Friday, April 10, 2009

Fun Playing With Food at the Greenhouse Tavern Preview

The past week has been a whirlwind of preparation for two Passover Seders in my house. By a coincidence borne of red tape and serendipity, this past week was also preview week for the very-soon-to-be-open Greenhouse Tavern (2038 E. Fourth St., Cleveland, Ohio, 216.393.4302). I was so happy, yet disappointed to receive an invitation for the pre-opening cocktail party scheduled for Thursday April 9 - the second Seder night. Then, I received an invite for a "Friends and Family Preview" for Tuesday, April 7. Even though I had already scheduled myself to make Gefilte Fish that night (and Bob to make brisket) - I hastily re-arranged everything and cooked during the day. Bob went chasing after a roasting pan instead of cooking - but that did not stop us from showing up at the Greenhouse a bit before 7pm Tuesday.

We were shown to the front mezzanine, and we shivered with anticip-ation!

What - staircase to no place? These stairs will eventually go to the rooftop greenhouse - but for now, they are a curiosity.

We got comfy and were immediately welcomed by our serving team. Bottles of filtered water were brought to the table, to my great joy - I cannot stand the chemically taste of raw tap water.

We also ordered some Monmousseau Brut Etoile at a very friendly price.

Chef Jonathon Sawyer knows the way to my heart - no butter or olive oil spread here - the pre-dinner bread service is accompanied by a rich, creamy duck rilette.

We were encouraged to each order from each of the Firsts, Seconds, and Thirds on the menu (and we could have also ordered Halfs, if we'd wished) and everyone in the house would get the same desserts.

For our Firsts, Bob decided on the Organic American Prosciutto with Grilled Bread.

The meat had an exquisite smokiness and flavor.

I started with the House Made Fromage Blanc with Pickled Thyme:

Simply delicious! I've never had pickled thyme before, in or out of cheese, but I want more! And preferably in this simple, yet fresh and delicious cheese.

For the Seconds, I tried the Crispy Chicken Wings with Chili Pepper, Scallions and Garlic:

This amply portioned dish had an amazing combination of flavors and textures. The chicken was crispy and juicy, but not spicy. Chef Sawyer is clearly leaving it to the diner to kick up the flavor as the diner wishes - a bite of beautifully caramelized chile pepper, a bit of raw garlic, or a bit of scallion - or all three! Yum!

Bob opted for the Virginica Oysters with Horseradish Vodka and Meyer Lemon Mignonette, which made sense since he'd been up to his watery eyes in grated horseradish very recently. It was an awesome choice:

We are not usually huge fans of raw oysters - but these were as good as the best we'd had in Florida in February - heck, they may have been even better!

The Mignonette was a perfect combination of acid, onion, crunch, flavor and seasoning. Followed by a sip of the horseradish vodka - I could see us spending a whole evening enjoying nothing but oysters!

We had arrived a little early. By the time we were digging into our Seconds, another couple had been seated at our table. They were catching up to us, though, and were kind enough to share a photo and a bite of the Roasted Bone In Skate Wing With Capers, Garlic & Anchovy:

This was only my second taste of Skate - and although pristine and perfectly prepared, I can't say it was my favorite thing - redolent of seafood more than fish, I was glad to try it, even if I don't love it - my table-mate enjoyed it immensely.

For our Thirds, Bob decided to stick with one of his favorite entrees - the Ohio Beef Burger with Raclette Cheese, Pomme Frites & House Beer Vinegar:

If you love burgers, Greenhouse is the place for you - much as I loved my entree - Bob's was simply amazing. Perfect combination of ingredients, perfectly cooked.

I'm not big on the vinegar-on-fries thing - but this vinegar is definitely worth a taste.

Ok, I took a photo of the burger after Bob took a few bites - I'm sorry - but I just had to show you how he received the perfectly medium-rare burger he ordered. It can be so hard sometimes, in these e coli paranoid times, to get a burger this incredibly rare and juicy!

Buckwheat Pasta with Mahogany Clams, Garlic & Chili

This dish called out to me from the menu - let ye who are about to eat relatively Kosher for the next week enjoy some shellfish before you go! Oh - and the menu description doesn't tell you about the amazing, toothy, smoky pancetta in this dish. Double yummy!

Roasted Tea Hills Chicken with Bread Heels, Carrot & Herb Jus

Our table-mate enjoyed this as much as her skate; her husband relished the same burger Bob had enjoyed.

Strawberry Rhubarb Dessert

Apple Tart

Though we were hopelessly stuffed, we managed to choke down some dessert. Oh, the pain!

Greenhouse Tavern promises to be one of Cleveland's culinary gems - they open on April 14, and are highly recommended both for playing with food, and for their commitment to being green (they are Ohio's first CERTIFIED green restaurant). Bravo Chef Sawyer and company!

1 comment:

  1. That sounds like a wonderful experience! I can't wait to try it out for myself.

    Do they grind the meat for the burgers right at the restaurant? I'd be concerned ordering it medium-rare if I wasn't sure of the source of the ground beef.