Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Perfect Night to Eat Al Fresco at fire food & drink

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oday was the first time it hasn't rained at some point during the day for two weeks! Here in Cleveland (and more so in other places) it just keeps raining. Tuesday, however, was the streak breaker. It was an absolutely gorgeous day out. When we get weather like this in Cleveland it means only one thing.....dinner al fresco. You really have to capitalize on these opportunities because they can be elusive even in the summertime.

I call weather like this "living room weather", because it's not a tad bit too cool or a tad bit too warm, it's like sitting in your living room with the thermostat on the perfect temperature.

Where does one go on a day like this? Well, if I want to stay close to my house it's Fire food & drink. That Doug Katz kicks ass.

Sitting in the great outdoors of Shaker Square my wife and I opt for the cheese plate to start with. I like the cheese plates at Three Birds and Flying Fig a little more but this one isn't bad.

She has taken a serious liking to the Arctic Char that has graced the menu for the last couple of months. Up until she first had it a couple months ago she had never had it before. Served with the skin on (which is quite crispy) it is somewhere between trout and salmon. Not as oily as salmon, but a little meatier than trout. The char also comes with white asparagus risotto and grilled asparagus.

Not only does Char have a nice flavor but it is also has Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch List's "Best Choice" rating. You can actually pick up one of these small guides at the hostess station to put in your wallet or purse. It has lists of different fish that should and shouldn't be bought due to overfishing or environmentally damaging fishing practices. I really appreciate that Fire cares so much about sustainable fishing, a prime example of walking the walk.

I always get something different when I go there because I think life's too short to eat the same thing over and over again. While I was very tempted to get the Hudson Valley duck (which is well executed and would highly recommend), I got the pan roasted organic chicken with Amish polenta and glazed radishes. The organic chicken had a well seasoned crispy skin. If there was one thing I was a little nervous about it was the polenta. I have visions of Blue Canyon when I think of polenta, it's not a good vision.. It was a very good accompaniment to the chicken. Combined with the rhubarb a jus and the radishes (which didn't taste the way I thought they would, good thing) the dish had a good proportions of each item.

We both ordered the strawberry rhubarb crisp with vanilla ice cream. Unfortunately the server thought we were going to share so we only got one. That was fine with me, I let my wife have it and I went a few doors down and got some East Coast Custard afterward.

My dinner was a beautiful end to a beautiful day. Hopefully we can finally get summer started and string some sunny days together.

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