Goodell Farm Pancake Breakfast in Shalersville

Goodell Family Farm hosts pancake breakfasts on three Sundays in March in the Shalersville Town Hall in Ravenna. It is located at the intersection of OH-44 and Route 303. The pancake breakfast features all you can eat pancakes (regular and buckwheat), sausage and their own pure maple syrup. You also get a small glass of orange juice and all the coffee you can drink. And don’t forget to enjoy a soft serve maple ice cream cone when you are finished.

Adults pay $8.00, children (ages 4-12) are $4.00, and children 3 years of age and under are free. The pancake breakfasts this year were March 3rd, 10th, and 17th from 8:30 am to 2:00 pm. I met a girlfriend, and we spent an hour and a half enjoying pancakes and sausage and catching up.

This place is a well-oiled machine. The room is not that large, but the line is not long (at least it wasn’t when we were there). You pay when you walk in and walk past a table full of Goodell Family Farm products. The gentleman at the end then finds a seat for you and your party. We were seated with another older married couple, which was a little awkward. I had already blown past them getting off the turnpike, so I wasn’t too thrilled to be seated with them. Then to add to the awkward they sat next to each other, so we then also had to sit next to each other. As their penance they had to hear my girlfriend and I talk about our lives and high five each other several times.

I opted for a combo stack of pancakes – a mix of two regular pancakes and one buckwheat pancake – and it came with three sausage links. The pancakes and sausage were delicious. I liked the regular pancakes a bit more, but the buckwheat ones were definitely great. There are people walking around the room refilling coffee cups and doling out more pancakes and sausage. I had one more of each. There are big pitchers of maple syrup and sticks of butter on the table to help yourself.

I purchased a quart of maple syrup for $17 as I left. It’s already opened and now in my fridge. Next year’s pancake breakfasts will be March 8th, 15th, and 22nd, so mark your calendars. It’s worth the drive.

Contact info:

Goodell Family Farm Pancake Breakfast
Shalersville Town Hall
9090 OH-44
Ravenna, OH 44266

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Frostville Museum Pancake Breakfast

Yeah, don’t bother.

The Olmsted Historical Society holds its annual Pancake Breakfasts on three Sundays in March from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm in the Events Barn at the Frostville Museum, 24101 Cedar Point Rd (at the corner of Lewis and Cedar Point Rd. in the Cleveland Metroparks Rocky River Reservation). Adults $7.00, Children 10 & under $5.00. Menu 1 includes unlimited pancakes, juice, hot beverage and sausage. Menu 2 includes scrambled eggs, sausage, potatoes (no refills), juice & hot beverage. Additional sausage is 3 for $1.00, additional orange juice is $.50. Maple syrup was also extra. Syrup was on the tables, but the maple syrup was doled out in little portion cups. I upgraded to add scrambled eggs to Menu 1 and bought an extra orange juice, so I spent $10.50. The coffee was at a table in the back of the room (see above photo).

Being from Olmsted Falls and since they host a farmer’s market here I had such high hopes for this, so I arranged for my dining friends to meet here for breakfast on March 3. There were eight of us. None of us liked it. The eggs were chalky, the hash browns were food service and not cooked very well, and the pancakes were just okay. They could have at least cooked the hash browns on the flat top grill.

The money raised helps maintain the historic buildings at the museum, so at least we donated to a good cause. We did a paczki crawl afterwards and shopped at Chuppa’s in Parma. Go for the farmer’s market. Save your money on the pancake breakfast.

Contact info:

Frostville Museum
24101 Cedar Point Road
North Olmsted, OH 44070
(440) 779-0280

Fish Fry Friday #3: Firehouse Grille and Pub

The fish fry at Firehouse Grille and Pub in Willoughby Hills was listed as one of Cleveland Magazine’s Fish Fry We Love. It features Icelandic cod battered in Great Lakes’ Dortmunder Gold or broiled ($11.99 for the regular dinner portion and $12.99 for the all-you-can-eat Friday special) and is served with two sides. They had me at Icelandic cod, and I knew I needed to come here for one of our Lenten fish fries. That wasn’t and was a mistake. It wasn’t a mistake because the fish fry is delicious; however, it was a mistake because I could have come here at any time during the year for their AYCE Friday special. In fact, I can’t even eat more than one piece of fish and some cole slaw and fries before tapping out, so just ordering it off the menu on, say, a Monday would also work.

This place is crazy on Fridays during Lent. I was told that you need to call on Monday or Tuesday to get a reservation for Friday and by Wednesday they are booked. You can still get in to have dinner, but you are going to wait. I had a group going, but decided to cancel it because of the wait. A couple of us went anyway and ended up waiting for 40 minutes (after being quoted 30 minutes). The place is tucked away in amidst about four different restaurants, so parking was seriously lacking. I lucked out and got a spot near the door without realizing the nondescript building in back was in fact The Firehouse Grille. Another complaint is that patrons do not comply with state law of smoking 25 feet from the building. Instead they smoke under the roof, right outside the doors, and the cigarette smoke wafts in while you are standing or sitting in the hallway waiting for a table. Sure, it’s a bar with pool tables, but if you have asthma or an allergy you might want to actually sit at the bar instead of stand/sit in the hallway.

Once we were shown to our table the friendly server greeted us and got our drink orders. Once he brought our drinks we gave him our orders. I wish I hadn’t looked at the menu, because I decided not to get the fish fry when I saw a sandwich called The Crabby Boy. It is basically a Big Mac made of crab cakes instead of burger patties. Specifically, two crab cakes in a triple sesame seed bun, topped with American cheese, shredded lettuce and Cajun tartar sauce. And yes, it is on the regular menu. It is served with spicy homemade chips. The chips were a bit too spicy for me that day, as my stomach was feeling a little dodgy. The sandwich itself was definitely a unique sandwich. The crab cakes were soft so it didn’t hold up real well once I cut it in half, but it was a fun Lent alternative.

I also ordered the clam chowder. It is a New England clam chowder, and wow, was it tasty. It was chock full of clams and chunks of potatoes and celery. Definitely homemade. It had a buttery taste to it with some serious dill undertones. I would go back for the chowder alone!

My friends loved the fish and chips there. They are hard-core fish and chips fans (one is from England), so that is high praise. They are going to be back for it. The fish was flaky and perfectly fried – not too greasy. The french fries/chips were nice and thick like they serve in England. They even got to douse them in malt vinegar, which I have to say really added to the flavor. They were less enthused about the cole slaw, which they found to be a little too sweet. But they will definitely be regulars at the Firehouse from now on. We’ll be back – just not on a Friday during Lent.

I got to enjoy my meal with cold beer on tap (a red ale) and they enjoyed some Strongbow Cider, which you can’t do at church fish fries. It was a good night.

Contact info:

Firehouse Grille and Pub
2768 Stark Drive
Willoughby Hills, OH 44094
(440) 943-4983

Fish Fry Friday #2: Luchita’s

Luchita’s has been in my awareness since it opened in the 1980s. My father used to work at Richman Brothers with Luchita’s son-in-law, Tedd. He would talk about Luchita and her cooking. I didn’t get a chance to try it for myself until after I moved back from Germany in the early 2000s. Luchita is long retired, but it is still family-run.

From the outside, Luchita’s looks like a dingy corner bar in a working-class neighborhood, but magic happens inside. Luchita’s is one of Cleveland’s best Mexican restaurants.

I learned about Luchita’s fish fry last year in one of my food groups. Since I am a sucker for Mexican street corn I knew this had to be on the list this Lenten season. I got a group of friends to trek to W. 117th in Lakewood to enjoy this delicious and out-of-the-ordinary fish fry. I made a reservation because they want prior notice for tables of 6+.

My one friend and I carpooled together and got there very early because we were expecting heavy traffic on the roads. We arrived 40 minutes before the 6:30 reservation, so we parked ourselves at the bar and had a margarita and dished all things Broadway. The margarita was freshly made, but I was less than impressed with it. It tasted mostly like ice/water. I’ve had good margaritas at Luchita’s before, so I’m going to chalk it up as a one-off oops.

Once two more in our party arrived we were shown to our table in the adjacent dining room, even though we were still before the 6:30 res. We managed to order another round of drinks after we sat, and I decided on a sangria. This was definitely the better choice. One of my dining companions upgraded the tequila and enjoyed her margarita. We fell on the delicious chips and salsa like a bunch of locusts. By the time our other friend arrived the server brought us another salsa and chips. The chips are warm and inviting, and the salsa had a nice kick and flavor to it. I am embarrassed to say I filled up quite a bit on that salsa – and had a couple of bites of a side of delicious and creamy guac one of my dining companions ordered.

We were there for the fish fry, so we did not bother perusing the menu closely. All five of us ordered the fish fry, which made our server’s life easier. The fish fry features beer battered fish, chipotle tartar sauce, Mexican street corn, mac & cheese with salsa verde, and a cucumber-radish-carrot salad that was delicious. The fish was perfectly fried and not too greasy. The Mexican street corn was just a delicious mess. I ended up wearing it down the front of my shirt and had to wash my hands. The mac n cheese was a nice version of noodles covered in a cheese with a bit of a kick to it. The cavatappi were not overcooked, and the noodle to cheese ratio was just right. I have no idea what was in the dressing for the salad/slaw, but we all agreed that it was fantastic. The dinner was $17.95 and worth it.

I couldn’t make up my mind, so I also ordered the lobster and shrimp quesadilla. I figured we could all eat it as an appetizer, not realizing that it was a dinner portion size. I should have known it would be a lot when the waitress was taken aback when I ordered it. It was filled with large chunks of lobster and shrimp, and I really, really loved every bite. Be forewarned: the quesadillas were $18.95. I was surprised when I got the bill, but it truly was worth it with the chunks of seafood.

We rolled out of there with boxes for our leftovers and happy stomachs. If you are looking for a good fish fry and love Mexican definitely check this place out!

Contact info:

Luchita’s Mexican Restaurant
3456 W 117th Street
Cleveland, OH 44111
(216) 252-1169

Fish Fry Friday #1: Arthur Treacher’s

Arthur Treacher’s Fish & Chips is a fast food seafood restaurant chain. At the peak of its popularity in the late 1970s, it had about 800 stores. Now, there are only four of the original old-style stores left – all in Northeast Ohio. The busiest is on Rockside Road (near the intersection wtih Turney Road) in Garfield Heights. I love going there and reliving my childhood memories of fried fish and that amazing cole slaw. I went a long time without eating there, and just one bite of the cole slaw had me realizing that it was the cole slaw I had been comparing all other cole slaws to. It is a nice, wet, mayo-ey cole slaw, which I prefer.

Things have not changed much at Arthur Treacher’s. The decor is firmly from the 1970s – as is the carpet. The food is still served on trays, and the condiments are pumped into little paper cups. You have your choice of ketchup, tartar sauce and cocktail sauce. I wish they wouldn’t use so much styrofoam, but understand their business model hasn’t changed since the 1970s so why wouldn’t they.

I made the mistake of going there on Good Friday once. That is probably their busiest day of the year. The line was almost out the door and didn’t let up the whole time I was there. Business had slowed down until the Cleveland.com article in 2016 and then news of its existence also hit social media, so they are happy to report they are doing well. It’s apparently become somewhat of a tourist attraction, with people traveling there from far away to experience it again.

Chicken dinner with cole slaw

The food still stood up to my memories. It isn’t gourmet, but childhood memories rarely are. I ordered the chowder, a fish and chip combo and a side of cole slaw. I can never finish the meal here and always bring half of it home. The fish is better than some of the fish I’ve had at other fish fries – flaky with a light batter. The chips are satisfying and made my British friend happy and “more at home” than most chips. And I usually save a hush puppy as my last bite. I really enjoy the sweet flavor yet savory texture of the perfectly fried hush puppies.

Seafood combo dinner – fish, shrimp and clam strips – and a cole slaw

I ordered the fish and chicken dinner here once, and although it was okay I will continue to order the fish. It was too jarring for me. Chicken doesn’t seem to belong with all the seafood, but I guess folks who don’t like fish or seafood have to eat too. I like the fried shrimp. They are plump and well fried without drying out. I am less enamored with the clam strips. They tend to get dried out and are a little too chewy for my tastes.

I can also recommend the seafood chowder. The first time I ordered it I don’t know what happened but it had an overwhelmingly metallic taste. I gave it a second chance the other day and enjoyed it. I’m a sucker for a decent chowder.

Contact info:

Cleveland area:
12585 Rockside Road
Garfield Heights, OH
216-662-6067

Akron area:
926 E. Waterloo Road
Akron, OH
330-724-9990

1833 State Road
Cuyahoga Falls, OH
330-923-8900

Niles:
2 Youngstown Warren Road
Pinetree Square
Niles, OH
330-505-2625

Koko Cafe

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Alas, Koko Cafe has closed. We hardly knew ye. Koko Bakery is still open.

I have been a big fan of Koko Bakery on Payne Avenue for a while now. I would go there for their multitude of hot and room temperature savory and sweet buns (and to buy frozen steam buns to make at home), bubble tea, smoothies, shaved ice, and gorgeous desserts, but never really got around to ordering their hot entrees, which seemed like an afterthought in the small place with maybe 9 tables in the place. When the news broke that they were expanding next door to offer hot food in a larger sit-down restaurant that seats 40 I was excited.

The first time I went to check it out shortly after it opened I was supposed to meet a friend who forgot, so I ordered some dumplings and an entree to enjoy by myself. I loved the dumplings and wasn’t too excited by the entree. I love the dumplings so much that I keep ordering them. I was intrigued by the idea of pork and leek, and I really enjoy the combination so I keep ordering it. I prefer dumplings pan-fried over steamed, because I like a bit of toothsome bite to them. My entree that day was the Triple Mushrooms with Chicken. On paper it sounds awesome, and it would be without the American-style frozen vegetables they use. I was extremely off-put by the corn kernels, peas and carrots of it all. I am not used to Asian food with vegetables I grew up eating in TV dinners.

I then organized a dinner for my foodie friends, which allowed me to try a lot more from the menu. Needless to say I am now a fan.

They offer some interesting dim sum options, such as rice noodle rolls and steam buns. I am not a fan of rice noodle rolls. You either really like them or really dislike them. I don’t like the texture and find them bland; however, my friends who are huge fans of rice noodle rolls raved about them. They tried the shrimp and the dried radish rice noodle rolls and enjoyed them a lot.

Dried radish rice roll noodles

Cucumbers with chili sauce is always a must

Shrimp rice roll noodles

Steam buns

That was the day I ordered what has become my favorite dish there – the Singaporean Style Fried Vermicelli. It has a nice curry flavor that is not overpowering, and the vermicelli is a great consistency. They have a wide range of fried noodle and fried rice dishes on the menu that go beyond the usual chicken and shrimp offerings – including a Barbecue Pork Fried Rice, which sounds intriguing. If you like salted fish there is a Salted Fish & Chicken Fried Rice as well.

Koko Bakery is especially known for its bubble tea, so I suggested my Meetup tea group meet at the Cafe for bubble tea and a meal. Bubble tea is a Taiwanese tea-based drink invented in the 1980s. Recipes contain tea of some kind, flavors (milk and non-milk, fruit and non-fruit) and sugar. Toppings, such as chewy tapioca balls, popping boba, fruit jelly, grass jelly, agar jelly, and puddings are often added.

Thai Iced Tea Bubble Tea

Iced Hong Kong Milk Tea

My go-to bubble tea is melon with fruit jellies instead of boba

This might be mango – I love the contrast of black boba and yellow tea

We had a range of diners – from a very picky/non-Asian food fan to someone with some major dietary issues/needs. Both were happy with their choices. The picky eater ordered the Sesame Chicken and was very pleased with it. She raved about how moist and flavorful the chicken was. She shared a bite with me, and I liked it so much I ordered it the next time I went. The vegan/no-oil diner ordered a soup and was absolutely thrilled with the quality and the variety of vegetables in the soup. Everyone else enjoyed their meals as well. I just didn’t know them well enough to ask to photograph their food :-).

Special order vegetable soup – no noodles, no oil

Sesame chicken

They have a great online ordering system as well. I was craving several different entrees at once one night, so I ordered online and drove to pick it up. My meal was waiting for me as I walked in, and I was able to turn around and drive home. Most gratifying was the fact that nothing had been left out – including all the accoutrements that I had specified they could leave out when I ordered it (soy, mustard and duck sauce packets for the egg rolls).

Koko Cafe is a welcome addition to the Asia Town neighborhood. There is something here for everyone – from basic Chinese-American dishes to more intriguing choices we haven’t seen anywhere else. It is also super-affordable. The soups, congees and dumplings are all around $8, the rice noodle rolls are $3, steam buns are $3.50, and most entrees range between $10-13.

I just wish someone would create a separate Yelp page for the Cafe, because the cafe reviews/photos co-mingle with the bakery.

Contact info:

Koko Cafe
3710 Payne Avenue, # 104
Cleveland, OH 44114
(216) 881-7602

Citizen Pie – W. 25th

img_20170927_202321Citizen Pie opened a second location on W. 25th just south of the West Side Market in September 2017. I’ve been there several times, but just decided to make it a separate post from the Waterloo location. This location is a good choice for West Siders who don’t want to (are afraid to?) drive to Collinwood. There are a few changes – for the better. img_20170927_185210Most obviously, the location has a lot more seating, and the pizzaiolos (I think that is what the pizza pie makers are called) have more room to work. Parking can sometimes be a challenge, but one of the parking lots across the street allows Citizen Pie img_20180803_135545customers to park there when the lot isn’t in use by the company.

Citizen Pie has a 900 degree wood fired oven, and Chef V has worked hard to perfect the pizza dough. They only make enough for the day. Once the dough is out, they close. The website has a dough meter, so you can tell how close they are to running out of dough. The pizzas cook quickly – in 90 seconds. The outside edges are nicely charred and delicious, but the center tends to run a bit thin, which makes the pizza a bit soggy. It is the biggest complaint, but it is just something that happens. If you want the delicious fermented dough you deal with it. You just have to fold your slice and eat fast.

The menu is pretty identical to the Waterloo location. You can still also build your own pie at both locations. The only main difference I can tell is the W. 25th location doesn’t offer The Collinwood and has a pizza called OC Supreme (similar to the Collinwood with Italian sausage and proscuitto cotto instead of the salami and Italian sausage). They also added a Ham and Cheese pizza featuring proscuitto cotto, Fontina cheese, mushrooms and Mozzarella. Also, my favorite addition when they opened this location is that they also launched “Salad Pizzas” topped with arugula or Caesar salad. I love this idea. The arugula is popped onto the pizza when it gets out of the oven, so it is nice and fresh. The arugula pizza comes atop a Margherita with cherry tomatoes. The Caesar salad pizza is a garlic, olive oil and mozzarella pie. You can add prosciutto or anchovies for an additional $2. My go to pizza is now the arugula pizza with prosciutto.

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Dressed Arugula without prosciutto

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Dressed Arugula pie – Margherita with prosciutto

The beverage choices are still the same. There is a water pitcher on the counter for the more frugal folks among us, but you can buy real sugar Coke, Honest Tea, Diet Coke, Dr. Brown’s Root Beer, San Pellegrino img_20170927_190412 sparkling water or Blood Orange soda, and boxed water in addition to a nice modest selection of beers and wines. My favorite is still the Stiegl Pilsner. As any proud alumni of BGSU’s Academic Year Abroad program in Salzburg, Austria will tell you, Stiegl beer has been brewed in Salzburg since 1492 (when Columbus was sailing the ocean blue).

A selection of pies

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Roman – mozzarella, cured olives, green chili, stracciatella, and basil

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Mushroom – with mushrooms, mozzarella, brie, porcini truffle crema, bacon and red onion – always a solid choice

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Little Italy – mozzarella, Italian sausage, roasted red peppers, red onion, basil and oregano

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Puttanesca – mozzarella, oil cured olives, Ortiz anchovies, Calabrian chili, garlic and basil

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Caesar Salad pie – I think there might be some pepperoni on there but I’m not sure

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Cacio e Pepe – one of my favorites

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NYC Classic Calzone

This location does not serve the desserts that the Waterloo location is known for. Instead, Chef V has been making soft serve ice cream and is toying with the idea of introducing pie to the menu.

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Photo by Edsel Little

Contact info:

Citizen Pie
2144 W 25th Street
Cleveland (Ohio City), OH 44113
(216) 860-1388