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.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Italian Fare in Cozy Chardon

Someone once said if there's food in heaven it has to be Italian. If that's the case, hopefully Sebastian's on the Square in Chardon will serve as one of its caterers.

At a recent Friday evening meal at the restaurant on Chardon Square, things were hopping. Though the rest of Main Street was dark and quiet, Sebastian's spot was lit up like a Christmas tree.

As one who has worked in and frequented restaurants a-plenty, my standards for an excellent one are threefold: Delicious food, pleasant atmosphere and better than average service. Sebastian's hit the mark on all three.

Savoring a delicious chicken parmesan with mouth-watering, homemade sauce -- amidst casually elegant, tasteful surroundings -- all served by a just-attentive-enough waiter, made our dinner with good friends a memorable one. Suffice it to say, we left smiling and well-satisfied.

True, Chardon may be a town offering few places for a special meal -- but consider Sebastian's one of them.

-- Jean Bonchak

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Thai for first-timers

If you're in the mood for some tasty Thai, I would recommend heading out to Cleveland Heights to dine at Lemon Grass. I had never had Thai before dining here, and now I would consider it my favorite special occasion restaurant.

The extensive menu has a variety of vegetarian, poultry, meat and seafood dishes. Even if you've never had Thai food before or don't know what to expect, you should be able to find something to suit your liking. If you have trouble deciding what you want, I have found that the knowledgeable, friendly staff can make recommendations based on your tastes. The kitchen also will take up or down the spiciness, depending on what you prefer.

During my first visit, I had the Lemon Grass Garden, which contains chicken and a variety of vegetables, served with peanut sauce. It was a great dish for a first-time Thai meal. Now my favorite is the Pad Thai (with medium-level spiciness). At my latest visit, my boyfriend ordered a seafood salad, which was that night's special. It came with a variety of seafood that I personally would not eat because that's not my taste, but he really enjoyed it (even the mushrooms, from which he normally steers clear).

I really love the romantic atmosphere of the restaurant, which includes a wide open dining room but tables that feel private. Although the menu is moderately priced, the food is worth it. And like I said, it is a great place to go for special occasions.

If you're not sure if it's worth the drive to Cleveland Heights through all the traffic on Cedar Road, I would recommend making a night of it. The restaurant is located next to the Cedar Lee Theatre.

Lemon Grass Restaurant
2179 Lee Road
Cleveland, OH 44118

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

A good afternoon pick(up)

Without much to choose from in the kitchen, my boyfriend and I decided to pick something up for lunch Saturday afternoon. We turned to the "Our Town And All-Around Dining Directory," which has become our guide and determinant for where to dine recently. The coupon for free cheesy bread with an extra large pizza led us to order from Marco's Pizza.

Neither of us had ever had Marco's before, and we were both pretty happy with our choice. For $13, we had more than enough food for the both of us. The pepperoni pizza we ordered was tasty, and I particularly liked the cheesy bread and the marinara sauce for dipping. I also was a big fan of the cold leftovers. The cheesy bread box proclaimed that Marco's tastes great cold, and it really does.

Marco's Pizza
Locations in Chardon, Euclid, Mentor-on-the-Lake, South Euclid, Willoughby and Willowick
Visit Marco's Pizza Store Locations to find the restaurant closest to you

If you're interested in your own "Our Town and All-Around Dining Directory" coupon book, you can get one when your News-Herald subscription is set up for EZ Pay, which is the automatic deduction from your credit card every month. You can also order one online at

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Otani: A sushi lover's delight!

If you are a sushi lover, Otani (1625 Golden Gate Plaza in Mayfield Heights) is the place for you.
Especially on Wednesdays.
My wife and I are big on sushi. She introduced me to it about seven years ago and I became hooked. We've been all over the area searching for the best sushi restaurants, and Otani is one of the best, if not the best, we've found.
On Wednesdays, sushi is half-price. A lot of sushi restaurants host half-price nights, but Otani is more than that.
The half-sushi, half-hibachi Japanese restaurant presents a premier Japanese experience. The service is great, the chefs are friendly and every time my wife and I dine at Otani, the more-than-friendly owner always makes the rounds. The prices (especially on Wednesdays) won't break your bank, either.
Give Otani a shot. You won't be disappointed.
- Mark Podolski

Monday, February 9, 2009

Worth the wait

Last week I ate at Cabana's Island Restaurant in Mentor. Neither my dining companion nor I had been there before, and we selected the restaurant based on the name and the coupon from the "Our Town and All-Around Dining Directory," which was good for $10 off our meal. And boy, what a place to beat the winter blues! The decor and atmosphere of the restaurant are tropical and relaxing.

However, that relaxed atmosphere translated right to the service, which was slow. It took a long time to be greeted, a long time to meet our server, a long time to get our drinks, a long time to get our food (our appetizer never came at all). But our server was very friendly and accommodating (she was sure to remove our appetizer from the bill), and the food was fantastic and worth the wait!

I ordered the Montego Bay Chicken, while my companion ordered one of the day's specials: Jamaican Java Chicken. Both meals were quite tasty and the perfect portion size for a night out -- not too much, but definitely enough to fill you up. I loved that the chicken I ordered came on a bed of sweet potato fries, a guilty pleasure of mine. And I'm not usually a fan of green beans, but Cabana's were juicy and crispy, with a summery taste that matched the feel of the restaurant.

I was impressed that my cocktail only cost $4, when I've gotten similar drinks elsewhere for twice that amount. The prices are moderate, with both of our meals about $10. After the coupon, our bill for two entrees, a cocktail and two beers totaled only $24.

The food and drinks were tasty enough to entice me to visit Cabana's again, in hopes that the last week's slow service was just a fluke. After all, there are a few more tasty-sounding things on the menu that I'd like to try.

Cabana's Island Restaurant
The Matchworks Building
8500 Station St.
Mentor, OH 44060
(440) 255-0697

If you're interested in your own "Our Town and All-Around Dining Directory" coupon book, you can get one when your News-Herald subscription is set up for EZ Pay, which is the automatic deduction from your credit card every month. You can also order one online at

-- Cheryl Sadler

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

You can't go wrong with bar food

Saturday night's continuation of the drive to see all the Oscar-nominated films left me seeking something to eat before taking in "The Reader" at Regal Cinemas Willoughby 16 movie theater near Target.

Since it was nearby, and early enough, I decided Panini's on Euclid Avenue in Willoughby was worth a shot. The parking lot was pretty full, but the tables were easily accessible for an early dinner.

My favorite item on Panini's menu is the soft pretzel appetizer. Hardly diet-friendly with three dips that include a cheesy artichoke, but I'm a sucker for a good soft pretzel.

My dinner is always the same -- a fancy version of the little-kid favorite grilled cheese sandwich. It comes on Texas toast with bacon, lettuce and tomato. I add a little mustard, mostly because I like mustard on pretty much everything. I also always order a dozen spicy BBQ boneless wings. I took home about half for lunch the next day. They were spicy enough for me to remember I hadn't ordered standard BBQ. They weren't spicy enough to make me cry, which is just as important.

Panini's food is reliable, tasty and served relatively quickly, getting me to the theater in time to see a movie I didn't know had quite that much sex. Wow. But that's for another blog.