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Next - El Bulli? You can keep it. For my money, EL Ideas was far better (and 1/3 the price.)

Such a great, fun, delicious meal. We ate there at the end of April and zero repeats of any of the dishes you mention. While not every dish blew my mind, plenty did. Playful, relaxed atmosphere with great food and excellent service.

May 15, 2012
Johnny K in Chicago Area

Brief Trip Report

This is a couple week belated, but I wanted to make a quick trip report. Chicago continues to be my favorite food city, and the recommendations from the Chowhound community continue to provide spot on advice. We thoroughly enjoyed all of our meals. I won't go through the details of every meal, but only make brief mention of a couple of the standouts.

Old Town Social--I love charcuterie, and the 5 we sampled at Old Town Social were outstanding. I am hyper critical of pastrami, and this example did not disappoint. The right balance of salt, smoke, spice and a hint of sweet. When I saw the lamb salame on the menu, I was worried that it might be a little too strongly flavored. I was wrong...it had just the right amount of funk that a good salame should have. The pork belly rueben is a dish not be missed.

Girl and the Goat--A really fun space. Enjoyed the energy in the room. For being as popular and "trendy" as this place is, I was encouraged by how friendly and relaxed the service was. A couple of standout dishes were the pretzel bread with honey mustard and thousand island. This is bread that I have no problem paying extra for. For as much hype as the pig face has gotten, I was not disappointed.

Sable--Excellent examples of how to execute what can be a kitschy concept. Bacon Jam with Brie cheese might have taken years off my life, but wow was this good. Completely over the top, but so, so, so good. Duck Fat Steak Fries--one of the best examples I've tasted. This may be heresy, but these blew Hot Doug's out of the water (and I loved Hot Doug’s). The cocktails lived up to the hype.

El Ideas--One of the best dining experiences I've ever had. The combination of the excellent food paired with the interaction with the chefs was awesome. A couple of standout courses were the potato (ice cream and french fries???), the chicken (you had me at Benton's Ham gravy), and the white chocolate (celery for dessert--it shouldn't work, but it's awesome). The level of food in such a casual environment is my ideal of fine dining. To be able to hear the inspiration of how a dish is conceptualized and executed from the chef who did it brought a whole new level of appreciation for their food. It's like we were backstage at a concert with the lead singer giving us an in-depth history of each song. The only comparable experience I've had was E by Jose Andres in Las Vegas. A wonderful meal and well worth every penny. I cannot recommend this experience highly enough.

Thanks again to the Chicago Chowhounders. Without your insight, I wouldn't find these great dining spots.

May 12, 2012
Johnny K in Chicago Area

CLE- Beef at WSM?

Foster's at the West Side Market sell Miller Livestock Company beef. I bought a roast last week and it was outstanding. As far as I know, that is the only non-CAFO/factory farmed beef at the West Side Market.

Mar 04, 2012
Johnny K in Great Lakes

Spending time in Cleveland for Christmas with Family.

It might be a little more casual than what you are looking for, but for my money, the best food in Cleveland is at Greenhouse Tavern.

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The Greenhouse Tavern
2038 E 4th Street, Cleveland, OH 44115

Nov 19, 2011
Johnny K in Great Lakes

LOTUS OF SIAM - MENU SUGGESTIONS

I love, love, love Lotus of Siam...One of my favorite restaurants period. One of my go to dishes is the crispy rice/sour sausage appetizer. I remember hearing or reading something a while back about an off the menu Thai style sausage dish. Wondering if anyone has any info on this?

Jul 11, 2011
Johnny K in Las Vegas

Forest Grill--Birmingham, MI [DTW]

Earlier this week, my wife and I had the pleasure of eating at the Forest Grill. I have wanted to eat here for quite some time. We finally found ourselves in the area after making the drive from Cleveland. I have been a big fan of Brian Polcyn for a while. We have eaten at the old Five Lakes and I am an amateur charcuterist, using his book as an invaluable reference.

The meal naturally started with the charcuterie platter, which included the house cured prosciutto, lardo and pepperoni. Accompanying the platter were some marinated olives, roasted vegetables with basil and a caponata. The lardo was decadent; pairing it with the caponata on a slice of the bread provided cut the richness of the fat and provided a great balance. The prosciutto was as good as I have had. The pepperoni was amazing, the right amount of spice. I was amazed at what the crew at Forest Grill can do with their charcuterie.

For entrees, I ordered the Veal Cheeks served with gnocchi and wilted spinach. The cheeks were braised to perfection; they absolutely melted in my mouth. The gnocchi were light and fluffy with a crisp exterior. The dish was a wonderful example of how to take a tough, under looked part of an animal and transform it into something spectacular. My wife ordered the Diver Scallops and Pork Belly. This seemed like a strange combination, but it worked very well together. The scallops were seared perfectly. The pork belly was a work of art, meltingly tender underneath a crunchy exterior.

To end the meal, we indulged in a couple of desserts our waiter recommended. The Ricotta Cheese Tart was described as sort of a deconstructed cannoli, which worked as an accurate description. Topped with sliced fresh strawberries, the ricotta was mixed with chocolate and housed in a graham cracker crust and garnished with pistachios. Our waiter described the Cinnamon Brioche Bread Pudding, saying it was the chef's take on bread pudding, a dish he can't stand. This intrigued me to see how the chef would innovate on this classic. Replacing the traditional raisins with dark chocolate proved to be an excellent choice. The pudding was topped with vanilla ice cream, which melted quickly. My wife fought over taking bites of each dessert, it was a toss up as to our favorite.

Overall, I thought this was an excellent meal. Service was efficient, courteous and knowledgeable. For the two of us with a couple drinks and tip, we walked out the door for $150, an excellent value. Given my interest in charcuterie, this would be a place I make the 2.5 hour drive again. If I lived in the area, this would be a regular stop.

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Forest Grill Restaurant
735 Forest Ave Ste 100, Birmingham, MI 48009

Jun 17, 2011
Johnny K in Great Lakes

Converting Non-Believers- In Pittsburgh

I went to Brgr last week. I was thoroughly impressed with our food. I had the Button Buster (beef burger with short ribs), wife had the Localvore (lamb burger) and we split some onion rings for lunch. Both burgers were exceptional. Real complex flavors and well executed. I highly recommend and will be returning when I'm back in the 'Burgh.

Jan 02, 2011
Johnny K in Pennsylvania

Cleveland creative American cuisine or farm to table

All 4 are great choices. All have pretty fun atmospheres and I wouldn't call any of them formal. In terms of quality ingredients, I would vote for Greenhouse. In terms of creativity, I'd vote for Crop. Whatever your choices from these 4, I don't think you can go wrong.

Oct 17, 2010
Johnny K in Great Lakes

Trip Report

We just got back from NYC and wanted to thank everyone here for all the great information. Our meals:

Babbo--We did the Pasta Tasting with the accompanying wines. We absolutely loved it. The pasta was great and the wines paired very nicely. The olive oil cake/gelato was absolutely stunning. Loved the texture and subtle flavor of the cake.

Degustation--I had very high expectations for Degustation. I loved the setup, being able to watch the chefs work. A lot of very good dishes, nothing that really amazed. I was disappointed in the service. It wasn't bad, but we definately got a condescending attitude.

DBGB--Wow, wow, wow. We loved this place. Atmosphere was fun. We did our own tasting of 6 different sausages (Toulouse, espagnole, tunisienne, beaujolaise, vermont, hot dog). All were great, the standouts were the beaujolaise, tunisienne and espagnole. If we lived in NYC, this would be a regular stop.

Momofuku Noodle Bar--Had lunch here. Ramen was good, not great. Had a special of 3 different tamales, which we really enjoyed (chicken mole, jalepeno cheddar, pork and kimchee). The pork buns were even better than I expected.

Pomme Frites--I'm a sucker for good french fries. Thought the fries were good, interesting sauces to accompany. Good place to stop if in the area for a snack.

Shake Shack--Thought the burgers were good, not great. Really enjoyed the chocolate milk shake and thought the sauce on the cheese fries was really great. Not the nuclear orange at most places. Had a homemade feel to it.

Katz's--I love pastrami. This was some of the best I've had.

It was so hard trying to narrow down the list of restaurants we wanted to try. I guess we'll just need to make another trip!!!

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Momofuku Noodle Bar
171 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

Oct 17, 2010
Johnny K in Manhattan

Best Value in Manhattan

My wife and I are coming to NYC for our anniversary in October. Food is going to be a big part of the trip. We've been prowling the board, but are overwhelmed by all the choices. We are still trying to set our budget. So we are looking for the best values in Manhattan.

We are looking for lunch and dinner recs. Anything from super casual to tasting menus. We'll probably do one tasting menu for our actual anniversary dinner. After that we are open to just about anything. Two exceptions though: we don't do Indian food (bad experience in the past) and while we're not opposed to seafood, it's not very high on the list.

Aug 09, 2010
Johnny K in Manhattan

Tell me some food blogs with great photography, please!

I'm a big fan of Michael Ruhlman's blog-- http://ruhlman.com/

His wife does the photography and it is amazing.

Jul 17, 2010
Johnny K in Food Media & News

First Time at Cleveland's West Side Market-Need Suggestions

This might be too late....Cake Royale has a great selection of cakes. The cupcake shop also has a good selection. My two favorite cheese shops are the Meditterean market that kind of sectioned off from the rest of the market and the Cheese Shop. Ultimately, look around and see what looks good. Hope you enjoy!

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Royale Cafe
7770 Auburn Rd, Utica, MI 48317

Jul 17, 2010
Johnny K in Great Lakes

Detroit/Ann Arbor by myself

I will be heading to Ann Arbor for Zingerman's Camp Bacon this weekend. I'll be getting there Friday afternoon and I'm looking for somewhere to have a good dinner where I'll be comfortable by myself. I'll be staying near the airport, so I can head towards Detroit or Ann Arbor, I don't mind driving. I've eaten at, and thoroughly enjoyed, Roast, Zingerman's Road House and Five Lakes Grill (now Cinco Lagos). Looking for some place new. Any suggestions?

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Five Lakes Grill
424 N Main St, Milford, MI 48381

Cinco
2284 W 4th St, Mansfield, OH 44906

Jun 14, 2010
Johnny K in Great Lakes

Cleveland: Westlake, Wickliffe, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Case Western

In Westlake, one of my favorites is Moosehead Saloon. Very casual bar with a fun patio. The sandwiches are excellent.

I would highly recommend hitting the Greenhouse Tavern which is downtown on E. 4th St. My wife took me there for my birthday this weekend and it was absolutely unbelievable. It is fairly casual and the food is out of this world.

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The Greenhouse Tavern
2038 E 4th Street, Cleveland, OH 44115

Moosehead Saloon
694 Dover Center Rd, Westlake, OH 44145

Jun 14, 2010
Johnny K in Great Lakes

Windsor Eats

Thanks for the recommendations. In no way did I want to perpetuate any negative feelings towards Windsor's food scene. I think all cities have good food. Some just take a little more digging to find. I'm looking forward to our trip!

Forest Grill and Windsor

Wife and I are heading to Forest Grill for my birthday dinner in June. Can you give me an idea on the dress code.

Also, we are heading to Windsor for a couple days to enjoy the casino. Any recs on food in Windsor? Have not found any real enthusiasm for the food scene in Windsor, but looking for any good eats there. No real criteria, just good food.

Thanks for any advice Chowhounders!!!

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Forest Grill Restaurant
735 Forest Ave Ste 100, Birmingham, MI 48009

May 23, 2010
Johnny K in Great Lakes

Windsor Eats

Wife and I are heading to Windsor in June to enjoy the casino. Looking for any recs for breakfast, lunch or dinner in the area. I don't have any real criteria, just looking for good food. From the bit I have found here, the general consesus seems to be that Windsor is lacking in good eats. Give me the best the city has!!!

Thank you Chicago

My wife and I just came back from our first trip to Chicago. What a great food town!!! We had some really amazing meals and Chowhound was an invaluable resource for finding good information on where to eat. A run down of our meals:

Lunch/Brunch:
Hot Doug's--A great and creative selection of sausages. We need a place like this in Cleveland.
French Market--Saigon Sisters pork belly banh mi was outstanding. Really good frites at Frietkoten.
Mercat a la Planxa--A good lunch. Nothing outstanding, but a good meal that we were in the area for.
LB Bistro @ The Sheraton--A decent brunch buffet. Omelets and crepes were good, but I was hoping for a little more.

Dinner:
The Publican--Great, straight forward food. The country style pork rib was outstanding. The pork rinds were unbelievable. Really good beer selection.
Moto--Our first foray into molecular gastronomy. A really unbelievable meal. Clever conception with the flavors to back it up. Blown away by the Cuban cigar and the French Onion soup.
Graham Elliot--What a great atmosphere and food to back it up. Playful and delicious.
Purple Pig--Stopped for a bottle of wine and the charcuterie board. A couple of the salumis had some subtle, but complex flavors.

We are already talking about our next trip and all the great restaurants we can try.

Apr 18, 2010
Johnny K in Chicago Area

Looking to have my mind blown in one meal

Lotus of Siam absolutely blows my mind everytime I go there. Flavors that I don't think I can find anywhere else.

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Lotus of Siam
953 E Sahara Ave Ste A5, Las Vegas, NV 89104

Apr 02, 2010
Johnny K in Las Vegas

Recommendations for family-friendly restaurants in Cleveland (North Royalton area - southern suburbs)

Carrie Cerino's is a great choice in North Royalton. My favorite Italian in Cleveland.

http://www.carriecerinos.com/main/mai...

Apr 02, 2010
Johnny K in Great Lakes

Best ICE CREAM in Ohio??

Some great suggestions here, but my money is definately on Rosati's. Absolutely delicous.

Apr 02, 2010
Johnny K in Great Lakes

Visiting Cleveland, which restaurants I should not miss ?

We just recently ate at the Greenhouse Tavern and were completely impressed. Light Bistro is a favorite. We have not been to Dante's in Tremont which recently opened, but we did go to his last restaurant and it was excellent. Enjoy your time in Cleveland!

Mar 13, 2010
Johnny K in Great Lakes

Clevelanders: Where do you buy your meat?

New Creation Farm's pork is absolutely outstanding. They are at the North Union Farmer's Market at Shaker Square on Saturdays. The last time I was there, a boneless pork loin was only $4/pound.

I really enjoy the West Side Market, but be careful with which stand you buy from. Some of the stands get their meat from big distributors, so you aren't getting anything you wouldn't get at the regular grocery store. Talk to the stand owners and see where they are getting their meat from and make your decision from there.

Mar 13, 2010
Johnny K in Great Lakes