Category Archives: Restaurant Reviews

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

a Saturday night out: Press Wine Bar & Blithe Spirit at Great Lakes Theater

I’m on a roll: another Saturday night, another visit to PlayhouseSquare. My date for the evening: the one and only Aunt Kathy.  We were long overdue for a Girls Night Out, so we took it upon ourselves to soak it all up via some good food, beverages and entertainment.

Starting off with an early dinner at Press Wine Bar in Tremont, my first visit to the new hot spot was a nice treat:

Photo Mar 02, 8 42 51 PM

From top left clockwise:

  • The soup du jour featuring an apple and celery puree
  • The Arugula Salad with a poached pear, candied walnuts, blue cheese, pear and walnut dressing
  • The Roasted Chicken Breast with sage and goat cheese risotto, roasted cauliflower and mushroom madeira sauce
  • The Five Spice Seared Ahi Tuna with black bean spread, pickled red onion and apple relish

As for beverages, as we were at a wine bar, I stuck with a simple Chardonnay while Aunt Kathy went out on a limb to be pleasantly suprised by her choice of a Pimm’s Cup (with Pimm’s Liqueur, 7-Up, Angostura Bitters and cucumber slice).  We enjoyed our early dinner, the kind and attentive service from our server Emilie and the quiet of the restaurant, all before heading downtown for the night’s entertainment.

When Chris from Great Lakes Theater originally reached out to me at the beginning of February about the company’s recent Social Media Night, I knew I wouldn’t be able to attend due to my obsession with an 1980′s musical group.  But he was kind enough to extend an invitation for me and a guest to check out GLT’s latest offering with another unique pre-show event opportunity.

Photo Mar 02, 6 12 02 PM

Aunt Kathy and I were quite excited for Stage Fright! The Haunted Hanna and the Ghosts of PlayhouseSquare, a pre-show talk featuring nationally renowned expert Mary Ann Winkowski: a paranormal investigator, author, lecturer, television/radio personality and consultant for the hit CBS show Ghost Whisperer.

Photo Mar 02, 6 17 58 PM

Boy, did we learn a lot that night…

  • Yes, there were ghost in the theater with us – probably ones that we brought with us!
  • Ghost thrive off of human energy – thus why theaters are such a popular spot for them.
  • Upon their death, a spirt has 24-48 hours to cross from this world into that white light into the other side. The longer they wait, the smaller the hole to the light gets. When they get stuck, they need the help of folks like Mary Ann to get there.
  • Once a spirit crosses over into the white light, they can go back and forth as they like.
  • Animals’ spirits too can get stuck on this side. Mary Ann had a great story about her passed cat and dog.
  • If you don’t remember your dreams on a regular basis, put some mugwort under your pillow. Within three weeks. you’ll start remembering your dreams. (I think I’m going to try this!)

Mary Ann’s 45-minute talk filled with tales of ghosts and spirits was the perfect teaser to GLT’s performance of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit.

Photo Mar 02, 8 38 36 PM

Amanda’s review of the performances is spot on. We giggled like school girls when Madame Arcati danced her pre-trance shimmy, chuckled at the banter between husband and wives (yes, plural), and asked “where’s ours” when the dirty martinis were being handed out like candy. It was the perfect piece of classic theater to bring me back to why I love the art form so much. 

Want to get a bit more insight behind Blithe Spirit? Check out the director’s night discussion where Charlie Fee does just that for the interested classic theater goer.

Blithe Spirit runs through this weekend (March 10) and you can purchase tickets at the PlayhouseSquare website.  Personally, I’m pretty excited about this second half of their 2012 – 2013 season, ending with Guys & Dolls and Much Ado About Nothing. Get yourself to the Hanna Theatre, Cleveland – there’s plenty goodness to see in there… even the haunted kind!

Disclosure: I was invited to attend a pre-show event and performance of Blithe Spirit at Great Lakes Theater and received complimentary tickets to the show. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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