Monday, August 10, 2009

Fun Playing with Sunday Supper at Crop

I am ashamed to admit how long it has been since I first dined at Crop Bistro in Cleveland's Warehouse District. Owner Steve Schimoler is passionate about his food, and one of the most playfully creative Chefs I know. He and his wife Jackie are the forces behind Cleveland Food Rocks and, "an online farmers market linking Northeast Ohio's small farmers and producers with local chefs. In an innovative and timely twist, the market is "powered" by SYSCO, whose refrigerated trucks delivery the goods to local restaurants over already-established routes, thereby conserving fuel and maximizing efficiency. " We were determined to get our friend Kris to Crop before she had to leave for Japan.

Six of us assembled at Crop for the unique Sunday Supper. It was close to perfect, and an amazing bargain at $25 per person. We started with not one, but two amuses:

Chile Deviled Eggs with Crisp Pork

What combination could be better than a deviled egg topped with crispy bacon! And dusted with a satisfyingly hot bit of chile pepper. As per usual, Chef Schimoler encouraged us to play with this food by taking the egg with fingers and dredging it in the sauces decorating the plate. Yum.


Fresh tomatoes were the star of this chilled soup. Truthfully, I'm not a big fan of Gazpacho - but this dish wowed; we all practically licked our bowls.

The cheesy crouton was a perfect foil for the acidic tomatoes, and the cilantro was garden-fresh.

Bread Service

Freshly baked cornbread was the next table guest, accompanied by a softened compound butter.

Salad came next, served family style:

Watermelon, tomatoes, and two varieties of beets, together with assorted lettuces, were the base of the salad. There were also cubes of an extremely mild Swiss cheese, cucumbers, and a bacon topping. The dressing was a simple balsamic vinaigrette - simply delicious. Even though this was the first official course - the six of us could not finish it.

This intermezzo followed the salad course:

Crop-Sickle - Lime and Honey

I'm not really into frozen - I thought I'd clean my palate with a few licks, then return this to the glass. Wrong! I ate the whole thing - simple but delicious, and refreshing to the palate.

We had our choice of six entrees for the next course. Chef Steve explained that Crop had hosted a "Julie and Julia" dinner the night before, and so had magnificent Massachusetts Sole in the house. Sold.

Herb Crusted Baked Sole With Citrus Cream

Chef Steve applied the cream from a seltzer bottle at the table. This dish was simply perfect. Though I thought I tasted something nutty in the crust, Chef said that it was a simple combination of fresh herbs and bread crumbs. The Citrus Cream complimented the mild fish - there was none of either left on my plate!

Seared Hiramasa (Amberjack) and Scallops

Two of our tablemates sampled this delicious dish, with Olive Tapanade and Salsa Verde. Chef Steve said the Citrus Cream would go well with this dish also, and allowed our tablemates to help themselves to his siphon.

Grilled Hangar Steak with Chimichurri

Two tablemates opted for this dish - and my taste was heavenly. The meat was perfectly cooked to medium-rare, and the sauces on the plate truly enhanced that which was already pretty darn tasty. Our remaining dining companion had the Tasmanian Salmon wtih Coconut Curry and pronounced it delicious.

Side dishes were Chef's Choice and served family style:

Cool Bean Salad

Grilled Ohio Corn

Plucot in Pastry, Unsweetened House Made Whipped Cream

I just learned about Plucot at the Geauga Farmers' Market on Saturday (Herbthyme had some Plucot Jam), but it didn't stick to my brain that it was a specific fruit until this dessert was served.

The fruit was slightly cooked, but still firm to the bite. The pastry added a desserty feel to the lovely fruit, and the cream was perfect with it - picking up the sweetness from the fruit without added sugar of its own.

Sunday Supper at Crop is even more of a "play with your food" experience than the regular menu - while I'm sure that Chef Steve would love to have his Sunday off - we could see how much he loves finding creative ways to utilize his bounty, and to show off ideas in process. We were so glad to finally play with Sunday Supper at Crop!

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