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Mise on the Scene 

A new West Side restaurant garners national acclaim.

Mise (10427 Clifton Boulevard, 216-651-6473), Jeff Uniatowski's sleek, contemporary West Side wonder, has been observed by operatives from Nation's Restaurant News. The trade magazine's December year-in-review issue recognized 58 top spots from among the thousands of dining rooms that opened last year, and Mise was among them. Other restaurants that made the list include Alain Ducasse at the Essex House in New York City (where the average dinner check reportedly runs about $250), Nine in Chicago, and the new Commander's Palace in Las Vegas. "We're in some great company," says a pleased-as-punch Uniatowski. "I'm not quite sure yet how they found out about us, but I'm not complaining. I never argue with blessings." The only other Northeast Ohio opening that caught Nation's eye was casual Timberfire (8258 East Washington Street, 440-708-2222), a relaxed and rustic dining room in Chagrin Falls. Overlooked in the 2000 rundown were other local jewels like Century at the Ritz Carlton, OZ in Tremont, and Blake's Seafood Grill in Chagrin Falls. Go figure.

Too quiet by half . . . Suburban-dwelling fans of Café Tandoor, Raj Singh's excellent Indian restaurant in Cleveland Heights, raved about the food, but moaned about the long drive back into the city for their fix of curry, biryani, and the like. So the accommodating restaurateur responded by opening an Aurora outpost last summer at 96 Barrington Town Center (330-562-5334), near the intersection of routes 82 and 306. Now where is everybody? A recent lunch visit found us rattling around the pretty dining room practically by our lonesome. Fortunately, the silence didn't stop us from devouring a delicious meal of tandoori-baked lamb, piled onto a mound of grilled veggies and sided with warm cashew, pistachio, and coriander-spiced naan. Staffers say dinner hours typically bring a bigger crowd, but they still would love to have more company. For his part, Singh is not discouraged: He's proceeding with plans to open a third location, in Westlake's Bay Plaza, in the spring. Aurora hours are Monday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5:30 to 10 p.m.; Sundays from 3 to 9 p.m. Are you listening, all you hungry commuters in Kent, Twinsburg, Hudson, Solon, and Macedonia?

The way of the Buffalo . . . After 22 years of trying to run a fine-dining restaurant in a decidedly easygoing neighborhood, Dominic Sforzo has thrown in the marinara-stained towel. The owner of Sforzo's (5517 Memphis Avenue) has opted to go casual and will be joining the herd of the Harry Buffalo. The former Italian eatery closed earlier this month and will reopen in March as the third and newest Harry Buffalo location; other laid-back Buffaloes roam in Lakewood and in North Olmsted's Great Northern Mall.

Eddie doesn't eat there . . . Restaurateur Gary Lucarelli says the recently reported retail exodus from downtown's Galleria hasn't affected business at his Café Sausalito (216-696-CAFÉ) one whit. In fact, the tasty little spot on the Galleria's upper level has just wrapped up two of its best back-to-back years in its 14-year history. "Most of our guests aren't shoppers," Lucarelli has concluded. Instead, the restaurant caters mostly to a large and reliable crowd of downtown workers and theatergoers who don't care if Eddie Bauer is in business or not.

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