Basil Asian Bistro | Canton, Ohio

Checking out a new restaurant on your birthday could be considered a risky endeavor. Some might call it foolish, especially when that restaurant is not only new, but practically “off the grid” when it comes to an online presence of any kind, (although they have since established a website). Such was the case with the new talk-of-the-town downtown Canton restaurant, Basil Asian Bistro. Despite maintaining quite a mystique in the first few weeks, every food lover in Canton was facebooking and tweeting about it. It was practically a race to see who could get there and talk about it first.

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Momocho | Cleveland, Ohio

I wanted to take my mom somewhere special for Mothers Day, because, well, she’s the best, and of course loves to eat like I do, especially Mexican food; in fact, she actually cooked professionally at a Mexican restaurant in California, so she knows her stuff.  It seemed only logical to kill two birds with one stone: treat my mom to a delicious Mexican feast AND get some new blog material in the meantime.  Enter Momocho.

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The Greenhouse Tavern | Cleveland, Ohio

We recently had the privilege to dine at The Greenhouse Tavern, Jonathon Sawyer’s green “gastropub” on East 4th Street in downtown Cleveland, focusing on sustainability and the farm-to-plate movement.  It was downtown Cleveland restaurant week, so I decided it was about time to see what all the hype was about.  Let’s get to the point, I’ve been talking about GHT since we had dinner there two months ago.  And frankly the only reason I haven’t blogged sooner is that I was afraid I wouldn’t do it justice.  Chef Sawyer, if you’re reading this, please forgive me for butchering descriptions, it’s going to happen.  All I can say is it was a lot to take in; plus, I think I slipped into a food-induced “high” of sorts about midway through the meal.

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West Side Market | Cleveland, Ohio

The day before Easter, we finally made our first trip to the West Side Market in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood.  I decided to take the whole crew with me for a mini road trip.  We arrived shortly after lunch time (on a Saturday, they are closed Sundays), and it was packed with people.  Inside, as expected, was a delight to the senses.  We started in the produce section, which had it’s own entire building of vendors.

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Grinders | Canton, Ohio

Sometimes it takes a while to discover a perfectly great restaurant that’s right under your nose.  Such was the case with Grinders Above and Beyond, a local chain of six family restaurants in Stark County and surrounding areas.  While the term “family restaurant” often conjures unpleasant imagery of tired menu offerings, old people, and a general lack of culinary creativity or “scene”, Grinders goes above and beyond all that (ha) and manages to stay pretty cool.  This post is centered around the North Canton location, which I find to have a comfortable and visually-interesting dining room, a better-than-average patio, excellent servers, and a bustling crowd pretty much every time I visit.  But it wasn’t until last summer at a company luncheon, catered by Grinder’s, when I finally became a fan of their cuisine.  It was the Key West salad that sucked me in.

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Reddstone | Cleveland, Ohio

In an exciting part two of NEO Food Tours’ Battle for Battery Park, we continued to the next competitor, only a block away from Battery Park Wine Bar. Reddstone is a “watering hole and grub hub” with a great outdoor patio that’s a blast in the summer.  It’s completely hidden from the street, which I love.  Of course in February, we weren’t going to the patio.  The evening’s events were hosted upstairs in a dimly lit private room with its own bar and stage.  With probably around forty people on the tour, plus the hosts for the evening, Ramon Rivas and Todd Gauman, and another half dozen or so guest judges, the room was pretty packed.  The lack of lighting was great for atmosphere, but made it tough to really appreciate the beauty of the food.  So I had to use the flash for the pictures, which I hate doing…but you can get the idea.

The space was much more intimate than Battery Park Wine Bar, but that wasn’t such a bad thing.  There was a small raised stage to the side, which allowed the comedians to be right next to the audience.  There’s a possibility they were a bit too close – story to follow.

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Battery Park Wine Bar | Cleveland, Ohio

It was a random Monday night in February when two Canton foodies headed to Cleveland, in anxious anticipation of their first NEO Food tour.  The event: Battle for Battery Park, where two neighborhood restaurants, Battery Park Wine Bar and Reddstone, were to duke it out in “Cleveland’s First Ever Comedy Food Fight.”

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