Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Run Around, Jump Back - PlayhouseSquare Jump Back Ball is happening!

The awesome Allison over at Confessions of a CLE Habitant g-chatted me late last week and informed me of some spectacular news...  She had an extra ticket for Jump Back Ball! I had all intents to buy tickets and the day I tried to purchase my tickets, they SOLD OUT.  I've never been to this party before.  And I use the word party because from all accounts... IT. IS. A. PARTY.


What's Jump Back Ball
It's a benefit.
Hosted by and for PlayhouseSquare. 
Cleveland's young professionals come dressed to the nines. 
Each year is a new theme.
This year's theme is Through the Looking Glass. 

So now I'm in insanity mode of pulling together a fun, flexible (uh, because I'm going to be dancing like J.Lo when she was a fly girl) and fabulous dress in T-MINUS 5 days. 

Thank goodness for girlfriends!  I've had a few open closet offers and will be power shopping tonight. 

Here's what I've pulled together so far. 

My goal is to find a fascinator to pull together an Alice in Wonderland character. JBB has a list of costume ideas and I am all-kinds-of about this!

Yes Cleveland. This. Is. Happening.

And I laughed out loud reading Confessions of a CLE Habitant's post about CLE Shopaholic and Cleveland's A Plum having a fashion show this weekend.  Knowing these girls and so many other INCREDIBLE CLEVELANDERS will be dancing the night away and celebrating Cleveland makes my power-shopping so worth it. 

Do you have a formal dress shopping routine? Check out CLE Shopaholic's rules for successful dress shopping. 

So, seriously, any secrets on how you prep for a big formal event?  Give me tips, friends!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday Morsel: Cowell and Hubbard in Cleveland

I had to do it. It's been in my head for the past two days.

Welcome to a new blog post series, Monday Morsel, a snapshot post on a new or newly discovered restaurant. Let's get Monday Morsel properly christened with coverage on one of Cleveland's most anticipated new openings: Cowell and Hubbard.

Cowell & Hubbard A Zack Bruell restaurant

Zack Bruell's new restaurant opened to the public in February 3, 2012, ahead of schedule, much to the delight of throngs of hungry Downtown foodies. Cowell and Hubbard is Bruell's fifth restaurant in Cleveland: Parallax in Tremont, Table 45 at the Intercontinental Hotel on Cleveland Clinic campus, L'Albatros in University Circle, Chinato in the Eth 4th/Gateway District in Downtown Cleveland and now Cowell and Hubbard in Playhouse Square District in Downtown Cleveland.

Venue and Atmosphere: Respecting History

Cowell and Hubbard was a destination jewelry store, founded in 1861 and thrived throughout the early 1900s.  Cowell and Hubbard's website expands on the history.   Click the photos to see an archived photo slideshow that shines historical light on this landmark building.

Although I didn't scope out the entire space, the mood and atmosphere pays tribute both the past and today's Downtown and Playhouse Square. Lush red velvet booth coverings remind you of the theater curtains and etched window glass reflects the name onto the walls in a unique, almost ghostly manner.

Service: More water or bread?
Bruell must have a military training program for his service staff. At every location, his team is incredible and Cowell and Hubbard is no departure.  For an opening night experience, I expected some hiccups. Our server, Tina, though at times had to leave the table to get an answer for our in-depth foodie questions, was well-educated on the menu and had a few personal recommendations. The wait staff kept our water filled and bread plates heaped with carb heaven.

Food: Solid Execution 
Our table of six each got a first course and a main course, sharing bites and laughs.  The menu IS HUGE. I highly recommend perusing the menu online prior to dining. There were a few items that I'm certain will be tweaked based on guest feedback. A friend ordered the whole roasted chicken and it was a little bloody - quite literally. I was nervous to try the shared sample of the chicken because it was so pink. The issue was brought to light and the manager offered a re-fire of the item and assured us that according to the chef, the chicken was in fact the proper color from the roasting process.

Here are a few items that stand out on the menu.

First Course
  • Butternut Squash Ravioli with greens, jalapeño and prosciutto 
    • It's one enormous ravioli, large enough to share if you're feeling nice. Sweet, savory with a little kick at the end from the jalapenos
  • Welsh Rarebit 
    • Welsh rarebit is nostalgic for me. I ate it growing up and this evoked all the same memories. I admit I even are a few spoonfuls of the melted cheese on its own. And it was INCREDIBLE. Creamy smooth tangy goodness. I recommend a few additional pieces of brioche.
Main Course
  • Thyme Dumplings with broccoli rabe, garlic and pepperoncini
    • "Dumplings" don't do the item justice. The pasta was more like gnudi that just dissolved in my mouth. Each piece was pan-fried which added an interesting texture. 
  • Lamb Breast with yogurt, mint, preserved lemon, pine nuts, Moroccan spices
    • The flavors are intense and mellow at once. Highly-recommend. 
The addition of Cowell and Hubbard to the Playhouse Square district and Downtown restaurant scene delivers everything a foodie expected from Bruell. Make this place a priority. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Columbus Eats! Columbus Restaurants: A Foodie Crowd-Sourced List

So the BF lives in Columbus. Although it I'm sad to not see his smiling face daily, it presents an opportunity to explore the food scene in our Capital city.

About a month ago, I tweeted for recommendations for good resties in Columbus, Ohio.


People responded with so many reco's that I had to create a Tumblr list.

So now, I'm eating my way through Ohio's Capital City on a bi-monthly basis. 

My original list of restaurants was comprised of eleven Columbus restaurants; now, with recommendations of friends and fellow foodies like you, the list has grown to twenty-five restaurants! Tumblr isn't the greatest platform to update a list, so I'm transitioning to the list over to the blog and have named it ... the Columbus Restaurants: Foodie Crowd-Sourced List!  Yeah.... I'm in marketing.  

The first five I've visitsed are included below. Moving forward, I'll post Saturday C-Bus Crowd-Sourced Saturday review.

Columbus Restaurants: Foodie Crowd-Sourced List is comprised of five pieces of info. 

First: the restaurant name.
Second: the number of tweets I received recommending the restaurant. To have made the list, it had to be tweeted at least once. 
Third: the type of restaurant (Should you head there for lunch? Date night? Tuck in for a cocktail?) 
Fourth: when you see "DONE!" this've tried the restaurant! A review follows. 
Fifth: a review focused on two elements - food (duh) and atmosphere

Columbus Restaurants: The Foodie Crowd-Sourced List 
  1. 1.      Northstar (4 tweets) BRUNCH – DONE!
    Food: Sweet potato and turkey hash with poached egg. SO SO good. A little salty which I loved. 

    Atmosphere: Sit upstairs at the Eton location - incredible people watching. Rocking indie music playlist pumps through the entire place. Sang along to more than one song while eating. I’ll be back to this spot.

    2.      North Market (2 tweets) MARKET SHOPPING / BREAKFAST / LUNCH - DONE! 
    Food: Over 30 vendors, with everything from prepared Polish food to pre-packaged spices. Breads, waffles and tea selections were my favorite stands. Mostly prepared / ready-to-eat foods. If you’re looking to make a meal from scratch, don’t go here. 
    Atmosphere: Saturday afternoon = packed with people, all friendly, twenty and thirty-somethings. Clean.

    3.      Starliner Diner BRUNCH - DONE!
    Food: Cajun-style cuisine kicked down a notch. I tried a breakfast taco special and it was tasty but nothing I’d write home about. There was a “Mexican” French toast that I saw come out to another table which made me instantly regret my taco choice.
    Atmosphere: We had a 20 minute wait at 11am on Sunday – prime-brunch-time. Service was quick and efficient and the place prides itself on collections star-shaped clocks all over the walls. Space is tight so I did get to stare at lots of others’ food. Its fun, eclectic and a hipster diner.  
    Photo courtesy of Columbus Crave Magazine

    4.      Haiku DINNER – DONE!
    Food: Salt and Pepper calamari - tempura style with grilled hot Japanese peppers. Unique, tasty. Pad Thai for a main – typically I’m much more adventuresome but I asked for a dish they’re know for and this is what was recommended. Strawberry-infused saki was my rescue to a burning mouth after I realized they weren’t kidding with the hot peppers on the side of the Pad Thai. 
    Atmosphere: On a Friday night, this was a place to be seen if you’re a hipster. We had a 20 minute wait, which gave us time to grab a drink at the bar. I’d visit this place again for sushi.

    5.      Betty (4 tweets) BRUNCH  - DONE!
    Food: I tried Smoky Gravy Sausage & Biscuits ($9) from the brunch menu and it was a damn good choice. Homemade thick, flaky biscuits with a gravy made with chipotle cream, cheese sauce, & salsa with eggs and sausage patties. We walked about 10 blocks in single digits temps after this meal so it kept my arteries from clogging. Basil Bloody Mary = win. Atmosphere: This place was JAMMED at 1pm on Saturday. Its a bar atmosphere, very attentive service and relaxed vibe. We hung out for a solid two hours with no rush.
    Photo courtesy of Tasting Table
    6.      Sage American DINNER
    7.      Lemongrass (3 tweets) DINNER
    8.      M (2 tweets) “DATE NIGHT” DINNER
    9.      Level TAPAS / COCKTAILS
    10.    Dirty Frank’s LUNCH / DINNER
    11.    Surly Girl (2 tweets) BRUNCH / LATE NITE
    12.    Hounddog LUNCH / LATE NITE
    13.    Skillet (3 tweets) BRUNCH
    14.    Z Cucina (2 tweets) DINNER
    15.    Trattoria DINNER
    16.    Aab LUNCH/DINNER
    17.    Latitude 41 (2 tweets) BREAKFAST/LUNCH/DINNER
    18.    Thurman Café (2 tweets) LUNCH
    19.    Basi Italia DINNER
    20.    Third and Hollywood BRUNCH
    21.    Bar Celona TAPAS / DINNER
    22.    Katzinger’s Deli LUNCH
    23.    Rigsby’s Kitchen DINNER 
    24.    Commonwealth Sandwich Shop LUNCH
    25.    fRESHSTREET Takoyaki LUNCH