September 2010 Issue
Grovewood Tavern & Wine Bar
A spot with a neighborhood feel, the Grovewood serves up a consistently delicious menu paired with a wonderful wine list.
When the Grovewood Tavern & Wine Bar
opened in April 1999, the idea was to create a neighborhood gathering place in the form of an unpretentious, accessible and affordable local wine bar. At the time, the “menu” featured hot dogs and chili, something today’s patrons — dining on blackened diver scallops and grilled baby Brie cheese — may find a bit hard to imagine.
Executive Chef Brandon Kercher and his team prepare consistently delightful and creative cuisine that’s influenced by cultures from around the globe — and they do it in an impossibly tiny kitchen located right at the front door. Try grilled haloumi salad ($8.50) for the lemon and kalamata olive flavors of Greece or the mole-influenced cocoa rubbed pulled pork ($19), served with a Portuguese bean salad and tomatillo crème fraiche.
On my most recent visit to the Grovewood, my dining partner and I opted for a seat on the restaurant’s small streetfront patio. As Sunday evening’s first customers, we had no problem getting a table — but reservations are always taken and are definitely recommended. This place fills up in a hurry. The restaurant opens at 5 p.m. every day for dinner, but you can make a reservation via voicemail on a first-come, first-served basis.
To start our meal we chose an Oregon pinot noir, a California zinfandel and the Tuscan bruschetta ($9). This deconstructed version of the popular Italian appetizer features heirloom tomatoes, now at the peak of summer ripeness, dressed with olive oil, salt and a honey-balsamic reduction. Thinly sliced garlic toast and fresh basil leaves are served alongside the tomato mixture for topping. We also tried the tuna bites ($12), crusted with both black and regular sesame seeds and served rare with a side of mango relish. The relish is a deliciously balanced blend of mango, onion and red pepper and it goes perfectly with both the fish and the wasabi and soy sauces on the plate.
Keeping with our Italian/Asian theme, we settled on Meatlovers Lasagna ($17) and Yakitori with scallops ($26) for dinner. The choice was hard since I’m such a fan of the Grovewood’s lavender chicken ($18), but different can definitely be good. The yakitori featured five meaty, tender scallops that were perfectly cooked and served with a light coating of hoisin-like barbecue sauce. The scallops come with “signature” spicy, chilled sesame noodles and seaweed salad. The first bite of the creamy sesame noodles didn’t taste spicy at all, but the cool noodles have a background heat that builds as you eat them — and I had plenty of leftover noodles for the following day’s lunch. The yakitori is also available with shrimp, salmon, chicken or duck — known as the “Quackitori.”
The Meatlover’s Lasagna, so named for the veal, pork, beef and two kinds of Italian sausage sandwiched between layers of fresh Ohio City Pasta egg noodle sheets, was richly flavorful and satisfying. It’s not the meat, however, but the tomato sauce that’s the real star of this dish. The “tastes like it’s been cooking all day” and “smells just like my grandmother’s kitchen” sauce was perfect — and nostalgic to boot. The restaurant also features the “ravioli of the day” on their regular menu, pairing one of Ohio City Pasta’s many unique varieties with portabellas, chicken, scallops, shrimp or salmon.
As full — er, stuffed — as we were after our entrees, a Grovewood dessert is a must. The confections are house made and the two we tried were praise-worthy treats indeed. The tiramisu ($8) was a light and custardy partner for my cup of coffee, sweet enough to be dessert but not cloyingly so. The Belgian chocolate lava cake ($8) oozed fudgy perfection and was topped with silky vanilla ice cream and a sauce that our server described as a reduction of sugar and “every berry in the house.”
For those looking to go beyond the Grovewood’s regular menu — and extensive wine list featuring more than 100 diverse bottles — check out the tavern’s wine, beer and spirits dinners. At the Bell’s beer dinner in July, the chef paired Bell’s Two Hearted Ale with Thai-Mex shredded beef rice paper rolls and the Kalamazoo Stout with housemade mocha chip ice cream sandwiches. The inspired, six-course meal was $44/person — a truly delicious value and a chance to try something new.
Grovewood Tavern & Wine Bar,
17105 Grovewood Ave., Cleveland, 44110. 216/531-4900. grovewoodtavern.com
. Mon.–Thur. 5 p.m.–midnight, Fri.–Sat. 5 p.m.–1 a.m., Sun. 5–10 p.m. Entrees $17–$28. CR