Issho Ni Ramen, Sushi & Hibachi

Issho Ni Ramen, Sushi & Hibachi in Willoughby (not to be confused with Issho Ni Poke in Mentor) is in an unassuming strip mall on Euclid Avenue in Willoughby. Issho Ni is a bit out of the way compared to other options closer to the city proper, but it’s definitely worth the drive out for its great flavor and fresh fish. One of my friends had been suggesting we go for a while, and I decided to give it a go in July because sushi is a great cool dinner.

I looked at Yelp photos and the menu first to get an idea what to expect. Yelp showed me that Issho Ni was serving things like Ikura with quail egg or nigiri with scoring and sauces that I had only seen at Kura (the conveyor belt sushi restaurant in Troy, Michigan). I was completely intrigued by the Sunshine Roll. My home computer and wifi network is called Sunshine, so I like the name. I was intrigued by the fact that they top it with lemon and honey. The Sunshine Roll features crabmeat, cucumber and avocado topped with fresh salmon, lemon slices, tomato, bell pepper, sesame seeds, and a honey wasabi sauce. My roll came out without tomatoes, but I certainly didn’t notice. The roll was one of the best I’ve ever had, and the entire table agreed that it was the best choice of the night.

I also ordered a California Roll (bottom of photo with black sesame seeds) and the Rock n Roll (top of photo), which is essentially a Philly roll (minus the avocado) deep-fried in tempura. The California Roll also comes deep-fried as an option, but I thought the cream cheese roll would be tasty with a little heat. The California Roll was your basic crabmeat, cucumber and avocado roll, but I don’t remember any avocado and barely noticed the cucumber. The Rock n Roll had smoked salmon and cream cheese inside and was topped with scallions, masago, sesame seeds and eel sauce. My friends were teasing me because I was liberally applying the wasabi to them, but I just found both of them pretty bland. I had ordered an expensive Seared Toro Nigiri (fatty tuna), but the server never brought it. I was full enough from the rolls, so I told him not to bother. I honestly think he had forgotten it. I don’t know many servers who would forget a $17.50 item, but it was easier on my wallet in the long run.

My one friend ordered the Albacore Lover Roll and a seaweed salad. The seaweed salad came out first, and it had a great flavor. I can see myself ordering it the next time I am there. The sesame oil was liberally and perfectly used. I won’t even mind that it sticks in between my teeth. Note to self: only order it when dining alone – LOL.

My friend has a shellfish allergy, so she was thrilled to hear that the crabmeat was imitation crab because she was able to try all of our rolls. Her Albacore Lover Roll was also tasty. It contains spicy tuna and cucumber topped with albacore, fried onions, scallions, and ponzu sauce. I enjoyed the crunch of the fried onions, and the flavors came together really well.

My other friend ordered the Issho Ni Roll, which features crabmeat, avocado, and cucumber topped with spicy tuna and deep-fried eel tempura, spicy mayo and eel sauce, masago, scallions and sesame seeds, and the House Roll, which features crabmeat, tuna, salmon, yellowtail, cucumber, avocado and a sweet mustard sauce. They were both good, but the House Roll was really awkward to eat. It was sliced very thin and was very tall.

We were given our checks without asking if we wanted dessert, which we did. Two of us ordered the matcha tiramisu, and one ordered the sweet pudding. All three came out partially frozen. The server was appalled by the look of the pudding and took it away, saying he couldn’t charge her for it. We enjoyed the matcha tiramisu because it was so refreshing semi-frozen.

It also would have been nice if he hadn’t started to wipe a table and mop the floor immediately adjacent to us while we were still eating. The overpowering detergent smell did not lend itself to the enjoyment of the dessert.

I went back to try the Yakisoba on a Sunday afternoon. I ordered the Scottish Salmon nigiri as a starter, which was just delicious. The rice fell apart a little too much, but the fish was perfect.

The server then brought out my Yakisoba and thanked me for my patience. I told her there was no patience needed because I had only ordered it minutes ago. The kitchen was super quick. I really liked the flavor of the Yakisoba. It had a basic sweetness to it that I liked, and the light vegetables added to it were great – cabbage and some scallions. ordered the chicken and debated adding shrimp for a second, but decided to just stick with chicken.

I also ordered the Sunshine Roll again and the Volcano Roll. They were out of the seafood mayo topping for the Volcano Roll, so the server suggested another roll that was similar called the Firecracker Roll, which features spicy tuna, cucumber, avocado, crab stick that is deep fried and then topped with shrimp tempura, habanero and scallops. Once I figured out what was making it so spicy (habanero) and removed it, I enjoyed the roll much more. I ended up taking half of everything and another Sunshine Roll home as leftovers.

Contact info:

Issho Ni Ramen Sushi and Hibachi
34302 Euclid Ave Unit 1-2
Willoughby, OH 44094
(440) 306-8020
Closed Mon. & Tues., open Wed-Sun from 11 am to 9/9:30 pm

Urban Kitchen & Deli

Urban Kitchen opened in the Innova building on Chester across from the Cleveland Clinic main entrance on Euclid Avenue. I noticed it because it is right next to Fluffy Duck Cafe, but I didn’t know enough about it to want to eat there. Plus, there was some confusion in my mind with Urban Farmer downtown. Well, once I heard that Urban Kitchen served Egyptian food my curiosity was piqued.

Urban Kitchen bills itself as “an American style kitchen and deli. Serving local specialties with only the finest ingredients sourced locally. At Urban Kitchen we believe in natural, wholesome, and healthy cooking.” It’s the same boilerplate farm to table blah blah most restaurants push. They do serve some deli sandwiches and burgers, but their Egyptian and Middle Eastern food really shines.

There’s plenty of parking in the back (use the phone app), and there is an entrance in the back as well. Enter off Chester, follow the drive under the building, and park in the lot. The entrance is in the corner near the Kindercare entrace.

I got some friends who are equally adventurous together to check them out. I was really intrigued by the Kushery. Kushery is a vegetarian dish made of rice, macaroni and lentils mixed together, topped with a spiced tomato sauce, and garlic vinegar; garnished with chickpeas and crispy fried onions. It looks like a total mess on a plate, but it is delicious. I ordered it for everyone to try, and everyone really enjoyed it. It even heats up well the next day.

I also ordered the Mousakaa, which is similar to the Greek moussaka, but not quite the same. It features a seasoned ground meat mixture between two layers of fried eggplant oven-baked to perfection and served with vermicelli rice. I really enjoyed the flavor of this. I have really become a fan of eggplant in the past few years. Unfortunately, one of my friends has a nightshade allergy and couldn’t try it, but another friend liked it so much that he went back to Urban Kitchen a week later and ordered it for himself.

My friend with the nightshade allergy ordered the Mashawi, which is a platter of grilled meats consisting of Kofta (ground lamb kabob), Tawook (marinated chicken breast) served with Persian fava and dill rice, grilled veggies and garlic sauce. She really enjoyed it, even if it is very similar to some dishes at Aladdin’s and other Mediterranean restaurants. It looks so fresh and healthy that I want to order it the next time I visit.

Another friend ordered several of the phyllo dough desserts for us to share. Both the baklava and the sweet goulash (turnover) featured honey and pistachios, but the sweet goulash also had a nice sweet custard and English cream filling. I particularly enjoyed the sweet goulash. I tried to order it the next time I visited for dinner, but they had run out of it.

I ordered a slice of banana cream cheesecake to share. It was phenomenal. The creamy consistency was very comforting, and the banana cream flavor really shined. I would order it again if they have it, but their offerings tend to vary from day to day.

The stuffed grape leaves are also very good (see top of the photo below). They are not too stuffed, and the rice filling is not too overwhelming. I’d rank them just below Astoria’s stuffed grape leaves featuring its “golden rice.”

I have also ordered the California Chicken sandwich, which is a grilled chicken breast topped with avocado, bacon, Swiss, spinach, onion, and tomato on a grilled brioche roll. The onion was thick rings of red onion that were very pungent. A little red onion goes a long way. It got better once I removed most of the onion and broke it into tiny pieces that I distributed over the lettuce. They must have been out of avocado that night, but it took me a while to realize it, so I didn’t miss it much. It was a very flavorful sandwich. The spinach, onion, and tomato were very fresh. The bacon was tasty but looked a little weird. Turns out it is turkey bacon. The fresh-cut fries were a nice side, and I enjoyed them.

Another thing Urban Kitchen does well is breakfast. I have had the Breakfast Slammer sandwich two times now and thoroughly enjoyed it each time. It features two slices of French toast stuffed with sausage, eggs and bacon, served with whipped butter and drizzled with hot maple syrup. It’s got everything the perfect breakfast calls for.

They also serve great pancakes. My friend who returned for the mousakka ordered the chocolate chip pancakes to go and loved them so much he ordered them again. I’m intrigued by the Lotus Dream Pancakes, which are layered and drizzled with Biscoff cookie butter and topped with Biscoff cookie crumbles, red sanding sugar, and fresh whipped cream. If you love cookie butter, you will love these pancakes. The server asked if I wanted syrup, but they were perfect with just the cookie butter. I had forgotten how weird the bacon is. I ordered it to cut the sweetness of the pancakes.

The customer service is pretty informal and prompt. I was able to get refills of my iced tea from one server, while a server on another visit never offered. The flavored iced teas are nice. I’ve had the raspberry and peach. The cocktails are also nice. My coffee was refilled several times during breakfast/brunch hours.

I will probably be criticized for mentioning this, but they have a bidet installed on the toilet in the bathroom. If you want to experience a bidet, be sure to check it out. It’s a treat.

Contact info:

Urban Kitchen & Deli
9751 Chester Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44106-1604
(216) 471-8956
Closed on Sundays

Davis Bakery

Brothers Ben, Julius and Carl established Davis Bakery in 1939, opening their first location on South Taylor Road in Cleveland Heights. They were also the first bakery to incorporate delicatessens into their retail outlets. They currently have two locations – one in Woodmere and one in Warrensville Heights. The Woodmere location is open 365 days a year, while the Warrensville Heights location is open Monday-Friday 9 am – 4 pm. Known for Jewish rye bread (made with a 75 year old starter), Russian tea biscuits, coconut bars, and chocolate chip cookies, they also offer sandwiches featuring hot corned beef, a turkey off the bone, and the self-proclaimed best tuna salad in Cleveland. The bread is always fresh and delicious, the meat is fresh, lean and tasty, and the baked goods are great.

When you walk in, the first thing you see is a wall of bags of chips – snack-sized and regular-sized. The right side is dedicated to the deli, while the left side is filled with display cases of baked goods, whether they are fresh loaves and rolls of bread, cookies, pastries, and biscuits. The center divider contains small cookie plates, rolls, t-shirts and condiments.

The first time I went, I pored over the menu and decided to order a grilled roast beef and Swiss sandwich. You can get a “King sized” sandwich for $3 more. I can’t even imagine what a King sized sandwich looks like. Each sandwich gets a pickle and a cookie. The chocolate chip cookie was so moist, and I’m a sucker for a good dill pickle. I also ordered the Matzo ball soup (which is served every day in addition to a soup du jour) and a side of macaroni salad. I loved every bite of everything. The Matzo ball soup was comforting, and the macaroni salad became my official favorite macaroni salad in Cleveland. It was perfect in my mind – not too sweet, yet really creamy.

I also love their soda fountain. It isn’t filled with the typical Pepsi or Coke products (except Diet Coke). It features natural cane sugar flavors like Root Beer, Lemonade, Southern Sweet Tea, Ginger Ale, Black Cherry, Cream Soda, and Cola. I like mixing the flavors for a unique soda.

On the next visit I splurged and ordered the Cavs specialty sandwich. It is my perfect sandwich. It features hot roast beef, melted Swiss cheese, coleslaw, and a special Bistro sauce on grilled rye bread. I have a hard time going there and not ordering it again and again, because I love it so much. The coleslaw is creamy and just goes so well with the crispy bread. I love that they name some of their sandwiches after our sports teams (note: the Tribe is still the Tribe, which features hot corned beef, pastrami, Swiss, coleslaw, and Thousand Island dressing. Shhh! Don’t tell them.).

On my most recent visit, I ordered the Tuna Melt (I obviously had to try the best tuna in Cleveland). It came with the requisite pickle and cookie, but I had to get Dr. Brown’s soda in a can because the soda fountain was out of order. I also ordered a side of potato salad and a side of macaroni salad in addition to some egg salad to take home and eat later. The deli worker told me he would deliver my choices to the dining area while I chose my drinks and paid at the register.

I got my Dr. Brown Black Cherry and Cream Soda sodas in cans. They also have Faygo soda, Arizona green tea, juices, and lots of other choices. I also ordered an Apricot French stick (I think that is what they were called – made using puffed pastry, it is kind of like a snoogle or bear claw). The Tuna Melt was indeed fantastic. It seemed to be made with Swiss instead of American cheese, which was just fine by me since I love Swiss. The potato salad was a decent potato salad for a deli potato salad. I prefer a tangier, less creamy potato salad, but I would not complain if served this at a party. The macaroni salad was just as divine as always. The chocolate chip cookie literally melted in my hand – and not just because it was 88 degrees outside.

I volunteered to bring a dessert to my niece’s high school graduation party last month. I decided a cookie and bar platter would be perfect. I made Rice Krispy Treats with Sweet Vanilla Matcha for my gluten-free relatives and then hit Davis Bakery for the good stuff. I had fun picking out several different cookies, bars, and brownies as well as a large selection of kolache. My family members are hard-core and picky kolache connoisseurs, because my maternal grandmother used to make them from scratch for holidays like Christmas and Easter. Needless to say, the dessert tray was a huge hit.

Contact info:

Davis Bakery
28700 Chagrin Boulevard
Woodmere, OH 44122
(216) 292-3060

Warrensville Heights location:
4572 Renaissance Parkway
Cleveland, OH 44128
(216) 464-5533

Yonder Brunch & Vibes

Yonder Brunch & Vibes opened this year in Midtown in La Bodega’s old location. This is not fast food so a wait was to be expected, but the wait during my initial visit was ridiculous. I brought a small group in for breakfast, and we must have completely overwhelmed them. We were probably the first people through the door, but more people arrived after us. The first person who ordered from our group ended up getting his food last – an hour after he ordered it. That said, the food was really good.

I ordered a coffee and an apple juice as well as a breakfast that featured soft-scrambled eggs, bacon, buttered and grilled Texas toast, and smashed potatoes. It was a lot of food! I ended up packing some potatoes, toast and bacon to go because it was a lot. When I say buttered and grilled, I mean buttered and grilled. This was the most buttered toast I have ever had – I swear they SOAK it in butter before grilling it. It also leaves your hands greasy, so keep the breakfast sandwiches in the paper wrappers when you eat them.

The coffee is good and you can go up to the counter for a refill. They have milk, half and half and liquid creamers available. They have the sugar, creamer packs, stirrers, etc. with the silverware, syrup and butter on the side counter.

Most of my friends ordered the Yonder breakfast sandwich or some variation thereon. It features the buttered and grilled Texas toast packed with bacon or sausage (or avocado), egg and cheese. The Yonder features Applewood bacon, caramelized onions, soft-scrambled eggs, cheese, chives and Chipotle Mayo. Everyone loved their sandwich.

Two of my friends ordered the Pancakes Classic, which features two pancakes, two eggs and your choice of meat. The soft-scrambled eggs had some cheese in them, and the over easy eggs came out perfect.

They also serve cocktails and special iced teas, but it was too early for a cocktail. They are only open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., so I can’t imagine they do a rocking alcohol trade (particularly during the week). The iced tea was very refreshing, if a little boring – it only had a couple citrus wedges when some of the other photos I’ve seen are more decadent.

Despite the wait, everyone left happy. I’m not sure if anyone went back on their own, but now that they have opened a second location in South Euclid I think it is pretty likely they are doing good business.

I went back again to try the Cereal Killa French Toast. They use the Texas toast and coat it in breakfast cereals. The Cereal Killa features 4 slices of French toast (you can choose from Fruity Pebbles, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Apple Jacks and Frosted Flakes), while the French toast breakfasts have 2 slices and egg and meat. I tried the Fruity Pebbles French toast with two eggs (I chose well-scrambled with no cheese) and a meat (pork bacon for me). I can’t decide if I liked the Fruity Pebbles French toast. They had a weird scent and flavor. I think the heat might change the molecular structure a bit. The flavor lingered with me throughout the day. I’ll try Frosted Flakes next time. They even have an Oreo French toast now. The menu is a little longer than it is online.

Contact info:

Yonder Brunch & Vibes
Midtown location
3859 Superior Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44114
(216) 465-3046

Cedar Center North location
13957 Cedar Road
South Euclid, OH 44118
(216) 400-6201

Swensons

Opening Day in University Heights

Swensons Drive-In is an Ohio drive-in restaurant chain with locations in the Akron, Canton, Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati areas. Swensons’ signature hamburger is the Galley Boy, a double cheeseburger prepared using two sauces (a tartar-sauce-like and a BBQ sauce), and the restaurant also sells 18 different milkshakes. Wesley T. “Pop” Swenson started selling hamburgers at Buchtel High School out of a station wagon in 1933. In 1934, he opened a restaurant on South Hawkins Avenue in Akron, near West Market Street. Swenson sold the restaurant in 1949 to Robert Phillips, who began expansion in 1952 with a second location in North Akron on East Cuyahoga Falls Avenue.

I have been eating at Swensons since I was in grad school at Kent in the mid-1990s. My father introduced me to the Stow location, but I also enjoyed the Swensons near Howe Avenue. You pull into a parking spot and turn your headlights on for service. You turn your lights on again if you need anything or are ready to pay. I was so impressed with the guys in shorts running as fast as they can back and forth between the restaurant and the cars in the parking lot.

People either love or hate Swensons. The burgers have a little sweetness to them. No one knows the secret recipe.  It seems to be something of an Akron urban legend that Swensons mixes a little brown sugar into the ground beef. I can’t say if it is true or not, but whatever they do it yields a patty that is extra tasty and delicious. But no, they are not dumping sugar on top of the hamburger, and it is definitely not sweet. And you can’t hate the prices. A Galley Boy is between $3-4, asloppy joe is $2.65, the sides are all around $2, and a classic milkshake costs $2.70 for a medium and $3.10 for a large and the special milkshakes are $0.10 more.

My father is a HUGE milkshake fan. He’s easy to buy for on holidays, because I can get him a Swensons gift certificate or a Swensons glass to make a milkshake at home. It was an exciting day when Swensons opened in Cleveland, first in the Seven Hills area and then near me in University Heights. I was at University Heights on Day One despite the terrible weather (see first picture). I got the last available spot in the parking lot. Here’s an amusing story: I ordered a milkshake and was driving home and tried to drink it. Oddly enough, nothing came out but a couple ice pebbles. I drove back and complained that I didn’t get the right drink. I tried my best to explain it to the server. It turns out someone had filled the cup up halfway with ice and then poured the milkshake on top of the ice.

Galley Boy with lettuce, tomato and onion added.

Swensons features one milkshake a month or so. It used to drive me crazy because I never knew what the milkshake flavor was without having to drive by. I reached out to them through the Internet, and they actually took my suggestion and are posting the milkshake flavor on the website and on their social media channels. You’re welcome. You can order the flavor as a standalone or mix it with one of their standard milkshakes. Think strawberry and chocolate or nutella and banana.

I have tried most of the things on the menu. My go-to order is usually the Galley Boy. I switch things up and usually “with everything” (mustard, dill pickles and onions) and add lettuce and tomato. I feel like I am making it a little healthier that way. It comes out dressed with an olive on a toothpick.

Beef veg, large California and a crispy chicken sandwich

Another favorite is the beef vegetable soup. It was probably launched to use up older beef, but now it has chunks of beef instead of ground beef and features eight different veggies. It is a definite order when it turns colder. I also really like that there are no lima beans.

Another must for me is the California. Swensons has three specialty sodas that mix a fruit flavored soda with ginger ale. The Florida uses orange juice, the Ohio uses cherry soda, and the California features grape soda. The California also has a slice of lemon floating on top. I always order “the largest California possible.” I wish they wouldn’t use styrofoam cups. If they would sell reusable cups I would love that.

The sides are all quite tasty, and everyone has a favorite. When fried well, the fries are crisp yet creamy, the onion rings are shatteringly crisp. The potato teezers are the hands-down favorite (potato with cheese and jalapeno). I like the fried mushrooms and fried zucchini sticks. Be sure to order a side of Ranch to dip them. The potato puffs are basically tater tots.

The sloppy joe (above left) is pretty decent. It’s not the most spectacular sloppy joe, but it will curb the craving. If you like fried bologna (above right) they can satisfy that urge too.

I very rarely order the shrimp or chicken dinners. The dinners come with a toasted roll, fries and coleslaw or applesauce. The toasted roll could be improved, because all it is is a toasted hamburger bun. This is similar to the “in a basket” back in the day before COVID. Any sandwich was available “in a basket” and get fries and coleslaw or applesauce. I miss that.

This is a controversial choice, but I enjoy the grilled cheese and tomato soup special or the egg salad sandwich and tomato soup special in the winter. I’ve also been known to just order an egg salad sandwich when I want something light and not fried/grilled. Swensons serves a decent egg salad sandwich.

Contact info:

Swensons Drive-in
(click on link for locations)

Dave’s Cosmic Subs

Established in 1997, Cosmic Dave’s™ has become a legend here in Northeast Ohio.  A legend that is spreading at “Cosmic” speed across the state and beyond.  What started out as a humble sub shop in Chagrin Falls is now revolutionizing the sub world with a franchise with stores currently in four states and looking to expand into more.

Cosmic Dave’s™ is known for its crispy bread and tasty and generous toppings – and Dave’s Cosmic Sub Sauce™ (I have a bottle of it in my fridge right now). Dave’s Cosmic Sub Sauce™ is kind of like a creamy Italian, but better. The Original Dave’s Cosmic Sauce TM is all-natural, vegan, and sold in all of the Dave’s Cosmic Sub shops as well as select local stores. After leaving the family business in Cleveland (Seaway Wholesale Cash n Carry on Woodland Avenue) and moving to California for ten years, where he gigged as an actor, musician with his own band (they opened for Huey Lewis and the News and Steppenwolf), and playwright, he moved back to Cleveland and decided to mix the memory of sharing great sandwiches late at night with his dad and the music of the decade that shaped him. Dave knew what to look for in the right kind of bread, sauces, and combinations of the highest quality ingredients to create the “ultimate sub that rocked.”

Their first and most popular sub is #1 – The Original Dave’s Cosmic Sub™ (also referred to as the OG), which is made with pepperoni, Genoa salami, prosciutto, lettuce, tomatoes, sliced banana peppers, onions, fresh garlic, herbs, Provolone cheese – smothered with Dave’s Cosmic Sauce™.

The Crazy Dave – photo from the Dave’s Cosmic Subs website (bottle of Dave’s Cosmic Sauce in the background)

#8 – The Crazy Dave™ (prosciutto, capicola, hot peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, fresh garlic, Provolone cheese, sprinkled with crushed red peppers, herbs, and Dave’s Cosmic Sauce) was voted best sandwich in Cleveland. I’m not a fan of hot peppers or red pepper flakes, so I’ve never tried it. I probably should some day.

I like Dave’s subs because they are tasty. All of their subs are served on vegan, kosher Italian or whole wheat bread baked fresh in their ovens throughout the day. Gluten-free bread is now available.

The Incredible Dave before I picked off the banana peppers

My favorites are the #9 – The Incredible Dave™ or # 5 – Dave’s All American™. The Incredible Dave is made with “two generous layers of juicy chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, sliced banana peppers, lots of Swiss and Cheddar cheeses, herbs, smothered with Dave’s Cosmic Sauce.” I always leave off the banana peppers. The combination of the chicken, cheese and herbs with the sauce just satisfies something in me deep down inside. As for the Dave’s All American, it is his roast beef sandwich with “delicious tender roast beef, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, American and Swiss cheeses, herbs, and Dave’s 1000 Island Dressing.” It’s like a Reuben but with roast beef and cold. I prefer my roast beef cold, so I love this. Roast beef changes flavor and texture when you heat it.

Slap some cole slaw on the All American and heat it up, and you have the #19 – Hey Dave™. The Hey Dave features “delicious tender roast beef, Dave’s Famous Horseradish Sauce, Swiss cheese, with Dave’s homemade cole slaw piled a mile high, topped with sliced banana peppers and herbs.” It is only available as a Regular Size sub.

#2 – Dave’s World Famous™ combines chicken and roast beef and features their horseradish. I love horseradish, and it is a good accompaniment to roast beef as well as chicken and roast beef. The World Famous is made with “delicious tender roast beef, succulent chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, sliced banana peppers, Swiss cheese, herbs, and a generous portion of Dave’s Famous Horseradish Sauce.

The Grateful Dave

Two other favorites of mine are #25 – Dave’s Famous Bleu™ (turkey, Dave’s Cosmic Sauce, mayo, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, Cheddar cheese, hot peppers, topped with Dave’s Bleu Cheese Dressing) and #27 – The Grateful Dave™ (turkey, tomatoes, red onions, mayo, Dave’s Cosmic Sauce, avocado, alfalfa sprouts, and hot pepper juice). I’m a sucker for avocado and alfalfa sprouts. Not enough sandwich shops serve them.

#29 – Dave’s Peace Steak™ is another hot sub that I enjoy, which is surprising because I prefer cold subs. It is made with premium steak, mayo, green peppers, tomatoes, crisp onions, mushrooms, Dave’s Cosmic Sauce, and topped with Provolone cheese.

#20 – Dave’s Cordon Bleu™ (juicy chicken, ham, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, Dave’s Bleu Cheese Dressing, Dave’s Cosmic Sauce and a slice of Swiss cheese and herbs) is one unique sandwich. Obviously you have to like bleu cheese to appreciate it.

I would be remiss to leave out Dave’s meatball sub (#17). Called “Dave’s Best Meatball Ever™ (And We’re Not Kidding!),” it features three large meatballs, Dave’s Cosmic Sauce, fresh garlic, tasty tomato sauce, topped with Provolone and Romano cheese, sprinkled with herbs and crushed red peppers and is served Hot. I went through a phase where I tried meatball subs everywhere, and this was my favorite next to Crust’s meatball sub. And #18 – Dave’s Famous Italian Sausage™ sandwich is also awesome. It’s topped with pretty much the same things and is a little easier to get your mouth around than the meatballs.

I live within walking distance of the Dave’s on Coventry, so I treat myself occasionally. I’ve also been to the original shop in Chagrin Falls as well as in Hudson and University Heights. I haven’t made it to the Dave’s in the old Barking Spider location on Juniper yet, but I want to check it out. I usually grab a soda and a bag of chips when I am there. I loved that they served Arizona Mandarin Orange Green Tea. It was the only place I could find it, but now they don’t sell it anymore. The chips they serve now are made locally and cooked in peanut oil. The flavors include Maui Onion Chips, Sea Salt and Vinegar, Cracked Pepper and Sea Salt, Funk Fusion, Mesquite BBQ, Sea Salted, Sour Cream and Onion, Jalapeño, and Sriracha Honey. The Maui Onion is fantastic. If you’ve had the Hawaii Five-Oh at Gourmand’s that is the chip they use to top it. They also offer soup, but they microwave it. I can do that at home.

Contact info:

Dave’s Cosmic Subs

Click to find a location near you

Landmark Restaurant on St. Clair

The Landmark Restaurant is a laid-back eatery off of St. Clair Avenue that locals can’t get enough of. You should not confuse it with the Landmark in Lakewood – that is a flashy BBQ place. The Landmark on St. Clair is an old-fashioned ‘mom and pop’ diner-style breakfast and lunch place, which is growing ever rarer on the American landscape. We all love this homestyle cookin’, but these types of businesses are often overshadowed by new destinations with flashy surroundings. I’ve been focusing on diners for the last few months because they give me comfort.

I parked to the left of the building in their small parking lot, but I could have parked along the street as well. The Landmark is open five days a week from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Yes, the website and Google says 5 a.m., but there is a sign in the window when you walk in warning you otherwise. Covid seems to have changed quite a few practices here. I tried to come at around noon or one p.m., but I’ve been told I need to get there earlier if I want the clam chowder. When you walk in you immediately see a counter in front of you and a cash register to your left. They seem to do a lot of carry-out business. The dining room is to the left and you can sit wherever you would like.

Obviously, the first thing I do when I enter a new place is to ask the waitress what are the most popular items. Her response was “the Hungry Man, the Crazy Omelette, and the Fisherman’s Platter.” Since I wasn’t hungry enough for the Hungry Man (three eggs any style, three hotcakes or three slices of french toast, three slices of bacon, and three sausage links), I decided to order “Two eggs any style,” which comes with a short stack of pancakes or two slices of French toast and two slices of bacon, ham or sausage. I decided to go for scrambled eggs, bacon and upgraded the pancakes to blueberry pancakes. It certainly hit the spot. The blueberry pancakes contained a good amount of blueberries, and the scrambled eggs came out topped with cheese, which was a nice surprise. That was a lot of food for only $6. I splurged on a cappuccino and orange juice. The cappuccino was definitely from a packet, but they both hit the spot.

Landmark has the coolest syrup dispensers. I’ve never seen anything quite like them. While some places serve their syrup in syrup bottles with the lid hanging almost off (Diner on 55th) or in metal jugs (Original Pancake House, Mama D’s), the Landmark has this cool plastic dispenser with a hole at the top. There is very little chance of dripping or overflow. And the squeeze bottle fits perfectly in my hand and allowed me to dispense exactly the amount I wanted.

The Crazy Omelette was actually a bit much. I arrived there starving, having looked forward to ordering a Shipwreck at Lucky’s but not wanting/being able to stand and wait 30 minutes, and I got full after eating half of it. The Crazy Omelette contains onions, green peppers, mushrooms, ham, bacon, sausage & cheese. I ordered the home fries and an English muffin. When they say there is an “upcharge” they mean they will charge you for the entire cost of the English muffin or cinnamon swirl toast, so order a normal toast (white, wheat or rye) and then order the English muffin or whatever as a side.

I usually order lunch on my second visit. When I heard they served hot open-faced sandwiches I knew I would be back to order one of them soon (see below), but I wanted to try their clam chowder so I visited on a Friday afternoon. Unfortunately, they only serve clam chowder every other week, so the soup of the day was supposed to be cream of broccoli, which I also enjoy. But they had run out so I was served a chicken and rice soup that was quite tasty instead. I still haven’t been able to try it, but the broccoli soup is also nice.

I asked what came on the Fisherman’s Platter and was told it came with perch, white fish, and fried shrimp. The Fisherman’s Platter is usually $8.50 on the regular menu and comes with soup, choice of potato and choice of vegetable and a roll and butter, but it’s only $8.00 on Friday. The Friday special comes with a cup of soup, mac n cheese, and choice of vegetable. I chose the mac n cheese and corn. I definitely didn’t miss the roll and butter.

It was a TON of food for $8.00 – two planks of perch, a square of whitefish, and a bunch of fried shrimp. It was served with a side of tartar sauce and a side of cocktail sauce. I could tell it was food service fish, but most church fish fries also serve food service fish and I’m okay with that. With the special and an iced tea, my bill came to $9.99. I walked out of there absolutely stuffed and didn’t forget my leftovers!

On my third visit, I wasn’t sure if I wanted breakfast or lunch, but decided the siren call of a hot open-faced roast beef sandwich was too tempting to ignore. It isn’t as good as Jack’s Deli’s open-faced brisket, but it is a good roast beef sandwich. I’m not sure what I think of the mashed potatoes. I don’t think they were real mashers. But the sandwich and mashed potatoes hit the Comfort spot.

They don’t serve soda from a fountain, they sell it by the can. I ordered two cans of ginger ale because that’s how I roll, and I sipped the second one on my drive home. The cabbage soup that was the soup of the day that Monday also hit the spot. I love navy bean, cabbage soup, and stuffed pepper soup, so I would have been happy with any of them. But I have recently been on a cabbage kick, so the soup was really tasty.

Contact info:

Landmark Restaurant
5380 St Clair Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44103
(216) 881-5372 and 216-971-1318

Fish Fry Friday 2022 #5 – Regovich Catering in Eastlake

Enter to the left of the building – also there is plenty of parking in the back and closer to the entrance

I hate All You Can Eat dinners, because I can never eat my money’s worth. My sister and I tried the AYCE crab leg special at Pickle Bill’s, and the server felt bad for us and just charged us for a 1 lb. dinner. My constitution is not made for eating until I get overly full/sick. So Regovich is going to be a no go for me in the future. The individual components were fantastic, but when I asked for a to go box for the things on my first plate/only trip to the buffet I was told they don’t offer to go boxes and you had to eat everything there. I ended up smuggling my pierogi, some mac n cheese, and second piece of fish out in my chowder bowl by popping it in my purse. I was amazed watching the people around me going up to the buffet two or three times and coming back with plates laden with fish, pierogi, and the like. When I walked in I was told it was $20 and then another $2 if I wanted soda. I handed them my $22 and grabbed a spot at a table. I definitely got my $2 worth of soda, but the amount I ate was less than the $17 dinner at St. Francis last week, which fed me for two meals. But if you can power through AYCE buffets, this is definitely the place for you.

Onto the food itself, it is quite delicious. I was told not to miss the soup, so I got there at 4:30 to make sure I got some. It was a very good New England clam chowder. It had a tasty, creamy base and was chock full of well-cooked potatoes. I even managed to get a nice big piece of clam in one of my bites. I also got the bay leaf.

The buffet was set up so that the soup and salad were off to the side and the buffet was in the middle with serving spoons on either side. The dessert and coffee and the bar were along the inside wall on the same wall as the soup and salad station. I grabbed a couple mixed color beans, skipped the tater tots (which were a huge hit with the kids at my table later), took some cabbage and noodles, mac n cheese, and pierogi, and then grabbed some fried fish. The baked fish also looked quite nice, but I try to stick to fried fish at fish fries.

The pierogi were plump and filled with potato and cheese. They were rock stars among the fish fry offerings. If you like pierogi, you should check them out. The fried fish was not super crispy but well-fried. The fish inside was moist. I could also tell that the tartar sauce was homemade. The mac n cheese was great. Not too cheesy, and the pasta held its shape nicely. Somehow I missed the apple sauce.

I grabbed a couple chocolate chip cookies and a piece of chocolate turtle cake for dessert. The cake was deliciously chocolatey, and the cookies were soft and tasty. They also had snickerdoodles. The second time I walked past they had brought out some white cake and lemon meringue pie. I was happy with my choices, but if I had still been hungry I might have grabbed a slice of pie.

When they cleared my plate after my valiant effort to eat more of it, they ended up clearing away a dinner roll, cole slaw, some remnants of salad, and some green beans and cabbage and noodle. It’s my fault, really. I shouldn’t have skipped breakfast and had that sandwich at 2. The foyer was packed when I left at 5:30, and they were waiting to be seated.

I definitely give Regovich Catering a thumbs up, but be forewarned that you need to be very hungry and be able to eat All You Can Eat.

Contact info:

Regovich’s Catering @ Tha Patrician

33150 Lakeland Boulevard
Eastlake, OH 44095
(440) 946-9091

Mr. Chicken

Mr. Chicken is a local fried chicken chain and family-owned business with eight locations that has been operating in Cleveland since 1968. It was started by the Simens family in Euclid in 1968. I was first introduced to Mr. Chicken by my dad, who loves treating himself by eating there every once in a while. I would stop at the Mr. Chicken in Parma (Pearl and Ridge), Northfield (on Northfield Road) or Twinsburg (just south of the Square on 91/SOM Center Road) when the mood struck me, but the chain recently opened its eighth location in South Euclid (on Green just north of Mayfield), and I have become a regular.

The Kids Meal features a chicken tender, mac n cheese, a cookie. and a small fountain drink (not a Capri Sun in the photo on the ordering board)

The original owners’ son is now heading the Mr. Chicken chain. He explained their business focus to cleveland.com by saying, “We are about family meals and dinners. The majority of our business is serving families. Our average customer is 35 and up who are buying for two or more people. We aren’t interested in high traffic, small transactions or a late-night crowd. We’re a family business.” When it opened, the South Euclid location opened without indoor seating. Orders are taken via a double drive-thru or by ordering in the lobby. Mr. Simens explained, “We feel that, after COVID, drive-thru will be the predominant way most people do transactions with us,” he said, noting that many customers prefer to eat with their families at home rather than in the restaurant.”

I usually order the three-piece, all-white-meat chicken dinner (there’s an upcharge but I’m willing to pay it). I’ve tried and I just prefer white meat, especially when it is fried. They serve this crazy side piece that is almost boneless that I really enjoy (see photo to the left). They claim to use farm fresh chickens and to make everything in-house. I definitely prefer it over KFC. It may not be V’s or gas station chicken (Krunchy Krunchy), but I really enjoy a good piece of fried chicken and this definitely meets my expectations.

I ordered the Chicken Bowl once, which is their version of the KFC Bowl, but I have to say I prefer the KFC Bowl. First of all, the Chicken Bowl is massive – almost too much. They start with a huge portion of mashed potatoes and top it with three chicken tenders, corn, gravy and cheese. I love a good chicken tender, but the bowl format lends itself to popcorn chicken, which KFC offers and Mr. Chicken does not. It’s awkward to eat, and there was something about the taste that I just didn’t love.

The Farm Fresh Chicken Sandwich is a great chicken sandwich. It uses a thick chicken breast that is lightly breaded and fried. Instead of mayo, it uses a delicious honey mustard sauce that is drizzled over a generous helping of lettuce and tomato. If you’d prefer you can also get the chicken sandwich with bacon and barbecue sauce. You can order the sandwich alone or as a meal with french fries and a medium drink. Unfortunately, they don’t serve jojos in South Euclid.

The BBQ Bacon Chicken Sandwich features a thick chicken breast, romaine lettuce, crispy onions, cheddar cheese, 2 pieces of bacon, and hickory smoke BBQ sauce on a brioche bun. I found it to be incredibly salty. I’m not even sure what was causing the salt overload, but it could have been the BBQ sauce, bacon or cheese. I loved the crispy onions on it. It gave it a nice crunch.

As for the various sides, I can highly recommend the Corn Nuggets (listed under Southern Favorites, they are worth the higher price). They take corn and add it into a batter of flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, salt, milk, eggs and melted butter, then scoop them out into little balls and deep fry them.

The corn and green beans are good sides, and the mac n cheese is a basic mac n cheese that is bland enough for kids to enjoy. The cole slaw is chopped and prepared daily and has a nice moistness to it. I usually get the mashed potatoes and gravy and cole slaw with my chicken dinner. The biscuits have a hint of butter to them but are lacking a hint of honey like Popeyes has. But they are good slathered with butter and jelly or honey at home.

Last but not least, I would be remiss not to mention one of my favorite things on their menu – the Funnel Fries. They’re a delicious funnel cake that is shaped like fries and liberally doused in powdered sugar. The fries are best served fresh and warm. I usually eat them in the car while driving home, because the scent is irresistible. Who says you can’t start with dessert first? They also sell chocolate chip cookies (see Kids Meal photo above) and an Apple Churro.

Mr. Chicken’s typical store hours are 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. or 10 p.m. weekdays (hours below taken from Mr. Chicken’s Locations page on 2/21/2022).

Contact info:

Mr. Chicken


South Euclid – Mr. Chicken
1415 Green Road
South Euclid, Ohio, 44121
(216) 848-0001
10:30 AM – 10:00 PM, Mon thru Sun


Maple Heights – Mr. Chicken
5515 Warrensville Center Road
Maple Heights, Ohio, 44137
(216) 662-2100
10:30 AM – 11:00 PM, Mon thru Sun


Northfield Village – Mr. Chicken
10710 Northfield Road
Northfield, Ohio 44067
(330) 468-2250
10:30 AM – 10:00 PM, Mon thru Sun


Parma Pearl – Mr. Chicken
5451 Pearl Road
Parma, Ohio 44129
(440) 886-2880
10:30 AM – 10:00 PM, Mon thru Sun


Twinsburg – Mr. Chicken
9010 Darrow Road
Twinsburg, Ohio 44087
(330) 425-4455
10:30 AM – 09:00 PM, Mon thru Sun


Willoughby – Mr. Chicken
35901 Euclid Avenue
Willoughby, Ohio 44094
(440) 951-1020
10:30 AM – 09:00 PM, Mon thru Sun

Fish Fry Friday 2022 #4b – St. Francis de Sales Church

I remember going to the St. Francis de Sales Fish Fry before COVID. I remember standing in a rather long line in the basement and hoping I would be able to be sat together with my group. I also remember the food being delicious. This year St. Francis de Sales chose to host a Drive-Thru Fish Fry. I decided to stop there after visiting St. Sava’s fish fry. Since I have a good air fryer, I figured I could reheat it for a nice dinner on Saturday (spoiler alert: it did!)

From Snow Road I turned left onto W. 29th Street and followed the yellow Fish Fry signs. I turned right onto George Avenue as suggested in the graphic. A police van pulled into the lot in front of me from the opposite direction. I chose to go in the suggested direction because a) I’m not a cop and b) with my luck there would be a line down George Avenue. Luckily there wasn’t. I was able to drive right, was greeted by a man with a flyer with my choices listed. He directed me to pull up behind the police van to give my order to one of the women manning two lanes in the middle of the parking lot. I gave the woman my order (fish with 3 potato pierogi) and she talked me into buying some chocolate chip cookies. She wrote the number of my meal down on a Post-it note and slapped it onto my side-view mirror.

My dinner cost $15 for the fish dinner and $1 for the cookies. I could have also ordered the pierogi dinner for $15 that features six pierogi (with your choice of 2 out of 3 available varieties). A runner ran inside and got me my change and then directed me to pull up to wait for my meal. I waited maybe 20 seconds before I was greeted by a young student carrying a laundry basket with my order in it. It was shortly after 5 when I was there.

I reheated everything up on Saturday. Everything was so damn delicious it almost made me cry. You get a lot of food for $15! The cabbage and noodles were amazingly seasoned and perfectly cooked. The mac and cheese was a dream of cheesy, gooey goodness. The potato pierogi came with onions fried in butter and sour cream and were pillows of deliciousness. The fish were a generous two portions (I saved one to make a sandwich on Sunday) and had a nice panko crust. The fries were decent, but they are fries. The apple sauce was prepackaged so obviously decent (low sugar which was nice), and the cole slaw was nice and moist. The dinner roll and butter were bagged together, but I was just happy to have a pat of butter. And wouldn’t you know it, those cookies were worth the extra dollar. Buttery and soft, they melted in my mouth.

This fish fry is definitely one not to miss!

Contact info:

St. Francis de Sales Church
3434 George Avenue
Parma, OH 44134
(440) 884-2319