Mango Mango

My friends and I are obsessed with Mango Mango, the new Asian dessert shop on Payne Avenue (just down from Wonton Gourmet). Fruity, sweet desserts and drinks are the focus at Mango Mango. The New York-based chain opened its first Ohio location in April of this year. The first location opened in 2013, and it has since expanded to have 30 locations in 13 states. It definitely fills a need that was only being filled by Koko Bakery. It has been packed since it opened.

Some of the most popular items at Mango Mango are, unsurprisingly, mango-focused: mango and sticky rice desserts, mango pancakes, mango mochi and mango Mille crepe cakes are crowd favorites. The menu is formidable, featuring cold and hot desserts, crepes and waffles, cakes, flavored (bubble) teas and smoothies. I am a huge (HUGE) fan of the quintessential Thai dessert mango and sticky rice.

That said, on my first visit I ordered the mango juice and watermelon with rice balls. I figured since it was a seasonal item I would take advantage of the fact that I could order it. I really liked it. The mango juice and watermelon were refreshing, and the rice balls were reminiscent of sticky rice but it wasn’t the same consistency and lacked the condensed milk.

My friend ordered the strawberry mango juice sago and lychee jelly with mango ice cream. I really liked this as well because the lychee jelly was simply heavenly. My friend didn’t really love the mango ice cream, but I felt it added a nice flavor profile to the dessert. I obviously ordered this the second time I visited.

A bunch of my girlfriends gathered here one Saturday evening after dinner at Sichuan Hot Pot. I had been at a luau at the Willoughby Elks Lodge, so I joined them for dessert. We all ordered a dessert each and shared them. I absolutely fell in love with the Matcha Crepe Roll. The crepe, which is soft and tender, is stuffed with a mildly sweet red bean whipped cream. It is super light and airy. Definitely a showstopper.

Cleveland’s very own Andy Ng of Ice or Rice made a video on how to make one and makes it look so easy.

I had ordered the Mango and Black Rice dessert, which tasted almost exactly like a mango sticky rice dessert. The black rice had a slightly different texture, but the flavor profile was the same.

Two of my friends recommended the mille crepe cakes and the brown sugar cream puffs. The brown sugar cream puffs were good, but tasted a little burnt. I’ll have to get them again to determine if burnt sugar is the flavor profile they are going for.

The Mango Mille Crepe Cake was also a fan favorite. A mille crepe cake is a cake made up of many crepe layers, with freshly made milk, custard, or sauces sandwiched between each layer. Flour, eggs, sugar, and milk are used to make the crepes themselves. The word mille means “a thousand” in French, and it refers to the crepe cake’s several layers. You can choose between the Mango Mille Crepe Cake, Mustang King Durian or the Green Tea Mille Crepe Cake. It too was very light and not too filling.

Another time I was there I ordered the strawberry and mango dessert with lychee jelly and a Brown Sugar Boba Milk Tea (their signature tea). The milk tea was very refreshing, even if I’m not a huge fan of boba. I definitely enjoyed it to the very end.

Mango Mango is open Monday – Friday from 12pm-9pm and Saturday – Sunday 11am-9pm. The menu is so extensive that I imagine it will take a very long time to try most everything. I’m looking forward to trying some of the hot soups and maybe a waffle when it gets colder. It definitely has something for everyone (inluding dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan choices).

Contact info:

Mango Mango Cleveland
3133 Payne Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44114
(216) 417-8833


Algebra Tea House

Algebra Tea House is an eclectic tea shop in Little Italy that serves beverages such as tea, coffee, smoothies and shakes, plus Middle Eastern cuisine (the owner was born in Pakistan and his family lived in Syria, Kuwait, Tripoli and Libya – he also lived in Austria for a while). The cafe is also very vegan friendly and has a large assortment of healthy menu options. Owner Ayman Alkayali is an artist and a businessman, and he created all of the eclectic cups in the shop. He also appears to enjoy woodworking and hates straight lines if the door and the shelving units are anything to go by. The front door, tables and shelves were hand-crafted by Ayman, and his paintings cover the walls. He put a lot of work into creating the shop from a bike shop with no gas or electricity. Algebra Tea House opened its doors in August 2001. It was the first non-Italian establishment in the Little Italy neighborhood.

Algebra is opened everyday from 9am – 11pm. They serve breakfast specials on Saturday and Sunday alongside the regular menu from 9 am – 1 pm. Even though he is Muslim you can smell the bacon in the air on the weekends. The smell of Middle Eastern spices also blends with citrus from the orange peel resting atop a wood burning stove.

Do not come here if you are in a hurry. Most of the time, there is only one employee working and they can only do so much. This is a place to linger and relax. There is even Bedoun seating around a low table. My knee would never cooperate with that, so I was also happy to see higher tables and chairs (there’s even a large couch). He designed Algebra to be a place for people to commune together. There is a selection of games in the back to play with and a book exchange library on the front right wall.

The first time I was here was in 2010 or 2011. I met a group of tea drinkers here and had a wonderful afternoon getting to know a lot of interesting ladies. In fact, I met a lifelong friend that day (Hi, G!).

I was last here on a Saturday, and it took an hour and a half to get the tea and kebab I ordered. I have to admit that was a little frustrating, because it shouldn’t take an hour and a half to make a tea. I probably would have ordered a second or third one to go with my food if they hadn’t waited to serve the tea with my food. The server did offer the table half a House Smoothie (a vegan smoothie with mango, strawberry and banana blended with rosewater), which I grabbed since they had all been served their food at that point. It was very refreshing! I’d definitely order it next time. They had three people behind the counter (one just doing the dishes) and were obviously in the weeds, so I do plan on giving them a third chance during the week some time. You order at the counter, and they (eventually) bring your drinks and food to the table. You pay when you leave.

I was there that Saturday with my tea group, so I was feeling more adventurous than ordering a straight Darjeeling or Orange Pekoe tea. The menu had a very wide selection of black, green, white, and ethnic teas as well as chais and “comfort blends” (basically spiced milks). Where else will you find hot chocolate made with chocolate, steamed milk, and rosewater? They also have a large selection of house roasted coffees. I decided to get the Friday Market Libyan Tea, which features black tea, roasted peanuts, mint and brown sugar. I was intrigued. It was the wildest yet one of the most delicious teas I have ever enjoyed. The mint was floating on the surface along with a good amount of roasted peanuts. The brown sugar meant I didn’t need to add any sugar. It was perfect just as it is. I also had the Moroccan Mint because my friend ordered me the wrong tea, but it was also lovely with fresh mint leaves. I had wanted to try their special tea that day, a green tea with mint cinnamon, but she must have misunderstood me when I asked.

I also ordered the Iraqi kebab, which is made of ground beef and lamb mixed with garlic, parsley, sumac and Palestinian spices and wrapped with fresh vegetables, hummus, harissa and a yogurt mint sauce in a homemade pita. I really enjoyed it. It was obviously fresh and was very flavorful. It definitely hit the spot.

Other choices include numerous salads and a falafal sandwich, shawarma sandwich, hummus sandwich, “Zoho gyro,” Cajun chicken sandwich, smoked turkey sandwich with zattar, and bagel sandwich. There are also various “plates” featuring fool madams, falafal, hummus, eggplant, labneh, sardines, or Syrian tomatoes as well as several “all day breakfast choices” that include shakshuka (Shak-shooka), a Saudi breakfast of carmelized onions, sauteed tomatoes and scrambled eggs with a side of warm pita. I’m familiar with the Israeli version. Another fellow diner had the spinach pie plate and loved it. The prices are affordable to appeal to the college crowd.

One of the people in the group who was a regular ordered the red lentil soup, and it came out piping hot in one of the coolest bowls I have ever seen. It’s round shape was intriguing, and the metal probably kept it hot for longer than a regular bowl would. The soup had fresh spinach floating on top and looked delicious. He enjoyed the soup very much.

Algebra is known for its hummus. The owner soaks large amounts of chickpeas overnight and makes big batches in an industrial-sized food processor. I know because I watched him grab the food processor from the shelf next to where I was sitting and pile in chick peas until they were almost overflowing out of the container. The hummus is smooth and creamy, drizzled with olive oil and dollops of what looks like a red pepper tapenade (but it could also be harissa), garnished with cucumber and tomato, and sprinkled with a mixture of spices on top.

The desserts also sound amazing. The Banana Algebra, featuring sauteéd fruit with rosewater, cardamom, nutmeg and cinnamon, served over ice cream, sounds amazing. As does the Chocolate Chip Deli, homemade chocolate chip cookies topped with wildberry ice cream, bananas, whipped cream, cherry and nutmeg. The desserts all feature some kind of fruit and/or ice cream and sound healthy in addition to delicious.

In short, this place features lots of Middle Eastern treats that appear to be all homemade. They have a wide choice of beverages and lots of vegan-friendly items. You can also buy loose leaf tea to make at home as well as a variety of grocery items.

Contact info:

Algebra Tea House
2136 Murray Hill Road
Cleveland, OH 44106

Kouign Amann at The Fluffy Duck Cafe

I had never heard of Kouign Amann until about six months ago when someone in one of the food groups I am in asked if anyone was making them in Cleveland. No one was. The closest bakery seemed to be in Pittsburgh. Well, we have one now at a delightful coffee shop on Chester Avenue across from the Cleveland Clinic.

The Fluffy Duck Cafe opened in December 2016. It is located on the ground floor of the Innova building across from the construction that will be the Cleveland Clinic’s Health Education Building. I had watched the building go up for a while now and was curious who the tenants would be. I first heard about the Fluffy Duck when Chef Doug Katz raved about it right after it opened. I should have known it would stand up to the expectations. I delivered my translations early this morning and could use a jolt of caffeine for the next one, so I decided to treat myself to a nice coffee and pastry. When I saw they were serving a Kouign Amann I knew what I was going to order, since I’ve been wanting to try it.

I love the format of the Fluffy Duck Cafe. All of the windows gave the cafe a bright and sunny feeling. The clean white walls and clean lines of the wooden tables and chairs and those lining the windows gave it a modern feel (you can see the tables reflected off the bakery case in the third picture). They offer free wifi, so I can see myself coming here with my laptop to translate when I need a change of scenery. The open kitchen allows you to watch the staff busy rolling out dough and making the pastries. The baker had a container full of eggs when I was ordering, and she was turning them into dough.

I wanted a coffee and checked out the list of available coffees. I was leaning towards a cappucino until the flavored lattes caught my eye. I was immediately intrigued by the orange cardamom latte. They use local whole milk and good quality coffee beans from a roaster in Grand Rapids. It is a fine cup of coffee.

I was given a plate with my Kouign Amann, and the barista whipped up my latte, complete with delightful milk foam art. I carefully carried my plates to a table and looked forward to biting in. They had been holding a Coffee with a Cop event, so when the police officer saw what I ordered he raved about his and told me what a delight it was. As he explained, it is flaky and sweet and then you hit a bit of salt. He told me I would enjoy it, and I did. I also enjoyed chatting with him as he was on his way out.

Let me tell you, he was right. I don’t know how it compares with other Kouign Amanns since it was my first one, but this one was delicious. Light and flaky with a nice crumb to it, the caramelized topping with a hit of salt really made an enjoyable pastry. I will definitely be back. The ham and cheese croissants and almond croissants also intrigue me. The menu is limited to pastries and a few lunch-type items after 11 a.m., but what they do offer they do well.

The list of flavored lattes and teas sounded nice, and I believe they might change them out since the menu is a piece of paper on a clipboard instead of a hanging board. They also offer pour overs with three weekly offerings.

So if you are looking for a nice little respite or you have been looking for a Kouign Amann in Cleveland, you need to check it out.

Contact info:

The Fluffy Duck Cafe
10001 Chester Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44106

Greenbridge Tea House

Cleveland has a new tea house. It opened in October 2015. Located in a recently renovated century home in Twinsburg, Ohio, the tea house overlooks the town square. In fact, I almost missed it. It is on the southwest corner of the square. Parking is available on the street facing the square. The tea house is open Wednesday through Saturday from 11-3. It seats 25. The staff was very friendly and accommodating, and the place smelled delicious.

IMAG5624I came here with several members of my tea group recently. We enjoyed it very much and look forward to coming back soon. As a mostly vegan tea house I did not even miss the dairy or meat! My vegetarian friends were like kids in a candy shop. They said it was so refreshing to be able to order anything off the menu instead of only have one or two items to choose from.

IMAG5637You can choose your own vintage tea cup from the wall shelf. They serve fair trade, organic teas and had a nice selection to choose from, including black teas, herbal teas and tisanes, and green teas. An especially nice touch: the owner brought around samples of the Moroccan mint tea that day, which I had already decided to order. It is a green tea with a nice mint flavor. I found it very refreshing.

IMAG5631I ordered a bowl of the golden mushroom and potato soup with thyme because it made the place smell divine. It was as delicious as it smelled. The soup was chock-full of mushrooms and potatoes. The mushrooms were thinly sliced and flavorful, and the soup had a creamy consistency despite not having any cream in it. I was glad I ordered a bowl instead of a cup.

IMAG5632For my entree I ordered the quiche in a “crustless’ version with eggs, Swiss cheese with onions and chives (not vegan but oh so good). A vegan version is also available. The savory quiche was extremely flavorful and hit the spot (I especially loved the side of garlic bread). I was able to choose a side dish and I chose the broccoli salad with sunflower seeds, sweet onions in vegan mayo base. I enjoyed it a lot.600_447515104My friends raved about the desserts. They loved the Twin Square Minis (above), which were little fudgey squares of goodness topped with coconut, and Lemon Tea Bread topped with a blueberry sauce (below). I was full from the bowl of soup and entree, so I did not even try a bite.

600_447515111We look forward to coming back and trying other things on the menu. I need to try the trio of tea sandwiches next. The idea of tempeh salad with rosemary and sage is intriguing. Also, I tried a bite of my friend’s deviled chickpea salad and enjoyed it.


Contact info:

Greenbridge Tea House
9036 Church Street
Twinsburg, OH 44087
(330) 405-9381

Momo’s Kebab

Photo from Yelp (Rebecca A.)
Photo from Yelp (Rebecca A.)

Momo’s opened last year on Lee Road in the space that I think used to be Golden Dragon. The chef/owner prides himself on using the freshest ingredients and buys his vegetables every day. It is also halal, which adheres to Islamic law. My Muslim friend appreciated this a lot. The quality just shines through. The first time I went I met some friends for dinner. The decor is warm and inviting, with two couch areas with Moroccan seating covered with Moroccan textiles. It invites you to sit and relax with a pot of tea and enjoy some good food.

IMAG4955I ordered the mint tea and was completely blown away. It is strong and hot while also being perfectly sweetened (using organic sugar). The tea is extremely refreshing and addictive. A small pot is enough for two, but I could easily drink it by myself. They had no problemsIMAG4956 refilling it for us either.

I ordered the chicken kebab (one piece is missing in the photo because I shared it with my friend before taking the photo). The dinners come with Moroccan bread, salad, basmati rice, and grilled vegetables. The bread is a homemade flatbread. It is an unleavened circle of bread cut in half. It was quite nice. The salad has some mint in the light IMAG4958dressing and chopped up radish, tomato, cucumber, crumbled feta, and black olives. It was not overly dressed and was a nice start to the meal. The kebabs were perfectly grilled and came with a spicy dipping sauce. The rice and grilled vegetables were a great complement to the kebabs and were also perfectly cooked.

The beef kebabs were just as delicious and just as tender. The chef marinates all the meat overnight, so the marinade tenderizes the meat and then the grill puts on the finishing touch.

When I saw thatIMAG4959 the Saturday special is tagine I knew that I had to come back with my friend who introduced me to tagine. She had made it in her own tagine pot and we ate it with our hands. I remember what a special evening that was and remember how amazingly delicious the tagine was. She makes hers with preserved lemon. The Saturday special is “beef and veg,” which was carrots, potato and olives. It tastes like an tagineamazing beef stew. The meat was tender and fell apart with the fork. The flavor was delicious. The vegetables were also perfectly cooked – not too hard and not too soft. I loved every bite.

My friend ordered their second tagine of the day – a sweeter tagine with lamb, caramelized onions, stewed prunes, honey, cinnamon, sliced almonds and sesame seeds. She offered me a taste of the lamb, which was amazingly tender and had a delicious sweeter taste. She loved it and said the tea and the tagine brought her back 15 years in time when she and her Moroccan boyfriend drank mint tea and made tagine. She also tagine_kokspoke with the owner about her visits to southern Morocco, while he is from the north.

I highly recommend Momo’s Kebab. The food is fresh and delicious – and super-affordable. The chicken kebab was $9, and the beef kebab platter was $9.50. My tagine was $12.50, M’s tagine was $15, and our tea was $5. Not bad for a Saturday night dinner. Word to the wise: they don’t serve alcohol, but that doesn’t bother me a bit. The hours are also extremely generous for a Mom & Pop restaurant. They are open every day from 11 a.m. to midnight except Monday when they are open from 4 to 11 p.m. and Sunday when they close at 11 p.m. too.

Contact info:

Momo’s Kebab
2199 Lee Road
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118
(216) 932-3512

Quintealia’s Tea Parlor in Burton

IMAG0940Quintealia’s is a darling little tea room on the historic town square in Burton, serving up delicious scones, tea sandwiches and high afternoon teas. Quintealia’s is named after one of the owners’ grandmother. As the website explains, “The parlor’s name was selected in honor of Annette’s grandmother, Quintilia, who was of Italian decent. Quintilia was renamed “Clara” because her given name was deemed too difficult for others to pronounce. IMAG0228A slight variation in the spelling of her name gave Annette and Renee an opportunity to play on the word “tea” while paying homage to a woman who’s inner strength and brave spirit epitomized their own leap of faith. Quintilia’s photograph, along with the first tea set she gave Annette as a child grace the mantle in the main parlor.”

From the owners to the servers, they are warm and welcoming and really make you feel like an honored guest. I have been there several times, and they quickly recognized and acknowledged me as a “regular.”

IMAG1034Quintealia’s is located in the historic Ford House, a beautiful 1891 mansion built by George H. Ford, Burton’s first mayor. The Victorian mansion is on the National Register of historical places. Quintealia’s features delicious tea and friendly service in a quaint and charming atmosphere. The Main Parlor boasts a fireplace, an 1880s Queen Anne velvet settee and matching ladies chair, and is decorated with rich gem colors and dark woodwork. The soft and feminine French Room is draped in lace and pastel pinks, and the table service is set with gold cutlery. IMAG1032The Ford Room, named after George Ford, the grand old home’s original owner, is adorned in quarter-paneled wood walls, old trunks, oversized wingback chairs and accents reminiscent of Old England. It is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Quintealia’s offers a wide variety of loose leaf teas brewed at the perfect temperature. The servers are very knowledgeable and will happily help you choose the perfect tea for your tastes. The wide variety ensures that everyone can choose their favorite tea. Pots are happily refilled with hot water as needed.

One of my favorite new finds at Quintealia’s are the wine-inspired tea blends by Vintage TeaWorks. IMAG0230The line of teas was developed by a lawyer in Akron who was passionate about both wine and tea and set out to blend the two. His non-alcoholic blends are deliciously aromatic and do a great job mimicking the notes of the various wines. The teas were voted Best New Product in 2012 by WorldTeaEast. From the light and playful White Tea Riesling to the dark and decadent Pu-Erh Cabernet, each of the six wine-inspired teas stand out in their own right. I attended a tea tasting of the line at Quintealia’s hosted by the personable Vintage TeaWorks founder, and each tea was better than the next, capped off with his delicious Bourbon Chai. IMAG0231I ended up buying the entire line and enjoy them at home cold brewed as well as hot. He suggested cold brewing the Rooibos Noir overnight in the refrigerator, and it quickly became my favorite thing this past summer. Although the Black Tea Merlot is my hands down favorite hot tea. Order one when you visit Quintealia’s. I promise you won’t regret it!

As for the food… my favorite thing to order here is the Savory Sampler for $10.95, which features four assorted tea sandwiches (although there are five in the photo on the right – I think the two cucumber sandwiches counted as one) and choice of a cup of soup or salad. Their soups and sandwiches IMAG0232vary with the season, but they have been delicious each and every time I have ordered this. I particularly love the cinnamon raisin swirl bread with a carrot and cream cheese spread. The mint cream cheese on the cucumber sandwiches is also a great pairing that you wouldn’t expect.

The scones are small but very flavorful. They also vary depending on the day. The white chocolate scone with raspberry was delicious, as are their savory herb scones. IMAG0389They serve Devonshire cream and jam with their scones as their Cream Tea for $7.95 that comes with a pot of tea or simply the Scones and Cream dessert selection for $3.95.

The crispy flatbread ($10.95) is topped with melted Asiago cheese, artichokes, and your choice of sweet peppers or sausage. They served these as nibbles at the Vintage TeaWorks tea tasting, and we couldn’t get enough of them. They were delicious and addictive.

I was less enthused about the Seafood Puff Pastry ($12.95), which features shrimp and whitefish tossedIMAG0388 in a delicate dressing with fresh Parmesan cheese, baked in a puff pastry and accompanied by soup or salad. I was expecting a puff pastry, and it was more like a pot pie. If you like the idea of a seafood pot pie you’ll love it.

When I went here with my tea group the table was groaning with tea caddies loaded with savory and sweet selections (Full Afternoon Tea for $22.95). It features a three-tiered assortment of tea sandwiches, petite sweets, freshly baked scones with Devonshire cream and jam and a bottomless pot of tea. The scones were on the top tier (photo on the right). The middle tier had the tea sandwiches. The bottom tier featured the petite sweets. Most of us had to ask for boxes to bring some of the sweets home. IMAG0390They are very generous with this afternoon tea. The petite sweets alone are seven two- or three-bite desserts with choices ranging from cheesecakes, petit fours, brownie bites, tarts, lemon bars, bread pudding, cookies, and a variety of tea cakes and breads. The lemon meltaway bars and bread pudding are to die for!!!

If you want a place to relax over a nice cup of tea and tasty food, a catch up with an old friend or a special place to celebrate with girlfriends be sure to check Quintealia’s out.

Contact info:

Quintealia’s Tea Parlor
14585 East Park Street
Burton, Ohio 44021
(440) 834-1777

Flying Cranes Cafe on Larchmere

IMAG1578Flying Cranes Cafe is a quaint little cafe that blends American and Japanese cuisine, such as soups, sandwiches, udon, yakisoba, donburi rice bowls, and quiche. It also happens to serve up a fine bowl of ramen. Owner/chef Kayoko Irie-Frye and her husband Bill Frye opened the restaurant in November 2008.

IMAG1433The cafe seats 15 and is comfortably nestled among the bookshops and antique shops on Larchmere Boulevard. It is a place to come and relax with a book while you wait for your food. Things are slow here, so don’t come here if you are in a hurry. But if you want to relax for a while you will be in good hands.

Everything is made from scratch using fresh ingredients, from the soups and broths to the sandwiches and quiches.

IMAG1236I have been there several times since I first discovered it through a Meetup group tea. We were served a lovely tea with delicious soup, a Madeleine, a tiny quiche, small tea sandwiches, a fresh fruit cup, cookies, and a tier of delectable sweets. The quiche was divine, and I gladly had a second one. The desserts and the cookies were a huge hit with everyone. The tiramisu and the chocolate chip cookie were my particular favorites. IMAG4012If you are looking for something different try their lime bar. The cafe requires advanced notice for the tea, and the price was very reasonable considering all the effort that must have gone into preparing the food for us. If you are looking for something special be sure to order the blooming tea, which are tea leaves handsewn around flowers into bundles that that literally bloom as they steep. I highly recommend the green tea matcha latte (see right).

IMAG1439The miso soup seems to be one of their most popular dishes. The last time I was here it seemed like everyone was ordering the miso soup to eat in the cafe and to go, so I had to try it. I’m glad I did. It comes in three different sizes. The miso broth is accompanied by fresh scallions, tofu cubes and shiitake mushrooms. It was delicious. They also have a soup of the day, so be sure to check the board to see what is on offer that day.

IMAG1437I initially went back to try the ramen. I have been on the search for a good ramen, and the Flying Cranes serves an authentic ramen that is warm and filling. I ordered the champon ramen, which features shrimp, vegetables like shiitake mushrooms and bok choy and ramen noodles. They asked if I wanted an egg, and it was then topped with two halves of a perfectly cooked hard-boiled egg. It’s not brimming with shrimp, but when the vegetables, noodles and broth are so well done you won’t miss the shrimp. At the moment this is my favorite meal in Cleveland, surpassing pho in my heart.

IMAG1440There are a variety of good Japanese noodle and rice dishes. The chicken teriyaki features a house-made teriyaki sauce served over rice, sprinkled with black sesame seeds and served with a side salad with ginger dressing. It was very flavorful and filling.

IMAG1580I also tried the curry udon, which was the perfect choice on a blustery cold November day. The curry sauce was a thick brown sauce containing some kind of meat and vegetables. It was extremely flavorful, but the curry was not overpowering. It was served piping hot, so it was easier to slurp up the noodles once it cooled down a bit.IMAG1241

I am glad to have discovered this little gem so close to my home. I have since become a regular, and the owners appear to recognize me now. The prices are affordable. Soups and sandwiches run between $2-$7.50, entrees range from $7-$11. They offer Saturday and Sunday brunch for $10.00, and all of the brunches come with coffee or tea, soup and dessert. So if you are looking for a fine bowl of warmth this winter be sure to check Flying Cranes out. In the spring and summer be sure to check out their lovely garden filled with wisteria and flowers in the back. Order in the cafe and then exit and walk around the building to the left to enter. They will bring your food and beverages to you.

IMAG4008 IMAG4016

IMAG4017Contact info:

Flying Cranes Cafe
13006 Larchmere Boulevard
Cleveland, OH 44120
(216) 795-1033

Coquette Patisserie

IMAG0898Coquette Patisserie is a bakery & wine bar in Cleveland that specializes in French pastries, macarons, cakes, savory small plates, killer charcuterie and cheese platters and French champagne and craft beer. It is located on Euclid Avenue in the new Uptown district.

I first learned about Coquette Patisserie on the NEO Food Tour of the Cedar-Lee district, when Britt was still operating out of her home. They gave us a little takeaway box of delicate little morsels. The Queen of Sheba (left) is an almond paste chocolate cake with a layer of spicy Mexican chocolate ganache. The center pastry is a Pixie Bar, whichIMG_20120831_151827 is a pistachio florentina atop almond paste cake, a layer of lingonberry compote, and a pâte sucrée crust and my clear favorite. Britt is most known for her macarons. The Blueberry Macaron in the photo (right) is an almond flour meringue shell filled with blueberry buttercream and gluten-free.

The macarons come in a variety of flavors (such as Mango, Peanut Butter Banana, IMAG0594Black Walnut Banana, Cantaloupe-paprika, Guiness float, etc.), are $2 and 5.5 cm. You can have them dipped in dark chocolate for an additional $0.25 per macaron. My creamsicle macaron was divine!

My introduction to the brick and mortar location was with a fellow foodie after a Chinese New Year lunch. We stopped by to check it out, and I was immediately drawn to the French press coffee and Le Bonbon. They give you a sand timer to let you know when your coffee is ready to press and drink, ensuring perfect coffee. Coffee brewed with a French press is richer and more full-bodied – and meant to be drunk in one sitting.IMAG0900 You can choose which size you prefer. I went with the smaller press. It was perfect. As for the pastry, Le Bonbon features “chocolate mousse triple layered with chocolate meringue and coated in chocolate. All topped with a chocolate ribbon.” This chocolate bomb of goodness is indescribable. If you are a chocoholic you simply must try it for yourself.

The pastries vary with the season, IMAG0901but the Opera Cake and Tart Citron are always a good choice. Just perusing the choices on the website will make your mouth water. I can’t wait to try the Frambois pastry.

The storefront is small, but charming. We were there on a dreary, snowy February afternoon and yet the large windows ensured lots of natural lighting. The tables feature large IMAG1636photos of Cleveland and fresh flowers. Small glass-enclosed lights and a chandelier hang from the ceiling. There is a small table with sugar and cream and a glass cold beverage jar for those who are thirsty tucked against a wall. Very inviting.

It is also a good choice when you just want to enjoy a glass of champagne or draught beer. They just put in a patio, which is always occupied in the summer evenings. We stopped by here the other night after getting ice cream at Piccadilly Artisan Creamery, IMAG1639and I enjoyed a nice glass of champagne and a sparkling water. I ordered the champagne from Reims, which was perfect. It was light and fruity, yet dry enough to not be overly sweet. We watched the sunset and enjoyed the company. The patio is also dog-friendly.

Folks who want something more savory are also in for a treat. One Friday recently they featured Thaxton’s Organic Garlic & Kokoborrego Owl Creek Tomme Brioche. Those who like oysters won’t go wrong here. Be sure to follow them on Facebook to hear all about the daily treats. I can’t wait to order the charcuterie platter the next time I am there. I hear it is fantastic.


Contact info:

Coquette Patisserie
11607 Euclid Avenue (corner of E. 115th and Euclid)
Cleveland, OH 44106
(216) 331-2841

Sanctuary on Green

Koehn Sculptors’ Sanctuary on Green is a Bavarian inspired cafe and unique gift shop featuring creations from the Koehn studio and around the world. Tucked away behind lots of greenery on Green Road (just across from Notre Dame College), if you don’t know it’s there you will drive right past it. Look for the brightly colored wind ornaments and the sign for Koehn Sculptors.

The Bavarian tea studio hours are 11:30 am – 3:30 pm every day. Reservations are strongly recommended, and their lunch seatings are at 11:30 and 1:30.

The attention to detail here is amazing. Glasses of water are served with lemon slices tucked in squeezers shaped like a bird. I was so taken with the idea that I bought several for myself in their gift shop. The teas are served with hour glass timers indicating exactly when you can enjoy your tea after the proper brewing process. Each tea has its own specific brewing time, and it really makes a difference.

In nice weather it features a gorgeous patio overlooking the wetlands and is truly a sanctuary from the hectic surroundings. The owners lived in Germany for many years, and Mr. Koehn (the sculptor) is German.

They have a whole house water filtration system that filters all of the water used for drinking and cooking and even the water used for cleaning and watering the garden. They also practice vegan composting and gardening. They compost all of the kitchen scraps and waste as well as the coffee and tea grounds/leaves and filters, which are then tilled into the garden, which is located near the sculptor studio/overflow parking area.

They have an unbelievable selection of teas (an entire menu is dedicated to the various teas and the descriptions). They feature over 80 teas, (all are available hot and iced, and all micro-brewed). The coffee is from Crooked River Coffee Company and locally roasted in 5 lb batches specifically for Sanctuary on Green.  Each cup, press & pot is freshly ground and individually micro-brewed. Because each cup is micro-brewed, they do not offer free refills.  If you would like more than one cup, they suggest ordering a 3-cup pot. The iced coffee is cold-brewed overnight, which makes it less bitter. You can really taste the difference.

I absolutely swear by the hot chocolate, which is made from fresh whole or skim milk with Dutch cocoa and sugar and served in a Bodum press pot. It is served with a small bowl of marshmallows or fresh whipped cream on the side. Divine on a cold day!

The food is a little pricey, but considering the food is organic, as homegrown as possible, and super healthy you let it slide. They grow their own produce, herbs and garnishes in their garden. They personally select their produce and meats (hormone/antibiotic/nitrate-free) from Whole Foods in University Heights, and Farmer Jones and Old Country Sausage in Maple Heights.

If you are looking for macrobiotic, gluten-free or vegan entrees, this is the place to go! The bread is freshly baked on premises, and you can tell. The cream soups are divine and are made with fresh cream and/or milk. My favorite is the cream of asparagus soup, made with fresh asparagus and cream. One of my friends raves about the pumpkin soup as being the best he’s ever had.

The menu has a decidedly German bent to it. It is so hard to find quark here in the States, so I was thrilled to see Ammergauer Quark Brot on the menu. Quark is a very mild fresh, low-fat farmer’s cheese. The quark is served with fresh organic herbs on buttered wood-fired German bread. The open-faced sandwich is garnished with fresh herbs, vegetables, German pickle and a spicy asparagus spear and served with sides of sweet/sour cucumber and carrot apple salads. Let me just tell you that the salads are unlike anything you will ever taste here in the U.S. The carrot apple salad is my favorite, but both are absolutely delicious and the reason I keep going back. One of my friends has hated cabbage and sauerkraut his entire life, but almost licked his plate clean the first time he tried the Blaukraut (red cabbage). He now orders it every time he goes. If given the choice, you must give it a try.

The entrees tend to change with the season. Although they cater to herbivores, carnivores won’t be disappointed either. The Weisswurst and chicken schnitzel seem to be staples on the menu. I’m not a fan of Weisswurst in general, but the chicken schnitzel is lovely. If you are there in the spring and see something called the Sunshine Plate (or something similar to that) with a stuffed hibiscus blossom and deviled egg you must absolutely order it. I swooned and wished there were several stuffed hibiscus blossoms on my plate. I also wish I had taken a photo, because the presentation was delightful. The last time I was here I ordered the salmon special. It was served with the ubiquitous cucumber and carrot salads as well as some ruby quinoa salad and a bed of lettuce topped with fresh asparagus and avocado. Wow, was it absolutely delicious.

If you are used to food dripping in oil or heavy seasonings you may be disappointed with Sanctuary on Green. My tea group loved the teas, but were decidedly ambivalent about the food. However, if you appreciate fresh ingredients or are gluten-free or a vegetarian or vegan you will be in heaven.

The desserts are also fresh, but they run out of the strudels quickly. I suggest ordering it at the beginning of the meal to be set aside if you have your heart set on strudel. Again, the desserts are very German. This means that they are not very sweet. Many Americans are surprised by this and need to adjust their palates. My all-time favorite German dessert is Rote Grütze. Their version features “forest berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, black berries) tossed in a delicious red wine/agave/acai sauce served with homemade vanilla sauce or vanilla bean ice cream.” Don’t order it expecting something really sweet. But if you like fresh berries you will be quite happy with it. The chocolate covered popcorn (one of the daily specials) was also a huge hit at our table.

Afterwards browse through the gift shop or the gardens, which feature many whimsical sculpted creations from both stone and wood. The tea house closes down for about a month at some point in preparation for Christmas and goes all out with the decorating. The seating inside is just as charming as outside on the patio. Be sure to call beforehand to make sure they are open and can accommodate you at one of their lunch seatings.

Contact info:

Sanctuary on Green
1936 S Green Rd
South Euclid, OH 44121
(216) 691-1936

Miss Molly’s Tea Room in Medina

100_0524One of my favorite places to go to lunch with my family is Miss Molly’s Tea Room in Medina, located just off the Square at 140 W. Washington St. #6. This is not a place to take the menfolk in your life. They will most likely feel uncomfortable surrounded by flowers, tea cups, doilies and other frou frou. We recently went there on the Saturday before Mother’s Day. We made our reservation a month ahead of time. It’s a good thing we did. The place was packed, and they had a live harpist that day, which was nice.

IMAG0657My nieces have been going there with us since they were very little. They have always been very accommodating to children. In fact, it is a popular place for little (and big) girls to dress in their finest. On our most recent visit there was a table of older women wearing all kinds of different hats – just because.

You can order the tea iced or in your own teapot (loose leaf tea or tea bags available, but a proper tea is served loose leaf and steeped for 3-5 minutes). They offer a delicious variety of teas from black teas, green teas to delicate white teas. Tea is nothing without scones. Their scones are quite good and are baked fresh every day. The scones are served with Devonshire cream and preserves upon request.

My all-time favorite meal is the Chicken Divan. I was in the mood to try something different that day though, so I ordered the tuna salad croissant. All the meals come with your 100_0528choice of soup or one of their side salads. They have four delicious salads to choose from: cucumber salad in a light creamy sauce (my sister’s favorite), chilled cranberry salad (Miss Molly’s specialty), broccoli salad (one of my favorites) and strawberry pretzel salad (which is by far my favorite). I ordered both the broccoli salad and the strawberry pretzel salad.

My mother ordered the crab salad puff and a side of the lobster bisque soup. She loved the fresh dill in the crab salad and remarked that the lobster bisque soup was delicious as well100_0529.

My sister had the Harvest Turkey sandwich that day, but she usually orders the chicken salad sandwich.

My nieces ordered Mac and Cheese and the cheese pizza off the children’s menu. The children’s meals come with a ‘decorate-it-yourself’  cookie. They love coming to Miss Molly’s, because they get their milk served in miniature tea pots and demitasse cups. In fact, they enjoy it so much that we serve them milk in tea pots at family dinners now too.100_0527

100_0532I have also had the Heavenly Wrap (roast beef and roasted red peppers with watercress, fresh spinach leaves and horseradish) and the Cooper River Croissant (hot ham and cheddar cheese) during past visits and can vouch for the freshness of the ingredients and overall tastiness. Miss Molly’s also features a quiche of the day and a featured lunch. The featured lunch the day we were there was a white lasagna.

One of these days we are going to order the special tea service. You need to request it 24 hours in advance. So if you are looking for someplace to take a special woman in your life I highly recommend Miss Molly’s.

Contact info:

Miss Molly’s Tea Room
140 W Washington St # 6
Medina, OH 44256-2262