Why? Weekends!

It was a crazy busy CLE weekend, so let’s get right to it.  On Friday night, CLEguy and our CLEfamilies went to dinner at Table 45 to celebrate CLEguy’s new job.  I’ve never been less than awed by a Zack Bruell restaurant, so I was sure we were in for a treat.  CLEguy and I arrived a bit early and took advantage of Table 45’s phenomenol happy hour specials.  $4 select wines and beers, $5 select martinis, $5 bar bites, and free sushi!

Then it was on to dinner…

We started with appetizers – cocktail shrimp, tuna tartare on plaintain chips, and calamari.  The calamari was incredibly tender and served with a sweet and sour pepper relish that reminded me of a tapenade.  For our entrees, CLEguy chose the braised pork with a bacon and chihuahua cheese potato croquette.  The flavor of the pork was outstanding – very smoky.  I chose the Chinese 5-spice scallops with crispy pan fried noodles.  The scallops were perfectly cooked and served in a light broth with vegetables, that didn’t overpower the spice of the scallops or the crispiness of the noodles.  I only wish I had gotten more than 3 scallops!

I also have to admit to dessert envy.  CLEmom chose the sticky toffee pudding, which I would recommend to anyone eating there.  It was so delicious!  Overall, Table 45 provided a lovely setting for a celebration dinner.  And it goes to show that you can’t go wrong with a Zack Bruell restaurant!

Saturday morning, I ran my first ever 5K!  Fellow bloggers Hungry in Cleveland, MojaMala2, and Finishing Firsts also ran the 30th annual Old Oak Run at Southwest General.  Also, a shout-out to CLEtweep SeeJesBike, who also ran her first 5K!

As I started the race, I had tears in my eyes.  After over three months of training with Couch to 5K (trust me, I never used to run unless chased), I was ready to see if I could accomplish this goal.

When I started to hit the wall in the middle, some of the CLEbloggers who passed me cheered me on and gave me a burst of energy to keep going.

And when I crossed the finish line, with CLEguy waiting there, it was such a great feeling.  I was really proud of myself!  Plus, I beat the time I thought it would take me by over 3 minutes!

Thanks to everyone for the shout-outs and support!  I can’t wait for the Cleveland Marathon 5K next month!

CLEgal, MojaMala2, and Hungry in Cleveland

Mybusy weekend wasn’t done yet, though!  Saturday night, we had a “blends” (bloggers + friends = blends) dinner at Palate Restaurant and Lounge.  Palate has been getting a lot of buzz lately.  From a visit from Iron Chef Michael Symon to Doug Trattner’s “Suburban Surprise” review to fellow CLEblogger Bite Buff’s review, I was dying to try Palate.  Plus, CLEparents had dined there and couldn’t stop raving about it. 

So, Hungry in Cleveland, Poise in Parma, Cleveland Food and Brews, and our significant others headed to Palate to check it out. 
We started out with some adult beverages.  I sampled both the sparkling-fresca martini, with champagne and strawberry puree, and the cucumber loco.  Both drinks were delicious, but the cucumber loco was truly outstanding – light and summery, with a sea salt rim.
Next came the appetizer course.  We selected four dishes from the “small plates” menu – the chicken liver pate, wild mushroom bread pudding, duck confit, and braised pork belly.  All of the appetizers were outstanding.  The bread pudding was moist and the mushroom sauce it was served with gave it a hearty, earthy flavor.  The pate was smooth and delicious – especially when paired with the black currant jam.
The pork belly came with mushrooms, fingerling potatoes, and a smoked gouda sauce.  All the elements combined for a perfect bite.  CLEguy and I both agreed our favorite was the duck confit.  Served with hoisin glaze, Asian slaw, and peanut sauce, the duck was tender and flavorful.
I also have to compliment our wonderful server, who knew absolutely everything about the menu and just what to recommend.
Next, CLEguy and I split the fried goat cheese salad.

This salad features two fried cakes of creamy goat chese, baby greens, pears and almonds, topped with a thyme honey gastrique.  It was amazing!  The goat cheese was deliciously creamy and the pears and almonds provided the perfect texture contrast.  The gastrique added a little sweetness without overpowering the other elements.

Then it was time for our entrees.  CLEguy chose the flat iron steak, served with brown butter cauliflower, and 4-cheese mac and cheese.  The steak was perfectly cooked – tender and flavorful.  The mac and cheese was outstanding, with a delicous bread crumb topping.

I chose the potato gnocchi with braised lamb, broccoli rapini, and feta cheese.  The dish was a bit salty, but not overpoweringly so.  The lamb was tender and the gnocchi were some of the lightest I have ever tasted.  There are some serious pasta skills going on in Palate’s kitchen.  For me, the best part of the dish was the sauce.  It was simply the braising liquid from the lamb.  By using this as the sauce, the flavors of the lamb, cheese, and gnocchi shone through on their own.  I ate every bite!

Chef Jarrett came out to chat with us before dessert.  From the new spring menu to the challenges of suburban restaurants to the camraderie of the CLE restaurant community, we had a wonderful and engaging conversation.  Chef Jarrett is a warm and friendly host who also serves up one heck of a delicious meal.  I highly encourage you to check out Palate – perhaps even for tonight’s Dinner in the Dark!

It was also wonderful to spend an evening with some of my dear “blends,” chatting about blogging, TEDxCLE, our love for CLE, and more.  A perfect spring evening, capped off by this adorable and playful dessert from Palate – “dirty bon bons.”

Sunday, we slept.  Seriously, after all of that, we needed it!  Although, we did cap off the weekend with some great brews with CLEfriends at Willoughby Brewing Co.  So, “Why Cleveland?” Well, Zack Bruell, 5K’s with supportive friends, dinner with “blends,” Jeff Jarrett, and good beer.  Sounds like enough answers for one weekend!  What new answers to “Why Cleveland?” did you discover?

***Want to read more reviews of our dinner at Palate? Check out Hungry in Cleveland’s review, Cleveland Food and Brews review, and Poise in Parma’s review, too!***

9 Responses

  1. Thanks for the shoutout and link- I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed you experience too! And I laughed when I saw the dessert picture. He had described the dish during our dinner, and it was fun to see it come to life! Looks like I’ll have to head back soon to check out the spring menu.

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