Crabs That Take the Cake

Seasonal seafood; Mise after midnight; Teasing with tasters.

The Broken Hearts Club
Chef Mike Turcola's lump Jonah-crab cakes are some of the best in the city and are a staple on his seasonal menu of Mediterranean-inspired fare at downtown's Vico (1852 East Sixth Street, in the Leader Building; 216-622-1440). The inventive Turcola gussies up the goods with a mélange of frequently changing accompaniments, like Belgian endive with an orange-mustard vinaigrette or sautéed spinach with red onions and a red-pepper-and-mustard cream sauce. But to our mind, none of these is more wonderful than the menu's current rendition: a warm, crunchy-coated cake on a bed of tender baby spinach, with strips of meaty, seeded tomato, bits of red onion, and lots of jammy roasted red-beet slices. The sort-of salad is topped off with slender green beans and a shower of fried-potato threads, making for a marvelous blend of textures, temperatures, and tastes, which we thought went particularly well with slices of warm ciabatta bread and a glass of Bonnie Doon Pacific Rim Riesling. But be warned: Turcola is fussing with the menu again, fattening it up for the cold winter months ahead, and by mid-December, this tasty dish will be history. Not that the replacement sounds too shabby. Look for the lump crab cake to show up next on a soba-noodle salad with green onions, tropical fruit, and a spicy Thai chile sauce, for a bit of zip. The crab cakes, along with pastas, pizza, seafood, and wonderful housemade desserts, are served Monday through Friday, from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

News for no-dozers . . . Every restaurateur should have Jeff Uniatowski's problems. The chef-owner of cool, collected Mise (10427 Clifton Boulevard, 216-651-6473) was having trouble getting his satisfied customers to call it a night. Seems that, although the merrymakers knew the kitchen was about to close, they just weren't ready to go home. And the problem, they told Uniatowski, was that they couldn't think of an equally comfy spot where they could continue their after-hours socializing. It didn't take long for the clever chef to hit upon the solution: As of last week, he extended Mise's kitchen hours until 10 on weeknights and 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, serving a late-night menu of tapas, raw-bar items, select appetizers, and flatbread pizzas, all aimed to satisfy insomniac noshers and the people who love them.

At the starting gate . . . Diners at Mayfield Heights' Gates Mills Grille (6807 Mayfield Road, 440-446-1166) are getting a sneak preview of menu items destined for Bon Appetito, owners Carmen and Gino Oppedisano's new Tanglewood dining spot scheduled to open in December. Chef Seth Kaspy, whose résumé includes stints at Century at the Cleveland Ritz-Carlton and Opus One in Warren, will be top gun at the new restaurant, where the menu will be built around "tasting platters," with combos like herb-crusted rack of lamb, roast pork tenderloin, and chargrilled chicken, along with vegetables, mushrooms, and matching sauces, designed for a minimum of two diners. Kaspy has been fine-tuning his menu by offering some of his dishes as daily specials at Gates Mills Grille. Meantime, the grille's executive chef Peter Osad continues to serve forth delightful contemporary Italian foods, like pasta with lobster Bolognese, nutmeg agnolotti stuffed with roasted fall squash in brown butter with fried sage, and a creamy bitter-orange panna cotta.

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