Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Pacific East

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Pacific East is a place I've passed many times, but kept walking to nearby Paladar. It's funny, I don't know what it is but Japanese is something I have to mentally prepare for. Since I've been reading “The Sushi Economy” by Sasha Issenberg I've been Jonesin' for Aisian pursuasion.

When Regina asked where I wanted to go for dinner, her jaw dropped when I told her Pacific East. We drove out to the one at Eton Collection (sandwiched between Stone Oven and Paladar).

We got there kind of early for dinner so we could have been seated anywhere. Since we weren't going to be ordering big time sushi/sashimi we decided to leave the bar seats alone and sat at a table.

I ordered the Soba noodles with Tempura battered Shrimp and Vegetables. The tempura was good. As far as the soba noodles are concerned, it was the first time I've ever tried them. My initial reaction is that I don't particularly care for the buckwheat noodles. Had I liked them I would have been more than happy with the huge serving PE offers.

Regina ordered the Spider Roll, which consists of soft shell crab tempura, cucumber, avocado, fish roe & eel sauce. These were quite nice and actually reminded me of those at Parallax. She also ordered a mango roll that I didn't see on the PE website. Although I was skeptical at first this probably the biggest surprise of the night.

As with most Asian restaurants, with Sun Luck Garden being the exception, the dessert offerings were less than desirable. We weren't totally bummed since we walked away stuffed.

Overall we thought the food was a good value. It's actually a good alternative to a pricier kind of place like Shuhei. I'd go back, but I think we'd try the one in Coventry. The menu seems like it's a little larger at that location. Overall, the bill was around $60 including tip. Not a bad night out considering we ordered more food than we could ever possibly eat.

Pacific East (Eton)
28601 Chagrin Blvd
Suite 850
Woodmere, OH 44122

Pacific East Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Update: November 12, 2010
This time we went to the Cleveland Heights location. While I think the Eton store does a good business, the PE in Cleveland Heights is the place to go. The selection of offerings is much larger than its Eton brethren.

We ordered the Pork Gyoza for appetizer - not much else to report. Tasted good.

I decided to change it up a bit and try the Malaysian Chicken Curry Clay Pot. Served in a, well, clay pot - the dish comes with a mixture of vegetables, mushrooms, and thinly sliced chicken. While the menu says it's spicy, I didn't find it even remote "hot". What's the difference? Well, for me the easy route is to simply supercharge the dish with a bunch of hot peppers and flame the shit out of the customers mouth. The second, and more subtle way, is to add layers of spice so that they harmonize making a rich flavor profile. I think a good curry makes your nose run, but doesn't cause physical pain. This is a well done curry.

The shrimp tempura roll had cucumber, fish roe & avocado, with a bit of eel sauce on the plate and drizzled over top. It's flavors were good but the roll was so wide that each piece was hard to eat in one bite (unless you have a big mouth). The tempura batter was light and crunchy, but next time I think I'll try one of the many items that caught my eye on the Malaysian portion of their menu.

Pacific East Japanese
Cleveland Heights
1763 Coventry Rd
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118
(216) 320-2302

Pacific East Japanese on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Gourmand's in Valley View

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Valley View is kind of a strange place. There isn't really a city center to it. When I think about it, their claim to fame is the hulking 480 bridge that towers over and through it.

What's this got to do with food? Well, it just happens to be the home of one of my favorite sandwiches in Cleveland.

Gourmand's is located near the intersection of Granger and Canal (on the Burger King corner) in an adjacent strip mall next to the Mr. Hero. They've been around for at least seven years. They make a wide range of sandwiches as well as coffee drinks. As a side business they also sell cigars and wine.

I go there for one reason, and one reason only - The All Italian. It isn't healthy nor is it low-fat. A grilled sandwich on Italian bread, with salami, cappicola, and mayonnaise. It's just a really good sandwich. Although it seems so simple, I don't think I've ever had anything quite so uniquely good. In the end I think it's the sizable amount of meat combined with the mayo.

If you ever have a reason to go down there during lunchtime (they're closed on Sunday) you've got to drop in. They offer friendly service and good prices.


5345 Canal Rd
Valley View, OH 44125
(216) 328-0942

Gourmand's on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pinehurst and an Arrowhead

Last week I had to go down to Pinehurst, NC for a business trip. Even though it did rain a little bit, it was a welcome respite from the cold northeast Ohio winter temperatures.

The last time we were down in there my coworker Robb and I ate at an awesome place called Elliot's on Linden. The food is absolutely top notch. I consider Elliot's to be the best restaurant in the area. If you're ever in the area you have got to stop by this place. It's not cheap, but is absolutely awesome.

The second day we were down there I asked someone where a good place to have lunch was. Keep in mind that the guy I work with is a health nut with a 29 waste. The conversation (with him standing next to me like this)

"So tell me, where can I get a good lunch around here?"

"You want the down home cookin'?"

With salivary glands kicking into action I say, "Well, yeah, that'd be great."

"You want to get you some pulled pork?"

I nod eagerly.

"Maybe get you some biscuits and gravy?"

In my best Slingblade imitation I say, "Biscuits and gravy.....mmmhmmmm."

"Some greasy goodness?"

No! Not the "G" word! Shhh, not in front of the health nut!"

It was too late. Robb shut it down. No I'm not eating that stuff, isn't there a deli nearby?

So where did we end up eating? A New York deli in PINEHURST, NORTH CAROLINA. How stupid is that? The deli wsa good, but it sure as hell wasn't "down home cookin'".

The Arrowhead
In the morning I was mapping the property. Typically, it's a fairly interesting task. However, on this morning my subject matter was of a particularly boring nature. To keep myself entertained I always like to look at the native stones that litter the ground.

As I walked around the sandy soil of Pinehurst I looked down and there it was in all its glory an indian arrow head. Laying perfectly flat on the ground with all of the sand washed out around the relic as if to scream to me, "I'm right here! Pick me up!"

I've wanted to find one of these since I was a little kid. My Dad actually informed me that the massive size of this thing implies that it might actually be the head of a spear.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Arctic Char in the Arctic Freeze

We try very hard to use sustainably caught or raised fish whenever possible. Arctic Char is one of our favorites. In terms of cost it goes for about $10-11 a pound at Whole Foods. Char is on the recommended list for the Seafood Watch List.

This recipe is for Butter-Basted Salmon (or Char) with Tea from a fantastic cookbook by Rick Moonen & Roy Finamore called Fish Without a Doubt. I think the tea in this recipe is the key to the whole thing. The smokiness of it is present but doesn't overpower the flavor of the fish. I think it should also be mentioned that the accompanying cucumber salad and horseradish cream recipes should be served with them. I wasn't sure how much I was going to like them but in all honesty the whole thing was awesome.

Butter-Basted Salmon (or Char) with Tea
by Rick Moonen & Roy Finamore
  • 4 - 7 ounce pieces of Wild Salmon (char) fillet, skin on
  • Course Salt
  • 2 tsp lapsang souchong tea powder (we got our's at Teavana. To make the powder, spoon some of the tea leaves into a spice grinder and process to a fine dust.)
  • 8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted Butter
  • Mom's Cucumber Salad (see recipe below)
  • Horseradish Cream (see recipe below)
  1. Season the fish on both sides with salt, then rub all over with the tea powder. Wrap the fish tightly in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  2. Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Have a big spoon ready next to the stove as well as a few layers of paper towels. When the pan is good and hot, cut 4 tablespoons of butter into pieces and add them to the skillet.
  3. When the butter has melted and stopped sizzling, add the fish, skin side down, putting it in the far side of the pan, leaving space in the part nearest you. Turn the heat down to medium and press down on the fish with a spatula; this helps set the skin, getting it started on its way to being crisp and delicious.
  4. After about 2 minutes, cut the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter into pieces and add them to the skillet. As the butter melts, tilt and pull the skillet toward you and start basting the fish, using the spoon to pour the bubbling butter over the fish. You're pulling the skillet toward you so the fish will get the benefit of the heat, even though you have the pan tilted; lower the pan once in a while as you're cooking the fish. As you cook and baste, the butter will brown and its nuttiness will flavor the fish. As the fish cooks, the flesh will turn a milky pink.
  5. After 5 minutes, it should feel firm. If you have any doubts, use a knife to poke into your portion; the fish should be rosy inside. Use a spatula to take the fish out of the skillet and set it on the paper towels. Use another paper towel to blot the fish.
  6. To serve, pile a mound of cucumber salad in the center of each dinner plate. Set a piece of salmon/char on top, skin side up, and spoon a ring of horseradish cream around the cucumber salad.
Mom's Cucumber Salad
  • 2 - Cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/4" slices
  • Coarse Salt
  • 1 - small Red Onion, cut into very thin slices
  • 1 Tbsp Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh Dill
  • 1 Cup of Rice Vinegar
  1. Put the cucumbers in a colander with a generous teaspoon of salt and toss.
  2. Fill a sealable plastic bag with ice cubes and put it on top of the cukes to weight them and keep them very cold. Put the colander in a bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Take the colander out of the bowl and shake the cucumbers well over the sink. Don't do anything like blotting them or rinsing them.
  4. Put the cucumbers into a bowl with the onion, sugar, and dill. Toss to combine. Pour in the vinegar; it should just cover the cucumbers. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
This will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Horseradish Cream
  • 1 Cup of Creme Fraiche
  • 1/2 Cup grated Horseradish (fresh or prepared), drained
  • 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh Dill
  • 1 tsp fresh Lemon juice
  • Course Salt and freshly ground White Pepper
  1. Whisk the creme fraiche, horseradish, mustard, dill, and lemon juice together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and whisk again.
  2. Cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight, if you have the time, or for at least 30 minutes.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Frite is a Frite, is a Frite

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I have been to Bar Cento a number of times, but have been too busy to write about the experience. This time I went with the sole intention of writing about my dinner. Since I was dropping our dog off at the In-Laws on the west side it was perfect timing for such an excursion.

A reader, Dave, had suggested I try the Sweet Potato Ravioli. I had no problem with that seeing, as I am a sweet potato freak. I love the stuff. There was certainly no arm twisting there.

I ordered a Chimay, the ravioli $15, and opted for the Pommes Frites with the dipping sauces (extra $2) as my side.

When the ravioli came out the first thing I thought was, “Damn, these things look like the Cranberry Bliss Bars at Starbucks!” The abundance of prosciutto, combined with the whitish, creamy color just reminded me of the general color of them, not the shape.

I loved the ravioli. The smoothness of the puree combined with the toothiness of the pasta dough was fantastic. I did have to take one home to my wife since she couldn’t come with me.

In my previous post I had made a comment about not liking the size of the frites at Bar Cento. I had been to Monk’s in Philadelphia a few times and loved the frites they had there. They were about the diameter of a pencil (only square). These were what I had come to know as Belgian frites. Dave had actually replied to the post stating that he really enjoyed the thicker ones

So it got me thinking, what is the size of a classic Belgian style pommes frite? As it turns out, those served at Bar Cento really fall into the more traditional service of the Belgian variety. Most every picture I was able to pull up showed over and over the larger fries. I stand corrected Dave.

So what the hell was I eating? What version was I enamored with? As it would turn out, as in a lot of things European, the French have a variation (skinnier) that they serve. Can you blame me? Franco…Flemmish….pretty close, huh?

The mayos are great. They’re worth the extra two bucks if you add on with the entrée. I only wish the ketchup that came with them wasn’t the sweet stuff out of the bottle.

As far as dessert goes, Bar Cento has the right idea. My Ohio ice cream favorite is Jeni's. Cento carries a handful of different ice creams. Since I'm always stocked with this stuff at home I took a pass on an after dinner treat.

When I go back I want to try the cheeseburger with the grand cru chimay cheese. If you haven’t had this cheese you’re missing out. When we were at 3 Birds a few weeks ago, it was on the cheese plate – very good!

I’m all about places that aren’t afraid to try something a little bit different and this is one of those spots.
Cardboard carry-out containers are always appreciated here at Dine-O-Mite. I'm not quite certain what the cost difference is between these and their styrofoam enemies, but I always give a place bonus points when I see no styrofoam (double bonus points for spudware instead of plastic).

Bar Cento
1948 West 25th Street
Cleveland, OH
(216) 274-1010

Bar Cento on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 5, 2009

The perfect Hors d'Oeuvre (that you can also eat for breakfast)

One of the things I absolutely hate is to still be cooking when my guests are arriving for a party. The more work I can get totally done ahead of time; the happier I am. Just take it from the fridge or the freezer and heat it up.

This recipe is for mini-muffin sized quiches that can be frozen for up to a month ahead of time. Whenever I make these things people swarm like dogs to get at them. Since you only have to cook what you need, any leftovers can be used at a later date (like another party or breakfast).

Bacon, Leek & Cheddar Mini Quiches
by Kate Hays

Yields around 4 dozen mini quiches

For this recipe you'll need mini muffin pans. You don't need four of them if you're going to freeze the quiches. Once they freeze simply pop them out of the pan and put in a freezer bag. I have found that the silicone trays are the easiest because it's easier to pop them out when freezing and especially cooking them.

  • 3/4# Bacon, cut into a medium dice
  • 3 C medium-diced leeks, washed and drained (about 3 leeks, white and light green parts only)
  • 1-1/4 C Half and Half
  • 1 C grated extra-sharp Cheddar (4 oz.) The extra sharp is awesome with the bacon!
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 2 large Egg Yolks
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Cooking spray I prefer Canola
  • 2 1.1# packages frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed according to package directions (preferably Pepperidge Farm brand)
  • Flour as needed for rolling out dough
  1. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until browned and crispy (6-8 minutes). Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel.
  2. Pour off all but 1 to 2 Tbs of fat in the skillet. Set the skillet over medium heat and cook the leeks, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  3. While the leeks cool, combine the half and half, Cheddar, eggs, egg yolks, thyme, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a medium bowl.
  4. Add the cooled leeks and the bacon and stir to combine.
Assemble the mini quiches:
  1. Lightly spray four mini muffin tins (or however many you have. You can do these in batches and store the egg mixture in the refridgerator until the previous batch is sufficiently frozen).
  2. Working with one sheet of puff pastry at a time, use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough on a lightly floured work surface in to a 10" x 18" rectangle.
  3. Stamp out 3 inch circles of dough with a cookie cutter and gently press the rounds into the muffin tins. Make sure the dough goes all the way to the top of the cup, otherwise the egg will overflow and burn.
  4. Fill each with about a Tbs of filling. Try to make sure you have a good mixture of egg vs. bacon leaks, otherwise the mixture will be really chunky toward the end.
  5. You will most likely not use all of the dough, save it for another use.
To Freeze:
  1. Freeze the unbaked quiches in the muffin tins for about 2 hours, or until set.
  2. Remove them from the tins and transfer them to an airtight container, setting parchment or plastic wrap between layers, or seal them in a plastic bag.
  3. Store in the freezer, where they'll keep for up to a month.
To Bake:
  1. If frozen, do not thaw the quiches before baking. Put the quiches back into the muffin tins
  2. Heat the oven to 400F and position racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven.
  3. Bake the quiches, switching the position of the tins halfway through baking, until the filling is puffed and the crust is golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes.
  1. If fresh bake about 20 minutes.

Friday, January 2, 2009


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It amazes me that Ohio City has so many dining choices in just a four block area. I suppose that's one of the reasons I have never been to Touch Supper Club for dinner (I had been there once before for lunch but didn't really feel that another hamburger review was necessary).

For appetizers we started off with the Calamari, West Side Market Cheese and Charcuterie (very substantial; a large amount of cheese), the Belgian Frites (which met the definition of what I consider frites to be; thin, crispy, with some seasoning). While we're on the subject of frites, am I the only one who thinks the version at Bar Cento are too thick? There's a place called Monk's in Philadelphia that had awesome frites with different dipping mayos and an incredible assortment of Belgian beer.

I ordered the Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage brown butter, hazel nut sauce. I've usually had these where the squash filling is a puree, but in this case it was a chunkier filling, essentially a small dice. I enjoyed, and appreciated the different approach.

Regina had the Duck Confit with the Warm Mushroom Salad, which she thought was okay. In all fairness she despises salad and probably should have ordered a side or substituted it.

Some of the others at our table had the Flank Steak, Hamburger, and Brined Pounded Pork Chop. Of the three I'd say the pork chop looked the most interesting. The chop came with Cranberry Vinegarette and Butternut Squash Risotto. I'm a sucker for all things cranberry.

Normally we're dessert people; not tonight. I was completely full. Only my brother-in-law Mike had room left for dessert, Berries Foster (not to be mistaken with former Steelers running back Barry Foster).

My overall impression? I wish they'd change the name. It has an adult entertainment kind of ring to it. The service can be a bit slow for my liking.

On the plus side, the food reminds me a lot of Luxe. There's a certain level of quality and desire to try different things that I find very appealing. It's clear that Chef Jeff Fisher has created a menu that offers something for everyone, while not mailing in a "been there done that" kind of menu.

As a side note, I really like some of the artwork inside the restaurant (especially the series that hangs behind the bar).

I enjoyed my evening here. I think it's a great atmosphere with a really good menu. I will definitely be back.

Touch Supper Club
2710 Lorain Ave
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 631-5200

Touch Supper Club on Urbanspoon