VODKA VODKA returns in February. Limited early bird tickets are on sale right now!

Table Talk 

Zack Bruell's new spot opens with a bang.

Table 45 hasn't served its first meal, but already it gets our vote for most visually striking space in town. Restaurateur Zack Bruell's sexpot of a salon -- sleek, utterly spare, and impeccably appointed -- will open on Good Friday inside the Cleveland Clinic's InterContinental Hotel, where banners over Carnegie Avenue already herald its arrival.

Architect-designer Bill Blunden is the man behind the solid maple woodwork, the leather Corbusier chairs, and the "essentialism" design. ("If it wasn't essential, we didn't put it in," he helpfully explains.) And of course, the man behind the globe-trotting menu is Bruell, a Cleveland culinary icon whose credits stretch back to the 1980s, when he launched Z Contemporary Cuisine in Shaker Heights.

A sneak peek at a prototype menu reveals temptations like Peruvian-style braised lamb shank and tandoori-roasted chicken with garlic gnocchi, white truffle cream, and pancetta. But if the crowd devouring the warm naan during last week's private party is any clue, it's safe to say what the favorite bar nosh will be. Call 216-707-4045 for lunch and dinner reservations.

Salty dog . . . Yes, Halite (2800 Clinton Avenue in Ohio City) is up for sale; no, it hasn't closed. Still, the future could look brighter for the Ohio City eatery, which opened three and a half years ago with a snazzy retro menu. "It's a tough location," says owner Jack Anfang. "There's no room for outdoor seating, and the concept never caught on the way we hoped." In response, Anfang, who along with partner Ricardo Sandoval also runs Tremont's Lava Lounge and the perennially popular Fat Cats, has shifted the menu toward more contemporary fare, including Italian and French bistro-style dishes.

Meantime, Halite remains open Tuesday through Friday for lunch and Tuesday through Saturday for dinner. Call 216-472-1120 for a seat.

Pepper games . . . Look for the second annual Chili Cook-Off to heat up the Terrace Club at Jacobs Field from 6 to 9 p.m. on Monday, April 17. Among the pros manning the pots: Michael Longo (of ML in Bainbridge), Larry Coffman (Blue Canyon Kitchen in Twinsburg), and Nolan Konkoski (Momocho in Ohio City). Plenty of amateur chefs will also be on hand, along with raffles, door prizes, and a chance to win a ride on the Goodyear Blimp. Proceeds from the $15 tickets benefit the Autism Society of Greater Cleveland; call 216-556-4937.


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