News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Akron Children's Hospital

Lehmans

Akron General


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Social Issues




Restaurateurs chow down while they heat up the cuisine scene
Top chefs support and promote each other
by WKSU's VIVIAN GOODMAN
This story is part of a special series.


Reporter
Vivian Goodman
 
Chef Jonathon Sawyer is guided by two key principles: using local produce and maintaining a green business.
Courtesy of Zachary Duvall
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

A major factor in the success of several new restaurants in our region is that top chefs patronize each other’s restaurants.

 It’s a cut-throat business, but competing restaurateurs put away the knives and take up the forks more often than you might expect. 

For today’s Quick Bite, WKSU’s Vivian Goodman takes us to a popular lunch spot in downtown Cleveland.

camaraderie on the cuisine scene

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (5:30)


Images with audio

Sawyer grew up in Strongsville in a family that loved to cook. While cooking at the Greenhouse Tavern,  he made time to talk with us about his belief in both the culinary as well as the environmental benefits of using locally-produced food  products including ethnic foods like smoked meats from Dohar's, a West Side Market business since 1957. He says he buys produce from local farmers for both The Greenhouse Tavern and his newest restaurant just around the corner, Noodlecat.


Sawyer grew up in Strongsville in a family that loved to cook. While cooking at the Greenhouse Tavern, he made time to talk with us about his belief in both the culinary as well as the environmental benefits of using locally-produced food products including ethnic foods like smoked meats from Dohar's, a West Side Market business since 1957. He says he buys produce from local farmers for both The Greenhouse Tavern and his newest restaurant just around the corner, Noodlecat.

(Click image for larger view.)

Something is always simmering in Jonathan Sawyer’s kitchen.

Today, it must be exceptionally good because food writer Michael Ruhlman has brought four friends to the chef’s table. It is an intimate and informal space in the basement kitchen of the Greenhouse Tavern, Sawyer’s hip new place on East 4th Street downtown.

“This is my favorite restaurant in Cleveland,” says Ruhlman. “Jonathan is just, he’s daring, he’s aggressive. I mean, who else would serve a barbecued pig’s head? I love it. I love this guy. I love this restaurant.”

So does Chris Hodgson, owner of Dim and Den Sum and Hodgepodge, the food truck that took second place in the Food Channel’s “Great Food Truck Race.” Hodgson has come for lunch. He and his crew are moving into his new restaurant downtown called Hodges, a comfort food fusion that is replacing the former Zinc.

“It opened up a lot of doors, gave us a lot of national exposure which we really just want to show the nation what great food Cleveland has,” says Hodgson, “because a lot of people don’t think of us as a culinary kind of mecca. But we do have phenomenal chefs here, whether it’s fine dining or it’s oriental, ethnic or street food we got unbelievable chefs, world class that are doing phenomenal things.”   

Local support

In some cities, including New York City and Akron, bricks and mortar restaurateurs resent losing business to food trucks. But Greenhouse owner-chef Sawyer is a big fan of the trucks. He loves what guys like Chris Hodgson and others are doing for downtown Cleveland.

“It’s great to get people out of their office buildings on to Public Square,” says Sawyer, “because the Tavern and Noodlecat and all of East 4th and all of West 6th are just a couple more feet  away from that. We’re all just fighting for 5 percent of the national marketplace.”

The support that the local Cleveland restaurateurs are providing for each other encouraged Sawyer to open his second downtown restaurant three years ago. It’s called Noodlecat, just steps away from the Greenhouse.

Chef Sawyer’s commitment to the farm-to-table movement is reflected in Greenhouse’s menu. He gets his greens out of nearby soil and his walleye out of Lake Erie. Server Kevin Mead reels off today’s offerings.

“Vegetarian soup today is going to be a coconut curry eggplant, garnished with some cilantro and lime zest. Lake Erie walleye’s going to be our fish today. Pizza preparation starts out with the goat cheese, spinach on there, a white bean and pancetta salad also topped with some mozzarella."

‘A real foodie scene'

Chef Sawyer grew up in Strongsville in an era when Cleveland got a bad rap as a “meat-and-potatoes” town. Sawyer would rather think of it as being comfortable and affordable and his menu has grown in that same way. Beginning early on with 20 menu items altogether, Sawyer then started realizing the possibilities and pushed the envelope a bit with a whole roasted pig’s head. The idea was “edgy dishes” as Sawyer puts it.

Food critic Michael Ruhlman likes Sawyer’s French flavor — his pike quelle and beef tartare. He is also found digging into something more comfortable like the chicken-fried lamb steak or the “Sloppy-Jonut,” a pork filled donut topped with red sauce. This simple oddity is what Ruhlman loves about the restaurant.

Rulman’s friend Dave Loomis says it is not as good as what he is eating.

“Crispy chicken wings confit with roasted jalapeno, lemon juice, scallions and garlic. And what do you think of it? Ohmigosh. I live for this stuff. The whole food scene in Cleveland, Ohio, right now -- this is giving us this national and maybe international credibility like nothing else. I’ve met people in the last couple months who have said, ‘Oh, you’re from Cleveland; there’s a real foodie scene going on there, right?’ And to me that’s awesome. But the crispy chicken wings. They’re to die for.”


Related Links & Resources
The Greenhouse Tavern website

Food writer Michael Ruhlman's website

Hodgepodge food truck website

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook






Stories with Recent Comments

Ohio lawmakers propose grants for home construction for disabled people
We have been trying to have a "Visitability Bill" passed for years. Thanks, Greg

Lake County crimes may give Trump immigration fodder
Shoddy reporting at best. "Mixed views" The question that came to my mind was, "How many people did he have to interview to get "mixed views". Do the two peo...

Ohio's U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown announces plans to improve Medicare by lowering prescription costs for seniors
Sounds good. I'm living in Florida to escape the snow. So far it's working. I retired from GM in 2000. Keep pushing for all the working people. In the long run ...

The tiny town that time, and elections, forgot may go out of existence
Thank you for this story. I grew up in Limaville, my parents home is there still...unsellable due to the septic/sewer problem. Sometimes I am sorry I left...wis...

Where Ohio'sJohn Kasich stands in the presidential polls
We are fans of Gov. Kasich since he served in the House of Representatives. It pleases us to finally see him as the potential President of the United States. We...

Cleveland hosts the first national Movement for Black Lives conference
What a wonderful experience this was, So much love and understanding, without all of the other distractions that tend to come with organizing for change, this e...

Air Force unit gets training and Youngstown gets rid of some eyesores
Do they have to totally destroy all the beautiful oak and leaded windows, which I am thinking are probably there? Do they just have to destroy them like that? C...

Jewish challah and Native American fry bread at an Akron cultural exchange
Each time I saw the young students relate to each other, I got goose bumps. These young students can and hopefully will teach all of us to live and respect eac...

One of the Cleveland Orchestra's most celebrated musicians bids farewell
I had the honor of studying with Franklin Cohen in the late 80s and early 90s. He is unparalleled both as a clarinetist and as a musician. His deep personal war...

Summa's dress code is not 'etched in stone'
SOME OF THESE POLICIES ARE A COMPLETE JOKE. UNLESS YOU ARE DOING THESE TYPE OF JOBS EVERY DAY, YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT IS COMFORTABLE AND REASONABLE OR NOT. UNLESS ...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University