Of all the changes autumn brings, the best might be the hearty new restaurant menus. With the peak of the harvest season behind us, restaurants are making the transition to the rich, comforting flavors of fall. We asked chefs what special ingredients they're cozying up to as the temperatures cool down.
One Red Door | "The one thing we pull out every fall and recreate to keep fresh is our kale and cauliflower salad," says chef-owner Shawn Monday.
This year, to add a twist, Monday is making use of pumpkin byproducts from a featured stew by toasting the leftover seeds. They're tossed with dry cranberries, local Mackenzie Creamery goat cheese, and champagne vinaigrette. "When I think of fall, I always think of pumpkins and the spices that go with that," he adds.
That hearty pumpkin stew, by the way, blends heirloom beans with seasonal vegetables, kale, curry, pine nuts and raisins.
49 Village Way, 330-342-3667, onereddoorhudson.com.
Rockefeller's | "When I think of the fall and winter, I just want really warm, soul-satisfying food," says chef Jill Vedaa. "Braised meats, roasted butternut squash and sweet potatoes, and really hearty elements."
Vedaa regularly rotates short ribs into her offerings and this fall she points to her newest appetizer, a beefy pierogi plate with sweet potatoes, braised onions and maple bacon creme fraiche. She says a hefty traditional meatball appetizer with roasted tomato sauce and shaved Parmesan also is quickly becoming a crowd pleaser.
Those short ribs also appear on the menu as an entrée, paired with brown butter cauliflower puree, crisp Brussels sprouts and blood orange demi.
3099 Mayfield Rd., 216-321-0477, rockefellerscleveland.com.
Flour | "Every year around this time I get excited about Brussels sprouts," says chef Matt Mytro. "It's one of those vegetables you can really do a lot with. We have a cooked form and a raw form."
As a sautéed side, the detached leaves are finished with an apple cider reduction, pomegranate seeds and melted cheese. To build a salad, sprouts are thinly shaved and tossed with apple cider vinaigrette, fresh sliced apples and aged cheddar cheese.
Apples are again featured in an entrée of ravioli-like agnolotti made with a pumpkin puree and flavored with toasted pumpkin seeds and brown butter. To add a kick, Mytro compresses the apples with a bit of chili. "It's a rapid marinade and the apples lose the crunch," he says. "They have a real nice sour and spicy flavor."
34205 Chagrin Blvd., 216-464-3700, flourrestaurant.com.
Bistro 185 | Apples might be fall's golden fruit and chef Ruth Levine doesn't have to go far to find them.
"We actually have a tree on our property and make compote from the apples," explains Levine. The fresh pickings contribute nicely to the apple chutney served alongside a new-for-fall bacon-wrapped pork chop. Extra apples, along with roasted pears, are used to garnish salads, which have also been updated for late-year dining.
Bistro 185's fare might change daily, but come fall, squash remains a staple for Levine. "I think squashes especially bring out the fall spirit in me," she says. "This is the time of year you really want butternut squash, spaghetti squash, and all those fall root vegetables. Especially when they're roasted."
Her tender "hunter's style" veal scaloppini, complemented by mushroom and truffle-infused ravioli, adds to the seasonal invocation. "It's all very earthy flavors," she says.
991 East 185th St., 216-481-9635, bistro185.com.
Lopez | "First and foremost, I love working with sweet potatoes." gushes chef Michael Herschman. It's the reason they found their way into the Southwestern restaurant's cayenne sweet potato custard. The rich and roasted roots make the creamy dessert base, which is goosed with a little heat from the cayenne. "You get a little burn," he says. "We're all about the spice here."
Served on the side are dark chocolate chip habanero cookies, balancing "the heat with the sweet," he says.
"A lot of people think of chiles as a part of summer," explains Herschman. "But the real harvest for the habaneros and other potent varieties is right before that frost."
To round out the evening, sip on the aptly named Fall-Tini. Infused with Honey Crisp apples and a touch of vanilla, the cocktail is shaken with St. Germain elderflower liqueur and Patterson Fruit Farm's apple cider. "You get this very crisp flavor," Herschman says.
2196 Lee Rd, 216-932-9000, lopezonlee.com.
Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.