Upon my recent discovery of Restaurant.com, I purchased an amazing $300 worth of gift certificates for a mere $24. $200 worth of them are for a local sports bar at a golf range (Hans is a BIG fan of their buffalo chicken wraps), but I managed to score some certificates for some restaurants that have been on my “must eat” list. One of those restaurants was AMP 150 Bar and Restaurant.
From their website: “AMP 150 is a 200-seat restaurant and bar with an open casual feel playing up-beat rock and roll and serving tasty selections all priced under $20. For chef Dean, being “free” is a given and a way of life, not a marketing tool. With a farm to table approach for over 20 years in his restaurants, chef Max has spent his life exemplifying how ingredients define the experience.”
What intrigued me most about AMP 150 Bar and Restaurant was its strong social network presence. I remembered seeing their posts on Twitter offering some great deals. Sunday afternoon, I mentioned in a Tweet that we planned to eat at AMP150 later that evening. Within moments, AMP 150 direct messaged me saying “let me know when you get here”.
Upon our arrival, I mentioned to our server about my Tweet earlier in the day. While looking at the menu, our server informed us about their commitment to fresh ingredients: the chicken used was all free-range and the beef all grass-fed. For drinks, Hans ordered a Spaten lager from Germany off the beer menu. I stuck with a Lake Erie Cocktail. Someone had to get the big guy home at the end of the evening.
Before our drinks arrived, Executive Chef Ellis Cooley came to our table to introduce himself. I asked for some recommendations from the menu. He then asked if he just sent some items out, if we would be open to trying some of his dishes. Hmmmm. Let’s see: offering delicious food to a foodie and a man with a bottomless pit for a stomach? That would be a yes.
For my starter, I ordered the BABY ARUGULA SALAD with Candied Walnuts, Blood Orange, Parmesan, Citrus Vinaigrette:
What a fresh way to start a meal. All of the sweetness from the candied walnuts, orange and vinaigrette balanced well with the greens and cheese. Note that I asked for the dressing on the side, but that’s just me being me. I ate every bite of this salad.
For his starter, Hans ordered the CHICKEN PAPRIKASH with Grandma’s Dumplings, Bacon, Fried Shallots:
Chef Ellis would later tell me this was a “Southerner’s take” on the traditional ethnic dish. He takes the white and dark meat from the free-range chicken and assembles it into a circle mold, that is then sliced into “patties” (my word, not his). That Southerner boy got this dish right. It had a strong smoky flavor, which made it the right kind of memorable. While Hans was thrown off by the unusual presentation, he ate ever bite.
I had trouble deciding between a few items, so imagine my glee when Chef Ellis sent out the BRAISED RABBIT CAVATELLI with Fall Greens, Candied Garlic, Mint compliments of the kitchen:
I took one bite and I think I lost consciousness for a few minutes. While originally described to me as “heavy”, it was anything but. The rabbit was so tender. The cavatelli was incredibly light, like little pillows of glorious starch in my mouth. If I knew just how phenomenal this dish was, I would have just ordered two rounds of it for my meal.
For my main course, I ordered off the small plates menu and got the GLAZED CHESAPEAKE BAY COD with Bok Choy, Broken Shrimp, Edamame, Smoked Onion Broth:
The cod’s glaze was a bit heavy in texture for my palate, but had a great Asian flair. I had never seen such itty bitty shrimp before! And with the edamame, it was a lovely dish. But my mind was still focused on that rabbit dish from the course before.
As another gift from the kitchen, my cod was paired with the ROASTED CAULIFLOWER with Goat Cheese, Pine Nuts, Beet Vinaigrette:
The perfectly roasted cauliflower had just enough goat cheese to make this dish decadent. The beet vinaigrette was a surprise and gave it a nice kick.
For his main course, Hans ordered the HOUSE MADE CORNED BEEF SANDWICH with Swiss Cheese, Mustard Aioli, Onion Roll:
This was one solid sandwich. Super yummy. AMP150 used Orlando onion rolls for the sandwich – definitely worthy of a bonus point in my book.
Hans also ordered a side of HAND CUT SEA SALT FRIES with Lemon Aioli:
Thick cut fries seasoned perfectly with sea salt – how can you go wrong?
Hans made it thru half of his sandwich and half of the fries before calling it quits. I finished my cod, but couldn’t do the same with the side of cauliflower. We were stuffed to the gills & to-go boxes were in order.
When our server returned with the boxes, she informed us that dessert was on the house that evening. Who were we to turn down that offer?! After finding some room in our bellies, Hans chose the MILK CHOCOLATE PANA COTTA with Salted Caramel, Malted Hazelnut Shake:
He also sent out a special treat: a selection that wasn’t even on the dessert menu! We were the first people to try the Goat Cheese Brownie with Goat Cheese Ice Cream & Pine Nut Brittle:
OH. MY. GOD. I am not a sweets person, but when I eat desserts, this is how I want them. DONE RIGHT. I could have eaten a gallon of the goat cheese ice cream. Luckily, Hans took a strong liking to the brownie, as he started dunking it in the pana cotta. GENIUS. What a way to end a meal!
After we finished our meal Chef Ellis came back out to our table to see how we enjoyed our meal. He stayed and chatted with us for at least 15 minutes. I was so happy to hear about his way of reaching out new audiences, his approach on his food, and that he loved being in Cleveland.
RUN. Do not walk. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Get yourself to AMP 150 as soon as possible. I can honestly say that it was the best restaurant dining experience of my life. If you plan it in advance, check them out on Twitter and send Chef Ellis a message: he’ll make sure you have the food experience of your lifetime too!