777 St. Clair Ave., 216-771-7707, urbanfarmercleveland.com
This downtown newcomer offers a primer on steak, with plenty of porterhouses, strips, tenderloins and flatirons. But it was the 24-ounce grain-finished, bone-in Ohio rib-eye that delivered the ultimate mix of char, fat and flavor.
Oxtail Stew @ Ocho Rios
1007 Ivanhoe Rd., 216-249-6246
What this Jamaican joint lacks in ambiance it more than makes up for in authenticity. The oxtail stew tastes like the pot roast of one's dreams, with the pudding-soft meat swimming in a rich and deeply flavorful gravy. It's served with rice and beans and warm cabbage slaw.
Spicy Shrimp @ Han Chinese
3710 Payne Ave., 216-769-8745
The name "spicy shrimp" is an awfully bland descriptor for the mind-blowing dish to come. Fat-ass prawns are butterflied, deveined and flash-fried before getting doused with Szechuan red-chili oil and sprinkled with hot peppers. Eat 'em shell and all.
Seafood Tower @ Grove Hill
25 Pleasant Dr., 440-247-4800, Chagrin Falls, grovehillchagrin.com
The only thing more celebratory than a platter of shimmering seafood is an entire tower of it. This multi-tiered showstopper is loaded with raw oysters and clams, king crab, plump shrimp, wild salmon tartar and scallop sashimi.
Baby Back Ribs @ Oak and Embers
8003 Mayfield Rd., Chesterland, 440-729-4030, oakandemberstavern.com
I could eat my weight in barbecue, and I'd start with a few slabs of baby back ribs from this place. The owner leaves a bit of the loin attached when butchering them and lets them sit overnight in the dry rub. A long, slow smoke in the pit leaves them smoky, firm and sweet.
Crab Cakes Benedict @ Dante Next Door
2247 Professor Ave., 216-274-1201, danteboccuzzi.com
Brunch is all about indulgence – when else is morning drinking accepted behavior? This upgraded version of an already extravagant dish slides in sautéed crab cakes between the ham and poached egg. Of course, the whole stack is drenched in lemony Hollandaise.
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