Superior Service & Delicious Dining at Urban Farmer, Cleveland, OH

Over Labor Day weekend, I visited my family in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio. As is our routine, my brother chose a few restaurants for me to pick from. Our family always enjoys a meal out when I visit. Lately, we’ve been trying to head into the city to try some new places (new to our family, anyhow).

This time, one of the restaurants on Adam’s list was Urban Farmer Steakhouse in downtown Cleveland. It only took me seeing that this is a farm-to-table concept restaurant to decide it was the one I was voting to check out. (You probably know of my love for farm-to-table, and specifically Braise here in Milwaukee.)

Urban Farmer

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We entered the rustic, yet elegant restaurant, adjacent to the Westin Hotel, and sat down in a cozy rounded booth. We were greeted by our server, Ashley. Now, I’m just going to say this right now: Ashley is quite possibly the most knowledgeable and impressive servers I have ever encountered. Absolutely top-notch. More on that later.

Ashley walked us through the concept described above – two kitchens (one for cooking, and one with a butchery and bakery), a below-level garden which supplies most of the herbs and vegetables for the restaurant, the relationships with local farms, etc. Then, she walked us through the different cuts of meat, the differences in how the cattle were raised and the impact of their diets on the flavors of the steaks, and the differences in how they are aged to affect tenderness and flavor. Ashley didn’t require any cheat sheets, and she made everyone feel comfortable (and impressed!). On top of her knowledge, she wasn’t the least bit stuffy or dry; she let her sense of humor come through as she inserted jokes and color commentary during her descriptions (“don’t mess with my meat” – she doesn’t believe in sauces or toppings).

When I gave her my card and advised her that she would be choosing my meal, she asked “seriously?”. Yes. “Okay, I know what I’m serving you!” – without hesitation. These are the types of meals I get really excited about because I know the server is going to choose really well.

We opted to get a few side dishes, which Ashley recommended sharing between two or three people. Ashley chose mine as well.

As it turns, out my entire dinner was shared. By far the best entree at our table; the vote was unanimous. That being said, everyone was very pleased with his/her meals.

So, what did Ashley choose, you ask? Wait no longer…

We started off with fresh baked bread (rolls and ah-mazing cast-iron cooked cornbread) and salted butter (which makes all the difference, in my opinion!). Ashley chose the special salad for me: yellow watermelon over Burrata and topped with olives, tomatoes, balsamic and served with two slices of prosciutto. It was light and flavorful – a nice change up to one of my other favorite watermelon salads (watermelon with goat cheese, balsamic and greens and herbs). We were off to a great start!

Next came the entree and side dish.

Wanting to share her favorite with me, Ashley chose the 14 ounce (FOURTEEN OUNCE!!) twenty-one day dry aged bone-in strip steak. It was perfection! Luckily, everyone at the table wanted to try this cut, so I didn’t feel completely overwhelmed or as though I’d have to try to finish it on my own. The plate was clean by the end of the meal though! The steak was really tender and had terrific flavor. It’s a spoiler for any other cut moving forward.

Ashley chose to bring foraged mushrooms as the side. A very nice compliment to the steak, and enough to feed at least four people! At the table we also ordered: potato puree (though my brother wouldn’t share!), asparagus (with cured farm egg yolk and chili), and twice-baked fingerling potato tart with bacon and aged cheddar. Everything was delicious!

Pro tip: you won’t go home hungry from Urban Farmer Steakhouse. Bring an appetite! 

Ashley asked if she should choose a dessert for me. Where to put it?!? Ultimately, since there was a gluten-free option for my brother and my uncle, my parents and I decided to share whatever Ashley decided to bring so we would all enjoy a bit of decadence.

My brother and uncle tried the lemon olive oil cake with kale ice cream (it’s much better than it sounds!), and pepper crisps.

If I were choosing my own, I’d have either gone for the lemon cake or the strawberry rhubarb cobbler with pistachio, buttermilk frozen yogurt and basil, because I generally like citrus or fruit desserts more than chocolate (but, not always!).

However, I was in the most capable hands, and I knew it! Ashley chose the butterscotch sundae with a warm brown butter blondie and toffee chip ice cream. AKA: heaven in a jar!

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Butterscotch sundae with warm brown butter blondie and toffee ice cream

My parents and I kept passing this jar around, taking one delicious bite at a time. The brownie and ice cream were melting into each other, combining incredible flavors together.

While we all walked out of Urban Farmer Steakhouse absolutely full, we walked out feeling like we had just had one of the best meals in a long time. And, we all agreed that Ashley set the bar for outstanding service! In fact, my uncle made it a point to seek her out so he could inform her that she was so impressive that she truly did elevate our experience that evening.

I definitely recommend a visit to Urban Farmer Steakhouse if you’re in Cleveland. I’d love to go back and take a tour of the kitchens and garden  (if the management allows it). Of course, I’d have to stay for dinner again! 🙂

What is your most memorable dining experience? Where were you? I’d love to hear from you!

Cheers!

Ker

The Lazy Blogger – Dinner at The Lazy Goat, Greenville, SC

I have not been making time to write my blog, and I’ve regretted not doing so. This is a form of therapy, and I do get feedback from readers that they enjoy the “She Ordered What?” concept. In some cases, I get feedback on the restaurants featured, the meals delivered, or suggestions on new places to visit.

I’m glad to be back!

Back in April, I made a visit to one of my favorite places, Greenville, SC, with some of my favorite colleagues. Two of my closest friends at work in the Midwest and I flew in early to have dinner at The Lazy Goat with two of the best people at our manufacturing plant in G’ville. Aside from really important business discussion, we had extraordinary small plates, a few cocktails, and lots of laughs!

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If I recall, and this was the first of a few cocktails, four months ago, this was the St. Germaine Cocktail.

To boot, we were overlooking the river, so the scenery was fantastic too.

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I love that our plant manager, Jamie, “orders” like I do. He encouraged our server to bring us dishes until we determined we were full. No plan, per se. “He Ordered What?”

 

Here’s what we were served!

 

As you can see, the food was full of flavor, influenced by Spanish, Moroccan, Italian, French, African and Middle Eastern recipes.

The Lazy Goat encourages diners to share plates, slow-down (it’s Southern, y’all), and take in the flavors. And, we did!

We shared a few desserts to end the dinner.

To sum it up, The Lazy Goat was a great spot for business and casual discussion, trying many new dishes, enjoying a lovely atmosphere, appreciating very good service, and even better company!

Being that I love Greenville so much (it’s my dream retirement spot!), I’m sure I’ll be back, and The Lazy Goat will be on my list of places to visit again.

To my Clemson followers, and everyone else, have you been? Was your experience as fun as mine was?

Cheers!
Ker

 

Obrigada, Brasil!

A few weeks ago, a colleague and I traveled to Brazil (Brasil) for work. We had an awesome, jam-packed week of work, and wonderful hosts! I snapped as many pictures as I could during our travels to and from customers and across the countryside. Here are several that give a flavor (pun intended in some cases) for the experiences we had. (I only wish I had snapped photos of the dogs at our customer sites – that would be wonderful here in the States!)

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Next up: Back to France next month.

Cheers!

Ker

A stellar cellar – Adega in The Nine, Cleveland, Ohio

The Christmas holiday season is my time to return to the suburbs of Cleveland to visit my family (and usually friends, but that didn’t really happen this year). We have local spots we always tend to visit, and enjoy. You may have read about Bistro 70 in the past. This year, my brother scheduled a dinner downtown in the heart of Cleveland. He chose to have us dine at Adega in the Metropolitan at the 9 Hotel. Adega can be translated into “cellar” in Portuguese, and I’m guessing part of the reason the restaurant is named Adega is that it has a beautiful wall of wine. It also has gorgeous lighting, an inviting bar, and a very small waiting area comprised of eclectic furniture. It is a unique and fresh space.

Being an urban-dweller for almost four years now, I can appreciate that going downtown allows for finding unique cuisine more easily than is typically available in the ‘burbs.

Adega’s menu is not one you’d easily find on the east side of Cleveland (from where I hail). The menu is full of Mediterranean ingredients and flavor combinations.

Everything looked appealing to me, so I pulled out my handy card to provide to our (extraordinary!!) server, Jay. He didn’t hesitate, even commenting on the “surprise” aspect of the dining experience.

Jay actually took things a few steps further. He brought Chef Nelly out to greet us and to thank us for dining at Adega that evening. He also brought the table a serving of the octopus appetizer, much to my mom’s dismay. Though, she did try it! Everyone else did too, and most enjoyed it. I’ve had octopus many times, served in different ways, and I was pleased that Jay chose to serve us this dish.


The salad Jay chose was superb! It was a winter vegetable salad – hearty and healthy. Just look at this photo – those vegetables and that beet sauce…


For my main dish, Jay chose the “Kobe beef of pork”, the Iberico pork. It was so tender and flavorful (though, as a warning, a bit on the salty side). I shared bites with everyone at the table and it was unaminous – WOW! Such a simple dish, but decadent.


We were also served the crispy Brussels. I told Jay it was like he was reading my mind – he picked perfectly! The Brussel sprouts were like an early dessert at the table – we could not get enough of them! Crunchy deliciousness!


After dinner,the general manager came by with Jay to check on us (I told you we had great service!). Then, we were served a couple of desserts. Jay knew that we had two people with gluten-free requirements, so in addition to the warm apple fritter doughnuts with Franglica and caramel sauces, he brought sorbet for my brother and uncle. Great attention to detail! I also loved the presentation of the food – from start to finish.

Now, we didn’t need the dessert, nor would we likely have ordered it, but we did do some damage anyhow. The doughnuts were a sweet, wintery treat, and a pleasant way to finish the meal.


Overall, the dining experience with my family at Adega was fabulous! The service could not have been better, and the food was absolutely delicious. I’d like to hope that I will be back when I visit Cleveland again, whether for family time, out with friends, or taking a customer out to dinner – Adega is a great spot to enjoy the experience of dining out. 

Cheers!

Ker

Doin’ it – 20 Hours in Dublin!

A couple of weeks ago, two colleagues / friends and I decided to take a long layover in Dublin prior to heading on to our business trip in Paris (again…sigh). We knew that we would be pressed for time, and although I tried to make a plan, during our planning session, we really just ended up drinking a couple of beers at the County Clare and decided we would “wing it” when we got to Dublin.

We landed in Dublin at ~8:30 AM and took an Uber to our hotel, the Jury’s Inn at Christ Church (yes, Jeff, the one who booked that hotel got some razzing from me about choosing a “religious” place. I didn’t expect that from him). I’m the one with egg on my face though, because the hotel was PERFECTLY situated and gave us access to everything we thought we might want to see (and, the name reflects location)!

Derek, the third musketeer, had only ONE wish: a traditional Irish breakfast. So, off we went (around the corner!) to Copper Alley Bistro. After quickly perusing the menu, we all got the traditional breakfast, and enjoyed it. In fact, a friend of mine saw a picture of the breakfast and asked me if I had tried the black pudding. Of course I had! I tried everything on the plate!

The traditional Irish breakfast consists of: sausages, bacon, black & white pudding, hash browns, grilled tomato & fried egg served with toast.

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Jeff and Derek added beans to theirs, and Jeff and I added mushroom to ours. It was a LOT of food! My plate was left half full just due to the shear amount of food, but it was no indication as to how much I enjoyed this new experience.

After breakfast, we set off by foot to see the east side of Dublin and circled back to the west side, seeing all kinds of sites. Of course, we toured the Guinness factory along the way!

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We didn’t have much time in Dublin, so we decided to go back to the Temple bar district (the “tourist trap”) for dinner and drinks. We stopped into The Quays restaurant for dinner. I handed my card to our server, and he was on board with taking over. The only question he asked me was if price was an issue, noting that he wasn’t planning to bring the most expensive item, but also not the least expensive. It was not.

He brought me the most delicious lamb shank and potatoes I have ever had – Braised Wicklow Lamb Shank cooked in red wine with root vegetables, fresh parsley & thyme, served with chive mash & red wine jus.

That sauce! I surprised myself by eating a good portion of it (after sharing a few bites with the guys)! It was great that our server was cool with choosing a local meal for me , and that he brought something different than Jeff (traditional Irish stew) and Derek (cottage pie) ordered.

After dinner we stopped at Temple Bar to have an Irish Whiskey (or two). It seems that a trip to Ireland would be incomplete without doing so (for those who drink alcohol), right?

We had a 6AM flight in order to make our midday meetings in Paris the next day, so it was early to bed and EARLY to rise! In any case, it was a FUN 20 hours in Dublin.

I’m looking forward to taking more time to go back over and see the countryside and everything the rest of Ireland has to offer (golf, hiking, etc). That’s a trip I’ll have to plan!

Please chime in with your comments about your experiences in Ireland!

Thank you, and happy holidays!

Ker

PS. Coming soon – Adega at The 9, Cleveland.

 

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