Monday, October 19, 2009

Fun Playing With Food at Light Bistro

I was waaayyy overdue for a visit to Light Bistro - one of Cleveland's most innovative restaurants. Thankfully, we solved that "overdue" problem last Friday, and enjoyed a lovely meal with friends.

Chef Matt Mathlage's menu has undergone a lot of changes since I last dined at Light. These changes address the economic times in which we find ourselves, by offering several very different dining options at a variety of price points. This had to have been difficult to balance, as Chef Matthlage is committed to using local and sustainable products, which have to drive his costs up. So, in addition to the tapas and entrees always found at Light, Matt is also serving pizza, panini and burgers at price points from $9-16, and a bar menu of hearty snacks ranging from $5-8.

An even better deal is the Happy Hour, from 4:40-7pm, Monday-Friday. All Bar Menu food items are $5.00 each, 5 domestic beers are $5.00, 5 specialty beers are $7.50 , single specialty beers are $2.00-3.00, selected glasses of wine are $5.00, and a selected bottle of wine is $10.00. Selected specialty cocktails are $3.00. We started at the bar, around 6:30pm, waiting for everyone to arrive. I ordered the happy hour bottle, which was a Malbec (and the dark print didn't photograph well enough for me to tell you what it was) - Malbec being the magic word for me!

Once everyone arrived and we were seated, the table was set with filtered water (which, IMHO, every good restaurant should have) and bread service.

The bread comes hot from the oven.

It is served with fabulous Lake Erie Creamery butter, at a creamy, spreadable temperature.


We decided to split a pizza and two "traditional" tapas. First up - a tapas:

Chinese Street Chicken / Miso / Sesame / Green Onion

This dish was presented in a Chinese food take-out container.

Although it was succulent and tasty - we didn't get much of miso or sesame flavor.

Chicken Liver Pate / Crostini / Ohio Apple

This was packed with flavor and texture - the apples contrasted perfectly with the creamy pate, which wasn't at all "livery" (butter will do that).

I confess that I wasn't expecting too much from the pizza - as readers of this blog know, I freely admit to having very strong preferences in that department, which few Cleveland restaurants have sated; and pizza wasn't an original part of the Light repertoire. But I should have known to not worry.

Pizza Albondigas - Lamb Meatballs / Tomato Sauce / Mozzarella / Provolone

This thin-crust pizza, baked in Light's bread oven, was excellent. The crust had crunch and chew (though not char), but was still effervescently tender. The toppings were outstanding - the lamb meatball was a few flavor notches over the usual beef or pork meatball one can get on pizza (if one can get meatball on pizza in Cleveland!), and the sauce and cheese brought it all together.

Truthfully, I was almost full after the appetizers! But there was one entree item I wanted, no I needed, to try. The last time I'd dined at Light, one of my dining companions, who is a chef, noted that Light had ostrich on the menu, and he told me that I must try it. Unfortunately, the last order of ostrich available that night was ordered at another table moments before we ordered. Even worse - the diner who received the lucky plate was right in eyeshot! After being tortured watching him enjoy his dinner - I promised myself that the next time I dined at Light - ostrich would be mine!

But first, my dining companions, who all generously shared a taste:

Truffle and Ricotta Ravioli / Sauteed Mushrooms / Balsamic / Parsley Oil

My taste of the ravioli (I passed on the mushrooms, surprise) was lovely. Light pasta, fresh cheesy filling, and a tasty sauce combo.

Caramelized Scallops / Fennel / Red Onion / Orange Salad / Tarragon Sauce

My taste of this dish was the only "miss", for me, of the evening - though the person who ordered it enjoyed it very much. Again, accept that I have a very fussy seafood palate - what is important is that the diner who selected this dish really liked it.

Pork chop / Polenta / Pickled Onions / Champagne Mustard

This dish rocked - a huge portion of Berkshire pork, perfectly cooked, the loin atop a kiss of mustard, the bone standing aside a mug of very tasty polenta.

Grilled Ostrich / Asian Glaze / Spinach with Pine Nuts and Raisins

I'd never tasted ostrich before. And, at the risk of channeling Emeril Lagasse - it tasted like, well, ostrich. The texture reminded me of bison, and the flavor had notes of bison, poultry and just a hint of gaminess - but the overall effect was unique to my palate - most delicious. The Asian-inspired glaze was minimal - a veritable whisper on the dish - and it added just the right amount of "extra" flavor and texture, together with the raisins, which seemed made to accompany ostrich.

So - shame on me for taking so long between visits to Light Bistro. Chef Matt is having a slightly different brand of fun than he started with at Light - a little less emphasis on molecular gastronomy (which I enjoyed, but which might have been a hard sell in Ohio City) and a little more traditional, but nevertheless diverse menu, with something for everyone, at multiple price points. Bottom line is that the food and drink were outstanding, as was our server (also named Matt). We had a large time playing with our food at Light Bistro!

Light Bistro on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Great to hear about this place. I've been there once before and truly enjoyed it, but I often forget about it since it is tucked away off the main drag of Ohio City restaurants. Thanks for the reminder!