Following a generally sleepy winter, the local food and drink scene will soon kick into high gear and deliver a roundhouse of hotly anticipated projects.
Here are the ones we are most looking forward to:
» Mason's Creamery
» Ohio City | » May
Ice cream entrepreneurs Jesse Mason and Helen Qin have taken Mason's Creamery from a nomadic pop-up-shop affair to a bricks-and-mortar business in less than one year. When they open their new retail shop in the former home of Ohio City Ice Cream, they will doubtless bring smiles to countless neighborhood faces. The shop will have a small interior space with a counter and some tables, while the exterior will offer a walk-up window. Dedicated production space will allow Mason's Creamery to expand its wholesale business. A new building shell and sign will spruce up appearances, while replacing yards of blacktop with green space will provide a nice community gathering area.
» Urban Farmer
» Downtown | » May
Urban Farmer, an offshoot of the uber-popular Portland restaurant of the same name, will open early May in the freshly minted Westin Downtown hotel. The 6,000-square-foot, 250-seat farm-to-table steakhouse will be helmed by executive chef Brad Cecchi, who relocated to Cleveland from Sacramento, where he was dubbed the "master of cured meats." No surprise then that Urban Farmer will boast an ambitious butchery and charcuterie program. A highlight of the menu is the New York Steak Tasting, which features portions of grass-fed beef, USDA prime beef, 21-day dry-aged beef and Imperial Wagyu beef. A four-story weathered industrial neon sign marks the restaurant entrance, while inside there is an open kitchen, chicken-wire chandeliers, blackboards that list purveyors, and a bar with 20-foot ceilings and a wall of glass that looks out onto the downtown streets.
» Crumb and Spigot
» Bainbridge | » May
Karen Gorman has always loved those crazy names and signs so prevalent in England, hence the whimsically named Crumb and Spigot, which will open in a few weeks near the corner of Washington and 306. The small neighborhood tavern will feature a large bar, communal seating and a wood-fired oven. The "crumb" refers to the pizzas exiting the wood oven, while the "spigot" refers to the bar, specifically craft cocktails and both beer and wine on tap. The menu will offer small plates like charcuterie, pizzas and wood-fired entrees like fish, chicken and steak. Gorman notes that there will be a large number of vegan and vegetarian options. Gorman's partner in the operation is Ryan King, a veteran cook who has worked in a number of Cleveland restaurants.
» University Circle | » May/June
Long in the works, James Beard-nominated chef Jonathon Sawyer's new Italian restaurant, Trentina, is on schedule for an early summer opening. The attractive 35-seat restaurant in University Circle, which for 20 years was home to the beloved Sergio's, is an ideal setting for the northern Italian-inspired foods that Sawyer and chef Matt Danko will be creating. Diners can look forward to creative cocktails, fresh pastas, tableside cooking, and al fresco dining on the restaurant's picturesque front patio.
» Spotted Owl
» Tremont | » May/June
Will Hollingsworth is inching ever closer to the conclusion of one phase of his life and the beginning of another. This bartender's long held vision of the perfect neighborhood bar will become reality when the Spotted Owl takes flight within weeks in the lower level of the Tremont Place Lofts. No asses-to-elbows pub this, the Owl will seat no more than 40 guests in 2,200 square feet of architecturally compelling space. Exposed brick walls envelop the space, illuminated by surgically placed spots. The bar, tables and high-tops are all built from salvaged old-growth tulip poplar boards and the poured concrete floors are stained midnight blue. Despite the time and planning, this will be a neighborhood bar with no pretension. Guests can expect a concise menu of cocktails, a very small wine list and just five beers on tap.
» Butcher and the Brewer
» Downtown | » June
Few projects have been so hotly anticipated as Butcher and the Brewer, which will open on East Fourth Street in the coming months. When complete, this ambitious, multi-faceted project will feature a 10-barrel brewery, restaurant, retail butcher shop and lower-level bar. The management team consists of Tremont Taphouse principals Jason Workman, Chris Lieb and Jeff Leonard, along with executive chef Jim Blevins, brewmaster Eric Anderson and butcher Rex Workman. At full capacity, the brewpub will seat approximately 185 diners — more when the lower-level speakeasy is complete. The menu will feature bar snacks, charcuterie and cheese, and entrees built around veggies, meat and seafood.
» Grove Hill
» Chagrin Falls | » June
Destined to become one of Chagrin Falls' most popular restaurants, Grove Hill is preparing for an early summer opening in the former home of Raintree, a dining institution since 1972. Veteran chef Tim Bando, whose culinary CV stretches back to Michael Symon and the Caxton Café days, is currently renovating the historic building to create a cozy, pub-like environment. When finished, the restaurant will seat approximately 150 in the bar, lounge and dining room. The menu is described as "contemporary American comfort foods," with items ranging from a raw bar platter with oysters, lobsters, clams and shrimp to duck leg confit with fresh fava beans, lemon zest and mint.
» Ohio City | » June/July
Alex Budin describes his 1,350-square-foot music-focused bar as "a place where people can expect to hear and learn about music of multiple genres, all of which is concentrated in a constantly evolving jukebox." Located in the Striebinger Block building of the Hingetown neighborhood, Jukebox will feature a 100-CD jukebox filled with the music of various Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted musicians, beginning in the '50s and running clear through modern indie rock and hip-hop. The selections will be described at length in a music menu that guests can read to learn more about the groups and albums, complete with recommended tracks.
» Detroit Shoreway | » June/July
Johnson & Wales-trained chef Cory Hess and architect Robert Maschke have been hard at work for more than a year on the old City Grill space in Gordon Square, which required a top-to-bottom renovation. When it opens in June or July, Arcadian will boast an all- new façade with large windows that peer into the kitchen and three large windows that open up to the street. Hess promises that when complete, the 100-seat bistro will be an approachable, neighborhood-friendly gastropub.
» Bacchanalia Gourmet Market
» Lakewood | » July
Manny Nieves, the multitalented owner of Grady's Fine Wines in Rocky River, will up his game considerably when he and partner Scott Popovic open this gourmet market on Detroit. For starters, the shop will carry more than double the wine and beer inventory available at Grady's. Also, visitors to this 3,100-square-foot marketplace will find one of the largest cheese and charcuterie selections on the west side, displayed in 24 feet of refrigerated cases. A central tasting lounge will present regular food, beer and wine tastings, as well as chef demos, cooking classes and celebrity chef book signings.
» Playhouse Square | » August
Hofbräuhaus Cleveland, affiliated with the original in Munich, Germany, is an $8-million, 20,000-square-foot, 1,700-seat restaurant and brewery opening this summer in Playhouse Square. The massive attraction will feature world famous Hofbrau beer, which will be brewed on premises using the original recipes, as well as German comfort foods like potato pancakes, weisswurst, schnitzel and braised pork shank. The complex will be divided into various seating areas, including the 2,000-square-foot brewery, 450-seat main beer hall, smaller 2,000-square-foot dining area in the former Hermit Club lounge, 2,500-square-foot main kitchen area and the 1,000-seat beer garden.
» Hansa Brewery
» Ohio City | » August
When it opens in August at the corner of Lorain and West 28th, Hansa Brewery will boast a beefy 15-barrel brewhouse, multi-level restaurant and beer garden. The original specialty foods shop also will be incorporated into the project. The brewery is an officially licensed brewer of Laško beer, a Slovenian brewery that dates back to 1825. An international themed restaurant will prepare foods from German, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy and France. Following the opening of Platform Beer, it will be the fifth Ohio City brewery.
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