fun-fun. We are meeting one of our long-time, food-nutcase couples
for the first time in a while. With a recommendation from one of my
new Nursing students we head to Cleveland to check out Cowell and
Hubbard, one of five Zach Bruell spots in the city. We had been to
Parallax some time ago but had never
heard of this place. I don’t hold grudge (wink/wink) but there
appear to be new places opening up all over the theater district
which might mean theater goers will finally mark the day of
Otto Moser’s closing.
Interesting Cocktail (Smoky, Baconey, Mapley Rye)
It might be wonderfully storied, but at this point it’s like a family doctor who has been the best thing for his community for 50 years but for the last 10 has been killing 93% of his patients. At some point it becomes about what you’re doing instead of what you did. Who knows, maybe someone who cares will buy it and do something with it.
After working our way
through the police barricades blocking of the street for movie
filming…I still have to actively remember they shoot some movies in
C-town…we entered a hip (not hipster) and long space. Jazz plays,
tvs glimmer over the bar, people of all stripes parade through the
door. The vibe of the place is a mix of relaxed and high and tight
in the best way possible. Patrons – relaxed : employees high and
tight. Right after we sat I started singing Red Hot Chili Peppers-
One Big Mob (Oh yeah O yeah). The staff is enormous (number not
size) and smoothly frenetic. Think an anthill in jeans and different
colored buttondowns. You seem to be assigned a primary server and
everyone else’s job is to assist your particular server, and I mean
To be fair they are all doing for each other but when you are focused on your table it seems everyone in the place is bringing just you something at one point or another. Everyone appears very well trained and knowledgeable. There was one guy who I’m assuming was pretty new working very hard at getting his grip right for the two spoon Russian service they use to bring your bread but everything else looked practiced and smooth.
We started with a couple of beverages a wine I can’t remember but it was a red blend recommended by our server which was lush with a nice balance between the tannin and the dusky fruits. I tried a cocktail aptly named the Bacon Man made with bacon infused Rye whiskey and something maple. The first sip was so smoky I was worried but the rye was smooth as silk and after a moment the smoke receded leaving a nice approximation of bacon.
We love going out with
these friends but they are cursed. Yes, it’s them and not me…I have
manufactured some proof. There are far worse curses but this one
consists of being completely blown away by appetizers and then
knowing the entrees will never live up to them. It wouldn’t be a
curse unless it happens over and over so I’ll start with the entrees
and then finish with my favorites because I want to end on a good
note and they were exceptional. Until your food begins to arrive
anyone walking by seeing an empty bread plate will ask if you care
for more, we did, often. Hard crack stage crust around a peasant
style loaf with large and varied holes from a lengthy fermentation
for flavor. Even better though was the serious olive oil served
along side plus a little Himalayan sea salt.
entrée was the special seared tuna served with smashed carrots,
green beans, brown rice, cilantro and a scallion pesto. From the
smell you could tell it was the special because they had to get it
out of the kitchen before the only thing it would be good for is cat
food. Add to that some really uninspired sides and you have a less
than ho-hum dish. I ordered the frog legs. I had em before, they’re
fine but not usually at the top of the list from most menus. What
changed my mind, these are sour dough battered. Ain’t never seen
that before. I loved the sourdough fried chicken at
Central so we were off.
The little taters and butter poached radishes were nice, the batter
was excellent. The frog, eh. The legs were huge, bigger than I’ve
ever tried them. I do not know if it is the age of the frog or
something in the cooking. When ordering, our server and I
apparently didn’t communicate well and when the meals arrived, they
brought me something different. So my dinner lagged behind everyone
else’s, so they had been rushed...more on that in a bit.
Whatever it was, the batter idea is nice, the legs themselves could
have been better.
the red meats. We tried the lamb breast. I was impressed when the
server stopped after the order to mention that lamb breast is
definitively fatty but still sold the dish. I’m sure he expected
some fattiness being a lamb aficionado but it’s just smart to not
assume. Fatty it was but in a good way with a deep lamb flavor. It
was pretty good until you added a little of the Moroccan spiced
medium pearl couscous underneath and bang…it was really tasty. Trust
the flavor profiles of the people who eat the stuff everyday. Our
last entrée was the beef cheeks, which was likely my favorite.
Braised to tender succulent perfection and perched on dauphinoise
potatoes (think good scalloped taters) and the typical vegetable
blend. There was a smack of saltiness to the dish which we finally
discovered were olives amongst the veggies. There did appear to be
some debate as to how salty they actually were. The cheeks though,
when dunked into the jus at the bottom of the bowl were really nice.
It may not have been the most Spring of dishes but I think I
understand how it stays. Tender beef on crack.
Fatty Lamb In Moroccan Spices
Braised Beef Cheeks Fall Apart Into Delicious Jus
that was my least favorite course by far, and it was good, the other
two were just exceptional. Apps were fois gras donuts, the crispy
pork stack, chicken wings and beef marrow and I’m telling you one
was good, one was great and two were just stoopid. The donuts
sounded the most interesting, foie rolled into dough, deep fried,
rolled in cinnamon sugar and set in a pool of black pepper and
orange gastrique. They were tasty, just too much dough to foie
ratio. Sure I’d like more foie but less dough would also get it
closer to paying off.
Foie Gras Donuts Sounded Interesting
Dough Overwhelmed Any Sense Of The Liver
stack was delicious. It was sort of hard to get through the pork (it
was super crispy) but once you were chewing it with the one hour
egg, the vegetable risotto and spinach it was very nice but the
wings and marrow were stunningly good. The chicken meat itself was
one of the best tasting preparations I have ever had, right up there
with the wings from Greenhouse Tavern.
Immense chicken flavor. Add to that chicken bacon, tomato dust, goat
cheese and a sauce with a bit of spice and I could have killed
dozens of those things. Then the marrow. I have had marrow before,
usually osso bucco or added to something beefy. With the meat it
adds super beefy fatiness. I’ve tried it alone and it really does
nothing for me. When this plate arrived it had four marrow bones,
some toast, pickled onions, horseradish, cilantro and a little
lemon. Nothing beefy to add it to. Just smear the stuff on the toast
and go. If this was the only dish I had I would have left happy. Not
sure exactly how its done but it is beyond reproach. Simple genius
out of what most would discard as garbage. Have you noticed from the
pictures that the appetizers were as big as the entrees?
Crispy Pork Stack Was Tasty
The Wings Were Amazing
Completely Blown Away That I Enjoyed Marrow This Way
All Alone Awesomeness
couldn’t possibly live up to the appetizers though, wrong wrong
wrong. They were also stupendous to varying degrees, especially the
worst named one of the bunch. I ordered my least favorite, a baked
apple. Stuffed with sweetened mascarpone cheese and served with
dried fruit it was good but it was like the prettiest girl in Ann
Arbor showing up to the Miss America Pageant in Columbus. No chance.
Steph ordered the Mocha Pot De Crème which was better than the apple
by far but arrived in third place for me. Light coffee flavor was
shrouded in seriously dark chocolate custard and topped in whipped
cream and a biscotti sort of cookie. The custard was thicker than
the paste I used to eat in kindergarten and incredibly rich. The
cookie could have done more but that is complete nitpicking.
Mascarpone Stuffed Apple Was Good But Way Outclassed
Rich And Thick Mocha Pot de Crème
only two more dishes and my ranting will be nearly over. The
strawberry napoleon was next. Crisp phyllo dough, fresh cut berries,
some type of pastry cream, chocolate and some other sauce. Too Much!
That will overwhelm such a simple dish. Nonsense! Light and
supremely satisfying at the same time, everything combined into just
sweet enough, just fresh enough, just perfect enough. The last
dessert was simply named Meringues in the menu. They need to work on
that, simply underdescriptive. The meringues were baked disks to the
point of being dry and crunchy. I have done that for an interesting
layer in cakes, it works well. This one is served as an ice cream
sandwich with two disks of meringue containing a thick slab of
incredible Mitchell’s burnt caramel ice cream and sea salt. It was
so simple but it was perfectly balanced and every bit as good as the
napoleon with its many ingredients. One so simple, one so seemingly
complex and both wonderful ends to a superior meal.
my hanging entrée and the service at Cowell and Hubbard…almost
everyone in the restaurant apologized, I almost expected the frogs
to come out and say something. The general manager came over after
the front on the house manager and asked if I would like another
beverage. Not only did they deliver it on the house for the error,
he asked if I would prefer Makers Mark Bourbon in the ordered old
fashioned. He upgraded the drink from a well pour to a nice one and
didn’t have to scratch the entrée off the bill and everyone goes
home happy. Smart and good business. Cowell and Hubbard evidenced
that combination throughout our stay and I left impressed on many