Wednesday, January 27, 2016

First Glances: The Hermit Club Restaurant at Hofbrauhaus Cleveland

Playhouse Square's Hermit Club already had the intimate look and feel of some European Alpine lodge. Founded in 1904 near East Fourth Street, the club moved to Playhouse Square in the 1920s and was taken over by Hofbrauhaus in 2013 and kept open for the Hermit Club's members.

Now, a menu of upscale takes on the German favorites served out of Hofbrauhaus chef Oleg Makhayev's kitchen completes the Hermit Club's far away feel.

While all the beers on tap at Hofbrauhaus are available at the Hermit Club, the menu offerings — such as the shareable and perfectly cooked 14-ounce bone-in prime ribeye steak ($39.99) — or the juicy bone-in pork chop ($22.99) — are trimmed down to a manageable one page and only available in the Hermit Club.

The beef stroganoff served over spatzle ($18.99) was a savory highlight. The rich, tender pieces of meat got a blast of freshness from slices of green onion and a sour cream dollop, while the presentation and chewy spatzle took it well beyond mom's old egg noodle concoction.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Bruell's Bringing Restaurant Week Back

If you missed our Cleveland Independents Restaurant Week post back in November, it's your lucky month. Beginning on Monday, Jan. 18, and running through Sunday, Feb. 7, Zack Bruell is reprising his own annual restaurant "week" — actually four weeks — with $33 three-course meals at each and every one of his six fine-dining establishments: Parallax, L'Albatros Brasserie & Bar, Table 45, Chinato, Cowell & Hubbard and Alley Cat Oyster Bar.

While we're firmly of the opinion that you can't go wrong with a Bruell meal — the restaurateur is known for his keen attention to detail and for visiting his restaurants every day to maintain his high standards — you'll find us at Table 45 in MidTown during this cold weather due to the approachable comfort-food-type special menu.

"I keep the menu designed with our most popular sellers and simple apps," says chef de cuisine Donna Chriszt, "let the flavors do all the talking."

Here's what she'll be cooking up for the rest of the month, plus a simple recipe to really stretch that bang for buck.

First course: Choose from a daily chef-prepared soup or a salad of mixed garden greens, fresh vegetables, aged balsamic and Bruell's own olive oil.

Second course: Choice of chicken schnitzel with spaetzle and lemon-butter sauce or a classic lo mein with Asian greens, carrots, bean sprouts, edamame and a ginger-garlic sauce.

Courtesy Donna Chriszt
Courtesy Donna Criszt
 Third course: Assorted ice cream and sorbets with berries and mint, or chocolate lava cake served with creme anglaise.

Lo Mein Broth
Serves 4-6

1 quart vegetable stock
1/4 cup pickled ginger juice
1 ounce fresh ginger root
1/4 cup black bean paste
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
1/2 cups soy sauce
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 tablespoon minced garlic

In a saucepot, bring to a boil the vegetable stock, ginger juice and ginger root.
Reduce heat to a simmer and add remaining ingredients, stirring to combine.
Remove from heat immediately and serve with noodles and assorted vegetables.