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What's Your Beef? 

Fulton Bar & Grill leads the free-range cattle drive.

One of the area's most indefatigable proponents of responsible dining has been Steve Parris, chef at the Fulton Bar & Grill (1835 Fulton Road, 216-694-2122). A former triathlete (and suspected covert vegan sympathizer), Parris nonetheless has a healthy appetite for fresh, wholesome meats, which he demonstrates on his new spring menu, where organically grown beef from Spray Brothers' farm in Knox County rubs shoulders with low-fat, low-cholesterol Piedmontese beef from Georgetown Farms in Virginia.

Although Parris has long been concerned with his foodstuffs' provenance, the new menu explicitly states the chef's commitment to antibiotic- and hormone-free beef, pork, poultry, and bison, yet still includes mouthwatering dishes like a Tabasco-grilled Piedmontese sirloin, served with rocket pea-shoot salad, garlic mojo, and plantain chips. And the menu also names the farm responsible for raising the animals.

Of course, it's good to learn that your chipotle-molasses-glazed brisket comes from happy, free-range cattle, raised on hay, grass, and sunshine. But the bottom line is, how does it taste? Parris calls the flavor "right on": pure, beefy, and absolutely tender.

"You would think it might be tough or unflavorful because of the minimal marbling," he says. "But it's not. It's as good as any conventionally raised beef, and guests tell me they can eat an entire steak and not feel 'heavy' or 'clogged up' when they are finished."

In his praise for free-range meat, Parris echoes writer Michael Pollan, who recently penned an unsentimental piece for the Sunday New York Times about a steer he purchased and followed through the industrial process, all the way to slaughter ("Power Steer," March 31, 2002). Since that eye-opening experience, Pollan says he has become a proponent of naturally raised beef. "We are what we eat, it is often said," he writes, "but of course that's only part of the story. We are what we eat eats, too."

Anniversary bash . . .

Restaurants come and go, but Don's Lighthouse (8905 Lake Avenue, 216-961-6700) is a survivor. The seafood and steak place, in a landmark building near Lake Erie, will mark its 30th anniversary on May 16, with live entertainment, rolled-back prices, and a guest appearance by recently retired owner Don Strang Sr. The business has been in the Strang family for three generations: Senior's dad founded it, and his sons, Don, Peter, and David, are the current bosses. Incidentally, the circa-1932 building has been a hamburger joint and a Howard Johnson's over the years, but never a lighthouse.

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