The charm of Landerwood Plaza was lost on me as a child. I don't quite even remember what was in it, but it lacked the chain stores that Beachwood Mall promised. Mostly we ran into the drugstore--which very sadly closed this year. More often we drove by the plaza to go to Heinen's. Even now, I rarely shop at the Plaza. I love Knuth's, but alas my compensation scale (and my husband) suggests that I should only visit once in a very long while. With Belle and her sweet little cousins around, we have spent some time at Playmatters (They have mugs emblazoned with boutique names, if you are looking). This is not to say that we are not in the Plaza that often. I would say I go to that Heinen's two to three times a week. (As you have read, I can't plan ahead.) And, when we feel flush, we have been known to go across the street to Metropolitan Market, but that is another post.
It was my dismission (and maternity leave) that meant that I missed out on the short-lived Tannour. I would like to think that the restaurant's existence was like a 60's Performance Art happening. These restaurant as happening things are big in London, and there are clear similarities in, well, precipitation between Cleveland and London...Alright, so that’s a stretch. While I have heard the story of the retooling of Tannour through the grapevine, without substantiated information, I will stick to the facts. The restaurant closed and reopened with a new name and concept.
Last night, I was feeling guilty about making my less that enjoyable experience at Peppermint potentially public. Since there was no potato bread for me, and I had had such an unsuccessful day completing work at work yesterday, I convinced my husband to get Peppermint take-out. Having been with the sick Belle much of the day, he looked dog-tired--actually much more tired than our dog. All he could handle was take-out. As we went to park, the Peppermint side of the lot was full, so we parked half-way down the plaza, directly in front of Knuth’s (was that a sign to do some quick shopping, I ask.)
After a peak and a purchase at Knuth’s, we decided to take a look at the menu of Joe Foodie’s Tavern. I hadn’t read anything about the restaurant, but the self-conscious name had turned me off. There was no menu posted outside, but instead information about live music, I think. We went in to read the menu. The restaurant, with its pictures of old Cleveland and the Gods of Transportation and medium blue walls, had the feeling of 60’s Cleveland or the Bob Newhart Show. It was sort of retro-lite; a hint of the past but not so much that you could put your finger on it. The hostess, and my guess owner, asked us if we wanted a table, and when we said we wanted to read the menu, I asked her if this is the same owners as Tannour. Yes, she said, amiably, and promised the food to be as good.
This kind service moved us to have a drink at the bar, and maybe taste an appetizer. My only complaint was that all of appetizers were seafood-related. (I didn’t bring home a menu, so I am writing from memory.) Like Ruhlman, I only buy fish according to the safe-ish for the environment chart. Though, really, I try to avoid it all together, because what will the seas be like when they are empty. And, quite frankly, having been the brief, but not brief enough, owner of a red fighting fish this week (mazel tov, L--), I was also off fish for a less noble reason, as well.
That said, we chose to increase the methane gas in the breathing environment—ah, these choices are so hard. We decided to share a burger. I think a good simple burger is a good test of any meat and potatoes restaurant. I would actually call the restaurant an American bistro, if forced to classify it. (We overheard the bartender tell another patron that the chef came from Lola.) I felt as if whoever drew up the menu had watched a few episodes of the British version of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, and memorized his mantra—do only a few things and do them well. The menu was just one-page front and back. There was something for everyone, except a vegan, perhaps. But, they could go to Peppermint.
The burger was nice on a whole wheat roll served with homemade fries served on a non-round plate. They offered me a mesclun mix to top my burger, which really seems a little affected, but otherwise, it was very enjoyable. The person seated next to me had a fish sandwich with cole slaw. As stated above, I was in no mood to even look at his fish. But, his cole slaw looked so good that asked the bartender for a little taste, and she obliged me. It was really nice, and I don’t usually like coleslaw. I liked it because the cabbage was not soggy and the dressing was not gloppy. This is a restaurant my father could get behind, so we will be back.
After our Sofia sparkling wine and Great Lakes beer (guess who got what), we went into Peppermint. I asked the woman at the counter what her favorite dish was—do as the locals do, after all. We ordered Chicken Yellow Curry, Chicken Hot Basil (a favorite from my college days when I lived amidst a glut of Thai restaurants), and her favorite the Chili Duck. The food all came out in less than 10 minutes. I was already fairly full and sudsy from Foodie on the ride home, when I talked to M— about the vegan tofu curry she had made for her dinner guest on Wednesday. If she emails me the recipe, I will include it here eventually. After which, I made a plate that included all three entrees. This food was everything our last experience wasn’t. The food was cooked well and most importantly it was flavorful. The Basil Chicken was spicy, as it should be. (Oh, I should have paired it with a Thai Iced Coffee.) The Yellow Chicken was full of meat, onions and yellow squash. (The curry sauce was good, though I think I will pick a different curry with more seasonal vegetables and use tofu next time.) The Chili Duck was nice. My husband loved it, because he loves duck. I prefer almost duck, beef, pork, salmon slightly underdone or even completely underdone, on the other side of walking my husband says. So, next time, I would ask for it less well-done. But, the flavor of it was good. I have been to other places where they turn this dish into the atomic red Thai equivalent to Chinese Sweet and Sour. Here, it was very nice. Again, I have never been to Thailand, so I have no idea how authentic it is. But, it was flavorful and enjoyable. Next time we take Belle, I will talk with my waitress/ waiter to find something flavorful/ not spicy. And, thinking about it, it will be fairly easy to eat vegan there. Ah, it looks like Belle is back in business for tofu and rice.