Bites

Thursday, April 27, 2017

First Look: Forest City Shuffleboard Arena and Bar in Ohio City

Posted By on Thu, Apr 27, 2017 at 10:56 AM

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After nearly a year of construction, Jim Miketo is putting the finishing touches on Forest City Shuffleboard Arena and Bar (4506 Lorain Ave.), a gorgeous new entertainment option on the Ohio City-Detroit Shoreway border. A complete gut-and-rebuild job on the former Supermercado Rico building on Lorain at W. 45th has produced a spacious, but comfortable social club with indoor shuffleboard, bar and kitchen. The business is on track for a mid-May opening.

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Miketo, a Cleveland native and graduate of St. Eds, lived in New York for eight years. It was there that he visited Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club in Brooklyn and became enamored by the game and its followers.

“When I went there I was like, What are kids in their 20s and 30s doing playing shuffleboard?” he recalls. “And there are two- to three-hour waits every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.”

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Miketo opened his first indoor shuffleboard club near Marblehead in 2015, but he was thrilled to have the opportunity to expand into his hometown. Not many buildings can accommodate indoor shuffleboard courts, or come with enough adjacent space on which to expand. Miketo got both, and ended up with a spacious 7,500-square-foot main floor when all was said and done.

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“One of the big challenges we had, because it was such a big space, was to make it all feel connected – the bar and shuffleboard arena,” he says.

He and his wife Kari obviously have an eye for design. The resulting spaces are warm, cozy and interconnected, with burgundy and goldfinch paint colors pairing nicely with the exposed brick. Large openings unite the barroom with the arena, while new windows connect the indoor with the outdoors.

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The “vintage varsity” theme is consistent throughout the space, with collegiate-style details like original baseball stadium seating, an old but functional scoreboard from Magnificat High, bleacher-board backbar, high-tops fabricated from basketball court hardwood, and a jumbotron that will hang from the rafters.

While the gymnasium-like atmosphere might provoke flashbacks for weaklings, Miketo says that shuffleboard is a game for all ages and abilities.

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“It’s shuffleboard; everybody here is an all-star.”

There are five indoor and two outdoor courts. The 60-by-10-foot areas of play are constructed of raised poured concrete that is sealed and glossed with glass beads. One-on-one or two-on-two games are played up to 75 points. The courts are rented by the hour. Seasonal leagues will take place throughout the year, and regular play will be first come, first served, although large groups can reserve ahead.

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A 30-foot-long maple and black walnut topped bar will serve 20 drafts, draft cocktails, and other beverages “that hearken yesteryear.” A fully equipped kitchen space, with service windows accessible from both inside and the outdoor patio, will be staffed by a rotating roster of local talent at all times.

“We’ll try and highlight all of Cleveland’s great restaurants and up-and-coming chefs,” says Miketo, adding that options likely will include empanadas, pupusas, barbecue and many others.

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The main bar area features communal tables, benches and custom-built 22-foot tabletop shuffleboard games.

Out front, the two outdoor shuffleboard courts will be flanked by a patio topped with green athletic turf keep the sports theme consistent. Miketo intentionally wanted to bring the activity right up to the sidewalks on Lorain as opposed to sequestering it indoors.

“We want to try and drive foot traffic down this way, so people can see us playing shuffleboard,” he notes. “It’s such a cool neighborhood down there. It has such a unique fabric, and as the community continues to grow and expand, I want to be a part of it.”

Before shot of the building
  • Before shot of the building
Present-day shot of the building
  • Present-day shot of the building
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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Fourk to Bring New Life to Old Matchworks Building in Mentor

Posted By on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 at 12:22 PM

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The iconic Matchworks Building in Mentor has seen more than its fair share of restaurants over the years. Concepts such as the Perfect Match, Blue Tip Grill, Wallaby’s, Match Works Tavern and Harry’s Hofbrau House have come and gone over the past three decades.

Come May 1, Fourk will occupy that notable structure, but this new restaurant has more than a few things going for it that most of its predecessors did not. For starters, chef-partner Ryan Scanlon’s experience has provided him not only with the culinary chops to turn out great food, but also a pragmatic mindset that will likely appease the diners who walk through his door.

A graduate of Johnson & Wales University, Scanlon was the first employee that Burntwood Tavern founder Bret Adams hired. Scanlon served as opening chef of the original Chagrin Falls location plus many others that followed before becoming Regional Culinary Manager for all of them. But after seven years at Burntwood, Scanlon jumped at the opportunity to open his own place.

“It was time to branch out and do my own venture with different food, and this project seemed like a good adventure,” he explains.

He partnered with Marc Wertenberger, the owner of the building, who has invested a significant amount of time and money renovating the historic structure. Past restaurants all suffered from a rambling, dark and tired interior that seemed out of step with the times. Not any more, says Scanlon.

“You won’t recognize the building now,” he says.

The crews stripped away the dark wood paneling, pulled up the carpeting, demoed many of the small nooks and crannies, created a seamless, one-level space, and laid down new hardwood flooring. Now guests will experience a space with a modern-industrial look with steel accents, concrete bartop and cool color patterns.

“Fourk” is play on words, the chef says, referring both to the four different food groups and the eating utensil. Scanlon describes the place as a modern American tavern, where classic dishes will be tweaked just enough to make them sing.

In the starter department, empanadas will be stuffed with lobster and topped with slaw and homemade hot sauce; BLT sliders feature thick-cut bacon and marinated tomatoes; Indian naan is topped with chorizo and goat cheese; tacos are filled with tuna ceviche and jalapeno lime slaw.

The sandwich category includes a bacon and cheese burger with an egg, a meatball and mozz sub, a fried fish sandwich with avocado and jalapeno lime slaw, and Cubano-style sandwich stuffed with cola-braised pork shoulder, Havarti cheese, Dijon and pickles.

For the mains, items like steak frites with salsa verde and grilled asparagus, brick chicken with mashed roasted cauliflower, and seared scallops over risotto cakes with peach and cracked-black pepper sauce are likely to hit home with diners. Also on the menu are dishes like fish & frites, salmon and polenta fries, and Cioppino-style seafood and grits.

All of the above is matched with a progressive beer, wine and cocktail program.

Ironically, Scanlon worked in these very kitchens as a young chef, back when it was the Blue Tip Grill. This time around, he’s in charge, and he intends for Fourk to be a fixture of the community for many years to come.

“I don’t by any means expect to start out of the gate full bore, packed-house every night,” he says. “I think it’s going to take some time to regain people’s trust around here and prove that we’re not those same places. I can’t speak to why some of those other restaurants were or weren’t a good fit because I wasn’t there, but we’re going to try and provide a fine-dining level of service but in a casual atmosphere.”

When it opens on May 1, Fourk will serve lunch and dinner seven days a week.
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Monday, April 24, 2017

Cleveland Chef Jonathon Sawyer Second to Leave 'Iron Chef Gauntlet': UPDATE

Posted By on Mon, Apr 24, 2017 at 10:24 AM

COURTESY FOOD NETWORK
  • Courtesy Food Network
Update: Cleveland's own lauded chef, Jonathon Sawyer, was the second contestant chosen to leave the Food Network competition Iron Chef Gauntlet last night.

Although he did not lose the episode's Chairman's Challenge, which involved butchering a whole hog, Sawyer was selected by the winner of that challenge (Chef Sarah Grueneberg) to square off against the loser (Chef Shota Nakajima) for the Secret Ingredient Showdown.

Unfortunately, bananas and plantains, the secret ingredient, were Sawyers downfall, and his banana blossom salad was not enough to win over the judges.

In his exit interview, Sawyer told the TV audience that "it was an honor to be here." And last night on Twitter, Sawyer tweeted his thoughts on bananas and host Alton Brown.

***

(Original Story 4/13/17): Jonathon Sawyer, one of Cleveland's most decorated chefs and restaurateurs, competes on Food Network's Iron Chef Gauntlet, airing this Easter Sunday. The last chef standing on the show has the potential to be named the next Iron Chef, and will then join Cleveland's own Iron Chef Michael Symon along with Bobby Flay and Masaharu Morimoto.

With six other contenders from all over the country, Sawyer's competition is fierce. But the Greenhouse Tavern owner, and one-time winner of the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef Great Lakes, is primed for these sorts of food showdowns: Last year he made it to the second round of Food Network's Chopped Grill Masters Napa.

For those unfamiliar with the actual hour-long Iron Chef show concept, each episode starts with a secret ingredient, which needs to be included in all five dishes the chefs create.

And Sawyer's dream secret ingredients? Artichokes or offal.

"I feel like those two things I have an extreme advantage on," he confidently told Food Network. "No. 1, I just understand offal meat probably better than anybody else — definitely better than anybody else in this competition but mostly better than anyone else in the country. Spleens and livers and gonads and lungs and everything. It's those offcuts that we really embrace, because they're affordable. Artichokes, that's just kind of therapy for me. I can turn artichokes like a bitch."

Read an entire Food Network interview with Sawyer right here.

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Beachwood Yours Truly to Reopen this Week After a Year of Construction

Posted By on Mon, Apr 24, 2017 at 9:07 AM

Rendering of new Beachwood exterior - RSA ARCHITECTS
  • RSA Architects
  • Rendering of new Beachwood exterior

The wait is almost over. It’s been a year since the Beachwood location of Yours Truly Restaurant was closed for major renovations. Finally, on April 25, the public will see what the new and improved store looks like.

The aging structure, which became the first Yours Truly in 1981, required significant improvements to bring it up to modern standards.

“This has allowed us to be handicapped accessible, convert the dining room to more comfortable booth seating and put in a whole new infrastructure,” explains owner Larry Shibley, adding that the restaurant also gained new plumbing, foundation and other essential improvements.

That location joins others in Chagrin Falls, Shaker Square, Hudson, Mayfield Village, Medina, Mentor, Rockside and the newest in Downtown Cleveland.
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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Old City Soda and Cleveland Whiskey to Hold Pop-Up Cocktail Party

Posted By on Sat, Apr 22, 2017 at 7:18 AM

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Cleveland Whiskey has teamed up with the folks at Old City Soda for the second event in their 2017 Remix open house series. Dubbed the Old City Soda Pop-up Cocktail Party, the event will feature tastings, distillery tours, snacks, giveaways and entertainment.


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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Hunger Network Announces Details of the Inaugural East Bank Bacon & Kegs Festival

Posted By on Thu, Apr 20, 2017 at 11:49 AM

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The locally based Hunger Network aims to reduce hunger in Cleveland by providing nutritious food to over 45,000 residents each month, more than 31% of whom are children.

Cuyahoga County’s largest direct emergency food distribution network, the non-profit serves 6.5 million meals per year as it allocates 94 percent of every dollar raised to buying food for those in need.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Luca Italian Cuisine to Open Second Location in Westlake

Posted By on Wed, Apr 19, 2017 at 2:30 PM

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Since the summer of 2013, Luca Italian Cuisine (2100 Superior Viaduct, 216-862-2761) has been attracting lovers of fine food and atmosphere to the Superior Viaduct, where magical skyline views combine with gourmet Italian food and wine to create truly memorable nights.

Come mid-summer, owners Luca and Lola Sema will open a second location, this one in Westlake at the former Viva Fernando/Viva Barcelona spot (24600 Detroit Rd.). Following a total renovation of the space, Luca West will debut with a similar menu and wine program. The restaurant will have approximately 150 seats plus multiple private dining spaces, a feature sorely lacking downtown, they say.

Diners can look forward to a menu that is largely similar to the one served downtown. That includes starters like raw salmon carpaccio with capers and lemon, and ricotta-and-truffle stuffed beggar’s purses with truffled cream sauce; pastas like handmade pappardelle with veal, duck and wild boar meat sauce, and orecchiette with fennel sausage and rapini, and entrees such as slow-roasted wild boar shank with linguini, and pan-seared branzino in champagne sauce that is deboned and served tableside.

No changes are planned for the downtown location.
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