Heimatland in Brunswick

March 25, 2015

Photo from the Heimatland Facebook page

Heimatland is a quirky little German restaurant that is putting out some pretty good German food. It’s located in a German business center off the main drag just off the highway. The dining room is dominated by murals of Germany and austere wooden tables and chairs.

hi_3The food is affordable, filling and plentiful. Their sandwiches are definitely unique – served on thick slices of Italian bread and accompanied by chips and pickles. Their German Panini features German bratwurst, piled high with shredded cabbage in a house vinaigrette, topped with provolone, and fried potatoes. The Croatian Panini is one of the more unique “knife-and-fork” sandwiches – stuffed cabbage topped with shredded cabbage, tomato and fried potatoes. I ordered the Croatian hi_13Panini and loved the fluffy Italian bread it came on. The stuffed cabbage was tender, moist and fell apart easily when I bit into it. The fried potatoes were actually more like French fries, but they paired well with the stuffed cabbage. Some of their other sandwiches feature Polish kielbasa, beer battered tilapia, or grilled knockwurst as well as a Reuben, German style chicken salad, a club sandwich, and a BLT.

The Koln Burger is a 6 oz. beef patty topped with Shi_14wiss cheese, sauerkraut or red cabbage, and a side of Thousand Island dressing. The Berlin Burger is a burger with Swiss cheese, grilled onions, and mushrooms. The Salz Burger features jack & cheddar cheese, bacon, and BBQ sauce. The name cracks me up, because I used to live in Salzburg and Salzburgers are citizens of Salzburg.

The Heimatland salad (photo above) is one of the most unique shi_9alads I have ever seen on a menu. It features mixed field greens topped with chunks of chicken simmered in a secret sauce, seasoned fries and jack & cheddar cheese and served with creamy BBQ ranch dressing. It looks like a big hot mess, but the person I was with really enjoyed it. Who knew fries on a salad would be so appealing?

The dinner entrees include standard Eastern European fare such as chicken paprikas,hi_6 stuffed cabbage, Wiener Schnitzel (veal) or pork schnitzel, a German sausage platter, two different pierogi dinners (one with knockwurst and haluska), and beef goulash – among other things like honey fried chicken or liver and onions for those of you who like that. Dinners are served with your choice of two sides – including mashed potatoes, haluska (aka cabbage and noodles) cole slaw, sauerkraut, hi_1German potato salad, French fries, spaetzle, red cabbage, home fries, buttered noodles, applesauce, green beans or a side salad.

I was here with a large group of Germans and German speakers. Everyone was very pleased with their meal. The service was friendly and attentive. We certainly had no complaints.

They serve German beer on tap as well as Pepsi products, juice, and other normal beverage offerings. Desserts include a thick slice of Black Forest cake and apple strudel (3 flaky slices topped with powdered sugar and caramel drizzle).


Contact info:

Heimatland Restaurant
3511 Center Road
Brunswick, OH 44212
(330) 220-8671

Wasabi Steak & Sushi

March 14, 2015

IMAG0619Wasabi is a Japanese sushi and steakhouse that has several locations in the area. I have been visiting the one in Beachwood, since it is the closest to me. It occupies the building that used to be the Olive Garden. It features hibachi on the one side of the restaurant and sushi on the other (although you can order a hibachi meal on the sushi side). The two halves are separated by a giant bubbling aquarium.

My first visit was because I was craving sushi and was in the area. IMAG0621I was seated quickly and had a nice view of the aquarium. I ordered the Sushi & Sashimi Combo, which features six pieces of sushi, nine pieces of sashimi and a California roll. It was delicious. The sushi was fresh and tightly rolled. The accompanying miso soup was good, with some shittake mushrooms. The ginger dressing on the salad was bright and creamy.

IMAG0624My second visit was on New Year’s Eve with my nieces. They were spending the night with me and asked to go to a hibachi for dinner. We have been to Benihana and Otani in the past, and my nieces enjoy the show and the food. I also knew they would enjoy the koi pond and the waterfall as we walked in. We went at 5 PM to avoid the dinner rush, and it was packed with waiting diners when we left. They really loved Wasabi, because they serve fried noodles in addition to fried rice.

The service was pleasant, the hibachi chefs were very entertaining, and the food was delicious. The hibachi entrees also come with the soup and salad (except for the children’s menu, which offers a choice between them). My youngest niece ordered the chicken hibachi on the children’s menu. IIMAG1895t was a very decent sized portion and yet very affordable. My oldest niece ordered the adult shrimp hibachi. She snarfed down the fried rice almost before the shrimp was finished, and I ended up stealing some rice from the youngest niece’s plate for her. My shrimp and scallop hibachi entree was perfectly cooked. The fried rice and lo mein noodles were very flavorful and filling. I loved the assortment of vegetables they added to them. The chef was also generous with the yum yum sauce, which was a nice addition but not absolutely necessary due to the flavor of the food itself.IMAG1921

We left with plenty of leftovers. Several of the diners at our table ordered extra fried rice since the portions are so generous. That probably gave them an additional full meal the next day.

My only word of warning is to doublecheck your receipt against your credit card statement. Somehow there was a $15 tip added to my bill despite the fact that I left $16 in cash and remember sitting there and waiting for the change and that the impression of my total and signature on the restaurant copyIMAG1922 transferred to the receipt I have. It was a busy night and “mistakes happen”, but it doesn’t hurt to be careful. It isn’t going to stop me from going there again in the future, but I will be writing CASH in huge letters on my receipts from now on. The manager also refunded the money to my credit card without question (but not much of an apology).

Contact info:

Wasabi Steak & Sushi
3725 Orange Place
Beachwood, OH
(216) 292-8866

with locations in Akron, Canton and Independence

A Cookie & A Cupcake has opened in Cedar Center

March 10, 2015

IMAG2249My favorite cupcake place has opened a couple miles down the street from me, which means I am in trouble. When it was just in Tremont it was enough a drive that it was a deterrent from just hopping in the car when I had a craving. Now I am going to have those moist and delicious cupcakes nearby in the new Cedar Center (between Piada and Zoup) on Cedar Road. You can see the moisture in the picture to the left. Look at those glistening cupcakes. IMAG2252The buttercream is not overly sweet, which I really appreciate. If you like overly sweet frosting this place may not be for you. The cupcakes are $2.50 a piece. They are worth every penny.

I have tried a lot of their flavors but keep coming back to my favorite – the Signature. It looks like a cute Cookie Monster with a small chocolate chip cookie is his mouth. The cupcake is a chocolate cupcake with buttercream frosting and a vanilla custard center. The custard center really elevates it to a new level! So good!

They offer a variety of cupcakes, from Salted Caramel and Strawberry to Apple and a Peanut Butter Lovers. Each cupcake has some kind of goodness inside and features buttercream frosting. The picture below is the Chocolate cupcake.

IMAG2251The new location opened today (3/10/15) after a couple days of soft opening last week. I went there on the second soft opening day. The number of people at this new location on just the soft open was good, so I think they definitely picked a good location.

The new location also serves their C&C offshoot Churned‘s ice cream. Flavors vary. Some of the flavors when I were there included Mexican Hot Chocolate, Pistachio, Avocado with a blackberry jam swirl, Rosemary Garlic and they were very excited about the Blood Orange Sorbet. They also offer a Vegan Coconut Brownie made with coconut milk. Very unique. I was all about the cupcakes on my visit, but I will be sure to check out the ice cream once it gets a bit warmer.

The original A Cookie & A Cupcake is also at a new location – on W. 14th near Grumpy’s and Bac. The new place combines the cupcakes and ice cream as well and has some indoor seating. It will also offer a patio for people to enjoy their treats in the sun.

Contact info:

A Cookie & A Cupcake
13953 Cedar Road
Euclid, OH

New location in Tremont:
2681 West 14th St.
Cleveland, OH
(216) 344-9433

Pupuseria Katarina

March 4, 2015

IMAG1979I initially found out about this little gem from some Spanish translators I know. They meet here once a month to catch up and talk about their assignments and the industry in general. I figured Spanish translators really know their stuff about Latin American cuisine, and I was right. I took a small group of friends here this past winter. It was Arctic and snowy, but it didn’t stop us from enjoying a little Salvadorian flavor. We almost drove past the place.IMAG1972 It is located in Old Brooklyn in a small strip mall on Broadview Road just north of Brookpark Road. It is a casual restaurant and rather small, with a few tables filling up a bright but sparely decorated restaurant.

The restaurant is dominated by blue and white, which represent the colors in the flag of El Salvador. There were Hispanic music videos playing on the television behind the counter and some photos of some of the featured dishes. The menu also features photos, which is helpful if you aren’t familiar with the cuisine.IMAG1971

The owner greeted us warmly, offered some great suggestions and was very patient with us when explaining the different dishes. I had never had a pupusa, which are thick corn pancakes stuffed with various fillings like ground pork, jalapeno, chicken, cheese, etc. and fried on a griddle. They did not disappoint.

We started with the Atol, which is a hot soup-like beverage made from sweet corn, milk, cornstarch and cinnamon. It was delicious. They only serve it on Wednesdays, IMAG1978so plan accordingly. I could not stop drinking it and was craving it the next day. That’s the sign of a successful meal.

I ordered two pupusas – one revuelta (pork and beans) and one pollo con queso (chicken and cheese) – and an order of fried plantains, which came with refried beans and sour cream. I preferred the revuelta over the chicken, but they were both good. They were even better paired with a forkful of beans and sour cream along with the slaw and hot sauce that come with IMAG1975the pupusas. The plantains were delicious, nice and sweet.

My friends all ordered vegetarian pupusas – loroco (an “exotic flower” native to El Salvador that is harvested in the morning because otherwise it is bitter), spinach, and garlic – and were very pleased. The spinach one looked super-cheesy. One of my friends also ordered the fried yucca and was really pleasedIMAG1974. It wasn’t on the menu as a side dish, but was offered with an entree and the owner was happy to make some for her. I really liked them and they came with a nice dipping sauce. She lived in Mexico for a while and has toured several Central American countries (including El Salvador), so she appreciates good, authentic Latin American cuisine. She was thrilled with the place and was eagerly looking forward to going back on a weekend to enjoy their empanadas. They also serve hen soup on Sundays, which I hear is very good as well.

I can’t wait to go back to try some more pupusas. Maybe next time I’ll go crazy and order the Pupusa Loca, which uses every ingredient on the menu in one big pupusa for $7. In any event, my bill was less than $13 and I left stuffed.

Note: Pupuseria Katarina will be moving to the former Mexican Village spot on Brookpark Road in April

Contact info:

Pupuseria Katarina
4848 Broadview Road
Cleveland, OH

Pacific East on Coventry

February 27, 2015

IMAG1732I am a huge fan of Pacific East. In fact, I am a little shocked that I haven’t written about it sooner. I have been to all of the present and past locations (Coventry, Eton shopping center on Chagrin Boulevard, and the short-lived place in Solon), but I have to IMAG1989say that my favorite one is the restaurant on Coventry at the corner of Mayfield and Coventry. The Coventry restaurant also offers both Japanese and Malaysian cuisine, while the Eton location just serves Japanese. In fact, the Coventry location is one of the main reasons I chose to live where I live – so that I am within walking distance. One Friday night several years ago I walked in a snow storm to Inn on Coventry only to find them not open for dinner despite what their website claimed, so I walked down to Pacific East instead. I will never forget that night. I was bundled up and peacefully walked IMAG1992down Coventry, had a great meal, and walked back home with the snow collecting in my hair. It was a perfect, relaxing and simple evening. The dining area is bright and cheerful (a sea theme with blue walls with fish/sea shell decor on the walls) with austere black chairs and tightly packed tables. If you are lucky, the waitress will greet you with a complementary glass of green tea. If not, be sure to ask for it.

There is plenty of seating available, as they have expanded on both sides. There is a tiny bar area with a few tables to the right as you walk in, and the most recent addition is seating in the back left in the old bank space next door.

PIMAG1728acific East is known for its sushi – and rightfully so. The sushi is some of the best in Cleveland if you ask me. In all the times I have come here I have never had bad fish. The rice and fish are always fresh, and the rolls melt in your mouth. They are also always rolled tightly and don’t fall apart when you try to eat them. IMAG1776The fish slices on the Nigiri are quite generous. The fish always extends beyond the rice. The sashimi is so fresh it literally melts in your mouth. Some of my favorite rolls include the Spicy Tuna Roll, the Rainbow Roll (kani, cucumber, avocado, topped with assorted fish & fish roe), the Spider Roll (soft shell crab tempura, cucumber, avocado, fish roeIMAG1775 & eel sauce), the Alaska Roll (fresh salmon, avocado, cucumber, fish roe), the X-Mas Roll (tuna, avocado, fish roe), the Green Dragon (eel, cucumber, topped with avocado, fish roe, sesame seed and eel sauce), the Volcano Roll (California roll with baked scallops and smelt roe), and the Lobster Tempura Roll (lobster tempura w/ avocado, cucumber, fish roe, & eel sauce). I was less impressed with the Land & Sea Roll, IMAG1774but that is because – even though I love them as Surf & Turf – I just don’t like steak and lobster together as a sushi roll. If you do, you will probably love it.

Also, bargain alert: the sushi lunch specials just can’t be beat, ranging from a two-roll Maki combo* for $8.95, three-roll Maki combo* for $9.95, four pieces of sushi & one roll for $9.95 to up to $13.95 for three pieces of sushi, seven pieces of sashimi & one roll. They also serve Bento Boxes, featuring your choice of appetizer, a California roll and either a hot entree from the kitchen ($10.95), nigiri sushi ($11.95) or sashimi ($12.95). All lunch combos are served with a salad and miso soup. Lunch is served from 11-3 pm every day.IMAG1727 (*Not all rolls are included in the Maki combo specials. The ones that are are specified in the menu.)

The house-made ginger dressing on the salad is worth noting all on its own. The menu says it is made with 15 fruits and vegetables. It is creamy, delicious and plentiful. One of the best I have had. The salad features fresh lettuce, a cucumber slice, a cherry tomato IMAG1642and some carrot shavings. It is a nice balance to the rice and fish.

However, Pacific East is also known for its Malaysian cuisine. I have been on a noodle soup kick recently and fell in love with their Malaysian noodle soup called Laksa. Traditionally made with rice noodles, shrimp, chicken, tofu and curry, the soup is filling and delightfully spicy. Pacific East’s version is loaded with shrimp, chicken, tofu, peppers, onions, rice noodles, and hard-boiled egg. If you order it during their lunch hours IMAG1643you get an spring roll with it for just $8.95. I have had both the regular spring roll and the Penang spring roll served with it. I wasn’t a fan of the Penang spring roll, because it had a soft curried potato filling that I wasn’t expecting. I think if I had been expecting a curried potato filling I would have liked it more. Both spring rolls were well-fried and crispy on the outside with soft filling on the inside.

I tried their Tonkatsu Ramen after eating a bowl of Laksa and found it to be pretty bland and lifeless in comparison. It doesn’t help that I had the most amazing IMAG1730Tonkatsu ramen at The Slurping Turtle in Chicago a few months ago. There was no way anything could compare to it – although the Laksa comes close. Maybe it was just an off day for the chef, but the broth was boring, the noodles were just a wee bit overcooked, and the pork was non-existent save for 3 or 4 slices. The seaweed was the ramen’s saving grace. In any event, I don’t recommend the ramen here. I prefer the Flying Crane’s ramen.

Business is so good there are often waits in the evening. Hopefully the new expansions will alleviate some of that. Seating is available at the sushi bar as well.

Contact info:

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


The Bourbon Street Barrel Room

February 16, 2015

IMAG2033I love New Orleans – the architecture, the river, the beads, the culture, the music and most importantly the food. The Bourbon Street Barrel Room opened in Tremont just before Christmas, and I have been meaning to get there ever since. I had my chance the other night, when I met a bunch of foodie friends there for dinner on a cold, snowy January evening.

I had a vague idea where it was since I had been to the art studio it had been in a previous life.IMAG2034 It is located on Professor Avenue next to Fahrenheit. I parked on the cross street just past Ty Fun and carefully made my way down the icy sidewalk. The blue twinkle lights and light shining out of the sign and front windows were a warm, welcoming sight. Can I just say that the art studio was a total pit (water leaking out of the walls, cracked concrete, terrifyingly narrow stairs with a tiny metal railing leading down into the bowels) and that they have done AMAZING things to the space. The restaurant features lots of wood, chandeliers and tile ceilings and IMAG2040has a second floor circling the main area that is reminiscent of New Orlean’s latticework balconies. It is very impressive.

I wasn’t a big fan of their seating policy. They don’t take reservations after 6 PM – even for a table of 11 – and would only seat us once 75% of our party showed up. We stood awkwardly at the bar waitingIMAG2037 for the majority of the group to get there. At least I got to watch them make 5 hurricanes at once, so I had a good idea what was in them. We ended up getting a seat in the back of the restaurant near the kitchen. It was not as cozy as upstairs and was kind of loud, but we got the food really quickly and it was nice and hot.

Their happy hour runs from 2 to 7 PM every night, and it features $1 off most of their appetizers as well as $1 off their Abita draft beers, house wines and hurricanes.

I started off the evening with a hurricane because I love them. I chose the regular hurricane instead of the top-shelf Category 5 Hurricane because I knew I was driving in snow later. The regular hurricane was delicious. You could really taste all the fruit juices they used. I would go back in a second for drinks.IMAG2041

I had a tough time deciding what to order because it all sounded good. I ended up ordering a small order of Hot Legs (frog legs with hot sauce) and the Jean Lafitte shrimp and catfish combo. It was a lot of fried food, so I ordered a side of greens once the food came out and I saw there was no greenery or plate dressing.

The Hot Legs were very tangy from the hot sauce, and the frog meat was moist and tender. The frog legs were delicately breaded and fried. I had a bit of trouble with the small bones in the leg. IMAG2042The meat was so tender it fell off the bone fairly easily, but the bones also separated easily. The hot sauce was not as overpowering as I thought it would be, and I have to say I liked it. The slaw that accompanied it was nothing special, but it did a good job cutting the heat. I had one of my friend’s Hot Rocks (fried shrimp) and they were also really good.

The Ragin’ Cajun Brochettes looked delicious as well. They feature Andouille sausage, vegetables, and pineapple on sugar cane skewers. They were very well received.

IMAG2045The Jean Lafitte shrimp and catfish combo came with a choice of hush puppies or French fries. I ordered the hush puppies and was so glad I did. These little corn bread nuggets were delicious – not too dense and had a nice flavor to them. The shrimp and catfish were nicely fried as well. The shrimp was the same shrimp as the Hot Rocks but with a different dressing drizzled over them. The catfish was moist and tender and flaked easily with my fork. The citrus slaw that was supposed to accompany it was nowhere to be seen. Overall it was a little boring, but they certainly tasted good.IMAG2046

The braised greens were very vinegary. I prefer Angie’s Soul Food’s greens over these. They were a little mushy and the vinegar was very overpowering. One of my friends loved it, and she explained that she loves dousing fries in malt vinegar and loves vinegar. As for me, I had a few bites and took them home. I will probably add them to a fried rice, but I might also just toss them. They didn’t wow me. Next time I’ll order a side salad.

IMAG2047I couldn’t go to the BSBR and not order the beignets for dessert. They were hot out of the fryer and topped with powdered sugar and some fresh berries. I shared them with the table since I was pretty full, and they were a hit. They weren’t as light and fluffy as the beignets I have had in New Orleans, but they were certainly a good choice.

One of my other friends ordered the bread pudding and sent it around the table to taste. It was OUTSTANDING. The bread was the perfect custardy consistency, and the sauce was flavorful. I want to go back just for the bread pudding and hurricanes.

IMAG2043I would probably give the place 3 thumbs up out of 5. Our server was great and handled our large table like a boss. However, the food was good but not outstanding. One diner wasn’t that enthused about the BBQ shrimp and grits, and the buns from the Po’ Boys were a lot of bread. One friend ate the catfish and left most of the bread behind. Another friend ordered the Muffaletta, and it came on a small baguette cut diagonally. It looked really good, and he appeared to enjoy it. Maybe they should use the baguette for the Po’ Boys. I’ll be back to try more things off the menu like the shrimp cocktail, lump blue crab cakes, Voodoo Mama (Red Beans, Braised Greens, Smoked Sausage & Steamed Brown Rice) and the Crawfish Etouffee. And of course I need to try out their New Orleans brunch on Sundays from 10-3.

If you haven’t been yet, you should check it out.

Contact info:

The Bourbon Street Barrel Room
2393 Professor Avenue
Cleveland, OH, 44113
(216) 298-4400

Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern

February 4, 2015

IMAG1359I am so thrilled that the Happy Dog, which I already loved in the Gordon Square district, has opened on the East Side at the Euclid Tavern in the new hip and happening Uptown district. It is now less than a mile from my home, which means I will be there a lot. After obsessively checking their Facebook page and website several times a day for weeks until they opened, I was there the night it opened and was thrilled to see what they’ve done with the place. IMAG1429I’ve been back several times since.

The Happy Dog offers lots of seating choices in addition to the extensive main room and bar, including seating in the back room near the kitchen as well as in the basement. There should hopefully be no problems finding a seat here. Parking is available on side roads as well across the street in a metered lot just past the Cleveland Institute of Art building where the old Cleveland Food Co-op used to be (I believe it is E. 112th).

IMAG1718They offer some toppings that are different from the one in Gordon Square. The basics haven’t changed though: quarter-pound all-beef franks or veggie Italian sausages topped with your choice of up to 50 toppings and fries or tater tots with 20 dips and 10 or 11 different toppings. Experience has showed me that it is best to only choose three or four toppings, since it is hard to eat a dog that has too many toppings.IMAG1371

I ordered my first dog here topped with bacon-spiked southern style greens, Everything Bagel cream cheese, and “Chix-Fil-A” cole slaw. I almost wept with joy when I bit into it. I think this is my favorite Happy Dog hot dog to date. The creaminess of the cream cheese and the cole slaw with the greens just worked together perfectly.

IMAG1428My second dog was not as successful, but still good. I tried a variation of Michael Symon’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate” (since the ingredients are somewhat different). His version features alien pickle relish, Sriracha hot sauce, chunky peanut butter and a fried egg. I decided to order it with the curried peanut butter and alien pickle relish and topped with bacon and potato stix instead of a fried egg (because I’m allergic to egg). I could barely taste the peanut butter or alien pickle relish, but I did like the crunch of the potato stix.

IMAG1721My most recent dog featured the bacon-spiked southern-style greens, Applewood smoked bacon, French brie, sauteed mushrooms, “Chix-Fil-A” coleslaw, and Japanese Yum Yum sauce. Yet another delicious dog that totally hit the spot.

The tater tots can be ordered with your choice of 20 dips and/or $1 toppings like refried beans, sloppy joe, spaghetti-Os, etc.. They have a curried Dijon mustard dip here that goes with the tots quite nicely. A ketchup, a mustard and some cheese is all you need for nirvana here or order a whole mess of dips to share with the tIMAG1723able. The top secret fry sauce, Yum Yum sauce, and roasted garlic aioli are my personal favorites. Experiment to find yours.

They have done a great job honoring the history of the Euclid Tavern while making the place their own. The autographed wall just highlights the history of the place, and the bar greets you as you walk in.IMAG1365

They are also now open for lunch, which is good news for me because I usually go out for lunch more often than for dinner. The Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern is open from 11 a.m.-1 a.m., and Happy Hour runs from 4-7. I was there shortly after 4 the other day, and I was the only person in the place  besides the employees. My tater tots were piping hot that day!

They have started serving ramen on Tuesday nights (Tokyo Tuesdays). Like the burger nights out west, the ramen will be sold only in the basement lounge and is limited in number and sold on a first come, first served basis. $6 will get you a bowl of pork or veggie ramen with Sapporo-style noodles. As the Scene explains, “The traditional pork version will feature housemade broth, soy-braised pork shoulder, 6-minute egg, nori, scallion and pickled ginger. The veggie version will be built around a kombu dashi broth with Swiss chard, soy-pickled mushrooms, pickled ginger, nori and scallion.” I haven’t made it there yet, but it is definitely on my “must try soon” list. Plus, they will have karaoke on Tuesdays.

They also feature live performances some nights with varying cover charges, and I am confident they will start offering interesting discussions and features like the Happy Dog in Gordon Square does. The fact that the Cleveland Orchestra could literally walk to the Euclid Tavern makes me think this dream will probably be a reality. So be sure to pop into the “Euc” and see what they’ve done with the place! This place truly does make Cleveland Rock.


Contact info:

Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern
11625 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH
(216) 231-5400


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