Chef Jonathon Sawyer operates six diverse restaurants in Cleveland. Although he has a hectic schedule (we spoke to him in midst of an unexpected restaurant inspection), Sawyer makes a point of dining out and trying all sorts of different restaurants around town so he can give visiting friends and family the best food recommendations. "I think it's important to be an ambassador of the city," he says.
'Cleveland' on Serious Eats
Custard-like desserts rule the day at the Greenhouse Tavern, including Buttered Popcorn Pot de Crème and Rittman Sweet Melon Pie.
When Matt Danko isn't in the kitchen at The Greenhouse Tavern creating seasonal desserts for everyone to enjoy (even vegetarians, vegans, and gluten-free diners), he's satisfying his sweet tooth all over Cleveland with everything from marshmallow doughnuts to clothespin cookies. Check out all of his favorites.
The Pig Mac comes with three different kinds of pork on a glistening, toasted, eggy challah bun that's, naturally, topped with sesame seeds. The top half of the sandwich includes two pig parts, pork loin and bacon, along with the requisite special sauce, pickles and lettuce.
Few will seriously dispute the claim that The Greenhouse Tavern is one of the best restaurants in Cleveland. And the build-your-own four-course meal might be the best value I've experienced at a higher end restaurant. If you're fortunate enough to check out chef Jonathan Sawyer's downtown establishment, it's definitely worth exploring the menu as much as possible, but passing over the burgers would be a huge mistake.
Michael Symon had already made it as a serious culinary and television star before he opened B Spot, his fast casual burger mini-chain in his hometown of Cleveland. As far as I'm concerned, these burgers are his crowning achievement.
If the scent that wafts in all directions from the outdoor smoker at Hot Sauce Williams isn't enough to get you in the door, the sweet, spicy, and tangy sauce ought to be. And fortunately for all who enter, the sauce gets poured onto every order, including this pulled pork sandwich ($6.50).
Iron Chef Michael Symon doesn't have a pizzeria but based on the pie I had at his restaurant Lolita in Cleveland, he definitely should think about. The pork sausage pizza, featuring housemade sausage and an excellent crust, is too good to be relegated to a small pizza section on a menu with so many non-pizza options.
I went to the B Spot for AHT purposes but when I saw Michael Symon's menu had not one, but two different fried bologna sandwiches, I knew I had to do some research.
At Tony's Southside Pizza, a tiny shop in Cleveland that's only open two nights a week, the pizza isn't going to blow you away, but the hospitality and ambience are about as good as it gets if you're looking for a place to wind down at the end of the night.
Ever had a Polish Boy? Cleveland's signature sandwich is comprised of a giant kielbasa covered in french fries, cole slaw and barbecue sauce on a giant sandwich roll. An interesting combination of the city's barbecue and Eastern European traditions, it also brings to mind Chicago's minimalist "Depression Dog", or even Pittsburgh's cole-slaw-and-french-fries deli sandwiches.
Steve's Lunch is a tiny 24-hour counter with about eight seats on a semi-abandoned block in Cleveland. Walking in on a rainy day to a couple of eccentric regulars shooting the breeze was like living inside a panel of American Splendor (an autobiographical comic book series by Cleveland native Harvey Pekar). Steve's has only closed for business a handful of times since 1955, either when Kennedy was shot, after 9-11, or once for Christmas, depending on which staff member or patron's story you choose to believe.
It's fitting that Cleveland's signature dish is the Polish Boy: a grilled kielbasa on a hefty roll topped with cole slaw, a pile of french fries, and lubricated with generous amounts of barbecue and/or hot sauce. It's a perfect representation of a city with a long history of Eastern European sausage-making and Southern-style barbecue, with a touch of Chicago thrown in for good measure (the "fries on the dog" style are reminiscent of Chicago's minimalist "depression dog" joints).
In this week's Meet Your Farmers we chat with Carl Skalak, who owns and operates Blue Pike Farm, a working farm and CSA, in an industrial neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio. After an afternoon of planting blackberries and blueberries, Skalak spoke with me about the challenges he faces raising produce in an urban environment.
[Photos: Nikki Goldstein] B Spot 28699 Chagrin Boulevard, Woodmere, OH 44122 (map); 216-292-5567; bspotburgers.com Cooking Method: Grilled, finished on flat top Short Order: Symon's beefy spin on the Italian Sub is a must-try for meat lovers. Pick the Lola...
Blogger David Lay points out that Cleveland's legendary Sausage Shoppe will celebrate its 70th year 71st year tomorrow and highlights a video segment from the Cleveland episode of No Reservations. It's nice to see that the current owners—Norm Heinle, his wife, Carol, and their kids—are continuing a tradition that began with founder Hans Kirchberger. Happy anniversary, Sausage Shoppe!...
Although it'd be a cool name for a burger joint, International House of Hamburgers is a play, written by Cliff Hershman and directed by Chris Johnston, currently running at the Bang and Clatter Theater in Cleveland, Ohio, until November 22....