DiCillo Tavern – Fish Fry Friday #1 2021

From Google StreetView

After finishing my invoicing for the month I was ready for a fish fry last night. I referred to my shortlist, and the first on the list was also one of the closest to me. DiCillo Tavern is located on Mayfield Road in Mayfield, close to Golden Gate. It sticks out in the sea of strip malls because it is an old house. It’s got this good quality hole in the wall vibe going for it. In fact, it reminds me of the old Suds MacGuire in Olmsted Falls – an old house that was a dive bar/restaurant and had killer fish fries. DiCillo has been serving their famous “Whaler” fish fry dinner since 1933. The fish fry is take-out only this year, daily from 4 to 8 p.m.

I headed out shortly after 5 and arrived there at 5:45. I had tried to call in my order, but no one answered the phone. The parking lot was packed with big trucks. I got one of the last easy-to-access parking spaces (the trucks were not parked straight so there were gaps). I was surprised to see so many vehicles and expected a long wait. I was pleased to see the bar side was packed with patrons (no masks as far as I could see, but they were in a separate room), while the restaurant side was hopping with take-out pick-ups. I placed my order and was told it would be about a half an hour. I had planned to sit in my car, but I was told I could sit in the socially distanced restaurant area while I waited. By the time my order was ready I was not the only person sitting around the restaurant, but we were all masked and sitting at tables divided with plexi-glass.

I was surprised when my order was only $24. I had ordered the Fisherman’s Sampler ($18), which contained a “mini” Whaler, a couple pieces of perch, and a couple fried shrimp. I ordered the pierogi as a side dish ($6) and the clam chowder ($6). She had added the pierogi as my side, so I didn’t pay extra for them. I slipped her a couple bucks as a tip and was on my way home. I had to play parking Jenga to leave because two cars had blocked the exit row and two other cars were parked along the side with their flashers on.

As to the fish fry itself, it was delicious. The only down side was the pierogi, which I would not be surprised were Mrs. T’s. Luckily I didn’t end up paying extra for them. The clam chowder had a thicker consistency than most milk-based chowders and it was chock full of clams and potatoes. I think the consistency might have come from the potatoes breaking down. I really enjoyed it.

The Whaler – from the DiCillo Tavern Facebook page

The fried fish and shrimp were delicious. Perfectly fried and overcooked or dry. I can see why the Whaler is so popular because that particular piece of fish is stunning. It is a large portion with firm white meat inside. The perch were okay. They were flatter and consistent, which leads me to believe they are frozen, not fresh. But perch is perch and adored by many here in Cleveland. I also adored the coleslaw. It had a nice horseradish bite to it and was really creamy. If I go back again (and let’s be honest, I just might) I’ll order a Whaler and a huge side of coleslaw. If you are on the east side, you can’t go wrong with DiCillo’s. But order early. They ran out of chowder at 6:30.

Contact Info:

DiCillo Tavern
6088 Mayfield Road
Mayfield Heights, OH 44124
(440) 442-2755

It’s Fish Fry season again!

This has been a very weird year. I’ve been disconnected from the restaurant scene because I am at high risk and have been sheltering like a pro. I’ve been doing my part in getting take-out, but oftentimes I have been relying on restaurants I regularly enjoy and have probably already reviewed. I pivoted my Instagram, which was set up to feature my food adventures, to featuring Pampered Chef products. I became a Pampered Chef consultant in July and have been cooking at home with all my fun new and old Pampered Chef gadgets. I particularly love our Air Fryer and put my VitaMix in storage in favor of the Quick Cooking Blender, because it doesn’t just heat up but cooks the soups and hot chocolate and makes other things like jam.

But I too am getting corona-weary and miss a good piece of fried fish, so I decided to shake things up and do Fish Fry Fridays again. I missed Ash Wednesday because it snuck up on me, and I wasn’t in the mood for fish yet. Nevertheless, last night I decided I needed a good fish fry and referred to the shortlist I made from the Scene’s 50 Cleveland Fish Fries to Try This Lenten Season. I whittled down my choices to a select few this year: DiCillio Tavern, Post and Beam on Snow Rd, West Park Station, the Flat Iron Cafe, the Firehouse Grille in Willoughby, the Little Polish Diner, Tavern of Little Italy, and Larder. I may or may not also grab one from Ohio City Provisions and/or Melt.

The Crispy Chick

The Crispy Chick opened on Woodland Avenue near the intersection with E. 55th in October 2019 in an old Church’s Chicken building. I had watched the renovations, so was happy once it finally opened. The Crispy Chick is a minority female owned business (the owner is from Eritrea but has lived in Cleveland for 20 years), which I like to support. The Crispy Chick serves chicken raised without hormones or antibiotics at affordable prices. The chicken is real whole chicken tenderloin with no gristle or fatty filler pieces. The sauces and seasonings are made from scratch.

The menu is quite limited. It only has four chicken tender meal choices – a strip sandwich, a three-piece, a four-piece (“Original Meal”), and a six-piece “Mega Meal.” The four piece comes with garlic toast, slaw and one sauce; the mega meal supposedly comes with garlic toast, slaw and two sauces. They also have a Kids Meal with two tenders, fries and sauce. There are also two chicken wing dinners – with three wings and ten wings. The sauce flavors are BBQ, Buffalo, Habanero, Honey Mustard, House Sauce, and Sriracha. The House Sauce is a zingy, creamy sauce. I liked it a lot, but I’m at heart a honey mustard girl. The two sauces go well together when both ordered. The drink choices are limited too – and not listed. They are (if I remember correctly) Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Dr. Pepper, Fruit Punch, and Orange. They also have fresh brewed tea and lemonade for $2.39 and $2.99. When I asked to mix the two she said it would be extra (??), but I think there might have been a communication problem with the intercom. They also have milkshakes for $3.95.

The first time I stopped I ordered a three-piece meal for $7.38. The tenders were delicious, the fries were decent enough, and the garlic bread toast was phenomenal. The three-tender meal comes with one sauce, but I wanted to try another sauce as well so I ordered a second sauce for another $0.75 (ordered BBQ and Honey Mustard). The second time I ordered a Mega Meal (6 tenders) and an extra garlic bread toast. The food itself is great. The size of the tenders vary, but they are juicy and perfect.

Despite the limited menu the service is pretty slow. The first time I wasn’t even sure it was open because I sat at the drive-thru ordering sign for a while without being greeted. A couple minutes later someone greeted me. I thought it was an anomaly until my second visit when I was asked to wait three times while sitting at the drive-thru ordering sign, she rang up the car in front of me that had drive up to the drive-thru window (because I could see their order being rung up on the sign), and then I was finally greeted. Once I got to the window I was handed my drink, eventually asked for my payment, and then after another minute asked to pull around, where I sat waiting for at least 15 minutes. I’m not quite sure what the hold up was, because nothing was blazing hot as if right out of the fryer. I was then told they were out of House sauce (they had one, which was in my bag, but I had asked for a House sauce and Honey Mustard so it was okay – she had just forgotten that). When I then checked my order in the car and went in to ask about the missing cole slaw I was told they were out of cole slaw. Out of House sauce and cole slaw at 5 PM on a Wednesday. Okay, I didn’t have my heart that set on the cole slaw any way…

While I was waiting two people went inside and came out with preordered meals, so that seems like the way to go. You can order on GrubHub, DoorDash or UberEats, but I’d rather go there in person and make sure they get the entire cost of my meal. The food is good and affordable, so preorder your meal or do not be in a rush if you stop here.

Contact info:

The Crispy Chick
5618 Woodland Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44104
(216) 331-4700

 

Cleveland Independents Deck

My favorite Christmas present this year is the Cleveland Independents Deck. I can’t wait to start using it. The Deck looks like a deck of playing cards and contains 52 $10 coupons for lots of Cleveland Independent restaurants.

As the Cleveland Independents website explains:

Imagine being able to save $10 at 52 of your favorite, locally-owned Cleveland Independents restaurants. Each card in The Deck features a $10 special offer from some of Northeast Ohio’s favorite restaurants. No wonder The Deck is ideal for corporate gift-giving or for anyone who loves to explore the area’s many diverse, local flavors.

* Each card features an informative description of the restaurant as well as its special offer
* Each card is a $10 Gift Certificate at the restaurant it describes
* Each card includes the restaurant’s location and phone number.
* Each card is easy to redeem. Present it to your server. It’s that simple!

I promise there will be plenty of posts on the way this year with the help of The Deck. I can’t wait to try Ponte Vecchio and Bistro 185 as well as revisit personal favorites like The Mad Greek, L’Albatros and Luxe Kitchen. If you want your own you can order it here.