August 2007 Issue
August's Featured Restaurant
If you are in search of something to do on a breezy summer evening in Cleveland, stop by Sergio's Sarava at Shaker Square to enjoy some Brazilian-inspired and cross-cultural cuisine, either on the 100-seat patio or inside the sleek, contemporary restaurant. At the very least, visit to sample a mojito - the best in town as I have been told on many occasions - and "street plates," delectable appetizers served tapas-style and meant for sharing.
But some are so good, you won't want to split them. The Sarava Burgers are a gourmet version of the slider - thin, grilled beef burgers with caramelized onions and ketchup - served with sweet and spicy peppers and yucca chips. And I'm not a bread lover, but the garlic ciabatta toast that accompanied tender rings of stewed calamari was perfect for sopping up the last of the dish's spicy tomato basil sauce.
While the appetizers can be enough for a meal, it's worth saving room for seasonal seafood specials. I enjoyed a fresh, grilled grouper served with sautéed spinach and mushrooms, smashed (lightly mashed) potatoes and a light lemongrass butter sauce that enhanced the fish's flavor without overpowering it. For a more traditional Brazilian meal, try the feijoada, a rich black bean stew with sausage, smoked bacon, ham and pork loin, a perfect dish to eat in Saravá's fireplace lounge on cooler nights.
Chef and owner Sergio Abramof wants his family-run restaurant to "evoke the rhythm, sophistication and energy of Brazilian street life" allwhile delivering warm hospitality (hence the name Saravá, which is a Brazilian greeting similar to aloha or shalom). And with its vibrant location, eclectic mix of seating and varied dining options (including pizzas and a raw bar), Abramof has created an atmosphere where anyone can feel welcome.
Our server patiently answered our questions and offered suggestions (like the crisp white Sinplicitiy wine to pair with my grouper).
Everything came out at a perfect pace, and had we wanted to, we could've made a movie, but it was a good night for people-watching on the square, so we stayed for a while, lingering over a creamy baked vanilla custard with warm caramel syrup.
As the summer winds down, I plan to return for happy hour, which occurs daily from 5 to 6:30 p.m. During this time, designated street plates are three for $12 at the bar, which is an excellent excuse to return, but this time with more people.
Sergio's Sarava 13225 Shaker Square, Cleveland, 216/295-1200. www.sergioscleveland.com. Mon.–Thur. 5–10 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 5 p.m.–midnight, Sun. 5–9 p.m. Reservations accepted. Entrees $17.50–$28.50. CR, 3