Every night, the smooth hum of jazz music drifts out from North Park Grille, providing a soothing soundtrack for guests who recline beneath the stars on its front patio. Inside, dim candles illuminate tabletops surrounded by colorful paintings and soft purple walls. As bartenders pour fine wines into delicate stemware, servers gracefully deliver plates of Chef Anna Hoffman's contemporary comfort fare. She puts an upscale twist on classic American dishes, fashioning meatloaf from lean ground beef and savory spices, infusing mac ‘n’ cheese with unexpected morsels of feta or buffalo chicken, and molding ground-beef burger patties into the shape of elegant bald eagles.
While the decor at Swerve Grille hints at contemporary drama with deep red walls and black seating, the menu adds comfort. Chefs use fresh, natural ingredients from local farms to create dishes that remind you of home, with the added bonus of not washing dishes after. Fish tacos, beef sliders, and barbecue turkey ribs start off meals with a dash of casualness. Fine dining entrees offer choices from chicken alfredo and 12-ounce rib eye to southern fried chicken and grilled salmon, all of which can be enjoyed with sides like green beans or potato veggie hash. Meals finish on a sweet note, with apple crisp, cheesecake, or a second helping of steak.
Melange Restaurant serves contemporary American cuisine with an emphasis on seasonal and organic ingredients. Working stiffs and wobblers alike can examine the lunch menu's soups, salads, and sandwiches, taking advantage of choices such as the Melange salad, with mixed greens, grapes, dried apricots, and feta cheese ($8), or the lobster BLT ($12.50), which combines the ocean's untold mysteries with the stability of an old standby. On the weekend, breakfast lovers and lunch enthusiasts join forces to devour brunches of Belgian waffles topped with seasonal fruit ($5) and surf-and-turf Benedicts crammed with alternating bites of lobster and Canadian bacon ($12). At dinner, Melange's watermelon and black-bean salsa ($4) warms teeth up for the main events of small-plate gyro-style lamb ribs ($13.50) or the main dish of Kobe-style flat-iron steaks ($32). Finish dinner with a dessert of Linda's chocolate-chip cookies and milk ($7) and at least half of the dessert proceeds will go to cancer research and family support.
From its outpost in the Cleveland Heights, The Mad Greek crafts a menu of Greek and Indian food, which is prepared fresh every day. Chicken curry dishes and alu ghobi are served alongside pita sandwiches filled with beef and lamb gyros, chicken souvlaki, or falafel. Small bites include spanakopita and hummus and the Athenian burger acts as a culinary Trojan horse, delivering tzatziki sauce and feta cheese into open mouths.
The recipient of taste-based honors such as Cleveland Magazine’s Silver Spoon Award and the Plain Dealer’s Best Fried Chicken Spot, Phil the Fire transports traditionally Southern comfort fare into the heart of the Midwest. The restaurant’s chicken and waffles, made with fluffy belgian waffles and hot-sauce-ready meat, anchor a wide-ranging menu, packed with hearty Southern victuals. Owner Phil Davis works closely with his daughter Machiah Imani and a dedicated staff to establish a family-friendly vibe and to forge comfort fare staples, including casseroles, meatloaf, and mac ‘n’ cheese, from fresh, wholesome ingredients. A casual, brick-and-wood-laden interior and low-lit dining room keeps meals less intense than those eaten inside saunas, and a fully stocked bar sates thirsty crowds during daily happy hours.
The antipasti counter, panini bar, and wood-fired pizza oven combine to give guests plenty of reasons to visit Valenti's Ristorante. If that's not enough, notes belt out from an 1856 piano as the scents of pasta, steak, and seafood waft from table to table. The chefs, in addition to crafting popular dishes, craft them with locally acquired ingredients, antibiotic and hormone free meats, Gerber Amish chicken, and fish delivered fresh on a daily basis.