Dave's Cosmic Subs - Macedonia OH and Other Northeast Ohio Locations

Link: http://www.davescosmicsubs.com

Traveling through Macedonia, I spotted Dave's Cosmic Subs.  Started in Chagrin Falls, I hadn't known of Dave's nor realized that it was a chain.  I was drawn to go in because its sign says, "Cosmic".

It was a weekday and a little after 1 PM and I was the only patron.  As I walked in, a sign posted in the window told of it being voted the #1 sub by Scene Magazine.  I was promptly greeted by the only other person in the shop.  He asked if it was my first time to Dave's.  I told him that it was and I asked what made Dave's subs "Cosmic".  He firmly replied that it was the Italian sauce.  I then asked which sub was the one to get.  He asked whether I wanted a hot or cold sub.  Cold.  Regular or spicy?  Spicy.  He then told me about "The Crazy Dave".  That sounded like exactly what I wanted.

While the sub was being prepared, I further studied the menu board.  I saw "The Crazy Dave" was number 8 on this board and later learned that this was the sub that was voted number 1.  Why, then, don't they call it number 1?

The meal deal allowed me to select from a choice of chips and a large selection of plastic and glass bottled beverages.  I selected Dave's private labeled rootbeer and a bag of jalapeno chips.  Within a few minutes, my sub was ready.

It was no struggle to find a seat as I was still the only patron.  I found one that was somewhat centered in the dining area so I could gaze upon the 1960's rock n roll stuff that adorned the walls.  I then unwrapped the carefully crafted sub, opened the chips and took a swig of the rootbeer.

I always like to start with the right hand piece with the crown of the sub roll facing away from me and turned so I can bite into the cut side.  I opened up and bit into the most incredible sub roll I think I've ever had.  The crust was wafer thin, yet so crunchy that I thought the sound of it crunching would shatter glass.

Very powerful, lively flavors of the "Cosmic" sauce, peppers, meat and vegetables jumped across my tongue.  That bite was sufficient for me to validate its number 1 standing.  Now I really don't understand why it's not listed number 1 on the menu board.

For the purpose of this critique, with that bite alone I was done.  But, I had to eat the rest since I was hungry and the sub was fantastic.  I don't think I could tire of "The Crazy Dave".  And, it was so good that I don't think I can pry myself away from it to try any other sub on that menu.  If you have not had a sub from Dave's Cosmic Subs, get one and EAT UP!

The Rail - Fairlawn OH

Link: http://www.therailburger.com/

On a recent trip to Summit Mall, I spotted “The Rail”.  I had time to peek at the menu and saw that it was a hamburger joint featuring Ohio Raised Beef.  I flagged this as a place to try on my next trip to the mall.

When I arrived on an early Saturday afternoon, I faced a 15 minute wait.  I had time to soak up details of the décor.  The Rail presents itself as a bit of a sports bar with two small televisions on the back bar and two larger ones opposite those above a wall of booths.  The bar was framed across the top by a metal rail hung from the ceiling and a number of meat hooks strategically placed along it for decoration.  Once seated, I really couldn’t see any of the televisions.  That’s ok.  I wasn’t concerned about Marquette and Villanova.

 

The day’s special was a Turkey Burger that I wanted not.  I asked of my server which hamburgers were most popular.  She replied with the Local Yokel and The Tourist.  The Local Yokel is topped with a fried organic egg.  Since I wasn’t into that today, I opted to try The Tourist.   It’s about a half-pounder topped with avocado, spinach, red pepper mayonnaise and red onion.  I also ordered a side of onion rings and a chocolate milkshake.

 

The meal was served in a paper lined basket.  The burger arrived ready to be eaten; fully dressed and wearing its crown.  The onion rings were piled in and a dill pickle spear rounded out the presentation.  The shake was served in a cold glass tumbler with a straw as big as a sewer pipe.  It was finished with about ½ inch of whipped cream, drizzled with chocolate syrup and topped with a cherry.

 

The bun was fresh and soft.  It crushed a bit under my hand when I pulled the burger up from the basket.  Ordered medium rare, the thick, hand shaped burger had a sufficient amount of pink that was juicy.  The first bite captured everything that the burger had to offer.  The beef was mild as was the avocado, red pepper mayo, spinach and red onion.  The little bit of red onion casually added flavor.  To kick it up, I added a smear of the red onion jam.  This woke the burger with a pleasing bit of tang.  With or without the jam, you won’t get indigestion with this one.

 

The milkshake was smooth and creamy.  It sported a good chocolate flavor.  The sewer pipe straw insured that I got a good mouthful with every draw.  I thought the onion rings were average.  They were plentiful and arrived hot and crispy.  Next time, I think I’ll try the house made chips.

 

I usually order burgers that jump with flavor.  But in this instance, I wanted to see what so many have found attractive to make The Tourist one of the top picks.  I enjoyed it for the quality it represents and the pleasing, albeit mild taste.  When I’m in again, I’ll have to go back to my love of bold flavors and order the “Bon Fire”.  If The Tourist is representative of the taste and quality of the other burgers, I know I won't be disappointed.  Eat up!

The Rail on Urbanspoon

Kitchen Nightmares is Coming To Cleveland - Casting Call

Kitchen Nightmares 

FOX's hit show Kitchen Nightmares staring Chef Gordon Ramsay is coming to Cleveland.  Casting calls are currently being held for a restaurant to take part in the taping of the show.  To be eligible, a restaurant must have been open for one year, offer dinner service, not be a franchise chain, and have at least 35 seats.  

If you are a restaurant owner, download the application and email it to KitchenNightmares@theconlincompany.com or fill out the application online at www.theconlincompany.com.  If you would like to nominate a restaurant, you can call (310) 313-9100 or email KitchenNightmares@theconlincompany.com.

KN Casting Notice FINAL 1.10.pdf

KN5 Flier Nominator Final 1.10.pdf

The Lemon Grove Café, Youngstown OH

Link: http://www.lemongrovecafe.com

On a snowy January night, there were about 7 patrons in The Lemon Grove Cafe; a place that looks like it could seat about 40.  It describes itself as "a cafe, coffee shop, bar, art gallery, musical venue and all-around good time."  True to its self-description, I could smell coffee in the air, saw a nice bar and artwork displayed upon its walls.  While there was no live music that night, I can see how it could be a musical venue and all-around good time, especially on a Friday or Saturday night.  This eclectic establishment is positioned to serve breakfast, the downtown lunch crowd, locals in the evenings and college crowd on the live music nights.

While deciding on what to order, I asked the waitress what the two most popular burgers were.  She started by naming and describing the first and second, then added, “But if you like…” and ran through the entire burger list.  This told me that she was either a good company sales person or that all the burgers are good.

I started with an order of the Hummus appetizer.  Within minutes, a generous bowlful of hummus arrived with a plentiful supply of precut pita wedges.  The hummus was homemade and tasted really, really good.  Its texture was very smooth and very flavorful with a hint of something like caraway seed in the background.  There was enough hummus that every pita wedge, down to the last one, carried a good dollop to my mouth.  It would have been fantastic if the pita had been homemade.

Being a pushover for bleu cheese, I decided upon “The Blue Angel” burger that I ordered cooked to medium.  About “The Blue Angel”, the menu states, “The contrast ‘tween the burger & blue cheese will have ya singing like Marlene.”  This is immediately followed by a QR code that, when scanned with a smartphone, opens YouTube to a video of Marlene Dietrich singing.

The Lemon Grove Cafe advertises that, for only 75 cents, you can add their “amazing all natural bacon” to “anything”.  Because bacon rocks, I had to add it to my burger.  I can only imagine what wondrous heaven awaits those who order the Bacon Cheeseburger and then, for the premium, adds more!  Included with any burger is a choice of sides.  I opted to try the soup.  I forgot what that nights selection was called, but it was described as having a spicy sausage flavor – something that sounded good on one of northeast Ohio’s first real winter nights.

About 15 minutes later, my dinner plate arrived.  On it was a nice sized, hand shaped burger covered with a thick layer of melted bleu cheese.  Some lettuce, onion and a tomato slice were included.  Also on the plate was about 3 ounces of the soup in a proportionately sized bowl.

As I got ready to dig in, I immediately realized that my burger did not have the “amazing all natural bacon” that I had ordered on it.  When I pointed this out to the server, she apologized and immediately made a bee-line to the kitchen.  As she vanished from sight, I started with the soup.  It was more like chowder and had a sausage like spice to it.  I enjoyed trying it, but it wasn’t the highlight of the meal.

The burger was a different story.  Before I finished the soup, the server returned with a plate full of bacon.  There was more than 75 cents worth on this plate.  This was probably the capstone to the server’s apology for it not coming out with the order.  I proceeded to put the pile of bacon on the burger.  As I did, the melted bleu cheese gently squished out from underneath.  I then placed the vegies on top. 

When I took that first bite, I was quite pleased to find that the burger had been flame broiled.  It had a slight char on it that worked magic with the flavor of bleu cheese.  The tomato slice gave away it’s out of season character by being a bit dull in appearance and flavor.  Otherwise, this was a very satisfying burger.

Did I sing like Marlene?  No.  Because I can't.  But I can tell you that The Lemon Grove Café is a comfortable restaurant with tasty food and reasonable prices.  While I’ll probably not trek back to it on another such a blustery, snowy night, I’ll certainly stop again should I be in Youngstown at lunch or dinner time.  Eat up!

Lemon Grove Cafe on Urbanspoon

Don's 2011 In Review

I was a late comer to food blogging in 2011 with my first post just a few weeks ago.  With 2012 now underway, I took time to reflect on my last years gastronomic experiences.  The two places that quickly jumped to mind were Steuben's, Denver CO and Sokolowskis University Inn, Cleveland OH.

Steubens, Denver CO

During an early October, 2011 vacation to Denver, I took advantage of an opportunity to visit Steuben's.  Established in 2006, it has endeared itself to Denverites, particularly for its Maine Lobster Roll.  Steuben's and its lobster roll was featured on Food Networks Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.  Steuben's menu is sufficiently expanse that there is something for everybody.  And, being in the city with more microbrews per capita that any place else in the United States, there is a sufficiently expanse beer menu that, aside from soft drinks and tea, offers something for everybody.

My wife ordered the talked about Maine Lobster Roll.  Being in the southwest, I had to get something less eastern and ordered the Cubano.  Yeah, I know, it's Latin American.  I had a bite of my wife's lobster roll and, like her, wasn't really impressed.  It seemed a bit soggy and a bit fishy tasting.  We think that Guy missed the mark on that one.

But, the Cubano, this sandwich rocked!  Pork product is one of my most favorite foods to prepare or have prepared for me.  I've made my own Cuban sandwiches and have also ordered them when out.  But, I have to concede that this is the best pork sandwich I've ever eaten.  Soft and tender, extremely flavorful pork pressed into a sandwich - 9 bucks.  I'd easily pay 10 for this one.  Never having been to Cuba, though, I cannot tell you whether it is authentic.  But authenticity doesn't matter here.  It's how it wows the taste buds that counts.

Sokolowskis University Inn, Cleveland OH

Tucked away just a few blocks from the Interbelt Freeway in the Tremont neighborhood, at 1201 University Road, is Sokolowskis University Inn.  I can't imagine what this place looked like when it was established in 1923 but, I can tell you that it looks like it's been around for awhile.  When I walked in, it felt like I was visiting an old friend.  I hadn't realized, until I got there, that service is cafeteria style.

When I arrived at about 5:00 on a November Saturday evening, I found myself about 80 to 100 people back in the line.  This gave me plenty of time to see what others were bring back to their tables.  Along the well worn path to the service counter were numerous word processed menus posted in a variety of places.  A white marker board at the front of the service counter reiterated that night's specials.  Looking at people's plates and seeing the menu, it didn't take but a moment to realize that this place is strictly comfort food.

It took about 20 minutes to arrive at the service counter.  I was first presented with self-serve desert.  Deserts included several cake and pie varieties.  Then came the appetizer, side and entree selections.  After that 20 minute wait, I had my heart and mind settled on having the Veal Schnitzel.  How disappointed I was to find that the fellow ahead of me had ordered the last one.

I now had to scramble for an alternative as I was next to order.  I quickly decided on the Salisbury Steak.  For my two sides, I ordered the red cabbage and upgraded the second, for .50 cents more, for two potato filled pierogi.  Surprisingly, I easily found a seat.  Once seated with my tray 'o food, I looked about and saw that the cafeteria line had at least doubled from my starting point.

Quite simply, this is good, home cooked comfort food at an exceptionally reasonable price!  In business since 1923, they've got to be doing something right!  The Salisbury Steak very good.  It was about the size and shape of a softball and covered with gravy.  While the red cabbage was ok, the potato filled pierogi were hot and tender.  The meal price also included a fresh salad bar.  Mom would not have approved of desert being first, but she would have been proud that I cleaned my plate.  I had a taste of the Chicken Paprikash from my wife's plate.  Folks, if you can't get the schnitzel, get this.  It was amazing!  At the end of this meal, I was full.  Should you go to Sokolowskis, Eat up!