Finally! The Greenhouse Tavern

This weekend we finally got to check out the new restaurant on Cleveland’s trendy E 4th Street – The Greenhouse Tavern. Since opening about a month ago it has gotten nothing but rave reviews in the press and the blogosphere and I’ve been drooling over the tweets posted by some of my friends who have dined there. We’ve been dying to taste it for ourselves but we could never find the 1) time, 2) money and 3) a babysitter on the same night. Finally, I got tired of waiting and shot a question off to Chefs Widow on twitter if kids are okay and when I got the all clear from her we decided to head down on Saturday night with M in tow. I am so glad we did.

I’m not a food writer or critic so I’m just gonna lay it out there– this place was amazing. A-MAZING. The space is comfortable, clean and chic. The music was great (M was dancing in her highchair). The staff was attentive, extremely knowledgeable and friendly. We were seated in the basement next to the kitchen which got hoppin’ as our dinner progressed and it was fun to see everything come together before our eyes; this was great seating since M was with us as we could take her closer to the kitchen to watch when she started to get antsy. We got there about 15 minutes after they opened and it was already busy. By the time we left just before 7 the place was packed.

On to the food… Our waiter Jess (or was it Jay?) started us off with pork rillette and crusty bread (as this was not on the menu I’m relying on my memory here – I may be wrong but I’m 99% it was pork rillette) which was divine – salty, fatty lovely pork mash spread on bread. Yum. We then ordered the bread & butter as we knew M would at least eat that. I know some people would scoff at paying for bread & butter but quite honestly if I always got something as delicious as this tasty little gem I would never mind paying $3 for it. Because what we got was so much better then the flavorless, floury things that you get for free. The bread itself was delicious and grilled. And the butter – OMG the butter! Goat’s milk butter with sea salt…it took a lot for me to not just dip my knife in the crock and lick the butter off. M devoured most of the order and kept asking for more butter, so I think she liked it too.

Mark got the Crispy Chicken Wings while I got the Beef Tartare (my first tartare!). Marks wings were wonderful – crispy and juicy and tender with a good kick of spice. And it was a big serving – more then enough to share. My tartare was beautiful, with a poached egg perched on top. M ate all of the egg white while I let the yoke ooze over the beef before I spread it on the toast points. It was lovely – creamy and just enough spice. Again, the portion was large and I only ate about 2/3, Mark had a bit but didn’t like it as much as I did. We also ordered the Whole Grilled Peas for M which were soooo good. I don’t even like peas and ended up eating several of the pods myself. I’m going to have to pick up peas next week at the Farmer’s Market and try this at home.

On to the entrées; after much discussion I settled on the Steak Frites and Mark got the Tom Cod In Papier – a reversal for us as I’m usually the one who goes for the fish. My steak was cooked to perfection – I like it nice and rare inside and almost always end up with an overcooked steak when I get it in a restaurant. But not at the GHT! It was perfectly cooked all the way through. Marks Cod was also perfect – firm and moist and extremely flavorful.

We were entirely smitten with this restaurant. When a menu can tempt you to try new things or like things you previously shunned you know you are on to something. I can’t think of a time in our 10 years together that Mark has ever ordered fish at a restaurant, let alone devour the whole thing. I’ve never liked oysters but listening to the woman at a nearby table gush about how fabulous her oysters were, I was tempted. The French Breakfast Radishes were also a dish that I almost ordered even though I have never really cared for radishes. There is not one thing on the menu that I would hesitate to order, and given that prices range from $3-21 it is a very affordable place to expand your pallet.

The evening was capped off when M and I ran into the Widow herself in the ladies room. (This was also my first time as introducing myself by my twitter handle – kakaty – which was about the most awkward think ever since it makes me sound like I’m stuttering over my own name). I told her what I will say now – we will be back to the Greenhouse Tavern, hopefully often.

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