2014 Brought a Bumper Crop of Restaurants

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There is no arguing that this very moment in time is the most thrilling, dynamic and robust in the history of the Cleveland dining scene. Almost daily, it seems, Scene is sharing the news of yet another splashy restaurant opening or the inside scoop on some chef’s optimistic plans to hang out his or her shingle in the coming weeks or months. Don’t believe us? We’ve compiled a list of just a few of the most notable restaurant openings within the past year.

In terms of size and scope, there is no besting the Hofbrauhaus Cleveland, which opened its doors in early October. The 24,000-square-foot complex in Playhouse Square is an official outpost of the Munich-based original, which dates back to 1589. Grab a seat outside in the 1,000-seat beer garden or inside at the 500-seat beer hall to enjoy classic Bavarian beer and food.

Almost as ambitious in design and reach is Butcher and the Brewer, a multi-level restaurant and brewery on East Fourth Street. The casual brewpub offers communal seating, shared dining and fresh-brewed suds. An onsite retail butcher shop will open in the coming months.

At the new Westin Downtown, Urban Farmer is a high-end, farm-to-table steakhouse with roots in Portland, Ore., home to the original. As a steakhouse, Urban Farmer succeeds on many levels, offering more than a dozen options in terms of cut, weight, pedigree, rearing and aging. And the interior is undeniably attractive.

When Trentina opened this summer, it became Cleveland’s first tasting menu-only eatery, wherein guests surrendered their appetites to the whims of chef-owner Jonathon Sawyer and his crew. The restaurant has since added an a la carte menu to the dining room, but for our money, the best experience is still built around the 12-course Menu Bianco.

After 20 years in the restaurant biz ­— starting as a line cook at the Caxton Café alongside Michael Symon — Tim Bando has a pretty solid grasp of what works and what doesn’t. Relying on that accumulated wisdom, he transformed the fusty old Raintree in Chagrin Falls into Grove Hill, an attractive destination that manages to satisfy a wide swath of the family friendly community.

Adega, the premier restaurant at The 9, is helmed by Eddie Tancredi, a 30-year-old chef with an already impressive CV. The elegant but casual eatery in the high-end hotel and residence complex offers modern Mediterranean cuisine flush with fresh seafood, local ingredients and imported specialty products.

When chefs Steve Schimoler and Matt Anderson combine their talents in one location, only good things can happen. At least, that’s what we’re counting on at Crop Kitchen, which recently opened in the former Accent space at Uptown in University Circle. Here, diners will find a more casual version of the Ohio City original, with sandwiches, starters, sushi bar items, and a handful of nightly specials.

When news broke that Happy Dog would be taking over the Euclid Tavern in University Circle, a collective sigh seemed to roll across the landscape. What better fit for the historic club than a music-focused hot dog joint run by industry pros? Now, eastsiders can relish the relish-topped tubesteaks without driving clear across the Cuyahoga.

Ninja City just opened in University Circle and already it’s attracting hordes of time-strapped, budget-crunched diners, many of whom are students at nearby universities. This fun and lively Pan-Asian concept is a sort of hybrid that combines the menu traits of a fast-casual eatery with the bar and service of a full-service restaurant.

In Bainbridge, in the former Western Reserve Bread shop, Crumb & Spigot is small, sparkling and cute as a button. Run by longtime catering chef Karen Gorman, the upscale neighborhood tavern dishes up simple, approachable, from-scratch food that people can recognize.

It has taken Jesse Mason and Helen Qin only about two years to go from small-batch ice cream dabblers to brick-and-mortar shopkeepers. That is a testament to their spirit and product, both of which are bottomless wells of glee. After a lengthy build-out process, the team just opened the doors to Mason’s Creamery in the former home of Ohio City Ice Cream and Dari Delite.

Susan Walters, the pioneering restaurant owner behind such concepts as KeKa and SubStance, has converted the Battery Park Wine Bar in Detroit Shoreway into CHA Spirits & Pizza Kitchen. The freshly modified interior features a repositioned bar, open kitchen and lakeshore views.

Waterloo Brew, the first of many proposed new eateries to open in North Collinwood, has brought fresh life to the old Slovenian Workmen’s Home on Waterloo. Brought to you by the same guys who operate ABC and XYZ Taverns, Waterloo Brew combines beer, bocce and cheesesteak sandwiches.

Fans of Cajun and Creole food have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Bourbon Street Barrel Room, a construction project more than a year in the making. Very recently, chef-owner Johnny Schulze, the man behind the Big Easy-inspired food truck Zydeco Bistro, opened his Tremont doors and began serving soul-satisfying dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, crawfish etouffe, barbecue shrimp, and red beans and rice. And don’t forget the tall, refreshing Hurricanes.

About The Author

Douglas Trattner

For 20 years, Douglas Trattner has worked as a full-time freelance writer, editor and author. His work on Michael Symon's "Carnivore," "5 in 5" and “Fix it With Food” have earned him three New York Times Best-Selling Author honors, while his longstanding role as Scene dining editor garnered the award of “Best...
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