Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Old Made New

Grovewood Tavern, open since 1999, occupies the sweet spot between fine dining and neighborhood hangout. The place is a Collinwood fixture that has won a loyal following and its fair share of awards. But that doesn't mean they're averse to change. After months of planning, Chef John Bausone, who's been on the job about 18 months, six of them as executive chef, launched a new dinner menu on Friday, December 5th.

The native Clevelander has breathed life and invention into the comfort food line-up by drawing on the city's ethnic traditions,  his classic French training at Robert Reynolds' Chef Studio in Portland Oregon,  his time down South at The Biltmore in Asheville North Carolina, and an enthusiasm for all things Italian. And he's doing it using mostly Ohio sourced ingredients.

Bausone tells me he's especially proud of the buttermilk fried chicken and greens that comes with biscuits and chile infused honey. The smoked bison brisket is one of his personal favorites. And he's very happy with the vegan stuffed cabbage. "The rolls are filled with rye berries, root vegetables and chestnuts that together have the mouthfeel of meat," he explains. "The spicing for the the tomato sauce is Middle Eastern and of course I plate it with potato puree. The dish is very satisfying, even for meat eaters."

Expect pork osso bucco, duck confit, and an interesting charcuterie selection.The completely revamped list of starters now includes bay scallop fritters, Lithuanian mushroom dumplings and harissa spiked pan fried baby octopus.

I was at Grovewood last week eating off the old menu.  And I'm eager to get back and try all this. The Red Envelope I was given provides additional motivation to return in January. There's a "mystery" coupon inside worth $10, $25, $35, $50 or $70 off the bill. To take advantage of the promotion, now in its sixth year, I have to dine there next month. I won't know how much of a discount I get until it's time to pay the bill: rules require that I hand the server a sealed envelope. Go there in December and you can get your own Red Envelope (while supplies last) along with some of Chef Bausone's intriguing culinary creations.

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