Cleveland is making strides in the race to provide its citizens with great food and talented chefs. Jonathon Sawyer from the delicious Greenhouse Tavern on East 4th St. just pulled off his first Cleveland execution of a pop-up restaurant. The "Brick and Mortar" pop-up was held last weekend, just around the corner from Greenhouse Tavern, in the soon to be home of the brand new Noodle Cat (a full service noodle and dumpling house). As downtown continues to struggle economically, the addition of the pop-up restaurant, which helps to draw lots of young working people into downtown, is just what Cleveland needs. The featured chef was Lee Anne Wong, and many of the movers and shakers in the Cleveland food scene showed up to give their support, and most importantly, to eat.
Lee Anne was one of the top contenders on Top Chef's first season, and has since worked with Bravo and many other big names in creating and promoting interesting cuisine. The theme of the dinner was Easy Japaneasy, and featured a perfectly sized array of simple Japanese influenced dishes. We started off the tasting menu with an order of the Vanilla-Shichimi Pepper Chicken Wings. While Greenhouse makes amazingly moist and flavorful wings- these were unbelievably twice as good. The tender meat was slightly sweet, incredibly tender (falling off of the bone), and mostly spicy! Wings can be a bit messy to eat, but being able to taste such a perfect debut of a chicken wing...was well worth the very slight embarrassment of when the waiter came by to clean off (with both hands) our pile of crumpled napkins .
Next we had the Tonkatsu Sliders with mustard-katsu sauce and cabbage salad.
The pork was fried crispy and light- cooked perfectly throughout, while the cabbage salad provided the tangy bright citrus flavor to balance out the dish. So good.
They offered a few different cocktails and my favorite Japanese beer, Hitachino. We finished off the tasting menu with the Hatcho Miso Marinated Beef and the Chilled Buckwheat Soba Noodles. Both were also fantastic, while the chicken wings had to be my favorite.
The finale was a small dish of soft serve with soy caramel, topped with black sesame brittle, matcha rice krispies and marinated mango. Even though the soft serve was a bit too soft, as Sawyer had just bought his very first soft serve machine, it was pure heaven. The caramel, nutty soy flavor of the soft serve, made the perfect backdrop for the crunchy machta krispies and super fresh mango. I wounder if they can just set up an ice cream stand while the restaurant is closed...
We posed for a quick picture with Lee Anne, and thanked her for the delicious meal, and all of her hard work.
If you are around for the next pop-up, check it out. You should be willing to try new foods and appreciate the creativity of the chef. Follow Sawyer and his pop-ups on Facebook.
See you there next time!