And more local food news

Bites: A New Face At Lopez 

And more local food news

Not since Rick Bayless departed for the Windy City has Lopez Southwestern Kitchen boasted such a high-pro chef. But that's precisely what they got when the nomadic Michael Herschman (formerly of Cena Copa, Mojo, and Menu 6) landed at the Cleveland Heights hotspot about a month ago.

Already, the chef's creative imprint can be tasted on the spring menu. New starters include a super-fresh yellowtail ceviche ($10) paired with chiles and a grilled banana salsa. In the cleverly named Roadrunner and Coyote ($13), whole chicken wings get the confit-dredge-and-deep-fry treatment, leaving these mouthwatering blue corn-dusted monsters crunchy as heck. A spicy citrus glaze and sidecar of tequila-spiked salty dog complete the dish.

Also tasty: blue-corn-battered soft-shell crabs that are flash-fried, split in half, and tucked into a pair of soft taco shells with mango habanero salsa ($12).

We'll be back to sample some of Herschman's other featured meals as soon as we can snag a seat on the swanky streetside patio. Find Lopez at 2196 Lee Rd.; call 216-932-9000 or visit lopezonlee.com.

Executive chef Chris Quinn of U.S. Foodservice has put together a mouthwatering menu for the Friday, May 27 Emerging Chefs dinner — titled Mardi Gras en Mai — which will be held at 2020 Center St. on the west bank of the Flats.

Among the highlights of the six-or-so-course dinner: étouffée pierogies, muffaletta points with sea scallop mousse, voodoo chicken, veal strip loin with a bourbon and Dr. Pepper glaze, beignets, and mini-King Cake cupcakes. "April's dinner was our biggest month ever, and May looks as if it is going to be even better," says Emerging Chef co-founder Michael C. DeAloia. "The culinary scene in Cleveland is alive and well!"

Dinner begins at 6 p.m.; cost is $55 or $65 for exclusive chef's table seating. For details and reservations, go to emergingchefs.com. And yes: Beads will be provided.

On March 23, Clyde's Bistro & Barroom in Cleveland Heights ceased to be, making it the most recent in a long line of shuttered restaurants to be housed in the Lee Road diner cars. The place opened a year and a half ago.

But the news isn't as bad as it sounds: Owner Clyde Mart, who specializes in turning around struggling restaurants, actually sold the spot to an eager buyer, who has kept the restaurant open and plans to make it even better.

New owner Candi Robinson couldn't wait to get her hands on the property. As an owner of a popular café and catering company in the Lee-Harvard area, Robinson needed a bigger canvas for her budding operation. When she saw Clyde's, she was instantly smitten.

"What don't I like about the restaurant?" Robinson coos. "I walked in and said, 'I want it.' It is gorgeous — upscale without being too upscale.Clyde did an awesome job."

Now called Favor Bistro, the eatery will keep many of the comfort foods that made Clyde's popular in the neighborhood. To those, new Creole dishes like pecan-crusted chicken and alligator burgers will be added.

"This community is eclectic and diverse, and we hope to please them all," adds Robinson.

Find Favor at 1975 Lee Rd. For more information, call 216-321-7100 or visit favorbistro.com.

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