At a time when other restaurateurs are opening burger bars and hot dog parlors, at least one entrepreneur is bucking the trend with a high-profile steakhouse. As the man behind Olde Avon Village, Ron Larson has worked hard to preserve some of Avon's rustic flavor. His unique grouping of shops and restaurants consists of historic buildings that were spared from the wrecking ball. One of them, an 1830s farmhouse barn, now houses Henry's at the Barn (36840 Detroit Rd., 440.934.6636, henrysatthebarn.com). Another, an 1850s German Dutch barn rescued from Mt. Vernon, will soon be home to Strip, a Steak House (36840 Detroit Rd., 440.934.9900, stripsteakhouse.com).
"I know there's a lot of competition out there," says Larson, who also operates Olde Avon Village's Tree House Gallery and Tea Room. "I'm trying to put something together that I think people will like and that will mix well with the other restaurants in town." Larson describes Strip as a "steakhouse with a flip." In addition to the juicy USDA prime steaks and chops, there will be updated comfort-food classics. Larson is taking pains to differentiate his steakhouse from the competition. So, instead of the traditional chop-house sides, diners will be able to choose from gruyère mac and cheese, broccoli-corn casserole and pumpkin-apple risotto. Other add-ons will include house-made flavored butters and steak sauces. Non-beef options will include horseradish-crusted grouper, smoked applewood chicken and vegetable strudel. Price points will run $8-10 for apps, $7 for two-person sides and $22-$34 for entrées. The two-level restaurant is divided into a first-floor bar and dining room with open kitchen, and a second-floor dining room. There is seating for about 100 inside and 60 outside. Larson is shooting for a décor he calls "primitive elegance," a lively blend of the old and new. "I want to smash diners' preconceptions about eating in an old barn," he says. When it opens later this month, Strip will serve dinner and late-night dessert.
Cleveland's favorite falafel sandwich, long available only in carry-out form at the West Side Market and in Strongsville, can now be enjoyed sitting down. Owner Sam Zayed is putting the finishing touches on Maha's Café (3323 W. 25th St., 216.741.9810, mahascafe.com), a full-service restaurant located next to Metro Health. The modern 50-seat café features a full menu of Middle Eastern specialties, including fatoush, kibbie, shawarma and spinach pies. American salads, burgers and sandwiches are also on tap. Look for an opening any day.