretation of comfort food, and we will likely give it another try.

Hodge's Cleveland on Urbanspoon

Late Night at The Greenhouse Tavern

You’re in downtown Cleveland, it’s after midnight and you’ve had too much to drink.  What do you do?  Hit The Greenhouse Tavern for a burger and fries to soak up some of that alcohol.  We guarantee you’ll feel better in the morning for having indulged!

Pommes Frites with raw garlic, rosemary & aioli

Grass Fed Beef Burger

Yum!  That hits the spot!

 
The Greenhouse Tavern on Urbanspoon

Sapore

We love Loretta Paganini’s little gem in Chesterland.  Sapore is cozy and intimate (it only has 8 tables).  It is located right next door to The Loretta Paganini School of Cooking.  They recently started a date night special on Friday evenings where kids can take a cooking class next door while you enjoy dinner!  Brilliant!  We plan to check it out soon!  We headed there a few weeks ago to celebrate a family birthday, and had a great meal and an overall great experience as usual.

Amuse Bouche

We love how they always start you out with a little gift from the chef and a glass of prosecco.  It’s a nice touch, and makes you feel very welcome.

Pan Fried Fresh Mozzarella with tomatoes, arugula and basil pesto vinaigrette

She said…I enjoyed this salad except for the tomatoes which were tasteless. The mozzarella was delicious, and the best part was the vinaigrette. I love pesto, and I’ve been seeing it incorporated into dressings more often lately. This one was bold, tangy and I would’ve loved it just with the greens.

House-Made Artisanal Sausage with grainy mustard and red pepper onion jam

He said..I almost always order a house-made sausage if it’s on the menu. (One of my recent favorites was the Harissa sausage at The Refinery in Tampa). I was a little disappointed in this dish. I felt the sausage was not that flavorful. However, I did enjoy the red pepper jam that accompanied the dish.

She said…Every sausage he eats will now and forever be compared to the Refinery’s Harissa sausage!  Let it go man, it was like 6 months ago!  I hate to break it to him, but considering the Refinery is in Tampa and they change the menu every week, he’ll probably never get it again! 

Pasta Trio – clockwise starting at top right – Hand-Made Artichoke and Ricotta Ravioli with creamy lemon saffron sauce and parmigiano cheese, Hade-Made Pear and Pecorino Cheese Stuffed Pasta in brown butter sage sauce, Goat Cheese Gnocchi with roasted red beet sauce and spring onions

She said…The pasta here is to die for!  I always get pasta when I come here.  I love the option of the pasta trio where you can pick three small servings of different pasta dishes.  There were four of us dining and each ordered a different pasta trio, so it was no small feat that the pasta in each and every dish was cooked perfectly to al dente.  The winner of this trio for me was clearly the pear and pecorino stuffed pasta in brown sage butter. I also liked the gnocchi with beet sauce.  I thought the beet sauce was really unique, but the gnocchi could have used a little more goat cheese.  The artichoke ravioli was my least favorite of the pastas.  I think the saffron slightly overpowered the rest of the dish.  

He said…There she goes with the goat cheese again!  Give it a rest!  I tasted the gnocchi and thought the goat cheese was perfectly balanced.

Pasta Trio – clockwise starting at top right – Hand-Made Artichoke and Ricotta Ravioli with creamy lemon saffron sauce and parmigiano cheese, Risotto del Giorno, Pasta del Giorno.

He said…When we visit the restaurant, I usually order the meat prix fixe meal. However, I was in a pasta mood, so I ordered the pasta trio.  I liked all three pasta dishes, but my favorite was the Pasta del Giorno, which was a lasagna with bechamel sauce and roasted red peppers.  The bechamel sauce was creamy and delicious.  I’m glad it was a relatively small portion since the dish was probably too rich to order as an entree.  I also really liked the Risotto del Giorno.  The spring peas in the risotto gave the dish a fresh taste that was a nice contrast with the richness of the other pasta dishes.

Hot Apple Cinnamon Crepes with caramel gelato

She said…the crepes were delicate, the gelato creamy, the perfect ending.  As you can tell, we dove into it before remembering to snap a photo (something we tend to do quite often, so excuse our half eaten dessert photos)!

He said…I really enjoyed the dessert, especially the caramel gelato.  I would have been happy with a bowl of it!

The service at Sapore is always top notch, as is the food.  Everything is so fresh and prepared with great attention to detail.  Chesterland is a little bit of a drive for us, but totally worth it.  So if you have not been there, put it on your to do list!
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