An Ode to Smoked Prime Rib

Now being served in the dining room of Frank Sterle’s on Friday nights.

Oh, smoked prime rib, you complete me… your tender, juicy meat, your marbling, your smoky flavor, your crispy crust…
Served with creamy garlic mashed potatoes and the tenderest, butteriest ear of corn I’ve eaten in a long while…
Walter and Scott from Fat Casual BBQ in Macedona (later Tavern of Solon, now Frank Sterle’s) have outdone themselves – truly…
I don’t think I shall ever forget you.

Luckily I won’t have to, because they are starting to serve it again since the weather is starting to cool. Get your own smoked prime rib by visiting Fat Casual BBQ in Macedonia Tavern of Solon Frank Sterle’s Slovenian Country House on Friday nights. The smoked prime rib is ready to serve at 5 and sells out quickly. The day I bought mine it sold out by 6:15. I got mine to go and ate the other half of the prime rib on a crispy baguette from Stone Oven for lunch the next day. If they’ve run out, you won’t go wrong ordering anything off their menu, such as the ribs, the smoked turkey, the brisket, the sweet potato salad, the deep fried potato salad…

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Le Petit Triangle in Ohio City

This place is tiny (as in only maybe 8 tables – tops – in the winter and a few more on the sidewalk), but it serves up some heavenly crepes and French bistro fare. This is my go-to place whenever I want to have a leisurely breakfast or lunch featuring a good cafe au lait and feel like I’m back in Europe sitting in a little corner bistro. My first meal here was a memorable fondue dinner featuring the most amazing White Bordeaux back when it was Le Oui Oui Cafe. For such a small place and “limited” menu, the food is simply outstanding. I have never had a bad meal here. They serve a delicious Salad Nicoise (featuring pan-seared salmon filet, redskin potatoes, green beans, olives, tomato, hard boiled egg, and a peppercorn dressing), Croque Monsieur (ham, Gruyere and Bechamel sauce served warm on grilled challah with a side of potatoes), Croque Madame (the same sandwich but topped with a fried egg) and crusty baguette sandwiches. They are also known for their savory and sweet crepes and a delicious and filling French onion soup.

I was craving a baguette sandwich after watching Martha Stewart make one on her show, so I decided to enjoy a late lunch recently. I started with the French Three Onion Soup, which is topped with Gruyere and is vegetarian-based. Life just seems complete when you are eating a nice steaming bowl of French onion soup. Digging through the melty Gruyere cheese, tearing off some of the hunk of bread at the bottom of the bowl and getting the perfect amount of onions and broth is decadence at its best. In fact, I couldn’t wait to let it cool a bit before I dug in and burned my mouth. Do yourself a favor and let it cool just a bit.

For my baguette sandwich, I was torn between the Pan Bagna, which features Swiss cheese, ham, tomato, artichokes, spinach, olive tapenade on a baguette and served with a side of couscous-lentil salade, or the Caprese (fresh mozzarella, sliced tomato, spinach with pesto on a baguette). The server (who also happened to be the owner) recommended the Pan Bagna, so I went with her recommendation. Wow, it was great! The olive tapenade really made the sandwich shine. As you can see from the side shot of the sandwich it was just packed with cheese, ham and veggies. And have I mentioned the olive tapenade? Soooo good!

If you still have room, I highly recommend ordering one of their sweet crepes. They are absolutely divine.

They are open Monday and Thursday from 10 am-10 pm, Friday and Saturday from 10 am-11 pm and Sunday from 10 am-9 pm.

Contact info:

Le Petit Triangle
1881 Fulton Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 281-1881

Hot Sauce Williams

Edit: Hot Sauce Williams on Carnegie (pictured below) has closed, but the restaurant on Lee Road is still open. The restaurant on Superior is now called Hot Sauce Legacy Barbecue.

Photo from the Cleveland Scene

Hot Sauce Williams is a Cleveland institution. I drive past it all the time and had heard so many good things about it that I finally decided I needed to try it. If you love fried food that is slathered in hot sauce, then this is your place. We went to the main restaurant on Carnegie, but they have additional locations on Lee Road and Superior Avenue. The restaurant has a “divey” feel to it, which I always enjoy (I still miss the old Suds Maguire in Olmsted Township). The tables are covered in plastic and the place looks somewhat run-down. Just don’t come here expecting fast or friendly service.  In fact, the major negative about our visit to Hot Sauce Williams was that the service was slower than molasses and was not particularly friendly, but we quickly forgot about that after digging into the food. But if you go in knowing it’s a bit of a dive and that the food makes it worth the trip you’ll be ok. One thing I can say is that you get a massive amount of food for a great price. It just took an hour to get it. If you don’t want to wait that long, order whatever is in the warmers behind the counter.

Hot Sauce Williams’ fried chicken was highly recommended as being amazingly good, so I went there intent on fried chicken. I ordered the 2 piece fried chicken breast dinner and received two massive bone-in chicken breasts. They needed to make it in the back and took their good old sweet time doing so. It came out so hot it melted the styrofoam. I could barely finish one breast and took the rest home. It came with cole slaw and French fries and slices of white or wheat bread and cost a whopping $5.99.

The wing dinner was $5.00 and also came with French fries and coleslaw, white or wheat bread. My friend upgraded and ordered three different sides, which she absolutely raved about – mac and cheese, collard greens and candied yams. True Southern comfort food!

Another friend ordered a full slab rib dinner for $19.50 (it also comes with French fries, cole slaw and white or wheat bread). He let me try a couple bones while I waited for my food and watched everyone eat. They don’t fall off the bone, but they are nicely smoked and slathered in an absolutely delicious sauce. After all, Hot Sauce Williams is known for the BBQ sauce.

They gave our group a mess of French fries for free to compensate for our wait. We got an industrial restaurant aluminum pan brimming full of fries (you can see it at the top of the photo in the center of the table). The fries are actually store-bought Ore-Ida brand fries, but they were good – especially drenched in the hot sauce, which wasn’t all that hot (as in spicy).

We weren’t all that impressed with the desserts though (I was so unimpressed that I didn’t even take photos of it), so unless something really tickles your fancy just keep gorging yourself on the dinners. No one walked out of here hungry. In fact, we all left with lots of leftovers.

Hot Sauce Williams has been featured on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations and Man vs. Food. The menu item that was featured on Man vs. Food was the Polish Boy IMG_20170625_193149sandwich. It is a whopping $3.50. According to Man vs. Food, the Polish Boy is Cleveland’s signature menu item. I must not be a true Clevelander (although I was born in Parma and grew up in Olmsted Falls), because I have never had a Polish Boy. Pierogis? Yes. Kielbasa? Yes. But a Polish Boy? I had never heard of one until a few years ago. The Polish Boy at Hot Sauce Williams is made up of an all beef kielbasa, French fries, cole slaw, bbq pork shoulder, and hot sauce on a bun. I’ll be sure to get one next time.

Contact info:

Hot Sauce Williams
3770 Lee Road
Cleveland, OH 44128
(216) 921-4704

12310 Superior Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44106
(216)249-0710

Corky & Lenny’s

Corky & Lenny’s has earned itself quite a reputation in the deli business, having served Clevelanders for over 55 years. The menu is massive and features all kinds of kosher and non-kosher goodies, including massive, overstuffed pastrami and corned beef sandwiches, various entrees featuring lox (smoked salmon), kishkas and knishes, burgers, and other treasures. I always make sure to bring my father a knish when I go to Corky & Lenny’s.

You stand in line by the deli counter and are seated by the hostess. A small counter is also available for solo diners. Once you are seated your waitress will come over with fresh pickles. Oh, the pickles! Dill, garlic, and other kosher deli pickles. To be honest, sometimes I just come for the pickles. They are the perfect compliment to a sandwich – and do a great job of taking the edge off your hunger while you are waiting.

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One of my favorite things at Corky & Lenny’s is the Mish Mash soup – chicken soup packed with a matzoh ball, kreplach, noodles and rice. Perfect if you can’t decide which doughy goodness you want, because you get them all. It’s only available in the large bowl size. I have been known to get it to go to eat over several days. It’s the perfect antidote for a wintery day or when you are sick. The broth isn’t as rich as Jack’s Deli’s and the matzoh ball is not very dense, but it hits the spot when you’re in the mood.

Corky & Lenny’s is of course known for its sandwiches, which IMG_20180703_132937.jpgare ENORMOUS.  I usually only eat half and then take the rest home. An hour or so later I then realize I’m kidding myself and scarf the rest down. They are known for their overstuffed corned beef, pastrami, roast beef and turkey breast – and tongue, which I can’t bring myself to try. The deli sandwiches are available in the regular size and the king size. You can also order a half a sandwich and soup (pictured to the right – I asked them to make a tuna and Swiss sandwich, which isn’t listed as a sandwich choice but they happily made for me).

Some of my favorite sandwiches on the menu include the Clevelander or The East Sider, which features sliced turkey breast or roast beef, respectively, topped with cole slaw and Thousand Island Dressing on rye bread. If you prefer hot sandwiches, you can’t go wrong with one of their Reubens (turkey or corned beef) or the Beef & Latkas (pictured here above), which feature corned beef on potato pancakes (latkas).

One of my all-time favorites, which is frequently overlooked in such a packed menu, is the Challah Grill (pictured to the right), which comes with your choice of turkey breast, beef brisket or chicken with Muenster cheese grilled on challah bread with honey mustard sauce. Yum!

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I also sometimes get a craving for a hot turkey or roast beef sandwich and mashed potatoes in the winter. They have a decent hot turkey sandwich here – the bread is nice and soft and the gravy is flavorful. Although I have to say Jack’s mashed potatoes are better – with lumps.

They have a really large menu IMG_20181228_132714.jpgfeaturing breakfast, lunch and dinner, so there is something for everyone’s taste. I love that they serve Arizona Mandarin Green Tea, so that is always a draw for me. They are also known for their chocolate phosphate.

Whatever you decide to order, you won’t be disappointed. Once you are finished simply bring your bill to the register at the front of the deli and try not to take home a bag of bagels, some bread, or something from the deli or bakery counters. I dare you, because it simply isn’t possible.

Contact info:

Corky & Lenny’s
27091 Chagrin Boulevard
Woodmere Village, Ohio 44122
(216) 464-3838

Dim sum in Cleveland (Bo Loong and Li Wah)

IMAG2001Everyone has their favorite restaurant when it comes to dim sum, whether it be Bo Loong or Li Wah. I’ve tried them both – and both are very good – but I have to say my personal favorite is the dim sum at Li Wah. The crust on the egg tart is just a little flakier, and I prefer the atmosphere at Li Wah more. IMAG2004Plus, you never have a problem getting a table at Li Wah because it is so large. Bo Loong, on the other hand, also has plenty of seating and was deemed Cleveland’s best dim sum restaurant by the Plain Dealer. Both restaurants are usually packed with Chinese diners, which is a testament to the quality of both places. You really can’t go wrong at either place.IMAG0586

Dim sum refers to a style of Chinese food prepared as small, bite-sized or individual portions of food traditionally served in small steamer baskets or on small plates. Most people think of various steamed or pan-fried dumplings and stuffed steamed or baked buns when it comes to dim sum. My favorites include the turnip cake, sui mai (or sao mai depending on the restaurant), sticky rice, and shrimp dumplings. It’s a chance to be adventurous and try new things. I always try to order Chinese broccoli or some other vegetables to balance out all the carbs.IMG_20160127_130233

Dim sum is served in most Chinese restaurants on carts. The fully cooked and ready-to-serve dim sum dishes are wheeled around the restaurant for customers to choose their orders while seated at their tables. The most unusual dishes can be ordered from the servers and are made to order in the kitchen. The dishes are tallied on a bill that is left on the table, and are priced according to size. The recent cost of dim sum at Bo Loong for 8 people was $62.55, which came out to about $10 a person after tax and a generous tip.

Dim sum is traditionally served with tea. In fact, the drinking of tea is just as important to dim sum as the food. More traditional dim sum restaurants typically serve dim sum until mid-afternoon.

Dim sum is a great choice when you dine with several people, and it’s a fun thing to do on a Saturday or Sunday morning. The first time I went to Li Wah we had a nice-sized group and sat at a round table with a lazy susan in the middle. We could select the dishes and rotate the lazy susan to get what we wanted.

I usually meet my friend G. for dim sum during the week. G. speaks Chinese, so it is always a treat for me to listen to IMG_20160127_130310her order in Chinese. We have similar tastes, so I generally rely on whatever she wants to order. We order a bunch of steamed goodies like pork and shrimp siu mai, pork or shrimp dumplings, turnip cakes, char siu baau (steamed BBQ pork buns), or sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves (so good!) and then order some egg tarts, jin deui (a chewy dough filled with red bean paste, rolled in sesame seeds, and deep fried) or steamed buns for dessert.IMAG5403

The check is then divided by however many people are in attendance. It is always a surprise how stuffed we are and how little we spend in the end. You can sit there for hours and walk away paying less than $20.

The most important thing about enjoying dim sum is to go in there with an open mind and just try as many dishes as you can. Once you have learned what you like and don’t like you can then start being choosier. For example, I cannot and will not eat chicken feet, even though they are a dim sum IMAG0591delicacy. But I at least tried them.

Both restaurants are also great places to celebrate Chinese New Year. I have been to Li Wah for two years in a row, and the Lion Dance is just a cool thing to see: The way the guys gyrate the lion’s body to the infectious drumbeat. The fascination of the children watching the lion work the room. The coin-shaped foods and red envelopes diners stick in the lion’s mouth as he dances. The climbing for the cabbage for luck. It’s just a neat experience.

Update: there’s a new place that serves dim sum: Emperor’s Palace. That gets my vote every time now. Bo Loong and Li Wah still serve dim sum off carts, while Emperor’s Palace brings them fresh from the kitchen.

Contact info:

Li Wah
2999 Payne Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44114
(216) 589-9552
Open Mon-Thu, Sun from 10 am – 12 am and Fri from 10 am – 1 am

Bo Loong
3922 St Clair Ave NE
Cleveland, OH 44114
(216) 391-3113
Open Mon-Thu, Sun 10 am – 2 am and Fri-Sat 10 am – 3 am

The Chew: Have a Bite at Swensons

Michael Symon featured local favorite Swensons on The Chew today. Chef Symon said Swensons is “a little piece of his childhood.” I myself became a Swensons fan while at grad school in Kent. I agree with the King of the Cleveland Burger. The Galley Boy does happen to be a fantastic burger. No one knows the secret ingredient that makes the patty so sweet. Some say it’s brown sugar, others say it’s hash. All I know is it’s so good! If you haven’t had a burger at Swensons you need to rectify that as soon as possible. Swensons has been voted Akron’s best burger for the past 10 years and has several locations in the Akron/Canton area – as well as a location at 7635 Broadview Road in Parma/Seven Hills. There are currently seven locations, but the clip on The Chew filmed at the original location at West Market and Hawkins in Akron, which has been in business since 1934. I recommend ordering a strawberry phosphate, but most people swear by their milkshakes. Thanks for sharing one of our best-kept secrets, Chef Symon! Hope it ensures Swensons stays in business for many years to come!

Tom at Exploring Food My Way did a good review of Swensons and the Galley Boy back in 2009 here. Be sure to check it out.

Noodlecat

My friends and I ate at Noodlecat last night, and I can honestly say that I don’t know what has taken me so long to eat there. My only excuse is that I don’t usually eat downtown, and was reminded of why when I had to pay almost $10 to park since House of Blues was having some special event that night. Yes, I am a spoiled suburbanite (if Cleveland Heights can be considered the suburbs – but I gladly pay a couple quarters at their meters…). That said, I do occasionally eat in the Warehouse District, but generally can find a cheap spot on the street or cough up $5 for a spot in the parking lot. It’s not that I mind paying to park, but when there are so many other options that don’t necessitate paying half to one-fourth of the cost of the meal… Unfortunately there were no available spots on Prospect or Euclid, so I valeted it on E. 4th.

Noodlecat is unpretentious and casual, using recycled materials in the same way as The Greenhouse Tavern. Being an environmentalist from way back (since the 1980s) I love that. My only complaint about the decor is that the chair started becoming uncomfortable after an hour and a half. In short, my butt hurt from sitting on the little metal chair, and my fellow diners told me the wood bench wasn’t much better.

Kim Chee salad

Those are the only two negatives I have to report. In short, the food was simply amazing, and I take it as a good sign that I am craving the food the next day. If you are a fan of pho or ramen you will be quite pleased with what they serve. It was a happy accident that I scheduled our dinner for 6:30, which was at the tail end of their happy hour. All the ramen was $5 and the steam buns were just $2. I walked away paying just $20 including tip.

I started off by ordering a sparkling sake, which was on draft and only $4. Win! The sake was just what I wanted/needed. It was light and just a little sweet. Choosing an entree was a difficult decision. I was tempted to order Roscoe’s Fried Chicken & Ramen with fried chicken, butter, hot sauce, maple syrup, greens and fried chicken broth, but changed my mind when I heard the chicken was bone-in. Three of my fellow diners ordered it and loved it. They did, however, have trouble getting the meat off the bone with only chopsticks and an Asian-style soup spoon.

Chicken yakitori steam bun

One of my fellow diners ordered the Kim Chee Salad with Napa cabbage, sweet pureed kim chee, cashews, peanuts and pickled melon. Not being a fan of kim chee but willing to keep an open mind I was able to try several bites. The salad was flavorful and had a subtle heat that snuck up on you. Another friend ordered the “Super” Salad with adzuki beans, local greens, dry blueberry, savory green tea granola and ancient grains. He loved it and even pointed out to the waiter that there wasn’t a drop left.

Pork miso ramen

I decided to go with a chicken yakitori steam bun with pickled carrots, miso mayo and cilantro, which I enjoyed. However, as luck would have it our waiter had accidentally ordered two Tonkatsu buns that featured a crispy fried pork cutlet and smoked egg sauce. I told him I would be happy to pay for one of them, and I am so glad I did because it was my favorite part of the meal (and that is saying a lot). It was a taste explosion of goodness.

Green tea pot de creme

For my entree I ordered a bowl of the pork miso ramen, which features roasted Ohio pork, miso, scallions and greens. The noodles and roasted pork were perfectly cooked, and the broth was so flavorful and delicious that I drank up every last drop.

I ended my meal with the green tea pot de creme. I love green tea ice cream, and the pot de creme was absolutely perfect. The consistency was firm and not runny, and the flavor was light and balanced. The shaved chocolate on top was a nice complement to the green tea pot de creme. The waiter informed us that the chef had spent two weeks working to perfect it. I say thumbs up!

Several of us headed over to the Chocolate Bar for a night cap afterward. Since the temperature had dropped 40 degrees in a day I was chilled and chose the caramel and sea salt hot chocolate. It was creamy and delicious. The perfect ending to a perfect meal.

Contact info:

Noodlecat
234 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44114
(216) 589-0007