Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Rockin' It at Rockefeller's

A new Cleveland Heights restaurant has just opened in what just might be the grandest space this side of the Cuyahoga. It’s called Rockefeller’s, in honor of the building’s name and the property’s original owners and developers. The sprawling second floor room was designed to look like the hall of a medieval castle, and much of that remains: dramatic arches, a huge stone hearth, iron chandeliers, and coffered ceiling with hand painted beams.

Though it was most recently an event center, I used to go there to make deposits and withdrawals. Signs that it was once a bank are still in evidence: the vault door opens into the kitchen and a raised seating area is set off by the half wall and grill work that delineated the tellers’ booths.

Together all these unusual architectural details create a truly unique backdrop for eating, drinking and socializing. Turn left at the top of the stairs and you’re in a spacious dining area. Go right for a lounge outfitted with couches, banquettes, hi-top tables and a bar.

Owner Mike Adams, a lawyer by training, is manager and schmoozer in chief. Jill Vedaa, a talented young chef I’ve been following since I discovered her in 2006 at Saucy Bistro, is in charge of everything related to food and beverages. I am so excited to see what she’ll do now that she has a chance to run the show.
photos courtesy of Cleveland Memory collection

I’ve only had the opportunity to try selections from the lounge side menu, and I liked every bite and sip I sampled. The husband and I shared bruschetta topped with roasted squash, fried sage, and shaved parmesan. It’s a winning combo and taste was great-my only gripe was that the toppings fell off in the trip from plate to mouth- maybe those cubes of squash should be smashed into a spread. Homemade ketchup made an order of sea-salted fries disappear fast. We gave the ribeye carpaccio with blue cheese wasabi cream and a scoop potato salad the same treatment. But best of all was a bowl of mussels and chick peas in tomato fennel broth, served with crostini made from Stone Oven’s olive bread. I’d like to mention the excellent glass of malbec I had and the two unusual microbrews my partner downed, but we were having such a good time that I neglected to note down the requisite info- a serious professional lapse for which I apologize. But let it suffice to say that there are some great choices on the beer and wine lists.

The regular menu promises adventuresome Latin/Asian inspired fare, suitable for grazing or full on feasting; duck confit taquitos with ancho lime cream; shrimp fritters with sriracha tartar; short ribs chimichurri; cumin crusted pork chop; hanger steakand malanga mash.

Adams and Vedaa what Rockefeller’s to be the kind of a place come often and regularly, early and late. I think they’ve got all the right ingredients to pull it off. I know I want to head back there soon and I predict other’s will feel the same after a first visit. No website yet. But here’s what you need to know: 3099 Mayfield Road, Cleveland Heights, 216-321-0477. Tuesday-Saturday dinner only. Tuesday-Thursday dining room 4-10 PM, lounge till 11, Friday and Saturday dinning room till 11 and lounge till 12.

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