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Emperor’s Palace (Cleveland, OH)

Our US-based route from New Hampshire to Detroit also had us passing through Cleveland at lunchtime. While we were coming back to Cleveland for three days later in the trip, I figured this would be a good opportunity to check out someplace towards the East side of town, perhaps towards China Town. In fact, we had both been craving dim sum for a while, and Cleveland has more than a few dim sum joints, so I figured I’d give one a try. However, from past experience, I know that they vary greatly in quantity, price, and authenticity, so I decided to check out my friend Nancy’s blog, Fun Playing With Food, and see if she had any recommendations. And upon reading her recent review of Emperor’s Palace, it sounded like it was worth checking out.

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Thurman Cafe (Columbus, OH)

You know, sometimes I’ll have to admit that I just don’t know when to say when. Despite having four solid days of eating and drinking my way through Chicago on the Death March, and being mere days away from the planned Austin BBQ bender, events related to my travel schedule conspired to leave me with a few spare hours in Columbus, Ohio. While I rather enjoyed my visit to Tommy’s Diner the last time I found myself in this situation, I wanted to try something different, so I put out a call for recommendations on Facebook. Several people I know, most of whom live in or near Columbus, responded with the same place, the Thurman Cafe in Colombus’ German Village neighborhood.

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Jeet India (Fairborn, OH)

And no rest for the weary. Coming back from Chicago, I immediately turned around and left on a work trip to Dayton. Dayton’s not a bad place. I particularly like the National Museum of the United States Air Force, since nothing like a few hours of looking at airplans like SR-71s to cheer you up (at least if you are an engineer like me). But, to be honest, Dayton is always a bit of a challenging culinary destination for me, primarily since I mostly seem to end up staying in suburbs like Beavercreek, and I’m really not into places like The Olive Garden. But it’s also not a culinary wasteland. I actually rather like The Pine Club, which is one of those olde schoole steak houses that still seems to be stuck at some point in the 1960s. And, as I mentioned before in my review of Maharajah of Dayton, thriving Indian community (primarily Punjabi), and as a result, quite a few decent Indian restaurants, although most of them seem to focus on buffets. But a few of them do indeed have some rather good food, and from two visits there, I can say that Jeet is one of the better ones.

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Tommy’s Diner (Columbus, OH)

After our business meeting in Dayton, and a dew spare hours spent at Wright-Patterson AFB at the Museum of the United States Air Force, it was time for us to head back home, via the Columbus airport. On the way, we decided to stop off for some lunch at Tommy’s Diner in Columbus. Located on the west side of town in the Franklinton neighborhood, it’s a bit off the beaten path. Well, not quite, the path is actually beaten to Tommy’s, since that place pretty much is the major destination for that neighborhood. Tommy’s is basically the embodiment of your classic Greek-owned diner of the ’50s. Sporting two of those U-shaped Formica counters, swivel stools, and waitresses that still call you “Hon” when you order, Tommy’s has your basic Greek diner fare: burgers, hot dogs, gyros, grilled sandwiches, fries, and the like. They also have a lot of kitsch on the walls, including old road signs, and the fairly obligatory wall of old license plates.

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Maharajah of Dayton (Beavercreek, OH)

A few weeks ago, my work travels had me traveling for an off-site meeting near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, so my coworker and I found ourselves staying a night at the Hilton Garden Inn in Beavercreek, Ohio, a modest suburb of Dayton. This is the kind of situation that happens to me a lot, primarily due to my mix of (mostly-governmental) clients: I find myself stuck, often without a rental car, in a suburb outside of a non-major metro area, with few options aside from the hotel’s on-site restaurant, or a loooong walk to someplace only marginally better (like an Olive Garden). This looked to be the case for Beavercreek as well, but as we were pulling into the hotel, I noticed an Indian place in the adjacent strip mall, called Maharajah of Dayton. I also then remember that the Dayton area actually has a fairly large Indian population (indeed, there’s actually a fairly substantial Hindu temple there), so I decided it was worth checking out.

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Greenhouse Tavern Revisited (Cleveland, OH)

Every once in a while, I find myself needing to revisit a restaurant I’ve already reviewed. Sometimes it’s because I’ve found, after my visit, that I missed a particularly notable dish. Sometimes, I feel that a visit I has wasn’t representative for some reason. And, quite frankly, a successful restaurant is an evolving entity, and restaurants can, and should, change over time. You can read my original review of Greenhouse Tavern here. While I came away from that visit thoroughly wowed by Greenhouse, I had only basically sampled a few items off of the late night bar menu. Since then, I’ve had almost half a dozen visits, and had a chance to really work through the overall menu, so it was time for a re-review. Also, that first visit, as you can read from the review, involved more than a little direct interaction with the kitchen (they kept bringing out cool things for me to photograph and sample), and I figured another review in which I was just a random customer was in order as well (I wasn’t completely successful in this, one of the staff recognized me this time). And finally, it’s been 2 years since that review, and that’s a long time in the restaurant world. The Greenhouse is still mostly the same, but it’s had a lot of little changes. In 2009 it was only about six months old. Now it’s a seasoned veteran restaurant with a passel of awards, some new paint, and a lot of tinkering with the menu (as an aside, do they still have the bar menu? I’ve always had coworkers in tow the last few visits, so I haven’t actually sat at the bar…) Well, last month’s trip to Cleveland left a free evening, and I decided to revisit Greenhouse Tavern for several of these reasons. I also had two coworkers in tow (one who I had previously brought in 2010, and one that hadn’t been before), and we all agreed that it was worth trying for dinner. And like my previous handful of visits, it took us all only a few seconds to decide that the $44 tasting menu was where the action was at…

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Market Garden (Cleveland, OH)

Most every trip to Cleveland I try to make it to the West Side to see what’s going on. Well, this time, there was actually some major news: a new brewpub has opened. Market Garden is now open, across the street from one of my other West Side favorites, Bar Cento/Bier Markt. So I decided to walk across the street and give it a try. Market Garden is the latest venture from Sam McNulty, who opened the above-mentioned Bar Cento an Bier Markt across the street. Earlier this year, he teamed up with former Dogfish Head brewer Andy Tveekrem (I’ve since learned that in Cleveland beer circles he’s got quite the following) to open up a new beer garden-styled establishment, focusing on beer and distilled spirits, but also offering a decent menu of, well, upscale pub grub. Bringing on experienced chef Mike Nowak from across the street, they’ve got a decent menu of appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, and lighter dinners…

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AMP 150 (Cleveland, OH)

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m often having to travel to Cleveland to meet with clients at NASA Glenn Research Center. As a result, I’ve ended up having a number of Cleveland restaurants that I get to semi-regularly visit and enjoy. I always get a hearty welcome from the folks at Greenhouse Tavern and Bar Cento, both of which I’ve written up in the past (and I visited both this trip as well, I’ll do an update post on Greenhouse Tavern later). But one place I’ve frequented several times, but haven’t yet written up is AMP 150. The AMP in AMP 150 stands for “America’s Modern Palate”, and that’s basically what AMP 150 is about, modern American food. Nestled into the Cleveland Airport Marriott, it’s the sort of place that you’d probably drive by several times wondering “Is that place good?” but never going inside, especially since the Cleveland Airport Marriott isn’t exactly the area’s most photogenic hotel. But inside, they’ve done a great job renovating the restaurant space, making for a ~200 seat restaurant with a nice lively decor. I should mention that I’m always a bit skeptical of restaurants in hotels, since the manager of the restaurant has to play to several crowds: the hotel bar crowd, the people coming for a good dinner, and the people staying at the hotel for which the restaurant is primarily a convenient option (or, if they don’t have a car, probably their only option). So this makes the restauranteur have to cater from everything from bar snacks, to modest dinners, to fancy entrees and tasting menus. And a lot of places can do some of these well, but not all of them. Luckily, AMP 150 seems to pull off the whole menu well…

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Quince (Olmsted Falls, OH)

(Closed) 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.

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Bar Cento (Cleveland, OH)

Cleveland continues to be good to me on my regular visits here. On my last visit here I had an outstanding evening at Greenhouse Tavern, and learned that a substantial fraction of the culinary professionals there know and respect each other. Indeed, one of the last pieces of advice from the bartender at Greenhouse Tavern was that if I wanted some good beer and pizza, I should check out Bar Cento (where Greenhouse’s Jonathon Sawyer was chef before opening Greenhouse). Interestingly, I also got a recommendation for Bar Cento from my friend Rick in Vermont, who happens to know the new chef at Cento, Michael Nowak, from his days as a culinary student at NECI. So that was two reasons to head to Bar Cento on this trip…

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