Strolling down Larchmere Boulevard, with its antique shops, gift boutiques, and neighborly eateries, is already one of our favorite ways to score a dose of East Side hipitude. Now the scene promises to get even hotter, with the late-summer arrival of Boulevard Blue (12718 Larchmere), a contemporary American restaurant with a glass-enclosed garden room, live jazz, and a moderately priced menu of upscale eats.
GM Andy Himmel is a Beachwood native who's apparently genetically predisposed to combining food and jazz: His dad, Martin Himmel, was the original owner of the Boarding House in nearby University Circle. To run the kitchen, Himmel has tapped Scott Wuenneman, former sous chef at Cameron Mitchell's Columbus restaurant, M. Initially, the 116-seat restaurant will serve dinner only, with lunch hours to be added eventually.
But the real behind-the-scenes shaker is the property's owner, Lynne Alfred. A champion of small-scale urban renewal, Alfred is developing a history of buying run-down area properties and sprucing them up. That's what she did five years ago with a former pet hospital, turning it into a stylish, glass-fronted boutique called the Dancing Sheep; that's what she hopes to do here, transforming a decrepit pizza joint into a spot that should enhance the entire neighborhood.
One Tru thing . . . Chef-restaurateur Marlin Kaplan, owner of downtown's One Walnut, will host the second of two James Beard Foundation benefit dinners in Cleveland this year. (The first was in April at Doug Katz chic Shaker Square eatery, fire.) Kaplan's fellow kitchen magician for the eight-course extravaganza will be famed chef Rick Tramonto of Chicago's Tru, one of the city's most highly acclaimed restaurants.
The Kaplan-Tramonto collaboration promises to be a thing of beauty, beginning with flutes of champagne and tomato-crusted lamb chops with minted crème fraîche; moving on to mascarpone foam with prosciutto chips and port-wine sauce; lingering over grilled white asparagus with smoked salmon mousse, roasted lobster, and braised beef short ribs with truffled mashed potatoes; and concluding with chocolate-covered banana splits with three mousses. California's famed Far Niente Vineyard will provide the wines. Tickets for the June 19 event are $175 (or $150 for James Beard Foundation members). It starts at 6 p.m. at a reception with the chefs; the real excitement begins with dinner at 7. Call 216-575-1111 for reservations.