Dinner at a Celebrity Chef’s restaurant… in Cleveland???
By Josh Steiner
Welcome readers, to my modest yet ranting blog, where we talk food porn; sometimes more and sometimes much, much less… Today we will forge iron in a once formidable Midwestern steel city, reminisce with an updated childhood fave and then take our talents elsewhere…
Have you ever seen The American Iron Chef? The show that consists of a contestant who comes on the show and challenges an Iron Chef from the Chefs kept on reserve by the food network. These Iron Chef’s sole purpose is beating the snot out of unwary, executive chef contestants in a cooking challenge while being televised.
Iron Chef Michael Symon is not only one of these Chefs, but he is also a James Beard award winning owner of Lola’s Bistro (among others) in Cleveland, Ohio. When I heard that I was going to Cleveland one thing went through my rather diminished mind. I will not miss a chance to eat an Iron Chef’s caliber food. Fu-gedaboudit.
Chef Symon keeps Lola’s menu focused on the seasonal, local, and organic which allows the ingredients the opportunity to stand up and speak for themselves. Lola’s serves up Midwestern comfort food with twists of Mediterranean flair and occasional pilgrimages to the world of offal. I only had one shot in my two days there and it was lunch so I took it. I’m glad this dude didn’t take his talents to South Beach. www.lolabistro.com
Waiter, can I get a new plate of nostalgia???
Out of the dreary Cleveland rain, I stepped into this famous restaurant, looked around and saw stylish, with a glowing bar and well dressed hipsters lounging in comfortable chairs, upscale yet relaxed. I sat down and ordered Lola’s Pick Two; I chose the ½ sandwich with house made pastrami pickles and sauerkraut panninied till crispy on rye. Playing accompaniment I chose a bowl of spicy, tomato bisque.
The pastrami sandwich was the second best pastrami sandwich I’ve ever had. The pepper smoked brisket prepared to moist perfection with the vinegar fortified pickles and acidic sauerkraut cutting through the fattiness of the beef. The crispy panninied rye made the perfect crispy textural counterpoint that was structurally sound enough to keep this tender beef confined.
The soup? Well, have you ever unexpectedly run into a food that causes you to reminisce of when you used to enjoy a similar food in a different time and place? That’s what this soup did to me, tomato soup like when I was a kid except the spicy chilies add an extra depth of flavor embellished by the garnish of bleu cheese and chives. This was a bisque for adults yet still somehow reminiscent of a soup for kids, well played.
The buttering of peanuts…
I had no intention of ordering dessert, until the server said peanut butter mousse! You see dear reader, I love PB and this peanut butter mousse was no exception. This mousse was topped, with a salted caramel sauce that complemented the renegade mousse and helped mold it into a perfect tandem. Light and airy, its sweetened peanut taste grabbed my taste buds and beat them into submission.
Incredible food in a celebrity Chef’s restaurant was a recipe for good times while I was in Cleveland. Now as everyone knows you don’t just leave Cleveland. You make the decision, and take your talents elsewhere. You too should go to Cleveland try the local flavor on for size and subsequently take your talents else where…
Thanks for the food Michael Symon and staff but more importantly, thanks for the exit strategy Lebron…
Questions or comments contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Joshua Steiner has worked in restaurants and kitchens for most of his life and held just about every conceivable job in the industry. Now he’s bringing his tips, tricks and travels to The High Plains Reader and @thepeoplespressproject.org for you to use in YOUR kitchen.