cleveland, part 2

i had a long, food-fueled weekend in cleveland a couple of weeks after i started my blog.  it was extremely serendipitous as i hadn’t realized how foodie cleveland would be or how much inspiration i would get from being there.  i had to break my account of tasty experiences into 2 entries – you can check out the first one here.

cleveland’s west side market (courtesy of

so, we woke up a tad groggy on our second day in cleveland.  perhaps that go-to nightcap was unnecessary?  however, since we had a good plan of where to eat from our detective work the night before, the day didn’t get away from us.  i love a good brunch, & our investigative work paid off.  we grabbed a cab to the flying fig & settled in for one of the best meals of the trip.  we chose this restaurant partly from recommendations and partly for the locale.  the restaurant is part of the whole farm-to-table movement and sources local farms for their ever-changing seasonal menu.  it’s also (conveniently) located right next to one of the most amazing food markets in america, cleveland’s west side market.  there are over 100 vendors selling pretty much everything from fine meats & cheeses to fresh seafood & baked goods.  there are also booths with ready-to-eat foods, like fresh pasta, pizza, sandwiches, cupcakes, etc.  it’s really hard to write this because, in full-disclosure, we failed in our attempt to see all of the greatness that is the west side market in person.  the market is closed on sunday – which is just crazy because it’s such a huge shopping day!  i sheepishly browsed around at the tiny shop located between the restaurant and the west side market in hopes of finding something great to make up for the disappointment.  i came across a bottle of maggie beer verjuice.  what a gem!  this particular brand, from australia, was one of the first to produce verjuice commercially.  from the french word “verjus,” it has quite the history as it originated during roman times and was a staple of parisian kitchens in the 14th & 15th centuries.  it’s made from half-ripened grapes & brings a light level of acid & brightness to salad dressings or sauces (less so than a lemon or red wine vinegar).  i bought the sangiovese version, which is a bit sweeter and really nice for desserts.  thank goodness for that find & the food at the flying fig, or i would’ve been blue the rest of the day for missing out on the market.
creamy polenta and crispy poached egg @ the flying fig

the flying fig is a small, cozy neighborhood restaurant.  it’s really charming with a cool clientele.  the menu was exceptional.  every dish is listed with a brief & tasty description, each one sounding somehow better than the one before.  after much deliberation with the waiter and each other, we decided:  me – the creamy polenta & crispy poached egg (above) with local mushrooms, spinach, & tallegio; my old college roomie – baked eggs ranchero (below) with “plum creek farm” chicken, cheddar, scallions, ranchero sauce, & crème fraiche.

baked eggs ranchero @ the flying fig

unbelievable & even better tasting than the pics look!

afterwards, we walked to the cool little neighborhood that is tremont.  we were teased a little as we walked across the bridge by a local who proclaimed that we must not have been from there… what gave us away?!  tremont is chill & probably where i would live if i lived in cleveland (although as i’ve only been to 3 neighborhoods, that might be premature).  it’s where michael symon’s original lola was before he moved it downtown and is now home to his hip bistro, lolita.  we did some shopping & found a little street fair with live music & tents full of handmade artisan goodies &, of course, grub.  my favorite vendor was this cool chick who made necklaces & bracelets from old vintage objects.  i’m still trying to find her card…

after that we were wiped out and grabbed a cab back downtown.  we had had our fun, & now it was time to get back to business.  she grabbed her laptop, i grabbed my paperwork, & we got busy.  so what that we went back to the laid-back, very cool greenhouse tavern to take care of business?  when you find a golden spot in a foreign city, it seems almost rude not to.

taking care of business @ the greenhouse tavern

in closing, for all you food lovers, go to cleveland!  check out the west side market & tell me all about it.  check out all of the restaurants i mentioned, as you won’t be disappointed.  and, if you see one of my favorite food writers, michael ruhlman, who resides there, tell him i said hi & i hope to meet him next time.

so… where’s my next food destination?  really excited about this one:  chicago!!!  let me know if you have any must-eat recommendations.  cheers!

About Jennie

i'm like you... a lover of food and life. i cook, i create, i photograph, i dream - i love.
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5 Responses to cleveland, part 2

  1. Kelly says:

    thank you for this post! I am going to Cleveland for christmas, and want to try the flying fig, it looks great! I never think of cleveland as a good dining out city, so this was very helpful. I stumbled upon your blog through the nest party, love it! I am such a foodie as well :)

  2. Anonymous says:

    As a foodie and a Clevelander, I have to agree with you about The Flying Fig. It's one of my current two fave restaurants. I have actually run into executive chef Karen Small shopping for the restaurant at the Shaker Square farmer's market on Saturday mornings. I ate at The Greenhouse Tavern for my birthday last Saturday, and have to admit I wasn't overly impressed. The food was good, but much heavier than I was expecting and seemed to lack a little finesse. (My artichoke risotto tasted like a stick of butter). However, I think you'd be remiss to visit Cleveland and skip Fire, located in Shaker Square, owned by Doug Katz, especially if you are interested in the farm-to-table, locally-sourced and in-season food movement. His restaurant is my other top fave, and has been for a while. Finally, I feel compelled to say that anyone who has never thought of Cleveland as a good dining out city, doesn't live here. All of the well-traveled foodies I know say they'd put Cleveland up againt any of the other big "food" cities. So there!

  3. Edsel L says:

    You and your friend chose well, jk – you hit several of my favorite spots in Cleveland. I agree with Anonymous above that Fire is another Cleveland treasure.

    I'm afraid that s/he might give you the wrong impression of Greenhouse Tavern though. Yes, they serve a lot of rich food, but in my experience it has been very flavorful. The most recent visit there a friend ordered the heirloom tomato risotto. It was absolutely heavenly. Yes, it was rich, but it definitely tasted like more than just butter! Their clams in foie gras broth are insanely great…

    If you ever make it back here, do try to get to the West Side Market. It's a shame their hours are so restricted. It's not only a beautiful space (other citied have similar buildings) – it's a real market with terrific vendors, not the touristy things I've seen in other places.

  4. perfectlastbite says:

    kelly, great to see a fellow blogger from the nest party here! I adore beth & the nest. i will be definitely return the favor & check out your blog. thanks for the support- I'm super new to this… ;).

  5. perfectlastbite says:

    anonymous & edsel, i thought this posted on the 13th but realized it didn't take. still figuring this whole thing out :). anyhoot, i appreciate both or your comments. i will definitely hit fire next time i'm in cleveland. as far as the food @ ght goes, i can't really say. even though i loved the vibe there we never had a proper meal. it's great that one of you had a good experience & a bummer that one of you felt it too rich. perhaps don't rule it out though. i had a dinner last night in dallas, that was way richer then what i'm used to for this particular restaurant. i'm chalking it up to having a different chef in charge. i'll give it a second chance…