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

word-full wednesday: welcome to The Oak Barrel


A scene…

Me:  “Hi, I’m meeting some friends here… it’s going to be five ladies…”
Hostess:  “For a book club?”
Me:   “Um, no… we’re more of a wine club…”
Hostess:   “hmmmm, no one here like that quite yet.”
Me:  “Oh, okay. So how about I just get a table for five in the bar area then…”
Hostess:   “Are you with a group of all males?”
Me:  “Um, definitely no…”

<end scene>

How did I go from being a librarian to being a escort in a few sentences?

The more important thoughts from our evening out at The Oak Barrel:
  • Duck fat popcorn is just as fabulous as it sounds.
  • Gluten free dining is easy on Taco Tuesdays – and based off the rest of the GF menu, any time during the week. Blue corn chips FTW.
  • Major kudos to our server Ashley who put up with my request to check – and 2nd and 3rd to double and triple check –  that the soy chili glaze on the ahi tuna was indeed not made with soy sauce.
  • I’m claiming the back corner table in the bar for future girls’ nights outs.
  • I’ll definitely be back – next time with the husband and brother in tow – for a proper, full dinner entree.

What’s your go-to taco of choice on Taco Tuesday? I apparently gravitate towards seafood options – the spicy shrimp with gauc was quite tasty…

The Oak Barrel on Urbanspoon

CLE food: happy hour noodles at Noodlecat

Last August at the Cleveland Museum of Art’s #GlimpsesofAsia Tweetup, I had the chance to try some of what Chef Jonathon Sawyer and his team at Noodlecat offered to hungry Clevelanders. I had enjoyed my that tease of noodle goodness, but haven’t managed to get down to the restaurant itself until this week. I met up with a few of my favorite blogging ladies for a much needed happy hour feast.

While the girls ordered some yummy looking cocktails, I went wild with a pot of Field of France Rooibos decaf tea. Since I was running behind schedule, we took advantage of the happy hour specials including $5 half portions of their noodle bowls before its official end at 7PM. We learned from our super kind, super sweet waiter that happy hour keeps them on their toes as it has become the busiest time of day. Considering the downtown lunch rush, that says a lot.

Here’s the array of what we ordered that evening:

“Super” Salad w/ adzuki beans, local greens, dry blueberry, savory green tea granola & ancient grains

(I said to the waiter, “I just want a salad”. He recommended this. Ordered with the dressing and granola on the side: both were quite good. Bonuses to the chefs for the use of oranges and avocado!!)

College Ramen w/ poached chicken, shiro chicken broth, dry corn, dry peas, dry chive, scallion & chicken salt

(Mostly chosen as I figured it was the easiest to be made gluten free, done by subbing rice noodles. HUGE selling point for me as Noodlecat can make many of their dishes gluten free quite easily. I felt like I was back at B-W.)

“Roscoe’s” Fried Chicken & Ramen w/ fried chicken, butter, hot sauce, maple syrup, greens & fried chicken broth

(Not a great picture, but a great flavor since each of the ladies ordered this – and dug right into that fried chicken with their bare hands)

Tempura Walleye Steam Bun w/ hoisin, pickled radish, & iceberg

(…at least I think it’s the Walleye – perhaps one of my fellow diners can confirm. More top notch food blogging yet again on my part…)

Seasonal Pot de Crème: green tea flavored with a caramel topping

(Quite delicious, but not quite my favorite flavor – buttered popcorn over at Greenhouse Tavern takes that spot. I’m lucky to have friends that share bites of their desserts!)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Steam Bun:

(garnished with the much needed wash down of milk)

LONG STORY SHORT: Our bellies were full and our wallets weren’t left empty so I consider our happy hour venture quite the success. On top of it, we were all quite pleased with everything we had that evening.  Who knew slurping could be so fun?! I can see now why so many take advantage of the happy hour specials at Noodlecat. And if you’re downtown between 4PM and 7PM, I think you should too.
Noodlecat on Urbanspoon

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