Cleveland, Ohio       Date of Visit  02/18/12  

It’s the human conundrum. Our regular dining companions are particularly bright people but we never learn. Having our lofty expectations dashed at Washington Place Inn you think we would learn to avoid getting all excited beforehand, but no, we just don’t. Learn that is. We arrived at Flour, having heard from Chef Michael Symon twice through social media that Flour was awesome, and there rose great expectations. Would we learn again that glitter and gold are not synonymous or does Flour deliver? The answer was mostly yes.



Old World Bread, Varied Tunnels Mean Multiple Rises

Quite a stretch into the dark void that is Chagrin Blvd once you leave Woodmere, Flour sits in the end of what is essentially a small strip mall. The interior is modern and clean and we were pretty comfortable through the meal. Our server was professional and efficient for the majority of the night but appeared to get a little lost towards the end. He was also responsible for a shade of overselling specific products, but that’s his gig, not his fault.

A bold bottle of a red meritage was quickly followed by six appetizers. Here is where the overselling took place. Included were a formaggi (cheese selection) and salumi (cured meat selection) which were each introduced with more than sufficient flair by our server. There was nothing wrong with either of them but I have come to depend on these platters to introduce me to new things and of the five meats and three cheeses not one was the least bit unfamiliar or interesting. All were fine, but those pesky expectations again…. Thinking back, the appetizers were plentiful but far from the star of the show.

Kinda Boring Selection for a Taster

Same Problem as the Cheese

Calamari Hit or Miss

Chorizo Stuffed Dates Were Good but Can't Compete with Other Versions

Warm Olives...Not Much to Say

Veal Meatballs and Pork Belly, NICE
  Calamari can be tricky to get tender. They obviously can get it perfect at Flour, the only problem was not all of the pieces were done as well, there was a bit of Russian roulette…click (tender, tasty)/bang (is this gum?). The squid was loaded with dehydrated olives, chives and was served with a smoked tomato sauce that really didn’t do much for the dish.

Medjool dates were stuffed with chorizo, wrapped with pancetta and were bathing in a red pepper sauce. They were good, but having had the devils on horseback at The Greenhouse Tavern and the dates at Fahrenheit, they were simply outmatched. Warm olives and a skewer with veal meatballs and roasted pork belly completed the appetizers on better notes than their companions.

Of six plates two were exceptional, two were really good and two were fine…not bad odds for any place, especially considering those expectations. The dish that impressed me the least was the olive oil poached swordfish which was served with an eggplant caponata, squash and a basil sauce. The conceptualization of this whole plate fell short and came across as heavy handed and dull compared to the rest of the table. While Chef Symon led us here he previously ruined me for life as far as pork chops are concerned. It was a nice chop, it tasted fine, but it was bested long ago. That plate gets better marks than the swordfish because of the polenta (grits) underneath the chop, so rich you could just feel the evil amounts of dairy encasing each corn molecule.


Casper the Tasteless Swordfish

Pork Chop Can't Live Up to the Polenta Underneath

Pizza Was a Great and Unique Combo

Vittello Tannato...Veal and Tuna...Who Knew?

I ordered the vitello tonnato ravioli which were pretty darn good. I don’t know whose idea it was to mix veal and tuna but the rich meaty interior paired really nicely with the tuna laced tomato sauce and the pickled garlic and peppery arugula. The pasta was more toothsome than I am used to but in a wonderful way, offering legitimate but brief resistance before surrendering to rich filling. The special pizza of the night just sounded too good to be avoided. Wood fired crispy crust held a thin schmear of cheese sauce, confited rabbit legs, local goat cheese and a red wine reduction. It actually worked great as a pizza as nothing stood out at all and blended into a mix of tangy, succulent, crispy, tannic, salty yum.

Gorgeous Lamb Osso Bucco and Risotto

Looks Like Compost Bin. Tastes Like Victory and Bliss

Two braised dishes were simply transcendent the lamb osso bucco and the chicken cacciatore. The lamb shank was perfectly gamey and cascaded off the bone into the roasted cauliflower risotto and pickled fennel salad, stupendous. I didn’t think it could be outdone for the night until I got to the last dish passed around the table. Not a dish, really, an enormous crock landed to my left on the table and I wondered what in the world it was. What it was, was a chicken cacciatori unlike any I have ever had. Rich thick spices ran through the chicken, broth and vegetables which had all been braised to flawlessness. I was jealous and I liked my dish.

Disappointing Molten Chocolate

We were all excited about the arrival of the dessert menu, we had looked online earlier and there were some interesting and fabulous sounding options. Apparently, on the list of priorities, making unfathomably delicious chicken is way higher than updating the menu on the website (which is fine with me if I ordered the chicken, so no) and the new options were much less interesting and I’m assuming tasty. The best of the bunch were the zeppole, little fried bread nuggets, rolled in cinnamon sugar and accompanied by little bowls of caramel crema and honey. More textured than your average doughnut they were really good. The lemoncello tiramisu sat on a blood orange whipped cream which was studded with pomegranate seeds. The lemony filling was fine but wasn’t enough to counter balance the dryness of the cake layers. Not bad, but I wouldn’t do it again. The low end of the desserts was a molten chocolate cake with a nutella ice cream. Chocolate is what it is but some versions really strike you which did not happen for me with this cake. Underwhelming is the best I can do to describe why.

Nice Lemon Filling and Dry Cake

Zeppole Don't Look Great but Taste Just Fine, Esp with Crema

Even with exorbitant expectations Flour managed to do well and even surpass on a couple dishes. It was very nice to walk out somewhere north of bitter. I would like to go back but I will purposefully be breaking two personal rules, but I don't follow most of the rules I make for myself most of the time anyways. Rule One. Don't go to a restaurant to order chicken. Rule Two. There is something wrong with people who don't share food. Keep your hands out of my crock or you'll lose them.




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