Chef Jonathon Sawyer, owner of The Greenhouse Tavern and James Beard Winner for Best Chef in the Great Lakes Region in 2015, consistently brings exceptional dining experiences for residents and visitors to the re-emerging Rustbelt city of Cleveland, Ohio.
Location: 2038 E. 4th Street, Cleveland, Ohio
Menu: When the appetizer menu begins with Fried Brussels Sprouts, Bone Marrow Potatoes, and Crispy Chicken Wings Confit, you know you are going to be in for an exceptional meal.
If you visit for lunch, there are several salads, soup, and sandwich choices. But, you might want to venture out with Crispy Pig Ears, a Falafel Bowl or a Roasted Pig Head Sandwich.
This is not a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise, but you can actually order a Bucket of Fried Chicken at The Greenhouse Tavern for lunch or dinner if that suits your mood. Nothing on the menu sounds generic. Instead, diners are treated to options such as a Vegan Cauliflower Shank or a Lamb Porterhouse. Because of Cleveland’s location on Lake Erie, walleye and perch are the local fish. Both are fresh and delicious.
For brunch, you’ll find an enticing array of pancakes and waffles alongside Breakfast Corndogs.
I visited recently for dinner and ordered the Ohio Beef Burger with Raclette Cheese and Tavern Pomme Frites. It was an exceptional burger, and, for dessert, the Buttered Popcorn Pots de Creme was heavenly. I took a bite of a fellow diner’s Jalapeno Ice Cream. Let’s just say, it should be reserved for the MOST adventurous ice cream eaters.
Thoughts: It must be noted that Owner/Chef Jonathan Sawyer’s award in 2015 means that he beat out all of the Chicago chefs to win “Best in the Great Lakes Region.” From what I observed, he is creating dishes that are certainly worthy of this honor. The recognitions continue to mount up. His fries were featured in an article by Food & Wine listing “America’s Most Decadent Potato Dishes.” In the story, Chef Sawyer mentions using mature potatoes that are “at least 40 days old.” Those kinds of details lead to tastes that are far above what might be found in other restaurants.
In addition to The Greenhouse Tavern, Chef Sawyer has two other restaurants: Noodle Cat in the Crocker Park complex of Westlake and Trentina in University Circle. Trentina serves dishes resembling those of Northern Italy and the town of Trentino, Italy, his wife Amelia’s homeland. Ingredients aren’t brought in from Italy, though, because Sawyer is highly committed to local sources and Ohio farmers.
The atmosphere at The Greenhouse Tavern is both cozy and hip. The main dining room is long and narrow with vintage bicycles suspended from the ceiling. A wide bar dominates the area filled with an eclectic mix of tables and dark wood accents. East 4th Street is a very popular spot in downtown Cleveland, and The Greenhouse Tavern is in the middle of the action.
Price range: Most brunch items are $9-15, but the Face and Eggs (roasted pig’s head with fried eggs) jumps to $56. Lunch choices are $9-19, but the Bucket of Tabasco Chicken is $34. Dinner options are $13-42 with side items offered for $10.
Connie's book "Telling It On The Mountain: 52 Days in the Life of an Unlikely Missionary" was published in 2016 and is available on Amazon.In addition to her blog, www.theregoesconnie.com, she is a regular contributor to The Yums,Trip101.com, MilesGeek.com, Epicurean-Traveler.com, ShortWeeks-LongWeekends.com and other print and online travel publications.
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