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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Powering Up at AMP 150

Posted By on Thu, Oct 27, 2011 at 4:00 PM

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It's been almost five months since Jeff Jarrett took over as top toque at Amp 150. In that time, he's kept a pretty low profile — at least, as low as possible for a guy running the enormous kitchen at the Cleveland Airport Marriott. Now though — armed with a new website, plans for a kitchen greenhouse, and the impending debut of a new menu — Jarrett is powering up.

Not that any wholesale changes are likely for the restaurant that made its mark with imaginative dishes crafted from local, seasonal ingredients. "Like Ellis [Cooley], I plan to stay on the path of doing local food," said Jarrett last night during a small private tasting, referring to his friend and respected predecessor. "The biggest thing is sticking with the farm-fresh concept."

Nonetheless, diners may notice a more playful mood to the upcoming menu. "I like fun presentations," Jarrett says, "things like 'green eggs & lamb,' which is sort of my tribute to Dr. Seuss. But I certainly intend to maintain the refined quality of the food."

That won't stop him from putting his own spin on standards like impeccably seared scallops, which he'll served garnished with colorful rings of his homemade candied hot peppers, or his succulent braised short ribs, which earned him a devoted following at Palate, his short-lived stronghold in Strongsville. (Other notable stops on Jarrett's resume include Hudson's North End Market, Lockkeepers in Valley View, and Light Bistro in Tremont; along with Cooley and Brian Okin, Jarrett is also a co-founder of the popular Dinner in the Dark.)

Changes aside, menu prices will remain the same: nothing over $20.

With a quarter-acre garden and two beehives yielding raw ingredients, and composting and recycling programs firmly in place, operations manager Nathan White admits it's not always easy fitting a local, sustainable peg into a corporate hole. "There's no template for what we're doing here. It's all been trial and error. But even though we are a corporate entity, we've been given great autonomy. It's a big undertaking, but we think it's worth it."

Here's what was on last night's tasting menu (see pictures, below):
Beet & Goat Cheese Salad made with beets from Amp's own garden
"Fall Rolls" filled with corn, squash, pumpkin seeds, and a sprinkle of cinnamon
Chicken Liver Pate with apple-pie jam
Champagne-Marinated Manchego Cheese with heirloom tomatoes from Chefs Garden and crispy fried prosciutto
Scallops with corn and bacon ragout and candied hot peppers
Crab Salad on celery root puree with toasted pistachios, a dish inspired by Chicago micro-gastronomist Grant Achatz
Duck, Fig & Goat Cheese Flatbread
Braised Beef Timbales with local chanterelles

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