A Guide to Dining, Eating and Cooking in Cleveland, Ohio

Bombay Superstar: Indian Eats From Lakewood March 26, 2008

I love Indian food. I love going to Indian restaurants in Cleveland as much as possible. I get take-out from Cafe Tandoor in Cleveland Heights several times a month – the Paneer Makhani is my favorite – and my new favorite Indian restaurant is Udipi Cafe, at 6339 Olde York Road in Parma. Woah. Talk about amazing, inexpensive Indian food that’s more than worth the drive out there.

For a long time I have wanted to learn to make Indian food myself, and a Saturday road trip to Lakewood brought a serendipitous visit to a well-stocked Indian grocery store, called Indian Food Emporium, at 17796 Detroit Road in Lakewood. My friend and I giddily perused the many shelves of exotic spices, flours, rices and snacks and struck up a conversation with the very friendly and helpful Indian lady at the cash register whose name was Mona Lisa. According to the website, Indian Food Emporium is connected with India Garden in Lakewood, but it’s further down the street.

So, with my cupboard fully stocked with Indian spices, I was determined to make Mattar Paneer, that lovely mix of heavenly mild cheese and peas in an aromatic tomato sauce.

After perusing several Indian cooking websites, I found several websites that were enormously helpful, including Show Me The Curry, Quick Indian Cooking and (my favorite) Manjula’s Kitchen.

Both Show Me The Curry and Manjula’s Kitchen offered exactly what I needed: cheerful Indian women demonstrating their amazing feats of cookery and cheerfully sharing their knowledge in easy to understand, homemade videos. Armed with the ingredients and the knowledge, I undertook my first courageous forray into homemade Indian cuisine.

They were sold out of paneer at Whole Foods (?!?) but luckily Zagara’s had some middle eastern cheese that sounded similar to paneer, so I decided to give it a whirl.

Manjula’s recipe and methods couldn’t be easier:
Make some Basmati rice.
Slice and fry funky cheese cubes.
Puree tomatoes with ginger and garlic paste.
Saute spices for half a minute, then add pureed tomatoes.
Simmer for a while.
Add some frozen peas and cook those until they’re done.
Then add the cheese cubes in, and voila! Homemade Mattar Paneer!

The whole endeavor took less 45 minutes and the result was fabulous. The feature of this dish is, of course, the paneer cheese. Paneer is made simply from milk, and it is a dense cheese that holds its shape when cooked rather than melting. Yay for us!

Next time I am going to make Poori.


Keep Me In Touch: Touch Supper Club March 16, 2008

Touch Supper Club

2710 Lorain Avenue

Cleveland, OH 44113


Touch is a dance club known for its DJs and the Old School Hip Hop Night, a monthly throw-back to the height of 80s hip-hop music scene. On its website, this Ohio City spot bills itself as a “supper club” but I’d never seen anyone eating the food there before, so I assumed it would be your typical sub-standard bar food.

But what we didn’t know was that not only does Touch have a decent menu, but after a recent dining extravaganza there, they have my vote as one of the top 10 restaurants in Cleveland.

Touch’s menu features extensive wine and beer menus, including a wide variety of Belgian beers on tap. The entrees, generally nouveau american, ranged from roast chicken or pork filet to a burger.

I ordered and highly recommend the “Mac and Cheese,” which elevates the bland everyday dish to the opposite extreme. It balances the creamy Vermont cheddar and Cottswold cheese with nice cubed Taso ham and sweet green peas. Its leftovers even made an excellent breakfast the next morning!

I also highly recommend the hamburger, which comes with thin, crispy homemade Belgian frites and a homemade ketchup had me rethinking Heinz as my number one ketchup of choice.

Before dessert he brought us a very cleansing little amuse-bouche – a mini dish of homemade vanilla ice cream with a blood orange reduction sauce that was just right to cleanse the palate before our desserts arrived.

We ordered the Berries Foster dessert, a variation on Bananas Foster – that included delicious fresh berries over vanilla ice cream with a brown sugar, rum and cinnamon sauce.

Our attentive waiter was extremely knowledgeable about the food, wine and beer selections and was more than happy to answer questions and make recommendations for us. In short, eating dinner there was a like a really nice dream.

The one thing I will say, though, is that they need to update their restrooms. Somehow at a place that serves such amazing food, when you walk into the restroom it’s like using the restroom in a remote log cabin.

But other than that, every aspect of the evening was perfect, from the moment we walked in to the last bite of dessert.

Touch Supper Club in Cleveland


Movie Date: Bar Cento March 13, 2008

Bar Cento
1948 West 25th Street
Cleveland, OH 44113

A group movie date at the Cleveland International Film Festival Sunday night had us looking for the perfect pre-downtown spot for dinner, and Bar Cento‘s delivered yet again.

Bar Cento is quickly becoming one of the best spots in Ohio City for a nice dinner or to grab a bite before going out downtown, or to spend a leisurely many-coursed meal. Chef Jonathan Sawyer‘s myriad creations include unfailing homemade pizzas with fresh ingredients, like the margherita pizza that features fresh basil, tomato and mozzarella cheese. The pizzas are very affordable, priced at $8 to $12 per pie, which is nearly big enough to share between two people or for one, with extra to take home. The pizza leftovers also double well as a breakfast the next morning.

We ordered the table share of Belgian frites, which are the perfect combination of salty, savory, potatoey and crispy. But my favorite part of the frites is that they come with three different sauces to dip them in: ketchup and homemade mayonnaise curry and horseradish sauces. Be aware, however: the frites are not vegetarian, but they are extremely addictive.

The beet salad ($8) is delicately composed of savory but sweet beets paired with gorgonzola, but I recommend ordering another of their salads if you don’t like smelly cheese.

Accompanied by a thoughtful selection of well-priced wines by the bottle, Bar Cento also serves great beers on tap as well as all the expected spirits.

The service is casual yet efficient, and the waitress happily provided separate checks for our table of eight, with no extra charge.

Worth going simply for the casual atmosphere, great prices and great homemade gourmet pizza, Bar Cento never fails to please.

Bar Cento in Cleveland


Pancetta Dates Stuffed With Goat Cheese (Dream Dates?) March 8, 2008

Filed under: Appetizers,Recipes and Preparations — jenniferferf @ 11:02 pm
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I made these wonderful dates stuffed with goat cheese as an appetizer for a friend’s birthday party last week. People just loved them, and I have a lot of vegetarian and/or Jewish friends, so I was glad that I was able to make a great appetizer that everyone could eat.

Pancetta Dates Stuffed With Goat Cheese (Dream Dates)

24 (or more) pitted dates – Medjool or whatever they have at the store
24 blanched almonds
6 ounces good goat cheese (plain or herbed, softened)
A few strips of pancetta, cut into 24 thin, skinny slices (about the size of a strip of bacon)
Also need: 24 toothpicks, soaked in water for 10 minutes or more

First, preheat your oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and set your goat cheese out to soften a bit. Then, get your dates and stuff them with an almond each. Then put your goat cheese into a pastry bag or a sturdy Ziploc bag with a small corner cut out of it and fill the dates the rest of the way with the goat cheese.

Wrap each stuffed date with a strip of pancetta and secure with a toothpick. Put these on parchment paper on a cookie sheet or other oven-safe pan with sides. Broil until the cheese is bubbly and serve right away.

For a recipe with only four ingredients, these little nuggets of joy are inexplicably complex. The honey sweetness of the dates, and the goat cheese adds a smooth yet inexplicable complexity to these things. And the almond balances everything out with a little crunch. I made a bunch without almonds, and they were just as good.

– For vegetarians, just leave out the pancetta. It works great, and no need to bother about the toothpicks.
– Use bacon instead of pancetta
– Wrap a fresh basil leaf around the stuffed dates before you wrap them in the pancetta.


To bag or not to bag?

Filed under: Dos and Don'ts,Uncategorized — jenniferferf @ 4:32 am
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I am happy that Whole Foods has announced that they are no longer going to be offering plastic bags to their customers, only recycled paper bags and reusable bags.

Plastic bags at the grocery is one of my biggest pet peeves. Is it really that difficult to remember to bring our own bags into the store? Really, we are smart people after all.

I love that Ireland has embraced the bring-your-own-bag movement so successfully and think that we could do the same here, once a few large grocery chains catch on like Whole Foods has.

Giant Eagle and Dave’s Markets are now selling inexpensive reusable bags, and at my Dave’s, they are usually amenable to my reusable bags.

So, pull out your favorite (or least favorite) canvas tote bags and keep a few in your trunk for the next time you go to the store.

I think they’re friendly and much easier to carry than the plastic grocery bags anyway.

What do you think? Do you bring your own bag to the grocery store, or is it too hard to remember? Is it unfashionable to bring a Whole Foods bag into your Giant Eagle?


Le Petit Triangle Cafe: Ohio City Eats March 2, 2008

Filed under: Breakfast,Brunch,Chocolate,Cuisines,Restaurant Reviews — jenniferferf @ 10:29 pm
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Le Petit Triangle Cafe
1881 Fulton Rd
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 281-1881

Le Petit Triangle Cafe is a creperie in Ohio City that’s definitely worth a visit! It’s this tiny little place, but the owner is really nice, and there about 40 crepes you can choose from, including savory and sweet. They’re really rich, though, so don’t go if you’re in the mood for healthy food.

The crepes are fluffy, and there is a good variety of interesting choices, including cheddar, chicken and chutney, as well as the traditional complet, ham and gruyere, and of course, nutella and strawberries for dessert!

It seems like it’s better for breakfast and lunch than dinner. I’ll definitely be going back!