On Tuesday evening I participated in the first Dishcrawl Cleveland event and in my opinion it was a success. This was due in large part to the event planner Sylvie Branch. She is a freelance writer for Yahoo Shine!, an artist, wife, mom and all around social and fun-loving woman. I’ve known her for about eighteen years and I knew she was going to be terrific in this new venture.
Some may be wondering what Dishcrawl is so I will explain it. The concept is simple, visit four local restaurants/bars/eateries in one night with a large group of people. Each stop offers a part of your meal or drinks. The event planner is the person whose job it is to find the neighborhoods where there are bound to be local mom-n-pop type businesses and bring in new customers who might not have heard of them before a Dishcrawl event. It’s a great way to boost local economy and give people a chance to go out of their comfort zones of the same old, same old place to visit when dining out.
For the inaugural event, Sylvie choose the Gordon Square area on Detroit Ave in Cleveland. This area is located approximately between West 58th and West 65th streets and includes a branch of the Cleveland Public Theater. The weather was cooler than normal for April in Cleveland but otherwise it was a really nice evening for the event. Our first stop was Spice Kitchen and Bar at 5800 Detroit Ave.
They offered us our appetizers of fish tacos, Mushrooms Beignets with goat cheese and creme fraishe and a cream soup (I can’t recall the name) with the flavors of curry, jasmine rice and shrimp.
The fish tacos were really good and fresh tasting.They were served with deep-fried perch, cilantro and pickled onion. The cheese dip for the mushrooms was tangy and the soup was decent. I say this because by the time I was given soup the shrimps were getting rather gummy and over-cooked. There was also some issues with communication between the restaurant and Sylvie about how the food would be served. She was told it would be put out, buffet style, and then we could sample each of the offerings as we pleased. Instead the wait staff served it and so different areas of the bar and restaurant were served different dishes and we had to ask for the others to sample. I think that is why the soup ended up not tasting so fresh. In any case, Sylvie did her best to try to get things worked out to everyone’s satisfaction. Spice Kitchen and Bar does serve all in-season foods or foods they preserved themselves. They have a garden and use locally grown food. I love the idea and concept of what this place is about.
Next we walked down a few blocks to Rincon Criollo, a family owned and run Puerto Rican restaurant. We were served our main course here. Our plate was loaded with seasoned yellow rice, beans, seasoned chicken and a plaintain steak sandwich. All were tasty.
Next we were off to Toast, a wine bar. I think I saw a few folks carrying doggie bags from the Mexican restaurant because of the amount of food served. I certainly did not eat all the rice and beans. Toast is a yet to open wine bar with simple food. The concept again is using in season and locally grown foods or preserved foods from last year’s harvest. Toast was not able to get their liquor license in time for our event but it didn’t seem to matter much. The place was full of atmosphere and we were served some refreshing cherry spritzer drinks alongside a plate of appetizers. I was adventuresome and tried two new foods I didn’t think I would ever eat- chicken liver pate’ and rabbit.
The third appetizer was a homemade fromage on toast. Toast was an old bakery with living quarters on the second floor for the family who owned the bakery. The beautiful wood trim and built-in features were used along with the tops of old flour bins to create an atmosphere of a comfortable vintage home.
I know I would go back and spend time sipping wine and visiting with friends in this place.
Finally we headed to Sweet Moses for dessert. This is another place which offers all homemade foods and desserts. The sauces are homemade, the sorbet, the popcorn toppings, and the whipped cream. We were all served a Salted Caramel Ice cream sundae with hot fudge, whipped cream and caramel corn topping. Oh it was so delicious!
All in all I’d give Dishcrawl Cleveland a 5 stars for the event and 4 stars for the foods. I was happy overall and I will go to another Dishcrawl event in the Greater Cleveland area in the future. One thing I didn’t mention is forty-eight hours before the event you receive an email telling you the first restaurant to meet the group so you can begin your gastronomical adventure. That is the fun of the whole event.
Edit: Please see this post on the official Dishcrawl Cleveland blog for corrections of food names, etc…thanks!