Update: Unfortunately, Quince closed suddenly in September 2012. I’ll post updates if I find out anything.
As frequent readers of my blog are aware, one of my major clients is NASA Glenn Research Center, so I travel fairly frequently to the Cleveland area. As several of my other reviews, such as Greenhouse Tavern and Wonton Gourmet indicate, Cleveland is quite the food destination, and I’ve so far only touched the tip of the iceberg (with such recommended establishments as AMP150, Lola, Lolita, B-spot, and several others remaining on my hit list for reviewing). However, most of these places (with the noticeable exception of AMP 150) are downtown or other places not easily accessible to GRC (which is by the airport, well west of downtown), so for years the question of “Where shall we go for lunch?” was typically answered with “well, thte food court at the mall isn’t too bad…” Indeed, that’s where we’ve eaten, more times than I could count.
Until earlier this year, when my coworker Patrick and I visited GRC, and one of our NASA hosts, Don, said “Hey, I know a decent place in Olmsted Falls.” So we packed into his car and drove out the west side of NASA GRC and headed down to Olmsted Falls by the railroad track.
Nestled into a little complex of buildings right on the tracks was a place called Quince, a small café featuring innovative variations on American classic fare, such as sandwiches, soups, and wild variations on mac and cheese. I ended having a stunningly good lunch platter of “Fish and Chips”‘ consisting of tuna tartare, homemade tater tots, some lightly breaded salmon, and a mixed green salad, that was a phenomenal value at $8. It was also perfectly executed, with the tartare being nicely spiced with a light ginger sauce, the tater tots being perfectly seasoned with herbs, and the breaded salmon not overcooked and having a nice horseradish sauce with it. The rest of the party’s lunch selections were similarly amazing. Alas, having expected that I would be dining at the mall again, the camera was left back at my hotel room.
So this time when I found that I had another trip to Cleveland on the docket, I made sure of two things… To make more reservations at Greenhouse Tavern (to introduce my coworker Patrick), and to make sure that I brought my camera so that I could get pictures of Quince.
This time, I decided to try one of the mac and cheese dishes, selecting the scallop mac and cheese. Those that know me and my food allergies know that I usually avoid seafood like the plague (due to allergies), but also know that very fresh seafood doesn’t trigger them much (I’m allergic to one of the substances that forms as seafood breaks down, so quality raw fish, and anything that has been poached or fried without being abused usually doesn’t affect me). At Quince, I decided it was worth the risk. And I’m glad I did, since it was a very nicely done dish. The scallops (small ones mixed in with the cheese, and a large pan-fried one on top) were perfectly cleaned and cooked, and combined very nicely with the tender hand-made pasta and rich cheese and béchamel sauce. The result was a near perfect dish for lunch, and again a bargain at $9.
My coworker Patrick opted for the chicken sandwich, and also wasn’t disappointed. So if you find yourself on hhe west side of the Cleveland area, it’s probably quite hard to find a better value for a high-quality lunch than Quince. I certainly plan to come back more often.