Last night’s second annual Chef Jam at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum was an unqualified success and a fine example of Cleveland’s ability to be fancy and approachable at the same time.
The extravaganza — which was organized by Crop Bistro’s Steve Schimoler — began as a BBQ three years ago at the Beachland Ballroom before being redubbed and reconstituted in its present form at the Rock Hall, whose atmosphere perfectly fits the event.
More than 20 local restaurants participated, offering a dizzying array of delights to accompany free wine and beer, and music from a couple local cover bands (including a guest appearance by the Raspberries’ Jim Bonfanti) and headliner the English Beat. Situated on the ground and third floors, the food was terrific ranging from Melt’s heavenly fried twinkies to Melange’s delicious pork bellies and beans, Naked Cowboy’s sizable oysters and Bar Cento’s lip-smacking beef tongue taco, among the favorites.
The Rock Hall is a pretty ideal place for the affair. It was a little crammed at times for the sold-out crowd milling about the eating/bar areas, especially since no food or drink was allowed anywhere else except the main floor where the band was set up. However, the acoustics proved terrific, allowing you to hear the music well throughout the museum, other than in the large, doored ground-floor exhibit area.