Grand Prix Fixe

Century at the Ritz-Carlton races to please with its Holiday Dinners.

Grateful Dawg
From the moment the doorman throws open the portals to the instant we daintily dab the last crumb from our lips, a visit to Century, in the downtown Ritz-Carlton, always leaves us feeling indulged. And that's especially the case during the holidays, when the hotel sparkles with elegant Christmas decorations and the decked-out Avenue at Tower City provides a festive backdrop. In fact, we felt positively pampered last week after treating ourselves to Chef Joseph Panarello's Holiday Dinner Special, a four-course prix fixe feast featuring some of the most delightful flavors of the season. There was bisque-like squash soup . . . a miniature baked pumpkin, stuffed with sage gnocchi and exotic mushrooms . . . velvety, crabmeat-stuffed filet mignon (or, for those who prefer, a succulent whole Maine lobster), with whipped potatoes and asparagus . . . and then, warm chocolate cake, topped with whipped cream and sided with a fan of roasted pear and a tiny scoop of spice ice cream. The real clincher, though, was the price: a very reasonable $38. The Holiday Dinner is available nightly through December 23; call 216-902-5255 for reservations. Just think of it as a little present to yourself.

Two chefs, less waiting . . .

The Grovewood Tavern & Wine Bar (17105 Grovewood Avenue, 216-531-4900) recently signed on Craig Abram to assist Chef Tim Ogan in the snug kitchen, a move that owner Beth Davis-Noragon says will expedite order turnaround time and will allow the tavern to begin offering Monday-night dinner service, from 6 to 11, at least through the holidays. Abram, a Clevelander, has a degree in hospitality management from OSU, and his career has already taken him to the Hilton Resort at Hilton Head, South Carolina, and to the corporate kitchens of Symyx, a research facility in Silicon Valley.

Diner might . . .

The shiny new glass and stainless-steel diner on the northwest corner of St. Clair and East 55th Street makes a welcome addition to the area. The aptly named Diner on 55th (216-361-0550) opened November 7, with 78 red vinyl seats inside a bright retro-style interior. Owner Jim Anagnostos and his sons offer a large menu of homey breakfast and lunch items, including several Greek specialties. And don't miss the chicken pot pie, full of vegetables and slowly simmered meat. Hours are 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. weekdays, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

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