Blogs > Eating It Up Locally!

Who wants to cook? Let’s go out to eat. See where News-Herald staff members dined and where they go to unwind in our area. You might just find a new treasure in your own neighborhood.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Mexican and a movie...

I know I should have tried some sort of Middle Eastern food before heading out to see "Slumdog Millionaire" on Saturday night.

Alas, I was lazy and turned to the always reliable Lopez Southwestern Food Club, across Cedar Road from the Cedar Lee Theater in Cleveland Heights.

I let slip in declining a pre-dinner drink that I was saving room for my movie-theater popcorn, and the server, Temma, worked throughout the meal to ensure the start of the Academy Award-nominated film wasn't missed.

The Pulled Pork Burritos were outstanding, topped with black beans and a tangy and just spicy-enough charred tomato-guajillo sauce that foolishly American me said would be outstanding on top of a plate of spaghetti.

My favorite part of Lopez, however, is its presentation of chips and salsa before the meal. Usually, you get a heaping basket of chips with the salsa. Here, you get a small paper lunch-style bag that serves a much smaller amount that allows an easier control of portions.

Because the Cedar Lee is featuring so many of the Oscar nominees, I can easily see a return visit in the not-so-distant future.

-- Laura Kessel

Monday, January 19, 2009

Never forget an 'old friend'

On Saturday night, I had a revelation destined for a refrigerator magnet: I don't feel like cooking.

I didn't have anything left to cook in the fridge, what was already cooked had been eaten as leftovers a couple times already, and I wanted more than a can of soup.

So, a restaurant it was. Apparently, I wasn't the only one who had this idea. Stops at two Willoughby restaurants boasting hour-long waits sent me scurrying to Chipotle, on Euclid Avenue.

A burrito bol (prepared without the tortilla that normally makes this an actual burrito), prepared with both pinto beans and black beans, allowed me to stay true to my Weight Watchers status. It can't be called a true "vegetarian" dish, however, because the pinto beans are prepared with ham.

It seemed like lots of area residents had the same solution to the crowded restaurant issue, as the line for service increased substantially after my arrival.

Don't forget Chipotle as a weekend dinner possibility. You can get healthy fare, even in a fast-food atmosphere, without the hassle of the date-night crowd.

-- Laura Kessel

Friday, January 16, 2009

Egg white flat, and only an egg white flat

If you've paid any attention to the fast-food market in the past year, you've noticed that Dunkin' Donuts isn't just a doughnut shop anymore.

The national chain has been touting its coffee prowess to anyone who will listen, and has recently realized Americans need to become more healthy, both launching a line of lower-fat items and pointing out things that aren't necessarily going to bust your caloric intake for the day in one meal.

Among the items on the "healthy" list is the Egg White Turkey Sausage Flatbread Sandwich. It's like an omelette in a sandwich. Only healthy.

I keep the sandwich in the back of my mind, and turn to it on mornings like today, when I don't leave myself enough time for breakfast.

It's egg whites, turkey sausage and spinach with cheese on top, served on a firm whole-wheat bread.

My only complaint is you can't order it without cheese. Because of my diet, I'd rather not have those extra calories.

It comes without condiments, so you could spice it up with a hot sauce, or, do as I do, apply a little bit of mustard.

It's a good, healthy option if you're in a hurry, which I was this morning, showing up at the Dunkin' Donuts at East 222nd Street and Lakeshore Boulevard in Euclid.

When I arrived, however, I learned the restaurant wouldn't be able to produce my usual extra-large coffee, because the building's pipes were frozen in the -7 degree temperatures.

I moaned for a moment and watched the Roto Rooter man work his magic, but left with my sandwich before the pipes were made functionable. I can only hope they were able to get the coffee brewing quickly, though.

Their reputation is at stake!!

-- Laura Kessel

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I really love Taco Bell, don't you?

OK, I need to confess, I love Taco Bell. No really, I really love it. People laugh when I say that, but it's true. I usually eat Taco Bell a minimum two times a week and more like three or four times. Most people who are past their college or high school years have moved on to more sophisticated dining establishments.

I do enjoy fine dining, but I suppose if I had a last meal it would be Taco Bell. I can literally exist eating this wonderful food and that's what I did 15 years ago for about three years in college. I never had much money and worked to support myself while attending school by cleaning at a movie theater in the mornings.

I typically found a dollar or so in change, sometimes more, on the floor and it was enough to buy lunch, and sometimes dinner, for me every day at the restaurant next door. So that's what I did except on Sundays, since I worked six days a week.

Today, now that I'm somewhat grown-up, I still love eating Taco Bell. It's still cheap (a bonus in this economy) and actually they have made improvements to their menu to make it a relatively healthy place to eat.

The Taco Bell fresca menu actually is pretty low-fat and full of taste and spice. Try it some time, you might find you like it.

On Thursdays, that usually means a trip to Taco Bell in Painesville for me. I love to stop through the drive-thru for lunch on my way back to the office from a Lake County commissioners meeting.

I get the same thing every time: one bean burrito (350 calories, 9 grams fat, 8 grams fiber) and two soft tacos fresca style (each only 180 calories, 7 grams fat, 3 grams fiber). Less than $3 for lunch. It's also filling and fits in with the Weight Watchers plan. I'm a lifetime member after losing 55 lbs nearly five years ago.

But mostly my Taco Bell love is just a quick, tasty and, if you like, a healthy way to eat a lunch or dinner and, perhaps, let you still feel like a kid.

-- John Arthur Hutchison

Monday, January 12, 2009

Snowy Saturday at the market

My hat is off to colleague Chuck Koelble.
His column Saturday on the Community page sang the praises of the East Side Farmer's Market at 30022 Euclid Ave. in Wickliffe. The market is housed in what formerly was a party center.
Before proceeding, let me tell you I woke up Saturday morning and quickly decided I wouldn't be making my regular weekend run to the West Side Market in Cleveland.
My devotion to the West Side Market is such that I routinely go there in all manner of bad weather. For whatever reason, this past Saturday I wasn't in the mood to play tag on Route 2 with crazy people who don't have brains enough to slow down when the road is blanketed with snow.
Anyway, I'm reading The News-Herald with my morning coffee when I spy Chuck's column. From where I live in Eastlake, it took less than 10 minutes to get to the East Side Farmer's Market.
The place is, as Chuck described it, user-friendly with fresh produce, meat and bakery products. There also is a deli counter with home-cooked, ready-to-eat food.
I got a slice of pizza and a soda to go with my eco-friendly shopping bag full of fresh produce and two cherry-cheese Danish for Sunday breakfast. The bill was just under 20 bucks.
This customer was mightily pleased with the quantity (buying and cooking for two is a challenge), quality and price of his purchases at the market owned by Jimmy Selgjekaj.
I'm not giving up my forays to the West Side Market. But I will be making plenty of runs to the East Side Farmer's Market. It's open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
- David S. Glasier

Ole, at Arby's

I'm a sucker for Southwestern-style cuisine, and Arby's has just the cure.

A flier arrived in the mail last week, and I spotted the "Southwest Mini Egg Rolls" in the center of the advertisement. They looked similar to ones I've loved at a couple area restaurants, so I figured I'd give them a try.

All week, I planned to eat them as part of a sensible dinner that also included a salad and toasted pita bread served with salsa. But Saturday's snow and the drive to pick them up at the fast food chain curbed my desire to get fancy, and I just went with the egg rolls and the pita/salsa combination.

They weren't kidding when they put "mini" in the name. They're two-bite morsels that had enough kick to remind you that "Southwest" is also in the name. I went without the chili-lime ranch dipping sauce, because a sniff signaled it was really just ranch dressing with a little green tint to it.

Because they're deep-fried, I'll not make them a regular component of my meal plan. I also couldn't get past the idea that when I'm at the other places I've tasted these items, they seemed much more sophisticated -- probably because they were brought to me at a table, on a plate, by a server, not handed over a counter in a cardboard sleeve.

-- Laura Kessel

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Need coffee ... everywhere, anywhere

I'm a coffee addict.

About the only time I'm not consuming coffee is in the evening when I get home, because I'm too lazy to make a fresh pot. During the day here at The News-Herald, the newsroom pot is constantly being refreshed.

When I'm out and about in the area, I feel as though I'm always hunting for a coffee shop to satisfy my craving.

I found a great one a couple weeks ago not far from the office. Bear Creek Coffee opened in September at the corner of Midland and Mentor Avenue, in a shopping center across from the Points East plaza.

When I walked in, I enjoyed the beautifully designed decor, but once I hit the counter, I found my true love on the menu.

The "Eye-Opener" is an espresso on steroids. I normally get an Americano-like drink at other coffee shops, which combines espresso and hot water. The eye-opener combines espresso with brewed coffee.


You can pick your coffee blend, and add flavored syrups if you wish.

Another favorite feature of Bear Creek Coffee is the drive-thru on the Midland side of the building.

I wish the owners continued success in their new venture. And, please, keep that espresso coming!!

-- Laura Kessel

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Wishing it was Thursday...

It's only Wednesday, but tomorrow is what we in the newsroom know as "Thai Thursday."

It means we place an order at Thai Orchid, in the plaza at the corner of Route 306 and Mentor Avenue in Mentor, for some lunch.

Until recently, I'd order the Pad Thai, which is noodles, vegetables, a peanut sauce and some chopped peanuts on top. Yum.

But, since I'm dieting these days, I will undoubtedly go with the chicken and broccoli, which comes with a brothy sauce and white rice. It's very filling and not bad for the caloric intake.

I'd suggest anyone try Thai Orchid, because they will adjust spice levels to your tastes. One of my fellow Thursday participants has regularly changed his number code for the spice level, sometimes with explosive results. Play with it to get the right level for your personal tastes. But, go in knowing they're willing to help satisfy you.

-- Laura Kessel