Saturday, July 31, 2010

Melt Bar and Grilled

Melt Bar and Grilled
13463 Cedar Road
Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118
Dinner: July 25, 2010 (takeaway)

Mighty Macaroni Melt

Although it took me a few weeks to get to the Cleveland Heights Melt after it first opened, I've made good use of my Big Cheese Club card in last couple of months. In fact, I visited there a total of five times in July! On my first (July 2) and last (July 30) visits I ordered the sandwich of the month, which is the Firecracker Chicken: hot diablo blackened chicken, cool sliced avocado, sweet grilled pineapple and pepperjack cheese. My second visit I got my usual order of the Big Popper: fresh jalapeno peppers, cheddar & herbed cream cheese, beer battered and served with mixed berry preserves. Both sandwiches blend a little bit of sweet with a decent amount of heat. The cheese in each goes so well with both sweet and spicy elements and truly binds the sandwiches together.

On the third visit, I tried the Tokyo Tuna Melt: Asian marinated grilled yellowfin steak, ginger wasabi dressing, lettuce, tomato, muenster. I ordered the tuna rare, which was probably a mistake since the sandwich was a little too fishy to be truly delicious. It was good, but not great.

Pictured is the Mighty Macaroni Melt that was available for one day only in celebration of Christmas in July. The sandwich is creamy homemade macaroni and cheese that's breaded and fried to a golden brown and grilled with American cheese on thick sliced white bread. It was carb-o-licious!

Whether I order in or get takeout, I always skip the slaw and order double fries for an extra $.25. The slaw is too peppery for me to be enjoyable, which is too bad since I like most coleslaws. On most of my visits I was denied pickles because I was told by both servers and hosts that the pickles come with the slaw and not the sandwich. However, on my last visit my waiter told me that pickles are free(!) and that whoever told me differently was wrong. He gave me a large side of pickle slices for no charge.

My only complaint, which is not really a complaint, about Melt would be the servers and hosts/hostesses. There is definitely a "Melt" attitude that the front of house workers exude. I know they're very busy, and I've been told that they don't get breaks so maybe that's why the staff isn't overly nice. They aren't rude or nasty, just not especially friendly. They ARE all extremely knowledgeable about the menu and make helpful suggestions about drinks, but getting one to smile is like trying to break a guard at Buckingham Palace!

Most people who have heard of Melt know that the wait for a table can be hours long. Even a takeaway order can take over an hour to be ready. I would suggest going mid-afternoon (2-3 PM) or after 10PM if you can. Or head straight to the bar and eat there with little to no waiting.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Carrot Cake

Usually when I'm making dessert for a holiday, I ask some of those attending if they have any ideas about what I should make. I threw the question out a few days before the 4th of July and didn't really get a response. I asked my grandmother and she said, "make whatever you want." So I said, "I think I'll make brownies." And she said, "no brownies." Then I remembered that I had a bag of carrots and a brick of cream cheese in the fridge so I quietly decided to make carrot cake.

I got a late suggestion of Key Lime Pie, which I turned down because of the number of people attending (I'd have to make 2 pies). The person who suggested it didn't have any carrot cake in protest (supposedly she doesn't like carrot cake, also she said it was too "heavy" for a summer barbecue.) She did have some Rice Krispies Treats, which I made as a second dessert.

The carrot cake recipe comes from a former friend and is actually very light and moist. The only change I make is cutting down the sugar from a whopping 2 cups to a heaping 1.5 cups. I whipped the cream cheese frosting a little longer than usual to get it airier too. I thought it was a perfect summer holiday cake.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Spinach Pie

Whole pie

Savory slice

I got the recipe for this pie from my friend's parenting magazine. It's surprisingly simple and delicious. I'm not sure why they called it a pie and not a quiche. Maybe it's the ratio of egg to other ingredients in the filling. My only big modification to the original recipe is to make my own pie crust. This crust is 2/3 white (all purpose) flour and 1/3 whole wheat flour. It was really good with this type of pie, but I don't think I'd use it for a sweet one. I couldn't find a link to the recipe online, so here it is:

Spinach Pie
2 tsp olive oil
2 cups diced onion (one large)
1 9-inch frozen pie shell (or crust from scratch)
Scant 1 cup reduced-fat milk
3 large eggs
1 cup part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp salt (optional)
1/4 tsp pepper
1 10-oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and water squeezed out
1. Preheat oven to 350. Heat oil in skillet. Add onions and saute on medium high for 10-15 minutes, until they're soft and caramelized. Remove; let cool slightly.
2. Prick pie shell with a fork; bake 10 minutes. Crust from scratch does not need to be pre-baked. Meanwhile, whisk milk, eggs, cheese, garlic powder, Worcestershire, salt and pepper. Add onions and spinach.
3. Pour egg mixture into cooled pie shell and bake 45-60 minutes, or until an inserted knife comes out clean. Edges of pie should be browned.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

All Rise

This song popped up on my iPod the other day. It's from Volume 49 of the British version of "Now That's What I Call Music" that was released a while back. It's got a good beat and it's easy to dance to, but it's very much a boy band song. It makes no sense.

What makes this song particularly great is all the legal terms thrown in. Here are my favorite lines:

"And if you thought you had me fooled, I'm telling you now, objection overruled!"

"I'm going to tell it to your face, I rest my case!"

"I just can't wait, now the case is open wide"

"You'll try to pray, but the jury will decide."

I'd like to file an appeal since this video should have been set in a courtroom.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Top Chef 2010

I went to a fundraiser at St. John Medical Center which was a competition between four local chefs: Ellis Cooley, Jonathon Sawyer, Jonathan Bennett and Regan Reik. Actually, it was two competitions since there was a winner by popular vote and a winner by judges vote. One of my favorite food experts, Ted Allen was the host and one of the judges. The other judges were Al "Bubba" Baker and the 2009 winner of the Top Chef event, Brandt Evans. I took pictures of the food because it was mostly pretty and delicious. The descriptions aren't mine but are from the souvenir program.

Terrine of Beets and Lake Erie Creamery Goat Cheese, Beet Gastrique and Beet Paper
Sirloin of Beef Roulade Short Ribs, Corned Beef, Lobster Carrot Puree and Parmigiano
[Not Pictured]
Beets are one of my favorite vegetables and the goat cheese complimented them very well. The beet paper was insanely sweet and crunchy. I'm not sure how I missed taking a picture of the entree. It was hearty and satisfying, but there might have been too many ingredients fighting for attention. The slight sweetness of the corned beef paired well with the naturally sweet puree and the short ribs were more tender and tastier than other beef ribs I've had. The appetizer tied for my favorite of the night and the entree was my second favorite making Chef Cooley the winner of my vote. Sadly, he did not win.

Fois Gras Steamed Clams with Butter, Red Onion Brulee, Late Harvest Viognier Vinegar and Grilled Bread

Ohio Lamb Crepinette with Heirloom Vegetable Ratatouille

Chef Sawyer's clams were my other favorite appetizer of the night. They were perfectly cooked and were not in the least bit chewy, as is often the case with clams. The broth was light but packed with flavor and was oh so good to dip the [not pictured] grilled bread. I *might* have had three servings of the clams. I'm not the biggest fan of the gaminess of lamb, but the crepinette made the best of it. The ratatouille was more of a sauce than a layered side dish, which allowed me to enjoy the entree as a whole since I could use the stewed vegetables to mask the lambiness of the meat. Anyone who enjoys the taste of lamb would have given the dish 4 stars.

Spiced Poach Shrimp, Coarse Gazpacho and Whipped Cilantro

18-Hour Ohio Pork Shoulder, JB's Grits and Spicy Peach Slaw
Chef Bennett's creations won the fan vote, which really surprised me. My shrimp was poached to perfection but didn't have a hint of spice. The gazpacho was more like a bed of thinly sliced vegetables with a slight kick and was only vaguely reminiscent of the taste of gazpacho. It was good, but not great. I would be impressed if a friend served it, but disappointed if I ordered it in a restaurant. The pork was outstanding. It was tender and juicy and was the star of the plate. The grits were a touch too sweet for my taste, and I didn't really like the peach slaw. The fruit tasted pickled and had spices that hid any natural peach flavor. However, I can't say enough good things about the crunchy pork cracklings that were not in the description but made a surprise appearance on my plate. I wouldn't doubt if those pork rinds were what won over the voters.

Forest Mushroom Terrine, Sorrel Ice Cream, Sorrel Coulis and Aged Balsamic Dressing

Copper River Salmon with House-Made Pancetta Wrap, Ohio Strawberry Jam and Mustard Green Pierogi
These plates won the judges vote, which is hardly unexpected since they were by far the most beautiful dishes of the night. The appetizer looked like it would have been bursting with earthly mushroom and sweet leek flavor, but was sadly bland. The liquid-nitrogen made ice cream was cool in more than one way, but unfortunately tasted like sorrel, which is bitter and overpowering. It also stuck to the plate. The entree was my favorite of the night. The sweet-on-sweet combination of salmon and strawberry jam worked so well and the salty goodness of the pancetta was the right accompaniment. And unlike the sorrel in the appetizer, the bitter greens in the pierogi made a great counterpoint to the fish. And the mini-size was too cute. My only complaint were the pin bones in my salmon.

Bonus Pre-Dessert compliments of Chef Sawyer! Peanut Butter Cookie pictured atop Ted Allen's book, "The Food You Want to Eat"

Tiny cupcakes from A Cookie and A Cupcake in Tremont

More tiny cupcakes.
People seemed to like the cupcakes. I tried one chocolate and one yellow. Fairly standard fare.