Sunday, July 20, 2014

Fun Playing With A Gem in the Raw: Tim Bando's Grove Hill

July 2014 has been a roller coaster. It started with an amazing meal at Jonathon Sawyer's Trentina (blog post on that to come shortly), then a week plus in Boston enjoying fresh fish, seafood, and great friends. My fiftieth birthday was approaching at the end of the week, and I had been planning culinary adventures to celebrate it for months. Then, it happened -- the crud descended the night before and crushed all the plans. I spent my big day going from doctor, to lab/xray, to pharmacy, to the couch, to sleep.

After a week of misery, the fog began to lift, so we took a chance on getting a seat at Tim Bando's one-and-one-half week old Grove Hill in Chagrin Falls (the website isn't really up yet; you'll get better info on their Facebook page). I didn't want to make a reservation, in case the cough wouldn't permit me to go out at the last minute, so we hoped 6pm would be early enough to get a table. We missed it by that much (the diner ahead of us got the last one). The cheerful hostess suggested the bar, but at first that didn't appeal - were there tables at the bar area, I asked? She said no, but as we headed out, we saw a communal "sidebar" that can hold up to 7 people next to the bar, looking out the front window, with comfy leather stools. And only two of the seven seats were occupied. Sold. I hope they come up with a better name or description for that table, since it's the bar area, but not the same as sitting at the bar; in fact, it was quite lovely, except for the aggressively perfumed plants on the window sill.

Service was mostly expert, though the bread service was delivered by a runner who didn't tell us what the components were. Despite a couple of flaws, we thoroughly enjoyed our meal and it was a worthy consolation prize for the recently cancelled festivities.

Bread Service: Whipped Soft Butter, Garlic, House-made Hummus

The bread was assertively crusty with a melt-in-your mouth middle. I don't know what the garlic cloves were intended to be. They didn't seem soft roasted and weren't spreadable, but they didn't taste pickled either. Cut up, they went nicely with the soft whipped butter. The bean dip tasted very fresh with an herbaceous pop, but was a bit too salty. 

Roasted Corn
Bob's roasted corn was topped with Calabrian Chili Aioli, Pecorino, and Basil. Not local corn yet, but close enough to be enjoyed, accompanied by a great balance of sweet and slightly spicy flavors, with mouth hugging creaminess from the aioli bringing it all together.

Grove Hill Chicken Soup
This chickeny elixir is thick with orzo, chicken meat, carrots, celery, onion and chili oil, and topped with parsley. Though it needed a big pinch of salt, this creative approach to Grandma's chicken soup made this sick girl feel like she'd had the most comforting bowl of poultry penicillin ever. Be forewarned that the chili oil heat is pronounced, so if it is not your favorite flavor, steer clear. 

Texas Cut Sirloin
Summer Bean Salad, Herb Butter, Fries
Bob's steak was cooked to a perfect medium-rare and crusted nicely, though it was also a bit under salted. The bean salad offered an unexpected but welcome pork-infused flavor punch, and the crispy fries rounded out the plate nicely.

Seared Scallops
Polenta Croutons, Truffled Corn, Chives

This dish would have been magnificent if the Polenta Croutons hadn't been cold. The scallops, my first seafood since enjoying local/super fresh products in Boston, were a very good quality product, well seasoned and perfectly seared. The warm corn salad complimented the seafood with both texture and acid enhancing the natural pairing of corn and shellfish. The Polenta Croutons were a great idea and had nice flavors, but they needed to be served hot and crispy to really impress. 

Desserts are made in house and sounded delicious, but the portions were so generous that we hadn't even cleaned our dinner plates. Guess that means we'll have to get back to Grove Hill for another meal!

We had fun playing with our dinner off the bar at Grove Hill. The deft hands in the kitchen and in service are cranking out both creative and more familiar comfort food, at very reasonable price points, and it all bursts with flavors, colors and textures that left me hungry for more. The restaurant also offers a full raw bar; I haven't seen that menu posted anyplace on line, but the regular menu is on the Facebook page. I expect the few flaws in seasoning and temperature will work themselves out as everything settles in, but I really hope that they re-think those stinky flowers by the window seats (I love roses too, but not right by my dinner plate or wine glass). I'm excited to try additional offerings from the regular and raw bar menus and playing with food at Grove Hill after hitting the farmers' markets later in the summer; they are supposed to start serving Saturday and Sunday brunch sometime in August.

Grove Hill
25 Pleasant Street
Chagrin Falls, OH 44022
(440) 247-4800
Closed Monday

1 comment:

  1. Everything looks delicious, but that soup just looks scrumptious!