Welcome to EAT THIS CITY, your weekly tour of the best restaurants in one of our favorite cities, as chosen by top chefs. This week we’re visiting Cleveland, Ohio.
Meet Chef Jonathan Bennett, the executive chef of Cleveland’s Moxie. A graduate of the CIA — near the top of his class — Bennett’s inspired work in the kitchen is the driving force behind the restaurant’s critical acclaim and popular success. In 2004 Gourmet magazine named Moxie one of its Best Places to Eat in America, describing Chef Bennett’s food as “restrained and elegant,” and his menu as “beautifully orchestrated.”
In 2004, Bennett opened Red, the Steakhouse, in the role as Chef Partner. Esquire named Red one of the five best steakhouses in the United States.
Contemporary and classic at once, Red, the Steakhouse is a testament to Chef Bennett’s quest for perfection, his respect for his ingredients, and his desire to bring something new to the table, literally.
Now let’s check out Chef Jonathan Bennett’s picks for the best that the Cleveland culinary scene brings to the table!
Some of the best crust in the city. Smokin hot oven leaves just enough charred blisters to balance the sweetness of the fresh mozz. And the couple that run the place couldn’t be more hospitable.
As authentic as you’ll find. Go to the window in the front, pay for however many tacos you want, then head to the back and order. Watch, salivate, wait as they cook the tacos. So fresh, so packed with flavor, so good.
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3 pepper double fried chicken. This is the epitome of true Chinese Szechuan cuisine! Crispy, juicy, super spicy perfection. @chloehahahahahaha Yummmy 😁😎😃🔥 #food #fun #spicy #hothothot #friedchicken #szechuan #eeeeeats #foodie #foodporn #alwayshungry #fatkid #cle #cleveland #thisiscle #yummy #eatingfortheinsta @willkcco #216foodie #chinesefood
Dry Pepper Chicken, holy hotness. More chiles than chicken and a handful of szechuan peppercorns in there to numb you up.
The tacos at La Plaza Supermarket are available on the sidewalk in the summer. They set up a little outdoor kitchen on the weekends. Nothing like al Carbon juices running down your arm while sitting on the side of the road.
I’ve been eating pints from these guys since their first store opened a dozen years ago. Today, it’s a Taster’s Duo of Caramel Sea Salt and Caramel Fudge Brownie; they’re like a great marriage…they make each other better!! The Caramel Fudge Brownie’s sweetness gets cut by the bitterness and saltiness of the Caramel Sea Salt. There’s a pint of each in my freezer right now…thanks to the one that makes me better (Love you CB!!)
It’s 5 minutes from the house, the food is good and the service is warm. Their potato chips and dip are so good, thick and crispy and a super creamy dip…how can you beat that?
Most of their stuff can be vegetarian. I love the spicy Crazy Noodles, though I do admit that I get them with pork. But the basil and chiles are intense and the noodles are so chewy, I just love that texture.
Fire or Flying Fig. Both are super duper. It’s hard to pick between the two. Doug’s Lemon Soufflé Pancakes are so light and lemony and Karen’s Chilaquiles with the roasted tomato chipotle sauce makes the fried local eggs sing!!
ICONIC FOOD OF THE CITY
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In honor of National Pierogi Day, I went insane and got 2 dozen. Left to right: caramelized red onion with jalapeño and sherry, 2 Reubens, 2 potato bacon and cheese, sour creme and chive, hot sweet pepper relish. #food #foodie #pierogi #nationalpierogiday #eeeeeats #eatingfortheinsta #PierogiPalace #Cle #cleeats #Cleveland #westsidemarket #216foodie #alwayshungry #fatkid #foodporn #19moretogo @bdicillo Get some. #clefoodie
Probably pierogis and the pierogis at Pierogi Palace at the West Side Market are really tasty.
ODD CULINARY EXPERIENCE
Jonathan Bennett’s House
I guess the oddest culinary experiences come from my house. Not that the food is odd, it’s the fact that it’s my kids cooking dinner. My wife, a fellow Culinary Institute of America graduate, has been teaching our boys how to cook and in this day and age, that is truly out of the ordinary!
The multi pack of Baklava from Aladdin’s. Christine and I both have our favorites but unfortunately they overlap and we end up duking it out for the last few pieces.
Well, though it may be hard to believe, I’ve never had a hangover. Probably because growing up Southern Baptist, we were not a drinking family. So I don’t feel “qualified” to answer said question! :)
[Author’s Note: Chef Bennett did recommend Flying Fig for brunch earlier. And sometimes brunch is just what you need to stave off a hangover. Bloody Marys and fried eggs should fix you up in no time!]
Hmmmmmm…….Date Night, what’s that?? I think I’ve actually convinced Christine that those are just an urban legend. But if they weren’t myth, I’d take her out for a pizza, some baklava and a walk at Huntington Beach! We get to eat such great food on a regular basis that date night is so much more about just being present with each other vs. a dining experience!
RESTAURANT RUN BY A FRIEND
Fire Food and Drink and Flying Fig
I invoke my constitutional right not to incriminate myself!!! But the scene in Cleveland is littered with friends that are running great restaurants, you can’t just choose one.
[Author’s note: Chef Bennett did mention his friends Doug Katz at Fire Food & Drink and Karen Small at The Flying Fig during our discussion. So I slightly incriminated him, myself.]
Thank you, Chef Bennett, for taking us on a culinary tour of Cleveland!
Stay tuned for more EAT THIS CITY — where each week we’ll feature a premier chef in a different city sharing their insider eating tips! Missed a week? Check out Denver, Atlanta, Miami, Seattle, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Sydney, Portland, Chicago, Austin, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, New Orleans, Providence, Memphis, Orange County, Boston, and Detroit.
See you next week!