Sorry for the delay on this post – my wonderful hubby is working on some new design stuff for the blog and we’ve spent our evenings (my writing time) working on that. You will see the new design very soon! Without further ado, here is the 4th and final post containing updates and reviews from our Restaurant Week. You can read other posts on this great week here, here and here.
One of the first rules we had established when we came up with our Restaurant Week was to only go to places we had not yet tried. But as we finalized our list we kept circling back to The Greenhouse Tavern, even though we have been there before. The truth of the matter is that while we enjoyed our first visit, eating out with a 2-year-old hardly makes for an evening to savor the food. So after much deliberation we broke our only rule and made Greenhouse Tavern the conclusion to our week. It was hands down the best night of them all. If you live in NE Ohio and have not heard of Greenhouse Tavern you must live under a rock as they have been featured in numerous publications. And if you have never endeavored to eat there – what are you waiting for? I really do think it is the best restaurant in Cleveland.
I arrived on the rainy night and was seated in the rear mezzanine with a great view of the activity below. As I waited for Mark to park the car the Hostess with the Mostess, Chefs Widow, stopped by to chat. She is just as sweet as they come. Her blog is one of the first I started reading when we moved to Cleveland and was the catalyst for my interest in the Cleveland food scene. It’s been pretty amazing to read as her and her Chef-husband work their tails off to make GHT a reality and how involved they are with the local “farm to table” movement. If there is a food event in town, they are a part of it and it’s inspiring to see a young couple who have invested so much of themselves into this city. Anyway, I digress…
When Mark joined me we were served the GHT’s pork rillette and crusty bread while we pursed the menu. We started out with the House Made Fromage Blanc with grilled bread which was creamy, rich and just slightly tart and heavenly when spread on the crispy bread.
Mark ordered those ethereal Crispy Chicken Wings while I moved on with my apparently cheese-themed dinner by ordering the Goat Cheese Tart with Heirloom Tomatoes. The Sawyers should really come up with another name for the chicken wings because when most people think of “wings” they conjure up an image of overcooked chicken drenched in sauce and these wings are anything but that. They are crispy outside and perfectly fall-off-the-bone juicy inside with a nice kick of heat and not a drop of sauce in site. I knew Mark had been looking into that dish all week. While Mark enjoyed his wings I dug into my tart which was a beautiful plate of colorful sliced tomatoes topped with an herb salad and accompanied by a dish of sorts made of dough with yummy Lake Erie Creamery goat cheese tucked inside. I am impressed how the kitchen at GHT can make something as simple as these fresh ingredients taste so spectacular. There is a real art in making simple food that allows the favors and freshness show off. This dish proved to me that Chef Sawyer is a master of this art because the overall dish was more then the sum of its parts – the acid of the tomatoes played off the creaminess of the goat cheese while the herbs infused everything with fresh, bright flavor.
By this time I was pretty full so I ordered the Blue Crab Gnocchi from the “Halfs” menu and Mark dove into the Ohio Beef Burger. We had heard great things about both items and they did not disappoint. My gnocchi was incredible – I really wanted to lick the plate clean! Nice chunks of blue crab paired with the sweet crunch of fresh corn and the tender pillows of pasta beneath. I’m not sure what all went into the sauce but the entire dish was amazing and I ate it very slowly not wanting it to end. I could have happily eaten 2 orders had I not already stuffed myself with all things cheese. Mark’s burger was exquisitely cooked to medium rare – no overcooked beef here! It was juicy, flavorful and was one of the best burgers he’s ever eaten.
At this point we were both happily full and still talking over how much we love the GHT not only for its amazing food but lively atmosphere and affordable prices when our server told us that Chef Sawyer was sending up a dessert for us. We were excited to taste the work of Keri Garcia, the GHT Pastry Chef and were wowed by the Pot of Chocolate Mousse For Two that Chef Sawyer personally delivered to our table. He also poured us each a glass of a 26-year-old port which he said paired nicely with the chocolate mousse. I’m not a connoisseur of port and in fact most of those I’ve had in the past were overly sweet and sticky. But this was seductive, silky and supple and when paired with the mousse was downright sexy. It really was a perfect ending to a fantastic meal.
We left GHT totally enamored with the place. You really can’t find better food for such great prices anywhere else in the city. And to see both Chef Sawyer and Amelia working the tables, greeting guests and delivering food was wonderful to see. You can tell they are both passionate about the restaurant and want to make sure everyone has a wonderful experience. It was an ideal finish to what started out as a frustrating week. And if you are in the area doing your own Restaurant Week or just want a night out, make sure Greenhouse Tavern is at the top of your list.