Oh Boy!

Orale Kitchen debuts in Ohio City, and more local food news

"When I closed Flower, I said I'm never going back into the restaurant business — I'm done," recalls chef Roberto Rodriguez, regarding the short-lived restaurant that replaced That Place on Bellflower. "I guess I couldn't stay away from it."

Granted, the odds have only improved for Rodriguez, a chef whose résumé goes clear back to the Caxton Café with Michael Symon. For the past 12 years, he has run the popular Mexican foods stand Orale at the West Side Market, and his catering business has done nothing but grow. ("Orale," incidentally, is a Spanish exclamation of excitement or appreciation.)

In late July, Rodriguez will open Orale Kitchen, in the former Dish and Opa! spot on West 25th St. Since Dish closed, Rodriguez has used the space as his commercial kitchen. "I figured, I'm here cooking all the time, I might as well open the doors," he says half-jokingly.

The 25-seat eatery will serve the chef's brand of contemporary Mexican cuisine. A chilled display case will also carry many of the prepared foods he sells at the market.

On the menu will be lobster gazpacho, tortilla soup, vegan black bean chili, and blue cornmeal-crusted calamari with chile guajillo sauce. Add to that chicken mole-stuffed tamales, blue corn crab cakes, and shrimp and papaya summer rolls wrapped in wafer-thin jicama leaves. Fish tacos will feature grilled mahi and a spicy jalapeno cream sauce.

Orale Kitchen will be BYOB and open for lunch and dinner every day but Sunday and Monday, at 1834 West 25th St.

Iris and Steve Wheeler are immense fans of Europe, with Iris hailing from Germany and both having spent years living abroad. In an attempt to import some of that Old World charm to their corner of the globe in Moreland Hills, the two have labored to create the café of their dreams. That dream became reality last week when Fountain opened to the public.

"This is such a unique concept that the Wheelers envisioned, designed, and saw through from beginning to end," explains chef Donna Chriszt.

Located in the same small retail development as the newly opened Flour, Fountain is described by Chriszt as "a café by day and cocktail lounge by night." It opens daily at 7 a.m. as an upscale full-service coffeehouse serving Italian coffee, espresso, and latte. Morning eats consist of German pastries, rolls, and light sandwiches.

Come midday, salads, sandwiches, and heartier plates become available. Items include salad Niçoise, egg-topped roasted asparagus, a German breakfast sandwich with weisswurst and mustard, and a Croque Monsieur.

Dinner is a laid-back affair, with lounge seating and a no-reservation policy. A lengthy menu of small and "social" plates allow for snacking and sharing. Tapas selections range from spicy shrimp in garlic sauce and roasted carrot terrine to scallop crudo and sweet and savory crêpes.

A 225-bottle wine list is exclusively Old World, while the 50-bottle beer list is 100 percent European. An expansive cocktail list is also available.

The interior is described as warm, comfortable, and cozy, built with tile, brick, and repurposed wood beams. There are fountains inside and out.

"In Europe, every town square has a fountain, which serves as a gathering place for people and families," says Chriszt. "Fountain is not about turning tables; we want people to stick around and lounge."

Find them at 34105 Chagrin Blvd.; call 216-755-1225 for more info.

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Douglas Trattner

For 20 years, Douglas Trattner has worked as a full-time freelance writer, editor and author. His work on Michael Symon's "Carnivore," "5 in 5" and “Fix it With Food” have earned him three New York Times Best-Selling Author honors, while his longstanding role as Scene dining editor garnered the award of “Best...
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