25 Cleveland Pl (between Spring St and Kenmare St, Nolita)
Fatty Kat Eats: Fries with Pecorino Romano and Herb Aioli, Mushroom Souffle, Mussels, Diver Scallops with Homemade Pasta, House Blend Burger
The Cleveland is one of those spots that balances great food, attentive service and sexy people all in one place. I don't know why, but I didn't expect much from this restaurant. Wrong. I was completely blindsided. So much of what we ate was damn good. While the restaurant is a "scene" that borders on douchey, it takes its food seriously.
Nothing wrong with a little ginger ale, especially if it's homemade Hibiscus Ginger Ale. I easily guzzled 2 of these babies.
For me, mussels are always hit or miss. It's so sad when they come out looking like dried up turds. I assure you, the Mussels here will blow your socks off. The bell peppers, garlic and cilantro really brightened up these plump sea dwellers.
If I didn't like my friends, I would have grabbed the Fries and ran for the door. We barely needed the herb aioli to fall in love with these strips of heaven. A little crispy. Hot. Perfectly seasoned. What more could a fatty ask for? And whatever addictive drugs they put in this is 100% okay with me. I'm guessing the pecorino romano had something to do with it too. Just a guess, hah.
The Charred Eggplant was decent but nothing to write home about. Next...
I had a nibble of @malikazeinab's Orechiette with Tiger Shrimp and wasn't a huge fan. I loved the generous veggies, especially the Okra, but something just didn't come together for me. It felt more like a cold pasta salad heated up. It was also too spicy for a pasta dish. My tongue was confused because I was seeing pasta and tasting salsa.
I was a crazy person and ordered the Mushroom Souffle on top of all the shared appetizers and my entree. But when I see "mushroom" and "souffle" in one dish, I'm going to get what's mine. YOLO. Thank goodness I went with my gut. This thing was pure magic. Less souffle and more mushroom, but this brown glob packed so much flavor and beauty that you cannot possibly understand my foodgasm until you try it too.
The Moroccan Half Chicken was so close yet so far. The couscous sunk the ship. The half chicken was juicy and well-seasoned, but it sat upon a pile of mushy couscous. No one wants that. The apricots injected a subtle fruitiness which I loved, but unfortunately, the wonderful flavors could not save this dish.
Say what?! The Cleveland has a banging burger? Yes, it is true. It's called the House Blend Burger. I was all over the succulent meat, melted cheddar and caramelized onions. Nice buns too! The burger holds together pretty well, and the patty and onions aren't too much for the bun. Did I mention it comes with those ridiculous fries?
Don't worry. I was skeptical too. I mean, it looked like lo mein... Luckily, it was not lo mein. The Diver Scallops with Homemade Pasta was actually great. The scallops were perfectly pan-seared and caramelized on the outside. These babies were pretty heavy and rich for such a lean protein. And unlike the orechiette above, I was a fan of the veggies here. Look at those darling lima beans. The thin pasta is also worth mentioning for being delicate and awesome.
I found Nemo, he's right here on this plate! His meat was sweet and juicy. The Whole Branzino was certainly the most eye-catching dish of the night. I loved the fresh veggies stuffed into the middle serving as both garnish and farm-to-table goodness. I wish Nemo could have sat on something more inspiring than a wet piece of lettuce, but maybe it's just me?