Lopez on Lee
,  Cleveland                                                                                                             http://www.lopezonlee.com/

We in Ohio donít have any easy access to the likes of Mexican food as understood and elevated by Rick Bayless. Renowned for seeking out real traditional Mexican fare, rather than the American understanding of such, and subtly refining it in magical ways, it has been a standing goal to find a way to his doors. How odd it was to find that Chef Baylessí first exec gig was in Cleveland Ohio. Lopez on Lee has been around for nearly 30 years and none of us had ever heard of it. Sure, Bayless has not been associated for a very long time, but the restaurant may have followed the same path of focus and dedication as itís first kitchen commandant.

The place is bright and festive with a laid back staff and a lot of noise and action. Surprising on the menu were options for guacamoles. Central on the menu was a version of the avocado dip made for Chef Michael Symon featuring blue cheese, sage, and bacon. Oh dearÖI wish they offered it in a bucket size along with the fabulous little paper bags of tortilla chips. I would happily order nothing but, which more true than it should be.

After our excitement over the appetizers we dug into the menu and I was energized by the wide variety of ingredients and preparations. Everything sounded so good, and it was good but far from great. All six of us had ordered different items and passed plates and I was disappointed to find that none of the six made me want anything besides another bowl of guacamole. Dish after dish seemed muddled and overdone with few clear flavors or direction. Perhaps if the guacamole were not so good, or the menu so promising, I would not have been so disappointed. But I was.




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