Category Archives: Restaurant Reviews

#CLEfood: Restaurant Trentina

The recent New York Times article, Cleveland, a City Repurposed, has been on my mind after giving it a quick scan this past week.  I love the writer’s suggestion of  “what’s old is new again” — and like many other Northeastern Ohioans, it seems Chef Jonathon Sawyer took hold of this way of thinking with the opening of his location, Restaurant Trentina, located in the University Circle building where Sergio’s once was located.

As we were seated promptly for our 8:30 reservation time on Saturday night, we had a few moments to look over the tasting menu for the friends and family preview:

  • Primi Assaggio: Crusto di Polenta, Carne Salata alla Trentina, Tyralean Speck, Vegetables from our Larder & Fields
  • Caviar + Ciccoli: Sumac, Cucumber and Puffed Pasta
  • Crustaceo Crudo: Vintage Ohio Apple and Citrus
  • Sable Fish al Cartoccio: Celtuce, Wild Ohio Crown Tipped Coral Mushroom, TNT Larder Yogurt and Fumet
  • Edible Candle: 24k Gold Honey, Aged Beef Suet, Crunchy Salt and Fresh Bread
  • Pasta alla Chitarra: Ohio Farm Egg
  • Pasta Cuscino: Cabbages, Onion, Spicebush and Formaggio Che Cola
  • Game Birds: Livers and Madeira
  • Beasts Roasted Over Embers
  • Primi Dolce: Strawberries, Yogurt and Pistachio
  • Dolce: Strudel alla Trentina
  • Grazia: Gold Milk Chocolate

 The Primi Assaggio course – plus a certain ginger and his matching beer.

Knowing that Trentina is inspired by Northern Italian cuisine, there’s a lot of the “old” in there — from the progression of the courses, to the ingredients used, and so on. But don’t get too attached to what you know about that style of food — Chef Sawyer, executive chef Matt Danko and their team throw your expectations out on to Ford Drive, mixing up the usual with ways with methods you never could have expected. At least I didn’t.

I’ll let Joe Crea from cleveland.com get in the fine details of this uber fine dining experience — he’s much more versed than I — but know it was unlike anything I’ve ever seen in Cleveland.  I knew Hans and I were experiencing something unique – almost magical – at times.

The most important thing I can share from my experience was the care Chef Sawyer took with my gluten intolerance. He came out to the table before the meal began, asking detailed questions to understand my level of intolerance — even offering to send me home with some farro to try (even though it has a lower level of gluten, I haven’t tried it since going GF in 2010).

Course by course, he guided us carefully through the slight alterations he made as necessary for me — my favorite being his use of pig’s ear for pasta in the pasta course. Yes, pig’s ear — sliced into almost an orzo shape, served with a farm fresh egg that was cooked in a spoon in the embers of the fire.  Chewy, exactly like an al dente noodle, I was mildly shocked at how successful the substitution was.

By the end of the meal, we left incredibly satisfied and completely blown away. As we walked back down Ford towards the Peter B. Lewis Building on Case Western’s campus, I looked at Hans and said, “I think we’ve just got treated to one of the most unique dining experiences of our lives.”

LONG STORY SHORT:  Trentina is not your everyday, run-of-the-mill dining experience.  Every single plate of the multi-course meal that arrived at our table had the care of a fine artist creating a unique piece of their specialized craft — and we were lucky to have the artist come and share his passion for his creation.  Chef Sawyer has given life again to more than just an old Cleveland building, but to a way of dining – and to an experience while eating – that we didn’t even know we wanted.  But if that means saving room for fig leaf gelato, then sign me up.

Get ready, CLE:  Restaurant Trentina opens to the public on July 8th. Stay in the know by following Restaurant Trentina on Facebook, on Twitter and on Instagram.

Disclosure:  As a part of the Trentina friends and family preview nights, I was invited to attend this tasting menu opportunity with a guest. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

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sights and sounds {part four}

Getting some words of encouragement a little over a week ago seemed to light a fire in me last week – or maybe it was just being out and about so much in and around the city.

coffee on a friday

Even after that HUGE cup of joe, on Friday afternoon I wasn’t sure where the energy was going to come from to teach my happy hour class that evening. Leave it to a room full of yogis and some new tunes to get a part-time yoga teacher going.

grady and macbook

Upon my iTunes browsing adventures, I came across the Vitamin String Quartet and their wide array of covers of popular pop tunes. I could have spent a hundred dollars on MP4s, but to Hans’ pleasure, I only spent about $10 — which included this:

That was a $1.29 well spent — students in two separate classes specifically asked me about this track. I love shaking things up and giving them a big of the unexpected – even in the background soundtrack of their practice.

Saturday included a treat that’s been long overdue. Hans was jonesing for a trip to his favorite Tremont restaurant for awhile now. And with Zack Bruell Restaurant Week going on thru the 25th, I made reservations for Parallax.

parallax lobster roll

…but in our usual fashion at such restaurant week events, we didn’t order off the Restaurant Week menu. I started with the thai coconut and chicken soup (I could have eaten three bowls of this and been happy) and the sashimi salad, and Hans couldn’t resist the pumpkin gnocchi. We then split three delicious sushi rolls: one crab, one spicy tuna and one lobster (pictured above).  From service, to food, to the background music (rock hits of the 70′s and 80′s FTW), we will always keep Parallax in our back pocket for a much needed date night out.

Sunday morning rolled around fast, and Hans was ready to take on another one of my yoga classes. We found ourselves bright and early at for my 8:30 Sweet Heat Flow class. Since I’ve started teaching at Evolution Yoga, he’s been dabbling with more formal studio classes.  I love having him in class – he’s my extra boost of confidence.

evolution yoga sunday morning

My eyebrows might be out of control, but Hans’ side crow is quite steady. He’s even able to stack his thigh on just one elbow – compared to me stacking on both elbows. Ahhh, the bonus of regular weightlifting Myself, I snuck back to EY for Sandy’s 4PM Jungle Vinyasa class where we started by rolling out our hamstrings and glutes – but she kindly threw in some backbends for yours truly. #lovethatlady

Sunday night wrapped up having family over for homemade slow cooker pot roast. As captured via Instagram video, my recipe is pretty much a chop-and-drop one. Five or so hours later, it gives you enough to feed five adults a bit leftover – mostly thanks to my mom bringing along haluski (cabbage and noodles) that made the gluten-eating diners quite happy. And me crazy jealous.

As for today: I’m catching up on the things-to-do that I shoved off this weekend. For a change, it feels like a “weekend from the weekend”!

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CLEfood: preview of Cibrèo Italian Kitchen

Last Wednesday evening, I had the opportunity to attend a friends-and-family preview of the new Cibrèo Italian Kitchen in the Theater District in downtown Cleveland.

cibreo main room

As I walked into the space – recently taken over by the Driftwood Restaurant Group - I took two steps into the entryway, my jaw dropping in seeing the remodel. If you spent any time in the old Bricco space along Euclid Avenue, you can see the structure of the previous tenant, but otherwise, being in Cibrèo feels like you’ve traveled thousands of miles to a small village in Tuscany.

As was the case during the media preview of Washington Place Bistro & Inn and the taping of the Cooking Channel’s Unique Eats episode, the staff at Cibrèo was not thrown by my gluten intolerance – even in an Italian style setting. While I asked to simply let me know what items I should not eat, they took the time and care to make substitutions for me. Taking it another step further, team member Greg had even remembered me from the Unique Eats taping, stopping by to say hello and continuing to check on me throughout the evening. He truly embodies those words of “Gracious Service” and “Attention to Every Detail” are in Driftwood’s tagline – as did many others of their staff that evening.

After a welcome from Restaurateur/Chef Scott Kuhn, the preview dinner began, starting with a Sausage, Porcini, and Bean Soup:

cibreo soup

Michelle at Cleveland Foodie shared how to make this soup on her blog last week, which I sent along to two people at the dinner since it was a favorite of many around the dining room.  It’s easier to make than it looks, but that’s the beauty in dishes like this one.

Next up: Risotto Funghi with porcini, truffle, shiitake and pecorino toscano:

cibreo risotto

Hans isn’t a fan of mushrooms, so I had pretty much this entire serving dish to myself. And as Katrina pointed out, the pictures of this dish across the internet are quite misleading – the portion was quite large, and quite delicious. I did my best to pace myself as we had quite the meal ahead of us, sneaking out as many porcinis as I could before it was time for the next course.

From there, the Bolognese made with the trifecta of veal, pork and beef was presented:

cibreo pasta

While the menu featured a pappardelle noodle, I was treated with a corn spaghetti as my gluten free version.

cibreo gluten free pasta

Chef Erik Martinez stopped by our table to get my opinion on the corn spaghetti.  While he shared with the crowd that the restaurant is currently importing their pasta (but do plan to start making it in house), he was interested to see how this gluten free version worked. Not quite as visually striking as the pappardelle, but still this gluten free noodle was one of the best options I had to date. I don’t eat all that much pasta anymore, but that night I ate every single bite. Which was followed by the consideration of licking the bowl. I’m Italian at heart – give me a hearty meat sauce and I’m quite content! I held my composure instead, although I almost requested a second round…

Somehow, we found room in our stomachs for another course: the Pork Osso Buco with brown butter polenta, gremolata and swiss chard:

cibreo osso

…as I was treated to braised chicken thighs, served with the polenta and chard:

cibreo chicken

…and the pleasure was all mine. Cheesy, thick polenta combined with the hearty dark meat of the chicken and the sturdiness of the greens worked wonders in that serving dish. I noticed how easily the pork fell apart as Hans ate every single bit that was presented.

To finish the meal, we all dove into gelato options: passion fruit and Nutella:

cibreo gelato

I didn’t think life could get sweeter – then Nutella gelato appeared. Ready to claim it just for myself, I took a stab at the passion fruit to be equally as content. The perfect bit of sweetness to end the evening.

LONG STORY SHORT: I had high expectations that were far surpassed at Cibrèo that evening. From the attentiveness of the staff to the quality of the food, we loved this special dining experience. I am thrilled to have a new option to enjoy in one of my favorite neighborhoods of Cleveland, and wish the entire team at Driftwood the best as they continue to thrive all over Northeastern Ohio.

Cibrèo opened for dinner and lunch earlier this week. Cibrèo Privato, the private event space, opens later this month. Follow the restaurant on Twitter at @CibreoCleveland and like them on Facebook to keep up on the happenings at this new Cleveland dining location.

Disclosure: The team at Driftwood Restaurant Group offered me two media passes to attend this preview dinner at Cibrèo Italian Kitchen. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Cibreo Italian Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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