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Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Amid a Flurry of Fast-Casual Openings, The Last Page Is a Well-Executed Breath of Fresh Air

Posted By on Wed, May 5, 2021 at 9:55 AM

click to enlarge Lamb chops - COURTESY THE LAST PAGE
  • Courtesy The Last Page
  • Lamb chops

There are worse places to wait for one’s table than the Green Room at The Last Page. Less a lobby than a well-appointed parlor, the elegant room provides a generous handful of guests with a comfy, appealing perch to linger. Not only does the space have luxurious soft seating, a luminous skylight and views to the equally impressive front patio, but it also boasts its own well-stocked bar. Time always seems to pass more quickly with a glass of wine or cocktail in hand.

The “green room” label is an apt one as it fits into the larger design theme of the three-month-old Pinecrest restaurant. Owner Todd Leebow likens the blueprint to that of a theater, complete with stage, viewing boxes and orchestra floor. Here, those suites are the booths that ring the dining room while the limelight shines warmly onto the grand bar at the far end of the drama-filled space.



In a blurry sea of fast-casual monotony, The Last Page is a welcome detour. It’s a modern-day supper club, for lack of a better descriptor, where there’s more to the plot than simply the food on the plates. Timed almost perfectly to coincide with the return not only of indoor dining, but all out celebrating and socializing, the lively environment offers a delicious escape for those ready to exit isolation.

If the setting doesn’t tip diners off to the fact that things operate differently, a server likely will. Guests are encouraged to “choose your own adventure” by ordering what and when they desire from a lengthy menu that avoids categorization of any kind. There are no “appetizers” here, nor are there small plates, entrees or sides. Instead, there are approximately 25 different items that lean into various cultures and cuisines. In place of boring and predictable are creative, boldly flavored and compelling arrangements.

As good a place to begin as any is the chive-topped smoked salmon belly spread ($11). When schmeared across the impossibly thin and crispy everything bagel chips, the taste evokes lazy Sunday brunches at the neighborhood delicatessen. For a quick trip to the corner sports bar, order the meaty Cracklin' Ghost Wings ($14). If you think you’ve sampled it all when it comes to wings, the kitchen has a little surprise in store. A beguiling sweet and spicy dry rub tingles on the tongue, while a drag through the umami-seasoned ranch rounds out the experience.

For an absolute explosion of flavors and textures, order the sesame brussels sprouts ($12). They arrive positively blasted in all the right ways, leaving them charred and crispy but pleasantly tender within. They’re glazed with ssamjang, an earthy, spicy paste, and they sit atop a slick of kimchi-spiced yogurt.

Unlike at Broadway, “theatergoers” here needn’t queue up at the intermission bar for a mid-meal breather. Few cocktails arrive with more panache than the Last Manhattan ($15), which lands at the table in a smoke-filled chamber. When the cloche is lifted and the clouds part, the woodsy rye-based cocktail appears like a magician’s prestige. Wine lovers are treated to a short but sweet list of glass pours and bottles studded with some predictable wallet-thinners.

In terms of third acts, it’s tough to top the lamb chops ($36), a Mediterranean-styled platter with three expertly grilled bone-in chops served on a pool of silky eggplant puree. Also on the plate is cool, creamy and thick labneh, red chile pepper paste and stack of warm pita. Fried rice fans will definitely dig the version served here ($18), another umami bomb thanks to the addition of kimchi and the egg yolk topper, which oozes and enriches the grains below when pierced.

We’ll definitely be returning to try the pho French dip, an ingenious twist on both the soup and the sandwich that replaces the classic au jus with the famous Vietnamese beef broth. And because there is nothing better than a well-built double smash cheeseburger, that has been added to “the list” as well. When we do try them, it likely will be while seated on TLP’s secluded front patio.

For the restaurant, Leebow – also of Majestic Steel – assembled a talented management and culinary team. While that talent pool benefits diners at The Last Page, it also lays the groundwork for future expansion. The owner’s recently formed Kind of One Concepts plans to continue developing and operating hospitality ventures, both here and away, so it’s unlikely that this eatery is the end of the tale.

The Last Page
100 Park Avenue, #128, Beachwood
216-465-1008
thelastpagerestaurant.com

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