Monday, October 5, 2015

Alley Cat Oyster Bar

The Flats are back. After years of hoping and waiting and wondering, this waterfront entertainment district is back in business, better than ever. Gone are the old refurbished warehouses and rowdy bars - they've been replaced with modern spaces built to take advantage of their prime location. If you haven't been there since your last visit to the Basement or Fagen's, you need to check it out.
For our second anniversary, my husband made reservations for us at Alley Cat Oyster Bar. There are a lot of new restaurants in the area, but Alley Cat is the king of the Cuyahoga, perched seductively along the river, loaded with windows that open wide to catch the breezes and multiple levels of decks to take full advantage of of it's prime location.
It was a Monday night but the restaurant was packed. (Pro tip: Make reservations well ahead of time if you want to eat during prime time.) They have a lot of outdoor dining space and have a rooftop level with a separate bar area.
They have a nice selection of specialty cocktails - I tried the Crooked River Punch (2 rums, mango, guava and lime) and the Cat's Pajamas (house made lemonade with Tito's vodka, strawberry and jalapeno.) Both were well balanced and not too sweet.

The hush puppies we ordered weren't such a success. They were flavorless except for the odd cumin scented cream sauce served with them and were greasy. Definitely order something else.
Thankfully the entrees were nothing like the hush puppies. We both opted for a catch of the day. Mark chose the halibut served in a dashi broth with foraged mushrooms and an assortment of summer squashes. He was very grateful when one of the many waiters we had thought to bring him a spoon so he could scoop up the earthy broth.
I almost ordered the Thai whole red snapper but changed my mind at the last minute - I was not disappointed! I opted for the walleye served over smashed cauliflower, with carrots and asparagus and a cherry port sauce. Wow! The fish was perfect but the sides really made this dish. It was one of the best fish dishes I've had. The menu changes regularly so if this is still on there, order it. You won't be sorry.
The atmosphere was great except for the noise. The music was way too loud and this was made even worse because we were sitting under a speaker. One of my biggest pet peeves is having to yell across a table at dinner. After some tables opened up, I requested to move to get away from the speaker at least. The waiter was very accommodating and said that he also felt that it was too loud and had already asked management to turn down the volume. After the move and the blaring music being taken care of, just in time for our entrees to arrive, it was perfect. 

Service was very good, but we had at least 4 or 5 servers during our visit. Each of them were really nice and did a great job - I think we had so many because a couple were being trained.

When you go, be sure to take a stroll along the boardwalk. We went before dinner to catch the sunset and then after to walk off all the food we ate.
Overall, we loved Alley Cat. We both commented that we felt like we were on vacation because of the venue and location. The food was fantastic and there are a lot of options for people who don't like seafood or oysters too. I want to go back and try the lobster roll, baked oysters, green papaya and roasted chicken salad and the charred broccoli caesar. I will not be trying the $15 grilled cheese (yikes!) Check out the complete menu here.

Happy hour is daily from 3-6pm:

OYSTERS 2 each

Alley Cat Oyster Bar • 1056 Old River Road • Cleveland • 216-574-9999 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Life Lessons with Regina Brett for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is one of my favorite months. If I can't have Summer, sandals and the beach, Fall with its colorful leaves, pumpkins, apple cider, Halloween and cozy sweaters is my next favorite season.

But October is great for another reason - it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I'm sure that each and every one of you reading this has been impacted in some way by this disease. I know I have - many relatives and friends have been diagnosed and battled breast cancer.

As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I had the chance to meet Regina Brett and hear her speak. She is one of my favorite columnists and I was beyond excited.
Regina is not only an award winning writer, she is a breast cancer survivor. She is truly inspirational. Instead of cancer making her give up, it made her appreciate life even more. Her poignant stories will make you want to laugh and cry and laugh some more.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from her:
Lesson #21 Note Cards (pk Of 10)

  • No one is in charge of your happiness except you
Lesson #36 Note Cards (pk Of 10)

  • Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
Lesson #16 Note Cards (pk Of 10)
She also stressed the importance doing your monthly breast exam, getting those mammograms and not letting fear stop you.
She signed books and very willingly took photos with all her fans. She even took a selfie with me to post to her Facebook page.
Oct 2015Regina Brett Facebook Selfie
If you ever get the chance to hear her speak, do it! You will leave a little bit happier. A little bit more appreciative. And with a whole lot of life lessons.

If you purchase the note cards pictured above, all proceeds go towards purchasing wigs for women who have lost their hair due to cancer at HairPeace Wig Salon at The Gathering Place.

You can also heck out her article about How Cleveland Are You and follow Regina on TwitterFacebookInstagram and Pinterest

Friday, September 25, 2015

Garlic Fest 2015

As we walked up to Shaker Square, the smell of garlic was in there air. Thankfully the weather improved on Sunday and the cold and rain were gone.
It was a beautiful crisp fall day and everyone was soaking up the sun, sampling garlic flavored treats, listening to music and shopping. 
The chef demo tents were packed with people eager to learn a new recipe and score free samples. For the first time, Mitchell's had some competition because Piccadilly Creamery was fresh mixing their delicious ice cream at the fest this year. (for the record, both are soooo good ~ try both!)
A great addition was the cheese guild and craft beer tent. I found this new coffee that reminded me of the Stumptown Nitro cold brew in NYC. 46 and 2 Brewing hop infuses their cold brew, but this one was of course infused with garlic in honor of the festival.
2015 CLE Garlic Fest Eat*Drink*Cleveland
One of my favorite things this year was Glenn Mittler, The Bubble Guy. And the kids loved him too. It was amazing to see all the different types of bubbles he could make but this huge was was the most impressive.
As usual, the Garlic Festival was one of my favorite festivals of the year. If you attended, what was your favorite thing? Did you discover a new variety of garlice or a new way to cook it?