Sunday, March 24, 2013

Celebrate Sports at Brindaliers

Sports fans can cheer for all 3 of our home teams, Browns, Indians and Cavaliers at Brindaliers in Willoughby Hills off SOM Center Rd.  One thing for sure, everyone will be cheering for the food served at Brindaliers.  Chef Tom Immormino and owner Justin Sell, have created dishes that set them apart not just from sports bars, but upscale dining as well.  The atmosphere and wait-staff are both inviting.  The bar area is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a meal and catch “the game”.  If you’re interested in having a party or event, Brindaliers’ party room is equipped with large screen TV and sound system, plenty of space and even a few dart boards.

Calamari lightly breaded and served with Brindaliers’ sauce is the perfect way to begin your night supporting your favorite sport.  Their signature Brindaliers' sauce is a spicy teriyaki sauce that became my favorite new dipping sauce, for about anything you feel inclined to dip.  With a spicy bite to the sweet sauce, you just want to keep dipping!

Gourmet pizzas our one of the most popular dishes served and all types of restaurants, but I’ve never seen a Swiss Duck BBQ pizza. This unique and busting with flavor gourmet pizza is made with hand tossed pizza dough with a BBQ sauce base and topped with duck confit, Swiss cheese, caramelized onions and sliced almonds.  The sweetness of the caramel ice onions and BBQ sauce with the crusty dough made the perfect partner for the wonderful flavor of the duck.  The almonds added a great texture to the tenderness of the duck.  Rendering duck in duck fat (confit) makes for an outrageously tender product, putting it on a gourmet pizza is nothing short of genius.  Another gourmet pizza favorite is the buffalo chicken with a ranch and mild sauce base, grilled chicken, fresh mozzarella and diced tomatoes.  The Southwest has cherry wood smoked bacon and jalapeno jack cheese.  Or you can build your own with a large variety of toppings.
I don’t care what you put Gouda cheese on, it’s a home run.  That makes the Cleveland Philly a gourmet grand slam.  Smother a grilled French baguette with tender shredded steak and sautéed mushrooms, sautéed onions, and sauté green peppers hidden under melting Gouda cheese and you’ll be a fan.  Truly a sandwich with big flavor needs the perfect partner, delectable sweet potato puffs, move over tater-tots, these crunchy puffs score big time.  This is the perfect sandwich to dine on while enjoying beer or cocktail.  Brindaliers has a large selection of your favorite beers and libations, to those you’ll want to try for the first time.   A must try is Brindaliers own hot apple cider with 151-Rum, Fireball whiskey and cinnamon.  It will definitely warm you up regardless of the temperature outside.  Talk to any of the restaurant managers, Kris Davis, Tom Joseph or Jason Schmidt and they will gladly introduce you to Brindaliers’ spirits.
More gourmet sandwiches include the Garlic Gouda and Blue Apricot Roast Pork sandwich or the Horseradish Cheddar Pot Roast all served on a ciabatta bun.  My choice was the Swiss Duck Confit sandwich with the Brindaliers sauce I’m so fond of dipping with.  Topped with Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion straws, this first time experience with a sandwich with this much flavor is why you will want to come back to Brindaliers, sports fan or not.  This delight almost has me at a loss for words, which is not a good thing in my line of work.  If I have to summarize, I’d simply say “Yummy”… which also applies to our next dish, Mom’s Pot Roast.  Beef chuck roast is braised until it’s “fork tender”.  This dish had me sitting at the dining room table on Sunday enjoying my mom’s pot roast.  This entrée included chunky mashed potatoes and gravy that will satisfy your fondest memories on any day of the week.  The fresh asparagus roasted to just the right doneness was the perfect side.
 And since we are discovering comfort food, build your own Mac-N-Cheese was a real treat.  Pasta and Kielbasa are one of my favorite combinations. Include fresh veggies, Gouda, Swiss and Cheddar cheese and experience comfort and flavor in a bowl.  I can’t wait to go back and do this again.  There are a lot of items I’d like to put in my Mac-N-Cheese… like cherry wood smoked bacon, duck confit, pork or chicken, fresh Jalapenos, mushrooms, green and red peppers, tomatoes and even chili, are all ingredients I’d like to try and Brindaliers’ homemade Mac –N-Cheese.  The cheese sauce was creamy and the pasta noodles al dente, giving this dish a decisive victory.  Other entrees that contribute to Brindaliers’ success include 12 oz Cleveland Strip Steak, Bacon Wrapped Meat Loaf, Kielbasa & Pierogies, Apricot BBQ Bone-In Pork Chop, a Horseradish Cheddar Chicken Breast or Roasted Red Pepper Penne Pasta.

Fresh Dinner Salads closes out the innings with the Warm Crouton salad made with warm ciabatta croutons, fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, English cucumbers, red onions and fresh basil tossed in balsamic vinaigrette.  This unique salad absolutely caught my attention; it’s fresh, colorful and NOT a typical dinner salad.  I really enjoyed the bite size crispy croutons with same sized mozzarella balls and the cucumber and fresh basil puts this salad in my favorites list.

Rounding out our Brindaliers experience came in the form of a warm chocolate chip cookie stuffed with hot fudge holding up two luxurious scoops of vanilla ice cream topped off by a cherry.  I don’t know what to say… you have to try this for yourselves in order to understand how good it was.  This is one of those desserts that is OK to eat before dinner.

Sign up for Brindaliers email club and learn about their specials like Garlic Parmesan Walleye or Yuengling Beer Battered Haddock.  Keep updated with upcoming events like NCAA March Madness and Cleveland Indian games.  Bring your ticket for the home opener at any point of that day and receive 20% off your bill!  Get invitations to one of their Samuel Smith’s 5-Course Beer Dinner held in Brindaliers’ private banquet room.  Enjoy live music and a large outdoor patio at the premier sports bar and grill for Browns, Indians and Cavaliers fans, BRindALIERS.

Hours of operation
Sunday - Thursday 11 am – Midnight
Friday - Saturday 11am - 2am

Kitchen hours
Full menu served until 30 minutes before closing.
2749 SOM Center Road
Willoughby Hills, OH 44094
Phone: (440) 278-4486

Saturday, February 16, 2013

All for only TWO BUCKS

The pricing of Two Bucks menu may get you in the door, but the food will bring you back.  They have a unique business model with menu items selling for only $2.00.  All sliders are $2.00 or can be plated in threes for $6.00, and you can mix and match to your heart’s content.  Their menu includes sliders, flat breads, wraps, salads, snacks and a seasonal specials menu that changes every three months.  Chef Brian McNeff has created some of the tastiest morsels you’ll find around Cleveland.

Now this is what I call value, a shot of Crown Royal, a Rolling Rock and I half order of boneless wings for $8 bucks.  The chicken was super moist and the Buffalo sauce tasty.  Several flavors available include Sesame Hoisin, Cajun, Sriracha Glaze, BBQ, Spicy Mango, Jamaican Jerk and Garlic Parmesan.  If you’re looking for something else from their snack menu to go along with your next Rolling Rock and Crown, a highly recommend their beer battered pickles.  Dill chips and spears are beer battered and served with ranch dressing for a habit forming snack.  A couple perfect snacks to go along with your sliders might also include Two Buck Fries tossed with sage and garlic or Vodka Battered Onion Rings served with a cilantro ranch.  These are not your ordinary fries or rings-- they have great flavors you don’t typically expect from such simple snacks.

Without question, Two Bucks has elevated these snacks into something you may be inclined to eat for a meal.  Nothing represents that more than the Calamari served with Cajun Aioli.  Cooked to perfection and lightly coated makes this $5 snack into a must have, more than once.  One of the things I liked most about Two Bucks is that you can mix and match all day long with their menu.  They have a large variety of sliders and you’ll want to try them all.  I began with a Classic Burger with lettuce tomato onion and American cheese and a Black and Blue burger with Cajun Aioli.  These creative little gems perfectly represent what a slider should be, small and tasty!  The BBQ Bacon Burger is a big fan favorite.

I really like the concept of being able to enjoy what I’ll call finger foods while I’m enjoying a cocktail.  What’s amazing about Two Bucks is the quality cuisine they created for bite-size dining.  It’s a very apparent fresh ingredients and quality product are being used in the kitchen.  It’s also very apparent you won’t find these creative dishes anywhere else except for the Two Bucks location.  A shining example is Mac and Cheese made from smoked Gouda over Ziti noodles.  The long noodles cooked perfectly and the Gouda cheese sauce is phenomenal.  For $2 you have enough to share, but you won’t want to.  For another $2 you could add chicken or hot sausage, but the same rule will apply, sharing unlikely.  You have plenty of slider choices and amongst the favorites is the Turkey and Ham Club with smoky tomato ranch sauce.  What can be better, ham, bacon, cheddar cheese with lettuce and fresh tomato.  Another favorite is the Cheese Steak with peppercorn Aioli.  Moist slow roasted beef and cheese served in a fresh baguette.
Another small sandwich with a big flavor profile was the BBQ Pulled Pork with fried onions on top.  The pork was braised in house making tender pork soak up the sweetness from the BBQ sauce and the crunchy little fried onions added a wonderful element to this big in flavor slider.
The Sliders menu also included favorites like Grilled Cheese with bacon, tomato, cheddar & pepper jack cheese. For those fans of chicken, try the Sesame Chicken Burger with Asian slaw.  The crisp Asian slaw accentuates the moist chicken.  This is a very tasty morsel and eating 3 is not out of the question.
So far the sliders have been represented by beef, pork and chicken.  For you fish lovers, golden brown Pollack is topped with Two Bucks slaw for this delicate masterpiece.  Crispy on the outside and tender moist fish on the inside, makes this fish slider a real catch.

It’s a certainty people will remember their meals here because of their uniqueness and taste.  Their friendly and helpful wait staff and inviting surroundings makes Two Bucks the type of place you’ll consider a regular stop, I know I will.

Adding to the eclectic menu is Two Bucks’ salads for only $5.  You’ll find the classic, Caesar chicken salad with grilled chicken, romaine and parmesan with a creamy Caesar dressing.  Buffalo chicken and pulled pork are amongst their unique salad selection.

Coming to the end of our culinary journey, our experience is complete with several flatbreads.  One of my favorite flavor profiles include tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil and balsamic.  The Caprese is that flavor profile on flatbread, refreshing and satisfying.  Their Three Cheese flatbread includes mozzarella, provolone and cheddar over marinara sauce.  The Americana includes ham, bacon, sausage and provolone while the Buffalo Chicken has fried chicken, tomatoes and blue cheese cream, a favorite request from patrons.

Two Bucks has become one of my favorite spots for outstanding food and delightful company.  I’m not aware of any other establishment offering this quality of food at these prices.  Two Bucks truly has something special that I’m glad I found them.

They are open seven days a week from 11 am-2:30 am

Avon, Middleburg Heights, North Olmsted – Ohio
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Saturday, September 22, 2012

North Royalton has a Ukrainian Gem

Inside Olesia's Place
A gem of a new restaurant has opened up at 11204 Royalton Road in North Royalton.  This American - Ukrainian restaurant and bar offers an upscale dining experience beginning when you walk through the door.  The ambience is warm and inviting with vistas of the outdoors as seen through their glass wall and ceiling.  I must exclaim no expense was spared when Olesia Pochynok chose the dining room chairs-- making her guests comfortable was forefront on her mind.  Olesia’s knowledgeable staff also has your dining experience in mind with courteous service and a sincerity I don’t often encounter.  This is the kind of place you’ll want to make one of your regular night outs. 

Red Borscht
However, regardless of how beautiful the restaurant is or accomplished the staff is, it’s the food that’s going to keep you coming back.  My Ukrainian experience began with a traditional Ukrainian made with beets and root vegetables, Red Borscht.  Finished with a dollop of sour cream, this hot soup was refreshing and hearty.  Throughout the courses served, we enjoyed Ukrainian beer, wine and Russian sparkling wine.  Olesia’s bar is eclectic in the libations they offer; beer, wine, top-shelf liquor and their own infused vodkas.  The next appetizer was perfect with the velvety Obolon beer I was drinking.
Charcuterie Board
A Charcuterie board comprised of 3 meats, 3 cheeses, pickled veggies and toast.  This is one of my favorite ways to eat and included ham, Capicola, grilled kielbasa, Manchego, smoked Gouda and cheddar cheeses and pickled shallots.  This appetizer is the chef’s choice and changes daily.  I admit it, I love beets and our next embellishment brought that flavor front and center!  It begins with salt roasted beets, arugula, goat cheese mousse, orange segments and an olive oil honey drizzle served with it beet vodka martini.  The flavor combination of the goat cheese and beet is a new favorite.  The orange slices really brought a lot to the overall freshness of this salad.  The arugula was the perfect choice of a green to accompany the heartiness of the beet.  The beet martini you’ll have to try for yourself to believe how good it is.

Chicken Crepes

Beet Salad
Our first main course is one of Olesia’s Ukrainian specialties, chicken crepes.  The crepes were light rather than heavy and they were filled with light and dark meat, accentuating the flavor of this special dish.  The white wine mushroom sauce finishes this dish as well as our next, Short Rib Pierogies.  Just like the crepes, the Pierogies were light and allowed the filling to take credit for this phenomenal dish.  The slow braised short rib is tender and its flavor deserving of being Olesia’s favorite.  This is comfort food that sets a new level to comfort and will create a following of customers of anyone who experiences this dish.  This original creation is unique and has a lot of time and TLC invested in order to bring this level of cuisine to the table.  Other items you’ll find on Olesia’s menu include salmon, blackened scallops, grilled rib eye, stuffed cabbage and breaded pork chops.  See a complete menu here.  There’s no doubt that Olesia’s Place has a menu item to delight you and a dining experience that will make you a little bit Ukrainian.
Short Rib Pierogies

We complete our venture with two outstanding raspberry desserts.  First was the homemade Napoleon with raspberry drizzle, a custard filling in a light layered pastry that will become a frequent request.  Then that same fresh raspberry drizzle atop a decadent raspberry cheesecake made an entrance.  Slices of white chocolate and whipped cream adorn this rich and creamy slice of heaven.  Finding Olesia’s Place is easy, look for the tractors on Royalton Road and drive into Ukrainian hospitality.

Raspberry Cheesecake
Olesia's Place
Olesia Pochynok - Owner
11204 Royalton Road
North Royalton, OH 44133
(440) 877-9054

Open Hours
Monday 11:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Tuesday 11:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Wednesday 11:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Thursday 11:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Friday 11:00 AM - 1:30 AM
Saturday 11:00 AM - 1:30 AM
Sunday Open for private parties only

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Great Food - Great Beer - Great Times

Kettle Chips Supreme
I’d like to begin this review with a summation of my dining experience at the Brew Garden… out of this world!  I just didn’t expect walking into this hip and modern eatery that the food an the brew would set them so far apart from their competition.  Head Chef Ryan Bennett puts forth a menu designed to impress, and impress it does.  It is certainly one of the most unique menus I’ve encountered with choices to please all who dine here.  And if you happen to be a fan of uniquely crafted beers like I am, bar manager Sue Deck has put together over 30 craft beers to refresh and invigorate.

Craft Beer Sampler
Starting off this incredible dining experience, we were served Kettle Chips Supreme.  I’ve had homemade potato chips in other establishments, but never with perfectly cooked smoked bacon, creamy blue cheese and scallions!  They were like eating loaded potato skins with real crunch.  In order to get the full effect, they were accompanied by a tasting of a few samples of crafted brews.

Strawberry Field
I have to admit I like salads, especially salads as refreshing and satisfying as their seasonal Strawberry Field.  The strawberries were fresh and sweet, the feta cheese was creamy, the red onion and candied nuts had a wonderful sweetness, and the dried cherries added a wonderful chewy texture.  You can add chicken to make this a meal you’ll want to come back for.  Other salads include the Apple Orchard made with Granny Smith, dried cherries, goat cheese, candied nuts and red onions with balsamic vinaigrette.  If that doesn’t convince you to try a salad, they offer a Balsamic Glazed Salmon with roasted tomatoes, feta cheese and roasted garlic vinaigrette, Yum.  Our salad was accompanied with beer designed for the female market by Goose Island.  Sophie and Matilda are two beers with very unique flavor profiles, giving the taster a spiciness of white pepper and citrus that even the boys will enjoy, I did.
Fire In The Hole

For the sake of full disclosure I can tell you I'm a burger snob. I judge restaurants based on their ability to deliver a good burger, and my reasoning is that if the kitchen can deliver a good burger then it stands to reason the rest of the menu will be enjoyable.  The Fire In The Hole burger proved my point; it's exactly how a burger should taste.  The taste of the beef was center stage, while the Jalapeno and Sriracha Aioli added just the right amount of spiciness.  This burger is a 10, but if spicy is not your thing consider their Aloha Burger topped with Hawaiian BBQ sauce, grilled pineapple and provolone, or the Porky Pig topped with BBQ pork, cheddar cheese and onion straws.  You won't be disappointed with any burger you get from the Brew Garden.
Cleveland Press & Home Fries

Allow me to introduce you to the Brew Garden’s top selling sandwich, the Cleveland Press.  This slow roasted prime rib is topped with white cheddar and horseradish aioli.  It’s nicely toasted and melt-in-your mouth tender, truly smooth on your palate.  To make this sandwich even more over the top, it comes with a side dish deserving its own marquee, Brew Garden Home Fries.  I grew up loving my Grandma Rose’s German potato salad and I will say I've never found German potato salad this good, forgive me Grandma Rose.  This simply elegant side dish further demonstrates their commitment to quality and taste.  I only wish I asked for some to take home, instead it’s just another reason to go back.  The Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale was the perfect choice to accompany the heartiness of the potato salad and prime rib.  It's no wonder why this dish is so popular, you're going to have to come and experience it yourself.

Luau Pork

The Brew Garden has a large selection of sandwiches including our next indulgence of slow roasted pork, Hawaiian BBQ and pineapple on a coconut pineapple roll… the Luau Pork.  The sweet potato fries were perfectly matched as a side to compliment the sweetness of the pineapple and pork.  The sandwich board offers a large assortment assuring you'll find something to dig into.  Chicken, fish, pork, prime rib, pastrami and sausage are all represented in some very tasty and unique plates, far too many for me to list here.  Download your own menu here and see for yourself why the Brew Garden deserves to be recognized as an outstanding choice to satisfy your hunger pangs.

Greek Pizza
The Brew Garden is the kind of place you want to come with friends and hang out and socialize.  Both locations, Parma and Middleburg Heights, offer huge outdoor patios, a fireplace room and private bar room for any occasion on your agenda.  Their food menu is as diverse and unique as their beer menu, and what goes better with beer than pizza!  I was not prepared to experience pizza this good and I can see why it's the staff favorite.  The Greek pizza is a white sauce with grilled chicken, onion, roasted tomato, creamy feta cheese topped with greens tossed in Mediterranean vinaigrette.  This is not your average pizza and I want more of this light and refreshing pie.  The crust alone is worth the price of admittance on this pizza journey, and the toppings bring it to a whole new level.
Sweet Cream Cheese Pretzel

What else can possibly surprise me at this point?  Well, let me tell you about my new favorite dessert, the Sweet Cream Cheese Filled Pretzel.  Take a light fluffy pretzel and toss it in cinnamon and sugar, serve with ice cream and chocolate stout sauce and you get a salty sweet treat that beckons the question - Where have you been all my life?  And who would've thought the perfect way to enjoy this phenomenal dessert was to pair it with a rare release of Dogfish Head Burton Baton oak aged Imperial IPA (India Pale Ale).  You don't have to take my word for it, visit the Brew Garden and taste for yourself. Enjoy live entertainment on the weekends, or a DJ on Fridays and Saturdays.  I encourage you to bring a few friends, you won't be disappointed.

Brew Garden
18590 Bagley Road
Middleburgh Hts, OH 44130
440. 234.1001

5513 Pearl Road
Parma, OH  44129

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Authentic Italian Cuisine In The Valley

Artisan Salad
Named after a favorite grape in Italy, Frascati In The Valley brings the tastes of Italy to Valley View. Chef Rich Guild prepares authentic Italian cuisine in this quaint and inviting Italian pub and eatery. Sitting back and relaxing with the music of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Louis Prima and other Italian crooners adds its own flavor to the experience. I began my tour of Italy with the Artisan Salad, atop a half of Romaine lettuce triumphs perfectly cooked couscous, tomato and basil. The fresh Mozzarella cheese brought a freshness that imploded when you combined it with the Balsamic and tang of the banana peppers.

Fried Calamari
The true talent of a kitchen is never more appreciated when they put out Calamari like this appetizer. Getting Calamari cooked how it should be and with the right amount of breading and seasonings is a big treat. Now add a side of in-house Marinara that can stand on its own merits, just hits it out of the park. The house dip was the perfect accompaniment to the tender calamari.

Fettuccini Pescatore
The real taste of Italy comes through with Frascati’s Fettuccine Pescatore. Fresh calamari, mussels, shrimp and clams in a larger than life serving. I love the fresh marinara with whole tomatoes and the noodles were done perfectly with the seafood taking center stage. If you are a seafood lover this dish is a must try.

Chicken Romano
Frascati offers more than pasta and seafood; you’ll find beef, pork, veal, chicken and pizza.  The Chicken Romano is seasoned with a blend of Italian chesses then pan sautéed and baked.  The chicken was moist, the egg batter brought a nice crunch and the mushroom wine sauce brought it all together for a memorable dish.

Linguini and Clams
One of my favorite pasta dishes has to be Linguini and Clams.  The sauce is made from the juice of the clams and adds a layer of flavor that I just couldn’t get enough of.  The clams were perfection, and bountiful, every bite had clam in it.  True to Frascati’s form, the pasta was cooked like it should be.  This dish will certainly make me come back again.

Cavatelli and meatballs
Cavatelli and meatballs can’t get more traditional than this.  Talk about comfort food from your grammas’ kitchen, this dish delivers.  One bite of their homemade in the kitchen Cavatelli and you’ll see why this is one of Frascati’s biggest sellers.   The large meatballs are great and the melted cheese and sauce kick up the level of comfort in this signature dish.  If you are a pasta fan, Frascati offers a large selection of down home dishes from Ravioli, Eggplant Parmigianino, Gnocchi, Lasagna and Spaghetti.

You can’t come to this type of Italian eatery without trying the Tiramisu, especially this one.  This dessert gave me a whole new appreciation for this rich custard and coffee soaked bakery.  I can say with confidence that this was the best Tiramisu I’ve had anywhere.  If your sweet tooth is looking for something else, it won’t be disappointed with their Cannoli, carrot cake or assortment of cheesecakes.
Frascati is certainly a place where you can relax and enjoy great Italian cuisine and socialize with your friends and loved ones.  Every Wednesday is bike night from 7:00 PM to close with live entertainment and $2.00 domestic beers.  $5.00 will get you a pizza with one topping or a burger.  On certain nights $5.00 will get you a martini, house wine or selected appetizer.  Happy hour is Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 pm.  Every Friday and Saturday is live entertainment on the patio where you can enjoy music from the Doowop Kingz, Coast 2 Coast or a medley of other groups, or come in Wednesdays for Jam Night.  Sign up for Frascati’s e-mail club to receive notices for their 2012 tasting series from 7 to 9 PM.  It includes five tastes per event including delicious food pairings for only $30.00 per person (prepaid reservations required).  Regardless of what brings you into Frascati In The Valley, you’ll be happy you came. 

Frascati In The Valley
Italian Pub & Eatery
5143 Canal Road
Garfield Hts., Ohio  44125