Friday, May 20, 2016

Cleveland

Traveling out of state to unique destinations always merits a fanfare. On a whim, Mister, Miss Anna and I stopped into a few touristy type places within our own home state of Ohio. Most of my writings are of travels to historical wonderful destinations, usually with a small focus on local food attractions. This time around we ventured slightly north and wound up in downtown Cleveland, or as the locals would refer to as CLE. I'm not entirely certain the commotion of a fanfare is applicable, still here it is. Take it for what it's worth. To some of you, it's worth very little. Personal blogging is just that. My personal impressions

 We have visited the West Side Market in Cleveland several times. It's an old town staple for a broad selection of produce, meats, and cheeses. I will admit we are little spoiled after having visited Chelsea Market in NYC a few times, so our expectations are probably skewed. Although the market in Cleveland is great and all. I certainly didn't feel the need to photograph the spectacle. Just me, I suppose. No sizzle or pop like the trendy markets of elsewhere. Me, I'm not usually a trendy type of gal. Still it's meh, okay. That said.

Mitchell's Ice Cream is a short walk down the street from the market, technically Ohio City area. There's an air about the place. Something says "this business is built on integrity and care." Unpretentious decor, friendly staff, and fantastic product. With a Toasted Pistachio ice cream that will knock your socks off. No artificial green coloring. Just depth of flavor, a flavor which tells me someone took the time to experiment and really care if the product was good. Mister had two scoops of the Banana Cream Pie flavor. Miss Anna tried a cone of Maple Walnut. Of course, being like the normal family we are (yep) we all had to trade bite for bite. I still cling to that Toasted Pistachio as the king of all ice cream but the Maple Walnut was pretty fantastic. Stop in if you ever have the chance. It's a good product obviously made with care and concern.

These two stops were part of the plan.

The whimsical part came about when we headed to the newly opened restaurant of Chef Michael Symon's. A barbecue place known as Mabel's. Being a generally kind person in my nature, I typically always start constructive criticism with a kind word or two. This time around I'm just going to rip the band-aid off in one swoop. If this restaurant sees a lasting success it will surely be based on the celebrity status of the owner. Or the copious amount of booze which is presented up and front. It's a bar which sells smoked meat.
 I'm not a food critic. I could pick the place apart starting with the serving of our entire table worth of food on one cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. I get it, this is trendy. We have become okay with eating our food out of Styrofoam containers. Every drive thru. Every road stand, tent style rib shack serves up their grub in such fashion. When I sit down to shell out a nice chunk of cash on dinner, I would expect at least a real plate. See, I told you nit-picky.

Fine, I can get past this. The three of us will all dine at one trough. Just slap the smoked meat on a tray and dish up the sides in paper, it's okay. Because I'm about to have food paradise. Only, not so much. We tried the ribs, brisket, and pork belly. It almost made me feel sad for the poor animal that sacrificed it's life for me to have a meal. Sorry, but that is what went through my mind.

For side dishes we chose the potatoes, based entirely on the servers description which made the item sound like something new and unusual. It wasn't. My 14 year old kid could have whipped this up in our home kitchen. Side dish two and three were a coleslaw and bean (baked) dish. The coleslaw was okay, nice addition of poppy seeds. Still though, just not great. The beans were outright wrong. I understand there is suppose to be a take on "European side dishes" and I would still mention it's so far off the beaten path that one has to wonder what kind of trendy vibe has Symon ventured towards. For him to consider this dish as something local people would enjoy is a little surprising. Lima beans in an overly boozy sauce with no real distinguishable flavor aside from a raw lima bean flavor. Big miss.

 Why bother serving bread if the best you can do is offer a few slices of white bread, without even offering a nice quality butter to go along with. Again, nothing outstanding. The ribs were fine, the porky belly was a waste of hard earned money, the brisket was okay too. But not for $13.00 per 1/4 pound. I could have bought an entire brisket for the cost of the meat alone on the cookie sheet. Now, I'm just going off at length.

 Disappointed would be the feeling I had when we left Mabel's. It could be true that Chef Symon put his great care and concern for this place and the menu and the end result. Somehow I have the feeling that his celebrity status is suppose to be sufficient enough to carry this restaurant to longevity. I'm fairly certain he missed the mark. I'm not sure what the foodie critics think or have written. I've never read any reviews. If the foodie world runs true to form then it just all depends if you hope to make friends with the chef.




2 comments:

  1. At least you had some great ice cream.

    As a vegetarian that's been in groups dining on bbq, I take the side dishes seriously. You have to work rather hard to screw up baked beans and potatoes. Boozy lima beans? Oh for heaven's sake.

    I still can't wrap my head around pork belly being a luxury food-when I was a child that was a food of deprivation. The last time I was in Cleveland, it probably was.

    There was some sort of online protest a bit back about, "We Want Plates" from people tired of being served on cutting boards or pieces of slate, etc.

    So are you toasting nuts to try and reproduce the ice cream? It would be a worthwhile endevour.

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    Replies
    1. I believe the booze mentioned by the server was beer and brandy? Not tasty.
      I haven't considered making the homemade version of the ice cream. I'm certain I could never replace the creamy texture at home. I no longer own an ice cream maker. The best I could do is freeze, and stir and freeze and stir some more. I'm quite sure that Tom and I have made better smoked pork products at home but that ice cream, not even going to attempt it! I hope all is well in your part of the country.

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