Mama Catena Vino e’ Cucina

I live at the top of the hill into Little Italy, but I gladly drive to Euclid to eat at Mama Catena Vino e’ Cucina. I discovered it recently while at the Euclid Library for an event. I left hungry and searched for some place nearby. I am so glad I chose it. As soon as I walked in I remembered having seen a video of them receiving an award for Best Sinful Dessert in Cleveland, so I immediately knew I was going to be in good hands. Established in 1989, it was closed for a while after a mechanical fire and has recently reopened.

This family-owned and operated gem has a lot going for it. Everything is homemade – from the bread to the pasta. The bread is an adaptation of the pizza dough and is fired as a flatbread that is cut in half and topped with a light garlic butter and pepper. I actually wish the bread was more substantial, but it is at least plentiful. They are willing to keep bringing out more and more.

I first want to note that I love their presentations. The wood planks that serve the bread and the funky, off-kilter bowls that the soup, salad and pasta come in are just whimsical and fun.

The house soup is their lasagna soup. I haven’t had a chance to try it, because I don’t want to overload on tomato sauce when I’m there but I will soon. I have tried one of their soups of the day. The soup that day was “chicken soup,” and it was a delightful soup that was reminiscent of Italian wedding without the meatballs and tons of escarole. There were some greens and tiny pasta balls. I had to add just a bit of salt and pepper to it to liven it up to my liking, but I happily finished it.

The side salad with house Italian dressing always hits the spot. It is dressed with the perfect amount of dressing – not too little, not too much – and topped with shredded cheese, cherry tomato halves, cucumber slices and a couple pepperoni. I got to have my vegetarian friends’ pepperoni last time. So if you are a vegetarian, be forewarned to order with no pepperoni.

They have house pasta specialties such as lasagna, involtini, and pepe e cacio, various meat and vegetarian entrees, focaccia stuffed sandwiches, pizza and calzones as well as Pasta Your Way. Regular pasta (spaghettini, capellini, penne, rigatoni, ziti tagliati, and fettuccini) is a base rate of $10, cavatelli and gnocchi are $11, stuffed pasta (meat, cheese or spinach ravioli and stuffed shells) is $12, bucatini, spaghetti chitarra and and “gigli toscana” are $12.50, and whole wheat pasta and gluten-free penne are $14. Pappadelle, burrata ravioli, and lobster ravioli are $14. They offer twelve different pasta sauces – marinara, carbonara, meat sauce, pomodoro, alfredo, “rosella” (a blend of their marinara and alfredo), piccata (lemon butter), marsala, aglio e olio, pesto, putanesca, and salsa a vongoli (baby clams slow cooked in either creamy alfredo, marinara, or oil and garlic). The pesto, carbonara, putanesca, pomodoro, alfredo, rosella, salsa a vongoli have an upcharge of $3 and the other sauces (except marinara) have an upcharge of $2. You can also add on various meats, seafood and veggies for  $2.50-$3.50 depending on the addition.

I had a bite of my friend’s gnocchi in the rosella sauce, and it was right up there with Trattoria’s gnocchi, which has been my gold star standard for years. The gnocchi were light, and the rosella sauce complemented it well. Another friend ordered the gnocchi with the putanesca sauce. She was also very pleased with her selection.

The first time I ate here the Sunday Sauce called to me, and I simply can’t break away from ordering it. Sunday Sauce is what every Italian I know makes – call it sauce or gravy, it is simmered for a long time with pork neck and/or back, sausage and meatballs or even braciole. I order it every time I go and just vary the pasta. The Sunday Sauce is a delicious tomato sauce that comes with an Italian sausage, a meatball and some pork. For $20 it is generous enough for leftovers every time.

Unfortunately another friend was less thrilled with her spaghetti and meatballs and sent it back. The noodles were overcooked, and she didn’t like the sauce at all (I think she had ordered the pomodoro sauce). We were a big table and it took forever to get our meals that night, so it might have been a blip. Although, she is Italian, so why she didn’t order the Sunday Sauce is beyond me.

They are known for their Involtini pasta, which is ricotta cheese-filled pasta rolled into a log then cut into large pin wheels. I ordered it the second time I ate here – with the Sunday Sauce. It was almost too rich and decadent.

The pizza at the table next to me the other day looked delicious, and I was almost tempted to order one. One of the employees walked the little boy who enjoyed the pizza into the back to see the pizza oven.

We celebrated one of my friend’s birthdays here and I knew we had to order to cannoli cake. It is two layers of vanilla cake, a layer of chocolate cake and tons of layers of cannoli filling, coffee liqueur, as well as crushed cannoli shells that are dipped in chocolate and a chocolate ganache. This cake is the BOMB. I am not exaggerating that it is probably the best dessert I have ever had – and I don’t like cannoli! It is light and ethereal – not dense at all. Simply heavenly. A small cake runs $40 and easily fed eight of us and yielded eight generous slices to take home as well. You can also order this cake for one person – just call ahead and order it.

They have an excellent wine list, and I can recommend the limoncello cocktail and Venetian Spritz!

Contact info:

Mama Catena Vino e’ Cucina
711 Babbitt Road
Euclid, OH 44123
(216) 261-1168

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Burton-Middlefield American Legion Pancake Breakfast

I like this pancake breakfast because they serve some delicious potatoes and they don’t limit the o.j. Most pancake breakfasts in Burton have closed up shop for the season, but this one is still going strong. They were serving from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Next week is the last week until next year. I rolled up at 11:30, and the parking lot was pretty empty. Needless to say there was no line, but they advertise there is no waiting. They have seating upstairs for large groups.

I walked in and paid my $10 to the man at the cash table. He gave me a ticket, which I turned into the kitchen window in exchange for my choice of blueberry or regular pancakes, sausage patties, potatoes and scrambled egg. They were serving them out of metal serving platters.

I deposited my stuff at a table and went to collect some plasticware, coffee and orange juice. They have the coolest drip collectors on the coffee urns that they made from two-liter bottles. They have hot water, regular coffee and decaf coffee equipped with those bad boys. I think that is pretty ingenious.

The tables had paper placemats set and squeeze bottles of maple syrup that they regularly replaced. There were also small bottle of ketchup for those who like ketchup on their eggs or potatoes. A large catch-all table had a bottle of sugar-free syrup and a couple other alternatives like agave as well as butter for the pancakes.

I doctored up my coffee with cream and sugar at the table and then dug into the meal. I had chosen one regular and one blueberry pancake and two sausage patties. I enjoyed both of them, but preferred the blueberry pancake enough to get one more when I went to get a little bit more later. It was a little moister from the addition of the fresh and plentiful blueberries. The eggs were well cooked like I prefer them (if you like runny eggs you might be disappointed). There were a couple dollops of egg that were dried out and dark yellow, but I just didn’t eat them. The potatoes have an onion flavor to them that makes them unique. Round two was a blueberry pancake, a sausage patty and a scoop of potatoes and a second cup of orange juice. I barely finished round two.

I rolled out of there shortly after noon and had definitely hit my satiation limit. I drove home with the windows down and enjoyed the warm weather. What a difference a week makes. Last week the trees were covered in snow and I slept with my window open all night last night.

Next week they will be serving biscuits and sausage gravy (probably to get rid of all the extra sausage).

Contact info:

Burton-Middlefield American Legion
14052 Goodwin Street
Burton, OH 44021
(440) 834-8621

Fish Fry Friday #5 – St. Andrew Ukrainian Catholic Church

St. Andrew Ukrainian Catholic Church has a special place in my heart. It is where my grandparents and uncle are buried. My dad spent many childhood weekends in the fellowship hall. When all of my friends couldn’t make the fish fry at St. Gabriel’s in Concord I decided to stop by the cemetery and grab some excellent fish and pierogi. I was at this fish fry a few years ago with fellow bloggers Tom and Alicia. Tom is the one who inspired my love of fish fries with his Lenten Project. He would visit two fish fries a night and rate them. His post on April 4, 2011 commemorates our first visit to St. Andrew.

My ideal fish fry has fried fish and homemade pierogi, which is surprisingly not all that common. St. Andrew and many other fish fries in Parma are known for their pierogi more than for their fish. I drove past St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral, St. Anthony of Padua, and St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral on my way to St. Andrew. All three have stellar pierogi and are on State Road.

The room is small and lots of people staked their claim. The line to pay and get the dinners from the kitchen is on the right. The to-go area is in the middle of the photo against the wall. The condiments and dessert table is to the left, and the bar is not pictured but built into a cubby in the wall to the left.

After turning onto Pleasant Valley and then Hoertz, I stopped by my grandparents’ and uncle’s grave to say hi before heading to the Hall. I drove through the cemetery, but you can bypass the cemetery by following the signs to the Hall to the left of the cemetery.

Queued up for fish at 5:10 PM

Dinners are served from 5 to 7:30 during Lent. On our last visit Tom lamented that the fish was a little dry, so I got there fairly early to see if an earlier start time means better fish. I am pleased to say it does. The place was packed, and I queued up in line only to learn that there was a separate area for to-go orders. I had had lunch at The Blue Door earlier that day so 5 pm was a good start time but not good because I wasn’t hungry at the time. I also wondered if I would find a seat.

Kitchen window with the kitchen workers hard at work

Apart from a line to the kitchen window to pick up the dinners, the eat-in queue uses the same stations as the to-go queue. There is also someone who will try to accommodate larger groups by reserving seats while you are in line. The place is not big though, so groups may be out of luck depending on when they are there.

Get in line and grab your condiments, cole slaw or apple sauce, bread and butter, dessert and coffee

After ordering my fried fish and pierogi dinner ($13) and a side of cabbage and noodles ($3) I queued up for my condiments and dessert. I was offered a choice of cole slaw or apple sauce. The server suggested the cole slaw when I asked. It was homemade and topped with a dash of paprika. They also had smooth and chunky apple sauce. I was next offered a slice of bread, and it was served by a woman wearing gloves who put it in a sandwich bag for me. No need to stick your hand in a bag of bread here! I should also note all the people serving food wore plastic head coverings.

I had a tough time deciding what dessert to choose. There was a wide variety of cake slices, brownies, cookies and chocolate pudding, but I decided to get the panna cotta topped with pureed strawberries. She managed to put a top on it and put it in a box so I could transport it to go. It ended up flipping over in the trunk of my car, but the lid kept everything in place and it only leaked a little juice into the napkins in the bag and the strawberries slid to the side. I could have also gotten coffee or decaf coffee at that station, because coffee is included in the meal price. I then made my way back to the to-go area and waited until the runner with my meal called out my name and verified my order. I grabbed a ginger ale from the bar before heading out.

Cabbage and noodles – well-seasoned and not bland at all

This is where things got a little esoteric. As I was leaving, Iz’s version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow was playing over the speaker outside. There was no music inside as far as I can recall, but for some reason they were piping out music in front of the Hall and it just happened to be a version of my uncle’s favorite song. We played Eva Cassidy’s version at his funeral. I can only assume he was sending me a message thanking me for the visit, and I walked to my car sobbing. I called my sister in tears to share it with her, and we talked about how much we missed our relatives. I particularly miss them around Easter, because my grandmother’s Easter dinners were legendary and my favorite meal every year growing up. Easter was so special at their house. She would make ham and fresh kielbasa and serve them with homemade pierogi (I have a feeling they were from St. Josaphat’s) and soft, yeasty dinner rolls. The house always smelled wonderful, and we would have an Easter egg hunt while dressed in our Easter finery. Those were the days! I had to take a minute to compose myself before driving off.

Flaky fish and plump pierogi served with a little container of melted butter and caramelized onion to pour over it and crown with sour cream

Once I got home I dove into the meal. The fish was flaky and moist, the pierogi were plump and delicious, and the cole slaw was one of the best I’ve had this Lenten season. I saved half of the meal for tomorrow, but I finished the dessert. I’m almost sad this isn’t the last Fish Fry Friday, because it would have definitely been ending on a high note.

Note: the fish and pierogi were just as divine for breakfast the next day after 5 minutes in the air fryer.

Contact info:

St. Andrew Ukrainian Catholic Church (Back Hall)
7700 Hoertz Road
Parma, OH
440-843-9149

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

Let’s talk about paczki

Pączki (pronounced PUUNCH-ki) are filled doughnuts that are typical for Polish cuisine. Paczki have been made in Poland since the Middle Ages. Germans call them Berliner. They are deep-fried dough balls that are filled with a filling and covered with powdered sugar. Traditional fillings include prune and poppyseed. Many bakeries also feature modern fillings such as chocolate mousse, marshmallow and (my favorite) custard. They are served on Fat Tuesday and most recently are now also served during the month leading up to Lent. Clevelanders hear a lot about paczki during this time, and most bakeries hold huge events on Fat Tuesday where you can pick up your paczki for the office, friends or just general consumption. I’m not a huge fan of crowds so I have avoided the hoopla surrounding Fat Tuesday paczki celebrations, but I might venture out to Rudy’s this year just to see what it’s like.

If you are lucky you can get your favorite flavors when you just stop in, but most bakeries prefer you order ahead of time for Fat Tuesday or just to ensure you get the flavors you want. Some flavors sell out quicker than others.

Michael Angelo’s makes my favorite

Debates rage about who has the best paczki. A couple years ago I decided to try a bunch and decide for myself who has the best. My heart lies with Michael Angelo’s Bakery on Broadview Road in Broadview Heights. I love the soft, yeasty dough of the paczki as well as their variety of flavors, and the dough is almost bursting with filling (as you can see on the right). I started getting my paczki fix from here last weekend. They announce when they start selling paczki on their social media pages and continue until Fat Tuesday. Flavors include their famous marshmallow, custard, raspberry, apple, apricot, Bavarian maple, lemon, chocolate mousse, strawberry mousse, peanut butter and prune. Flavors vary with availability. The are $1.95 each and $17 per dozen.

Colozza’s Bakery on Ridge Road in Parma wins the award for most unique flavors. The classic Italian bakery takes on a Polish accent in February. Colozza’s mixes in new and traditional flavors in their dozen annual paczki offerings, from lemon and apricot to peanut butter banana fudge, butterscotch, and cannoli. They discontinued prune and poppyseed, but might be able to make them if ordered. The minute I heard they had a butterscotch paczki I headed there. The paczki were good, but not as good as Michael Angelo’s. The dough was a little drier, and as you can see in the photo to the right it wasn’t as filled with filling. But hey, butterscotch…

Seven Roses Polish Deli on Fleet Avenue in Slavic Village serves paczki year-round. It is basically just a jelly doughnut, but a little rounder and denser. The bakery serves old world favorites such as prune, poppyseed and the classic rose jam paczki on the Monday and Tuesday before Lent (Rosenmontag and Fat Tuesday). Last year there was even a Paczki Parade, so check their Facebook page or keep your eyes out on Cleveland.com. All paczki orders must be placed ahead of time.

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Rudy’s Strudel on Ridge Road in Parma is considered Paczki Central in Parma. They expect to sell more than 65,000 by the end of Fat Tuesday. Last year they paired up with Barabicu Smokehouse to feature their hand-smoked brisket in a savory paczki. IMG_20190206_134735.jpgThis year they are pairing with Sweet Moses for a Hot Chocolate paczki. Call ahead to order this one. They had run out when I stopped in. This photo on the left shows the variety of flavors they offer – both sweet and savory. Rudy’s hosts their annual Paczki Day Party starting at 5 a.m. on Fat Tuesday with live accordion music, eating contests, babushkas and more. Flavors include savory and sweet treats, such as Murray Hill (Italian sausage and peppers), Parma (potato and cheese), and Polish Village (potato & IMG_20190206_135659cheese, kraut & kielbasa) or chocolate butter cream, pina colada, mocha, poppyseed, prune and rose petal jelly paczki (to name just a few).

Cleveland’s favorite donut shop, Jack Frost on Pearl Road in Cleveland, wouldn’t miss paczki day. For one day only, Jack Frost goes Polish with poppyseed, raspberry, apple, pineapple, lemon, cream cheese, Boston cream, cinnamon-caramel and a special chocolate and peanut butter Buckeye option. Orders taken during the month before Lent and can be picked up in a tent outside the shop beginning at 6 a.m. on Fat Tuesday. They’re pricey – $4.25 each and $28.95 a dozen, but as anyone who has had Jack Frost donuts knows, they are well worth it.

I plan to try Samosky’s and Buettner’s this year. If I am in the Northfield area I will also try Stan’s Northfield Bakery, because the idea of a grape paczki is tempting.

My friend Judi from The Charmed Kitchen used to make homemade paczki every year on Fat Tuesday. Click the link for her recipe for tiramisu paczki. She made the doughnuts and offered a bunch of different fillings, so you can fill your own with whatever you prefer and however much you prefer. You might consider making your own paczki and having a paczki party of your own. Cleveland is all about the paczki.

What’s your favorite place for paczki? You have a month to discover which one you prefer so you can get your order in for Fat Tuesday. Fat Tuesday this year is March 5.

Nighttown

Nighttown celebrated its 50th birthday on February 3, 2015. It is truly a Cleveland institution. Its owner, Brendan Ring, has been the bartender, general manager, and proprietor for 22 years. The food is really good, but you should definitely go when there is live music to really enjoy it.

Photo by Yelp user Steve F.

The restaurant/nightclub at the top of Cedar Hill in Cleveland Heights has been voted the #1 Jazz and Blues club in Cleveland for many years now. I’ve seen several top names here, including Manhattan Transfer, Basia, Diane Schuur, and Jane Monheit. I’ve also heard that some famous jazz folks like Wynton Marsalis and musicians like Stevie Wonder have stopped here after nearby performances for an impromptu jam session. I can’t even imagine how awesome that was. If you come here for a performance be sure to come early, because seating is first come, first served. The room is small and there really aren’t any bad seats in the place, but it allows you to relax and enjoy your meal beforehand so you can focus on the performance. If you are claustrophobic, the sound carries into the dining rooms.

Pro tip: You can take advantage of the valet parking, but there is also a parking lot behind the building with parking meters. You can access the lot from Euclid Heights Boulevard. The kitchen is open until 2 a.m. if you are looking for late night eats in the area.

The first time I went here I ordered the Private Eye Reuben, which is named after Milan Jacovich, the fictional investigator from the Les Roberts mystery series. The Reuben is only available on the lunch or brunch menus. Nighttown is mentioned in several of the books (Milan lives at what I assume is Cedar and Fairmount and often walks to Nighttown for dinner), so I was excited to check it out. I ordered it with turkey, and it came with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and thousand island dressing and was served with French fries. If you do get it with corned beef, you should know that they make the corned beef in-house, and it is not too fatty.

Photo from Yelp user Jodi L.

I usually start my meal here with soup. Both Neal’s Famous Clam Chowder and the French Onion Soup are great choices, although I had to add salt to the clam chowder the last time I ordered it. They always come out piping hot. The Italian wedding soup was also quite lovely during my most recent visit. And I also don’t know too many restaurants that serve steamed whole artichokes. It’s served with drawn butter and lemon.

IMAG5783My absolute favorite thing on their menu is the Dublin Lawyer, which consists of lobster meat over a wild rice pilaf in a heavy cayenne butter cream sauce with mushrooms, scallions, and Irish whiskey. When I treated my parents to see Diane Schuur I suggested my father order it, and he loved it as well. Since this is my ‘happy meal’ I rarely order anything else. In fact, I have even ordered it through Delivermefood when I was in the wheelchair for a month a few years back. The lobster is always perfectly poached, and the whiskey cream sauce is a delight. Paired with a salad you have a great meal.

The Veal Meatloaf is fantastic and a great value. It comes with crème fraiche mashed potatoes, fresh vegetables and Madeira mushroom gravy. The last time I had it the veggies were green beans. The meatloaf was very rich from the addition of veal, and I saved half of it for a sandwich the next day. I loved the mashed potatoes and gravy together too.

Their Grilled Delmonico is topped with foie gras butter, served with cider braised kale and roasted fingerling potatoes and is a great choice for those of you who are gluten-free. My mother enjoyed hers without the foie gras butter since she also can’t eat dairy.

My best friend is a vegetarian. She loves the Grilled Halloumi Kebobs, which feature skewered Cyprian sheep & goat’s milk cheese, served with citrus couscous, steamed asparagus and chive oil. They also have a stuffed squash on their winter menu that she adores as well.

I’ve also been here for a private brunch for a celebration for a friend who graduated from grad school. I’ve always heard good things about their brunch, and was not disappointed. On a recent visit I got to enjoy it on the patio/”three season room.” I ordered the Brioche French Toast, which is dipped in Grand Marnier batter and served with Canadian bacon. I enjoyed it a lot. The coffee mugs crack me up. They also have a Lobster Benedict that looks good. Several of my friends IMAG5784ordered it. I only wish I had taken a picture of it. You can order the Dublin Lawyer and several other entrees at brunch as well.

The Banoffee pie is a popular dessert. I was not sure what to expect, but I had recently learned about it online and wanted to try it. It features a graham cracker crust with bananas and toffee sauce. It is drizzled with dolce de leche and has a generous dollop of banana whipped cream on top. It was so sweet and filling that I was only able to eat a few bites of it and took the other half home for later.

Contact info:

Nighttown
12387 Cedar Road
Cleveland, OH 44106
(216) 795-0550

V’s Gourmet Fried Chicken and Ribs

V’s Gourmet Chicken is a tiny little take-out place in a tiny strip mall on Lakeshore Boulevard in Collinwood. It serves without a doubt the best fried chicken in Cleveland. It is take-out only, and every order is prepared fresh, so either call ahead or be prepared to wait. Luckily I live 8 miles from it so it doesn’t get cold, but even if it did the chicken would still be amazing because I’ve had it for leftovers and it stood up.

On a whim I ordered the fried zucchini and was very glad I did. The zucchini is sliced up into circles, breaded and fried. The outside is lightly breaded and crisp, while the inside has a delicious creaminess to it. I can highly recommend them.

The 3 piece fried chicken (wing, thigh and breast) is the most popular item on their menu. I can’t finish the whole 3-pc dinner at once, but it easily makes a couple of meals. The chicken breast alone was almost too big to fit into a Ziplock sandwich bag. I’ve had both the honey crisp and the seasoned breading. There are 8 breadings to choose from: Western, Mild, Honey Crisp, Seasoned, Coconut Crisp, Chipotle and Cajun. I personally like the Honey Crisp and Seasoned chicken. The chicken is crispy, juicy and perfectly seasoned.

Sometimes you don’t want to deal with the bones in fried chicken and might prefer a chicken tender. The chicken tenders are just as good as the fried chicken. They come in 5, 6, 10 or 15 pieces, and you can add a tender to any meal for $1.50 each. They offer the same seasoned breadings and 11 different dipping sauces. You can either get a 3 oz. cup for $0.75 or a 16 oz bottle for $5. The mild sauces are original BBQ, creamy honey mustard, creamy garlic, honey BBQ, honey glaze and teriyaki glaze. The spicy sauces are BBQ chipotle, creamy chipotle, berry jalapeno, creamy hot, Louisiana hot, Buffalo hot and chipotle pepper. I ordered creamy honey mustard and honey BBQ, and I preferred the creamy honey mustard. Get a couple different sauces and an even number of tenders and go to town.

The sides are hit or miss. The first time I had V’s chicken I was less than impressed with the sides. I also didn’t choose well. I’ve found over time that I do adore the coleslaw (nice and creamy with a nice jolt of horseradish). The rest are okay. The rice and greens have an Indian-like flavor profile. I’ve had it on good days and bad. When it’s good it is very good. The mashed potatoes and stuffing and gravy are okay, if a bit salty. The green beans are nothing to write home about, but I also don’t hate them. They are a nice vegetable option. I haven’t tried the JoJos (potato wedges) yet, but I hear they are great. Other choices include rice and beans, potato salad, buttered corn, baked beans and mac n cheese. I enjoy both the honey biscuit and the dinner rolls. If you want a hint of sweet order the honey biscuit. If you want a nice, soft, yeasty roll get the dinner roll.

They also offer ribs, fried fish, sandwiches, and salads, but I am all about the fried chicken.

Don’t forget about dessert! They have huge pieces of cake and cheesecake on offer. I have had the cherry cheesecake and the banana cream cheesecake. If you love banana cream you will love this cheesecake. Both cheesecakes were nice and creamy, but the banana cream cheesecake had me swooning. The cherry cheesecake topping offered a sweet contrast to the creamy cheesecake. I’m not a huge cake person, but everything always looks great.

Contact info:

V’s Gourmet Chicken
15418 Lakeshore Boulevard
Cleveland, OH 44110
(216) 738-7000
Open Monday through Saturday from 11 AM to 8 PM and Sunday from 3-7 PM