Monday, September 25, 2017

First Look: LBM in Lakewood, on Pace to Open in Early October

Posted By on Mon, Sep 25, 2017 at 2:38 PM

A year ago last week, the close-knit crew behind LBM got the keys to the future home of their Lakewood cocktail bar. They would spend the next 12 months clocking in 12-hour days to turn the blank canvas into a “Viking drinking hall” inspired by visits to Scofflaw bar in Chicago.

“When I went three or four years ago they were doing eight-dollar cocktails,” explains owner-bartender Eric Ho. “That’s what started my train of thought. If a place like that can survive in Chicago selling eight-dollar cocktails, it would kill in Cleveland.”

From left: John Gibian, Vinny Salls, Merandia Adkins, Eric Ho, Cory Miess
  • From left: John Gibian, Vinny Salls, Merandia Adkins, Eric Ho, Cory Miess
Over the past year, the concept has not changed, adds Ho. In fact, a pop-up event at Porco only confirmed the fact that they were on to something good.

“It’s a cocktail bar with a kitchen – but our food is going to be awesome,” owner-bartender John Gibian chimes in. “We want the cocktails to be the main draw but we want people to stay for some food too.”

That end of the bargain falls under the purview of chef-partner Cory Miess, who’s worked over the past decade at Players, Sarita, Fahrenheit and El Carnicero. His lineup of a dozen different snacks and small plates, priced between $5 and $15, ranges from meat and cheese boards garnished with jam, remoulade, pickles and toast to hoison-braised pork belly with spicy pickled vegetables. A seasonal Brussels sprouts preparation includes apples, leeks and brie, while a poutine is topped with cheese curds and gumbo gravy.

To wash it all down are a dozen or so original concoctions, priced between $6 and $10, that will change with the seasons. For now, they go by unassuming names like Marigold, Blackberry, Fig and Asian Pear, but don’t be surprised if their replacements start sounding a bit more, uh, Norse. This “super nerdy” crew shares a deep fondness for Norse mythology, nurtured over many a whiskey-scented weekend in the woods. That lore represents itself through the eat, drink and décor.

“It’s not going to be like a bro, Viking helmet, drink-out-of-a-horn kind of bar,” says Gibian. “It’s more about the gods those people believed in, the stories that they told… It all mushroomed from that.”

As for the cocktail names, he adds, “We want to start with some less obscure stuff and work our way into the depths of Norse mythology after introducing ourselves to the community. So they might be cool, small names, or something that we can tell the customer an incredible story of Loki and the treasures he tricked the dwarves into making for the Aesir. Old Norse gets super weird.”

The focal point of the 45-seat bar is the ceiling, a complex angled pattern of illuminated wood strips that fills the room with a warm glow. From a single felled sycamore tree emerged the lengthy bar, the woodsy backbar and a roomy table. A frilly moss wall adds an element of nature while hand-carved wooden beams and trim lend the feel of a Viking ship set sail for the open seas.

“It came out better than we had even hoped,” says Ho, who is also joined by partners Vinny Salls and Merandia Adkins. “We sat here two nights ago and it just looked amazing.”

Look for LBM to open in early October.
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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

City Girl Donuts to Open Saturday in Rocky River

Posted By on Tue, Sep 19, 2017 at 11:18 AM

The donut gods are smiling upon Cleveland this week. Today, Brewnuts finally opened its doors this morning after a long, agonizing wait. And this coming Saturday, City Girl Donuts will crack open its doors in Rocky River (20253 Lake Rd., 440-799-4083). The bright, contemporary bakeshop is set in the former home of the long-running Grady’s Fine Wines shop.

Owner Barbara Fazio and pastry chef-partner pastry Erica Coffee are thrilled to debut their lineup of classic, contemporary and custom creations. These are fresh-made, from-scratch donuts that use quality ingredients, toppings and fillings.

“I’ve been a donut-crazed person my whole life,” Fazio confesses. “I remember walking home from elementary school and using my lunch money to buy that perfect maple cream Long John. I travel and eat donuts in cities like Chicago and Seattle and I always wonder why isn’t anybody doing it here. It’s crazy!”

Customers can look forward to classic donuts glazed with strawberry, chocolate, lemon poppy and more. Cake donuts come in flavors such as chocolate with mint chocolate glaze, caramel apple spice and German chocolate. Custom creations run the gamut from “everything bagel” to mixed berry. Buttercream-topped Long Johns will be filled with maple, chocolate and vanilla. Donut holes will be sold by the dozen and half-dozen.

All of the above donuts are of the yeast and cake varieties; the trickier brioche-style confections will debut in the coming weeks, says Fazio.

The shop is mainly designed for grab-and-go transactions, but there are coffee and espresso beverages and seating for about 15.

“I’m very excited and happy to be working with Erica because not only is she so talented, but she is so great to work with,” Fazio says.

The hours are Tuesday-Friday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. (or until sold out) and Saturday-Sunday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. (or until sold out).
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Monday, September 18, 2017

‘This is a Game-Changer’ Michael Symon says of Impossible Burger, Now Offered at B Spot

Posted By on Mon, Sep 18, 2017 at 5:22 PM

Impossible Burger (front), Regular burger (rear)
  • Impossible Burger (front), Regular burger (rear)
The last time Michael Symon sounded this excited on the phone was in the wake of winning a James Beard Award. Not surprisingly, his excitement centered around a burger. But shockingly, this wasn’t a beef burger that he was going on and on about: it was a plant-based burger.

“In 10 years of eating non-meat burgers I’ve never experienced anything like this,” Symon says. “This is a total game-changer.”

The burger in question is the Impossible Burger, developed by a Silicon Valley-based team of scientists, engineers, chefs and farmers. Unlike your typical veggie burger, which usually is created by mashing and mixing various legumes, nuts, mushrooms and vegetables into a dry, disappointing patty, the Impossible Burger employs a high-tech process to recreate the look, feel and, yes, flavor of real ground beef.

“When Traci Des Jardins [consulting chef at Impossible Foods] asked me if I was willing to give them a try, I said sure, but I’m so skeptical of that kind of stuff,” Symon explains. “She said, ‘Great, I’m hopping on a plane tomorrow and bringing you some.’ I told her, ‘Man, you must really be confident about these burgers.’”

Not only was Symon impressed; he immediately agreed to place them on the menu at B Spot. At present, B Spot restaurants are the only restaurant that offer these burgers in the Midwest.

At Symon’s urging, I headed to B Spot at Eton today for lunch. I decided to order two Thin Lizzys, one made with the Impossible Burger ($9.99) and the other with the standard high-quality ground beef ($8.99). On paper, I ordered the two burgers so I could do a side-by-side comparison. But to be perfectly honest, I ordered the regular beef burger as a back-up in the likely case that I was disappointed with the vegan patty. I ended up polishing off both burgers.

The secret ingredient in these plant-based burgers, which are largely comprised of wheat, potatoes and coconut oil, is heme, the iron-containing molecule found in red meat but also found in plants. But rather than pluck living plants from the earth to source it, these guys force yeast cells to produce it for them.

Like Symon, I was blown away by the burger. Covered in grilled onions, melted cheese and pickles, I likely would not have even known that it wasn’t beef if I didn’t order it myself. The patty had a perfect crust from the griddle, and it held together just like ground beef. And true enough, it had a beef-like flavor, not unlike a long-simmered pot roast. Was it just as delicious as the ground beef burger? No, but it wasn’t that far off.

“These burgers aren’t designed for vegans, they’re for meat lovers who maybe want to feel a little better about their carbon footprint without sacrificing flavor. And they have zero cholesterol.”

They also boast more protein, less fat and fewer calories than 80/20 ground beef.

“I’m never going to stop eating beef, but it’s nice to have the option to go this route when I feel like it,” Symon says.
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The Long Wait is Over: Brewnuts Opens Tomorrow in Detroit Shoreway

Posted By on Mon, Sep 18, 2017 at 10:51 AM

Ask any would-be operator what his or her least favorite question is and you’re bound to be hit with: “So, when are you opening?”

Poor Shelley and John Pippin have had to field that question for more than two years, ever since they got the keys to the prime corner space in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood that would become Brewnuts. Well, beer-flavored donut fans, the wait is finally, truthfully over as of tomorrow morning. And not a minute too soon.

“It’s peak donut season,” says John.

One cannot say that the Pippins didn’t do their due diligence. The couple simultaneously worked their way through programs at Bad Girl Ventures and Cleveland Culinary Launch & Kitchen. They operated a pop-up shop for about a year in Tremont, where, notes Shelley, “we got to take our bumps and bruises; go through some trials and tribulations that hopefully will make the next transition a little bit smoother.”

Along the way, they went “all in,” quitting their day jobs, invested the nest egg, and committing fully to the concept of a neighborhood donut bar, even if it took a year and a half longer than they had anticipated.

The sun-soaked 1,200-square-foot corner space at the bustling intersection of W. 65th and Detroit can accommodate approximately 50 guests. Tuesday through Friday mornings the shop will open at 6:30 a.m. (Saturdays and Sundays at 8 a.m.) for coffee and donuts like the popular maple bacon bourbon ale, coffee porter with toffee, and the classic glazed made with Great Lakes Dortmunder.

During a few recent test runs, when friends, family and Kickstarter supporters were invited inside, the Pippins flew through 700 donuts in a handful of hours. They hope to have inventory until they take their midday break at noon, but as with barbecue, when it’s out, it’s out.

“There isn’t a machine back there,” Shelley explains. “Every single donut is hand-rolled, hand-cut, cooked and glazed by a real person.” Also, the doughs need to rise slowly overnight.

Brewnuts will open again at happy hour, with savory snacks like donut-breaded chicken wings and, perhaps, specials like maple bacon donuts stuffed with Proper Pig pulled pork. There are nine beers on tap, mostly originating in Ohio. On weekends, those beers will be joined by Bloody Marys and mimosas.

“It’s always been part of the plan to be so much more than that mom-and-pop corner bakery,” Shelley explains. “We want this to be more of a communal space, a hang-out spot with great music, the opportunity to play some games, and the opportunity to treat it more as a bar.”

The Pippins, too, are eager to join a neighborhood that seems the ideal for their unique donut bar concept.

“What I like about this neighborhood is it’s very residential and there are niche food concepts here that have done really well, which makes it a fun place to kind of bop from place to place,” adds Shelley, citing spots such as Banter, Happy Dog and Sweet Moses.

So, after four years of planning, experimenting, testing and investing, the time finally has come for the doors officially to open to the general public. After so much blood, sweat and, yes, tears, the Pippins must be thrilled.

“We’re excited, for sure, to be able to finally bring to fruition something that you’ve worked so long for, but there’s still that anxiety that comes with it,” Shelley admits. “I think it will take a couple of weeks of operation to feel like we have our act together and then I’ll feel really excited.

“I’m also really tired.”
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Friday, September 15, 2017

West Side Market Welcomes 8 New Tenants, Bringing Occupancy to 94 Percent

Posted By on Fri, Sep 15, 2017 at 11:39 AM

  • Emanuel Wallace / SCENE
Thanks to the addition of eight new tenants, the West Side Market is up to 94-percent occupancy, leaving just 10 of the 178 indoor and outdoor spaces available. All of the new tenants are local companies, some just starting out and others looking for a little pied-à-terre in the city.

Cleveland’s popular candy warehouse, B.A. Sweetie, the largest candy store in America, will be opening its first offsite location in Northeast Ohio in more than 25 years. Sweeties Candies, as the spinoff is called, is slated to open today.

Piccadilly Artisan Creamery, which has locations on Coventry and in University Circle, will open a small liquid nitrogen-fueled frozen yogurt stand. It also signals a return of that brand to Ohio City.

Ora Bells, who according to city staffers is the market’s first African American-owned business (note: the market is 105 years old) will offer home-style southern cuisine.

Prince Produce will offer conventional and organic produce out in the produce annex.

Avant Gardens, a local mushroom farm specializing in fresh-picked oyster and gourmet cultivated mushrooms, will join them, as will Matthew Produce, offering a variety of Asian and conventional fruits and vegetables. Lakewood Plant will sell a variety of house and office plants. And English Treats will sell desserts and snacks imported from Britain.

“The West Side Market has been a thriving part of the Cleveland shopping experience for 104 years,” Mayor Frank G. Jackson said in a release. “I want to welcome the eight newest entrepreneurs to join the Market this year; you are now a part of our city's living history.”

The market has undergone other recent changes. Long-running Johnny Hot Dog has new ownership, with a Ukrainian family picking up where the longtime Lebanese owners left off. OOOH Fudge and Jacob Oasis both are under new ownership as well.

“Each retailer is authentically Cleveland and fits well into our mission to continuously diversify vendors and products,” said West Side Market Manager Felicia Hall. “The West Side Market is one of the few food-focused historic markets in America, and as a 104-year-old institution we’re always seeking new ways to contribute to our city’s food scene.”
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BOMBA Tacos and Rum to Open at La Place in Beachwood

Posted By on Fri, Sep 15, 2017 at 10:58 AM

Andy Himmel is on a tear. In just 10 years, the methodical, meticulous restaurateur has expanded his Latin-themed portfolio from one unit to eight locations and two separate concepts. This spring, he and his team will expand again, this time opening a BOMBA Tacos & Rum at the busy corner of Cedar and Richmond roads. The La Place location will be that concept’s third, joining a two-year-old shop in Rocky River and a one-year-old location in Fairlawn. Those restaurants, of course, join six separate Paladar Latin Kitchens spread across four states.

“I grew up in Beachwood,” Himmel explains. “I have been coming to this location my entire life, so the opportunity for me to build out this cool concept, to help change something that we’ve all seen for the past 30, 40 years, I think it’s pretty exciting.”

Himmel confesses that Cooker, which stood on this very spot (and was later replaced by Sushi Rock), was one of his favorite restaurants growing up. He’s watched – as the son of an operator (dad owned the famous jazz club Boarding House), as a diner, and as an operator himself – as the entire food service industry continues to shift and change before his very eyes. After his first restaurant, Boulevard Blue on Larchmere, came and went, Himmel shifted his focus to Paladar Latin Kitchen, which opened at Eton Chagrin Boulevard a healthy 10 years ago.

Like the BOMBA restaurants in River and Fairlawn, this one will feature Latin-themed snacks and starters, chef-driven tacos and a massive rum list set inside a smartly designed space outfitted with high-end finishes. The restaurant will occupy the corner spot, facing Cedar, in the portion of the shopping mall that was demolished and rebuilt. At 3,800-square-feet, this one is smaller than the first two, but it gains back some of that space by utilizing a shared restroom corridor with Hello Bistro, which will be Ohio’s first location of that popular Pittsburgh-based concept. Seating capacity will run around 65 in the dining room and an additional 50 in the bar/lounge area.

“This location is another opportunity to learn from what we’ve done at the first two,” Himmel adds. “We’re working aggressively to revamp the restaurant layout to make it more conducive to things like hanging out in the bar and carry-out business.”

Himmel notes that “without even trying,” BOMBA’s carry-out business has grown 60 percent year-over-year. The new spot will have an area dedicated to that activity to facilitate easy pick-up. Over the years, the company has switched to all hormone- and antibiotic-free meats and wild caught seafood. The menu now offers fewer regular tacos (down from 18 to around a dozen), leaving room for more seasonal tacos.

In the near future, says Himmel, diners can look forward to continued technological advancements, as long as they don’t come at the expense of the diner’s enjoyment. Management hopes to implement a mobile order and pay system, for example, to further ease the carry-out process.

“We’re going to continue to push the technology envelope,” the owner says. “I believe technology has a place in full-service that has not been utilized yet – but not in any ways that will encroach on the dining experience.”

As for the original Paladar location, Himmel says it’s going nowhere. Unlike some of his contemporaries, who are electing to trade in their original locations for a spot at some shiny new suburban development, Himmel is choosing to double-down on his.

“I’ve always been of the opinion that you don’t move your flagship, no matter what,” he says. “Next year we’ll do a renovation of the space. I want the unit to continue being one of our best spots like it is now. Our clientele there is so loyal.”

As for possible future BOMBA units, Himmel says, “We’re absolutely always looking for new locations because you can’t just start and stop that process.”
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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Korean Restaurant Hansol in Asiatown Appears to be Closed

Posted By on Thu, Sep 14, 2017 at 11:26 AM

In the wake of the on-again, off-again years at Seoul Hot Pot, it was welcome news when we learned that after nearly 30 years in business, the restaurant found new life and leadership in the hands of Soon Moh. Moh took over operations last winter, changing the name to Hansol (3709 Payne Ave.) and tweaking the menu of Korean staples.

Now it appears that the restaurant has closed.

Over the weekend, diners were greeted by a padlocked door, and calls to the business line are answered by a not-in-service message. The Facebook page features the very ominous "permanently closed" designation.

We'll update this page if we learn anything new.
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