Following a generally sleepy winter, the local food and drink scene will soon kick into high gear and deliver a roundhouse of hotly anticipated projects.
Here are the ones we are most looking forward to:
» Mason's Creamery
» Ohio City | » May
Ice cream entrepreneurs Jesse Mason and Helen Qin have taken Mason's Creamery from a nomadic pop-up-shop affair to a bricks-and-mortar business in less than one year. When they open their new retail shop in the former home of Ohio City Ice Cream, they will doubtless bring smiles to countless neighborhood faces. The shop will have a small interior space with a counter and some tables, while the exterior will offer a walk-up window. Dedicated production space will allow Mason's Creamery to expand its wholesale business. A new building shell and sign will spruce up appearances, while replacing yards of blacktop with green space will provide a nice community gathering area.
» Urban Farmer
» Downtown | » May
Urban Farmer, an offshoot of the uber-popular Portland restaurant of the same name, will open early May in the freshly minted Westin Downtown hotel. The 6,000-square-foot, 250-seat farm-to-table steakhouse will be helmed by executive chef Brad Cecchi, who relocated to Cleveland from Sacramento, where he was dubbed the "master of cured meats." No surprise then that Urban Farmer will boast an ambitious butchery and charcuterie program. A highlight of the menu is the New York Steak Tasting, which features portions of grass-fed beef, USDA prime beef, 21-day dry-aged beef and Imperial Wagyu beef. A four-story weathered industrial neon sign marks the restaurant entrance, while inside there is an open kitchen, chicken-wire chandeliers, blackboards that list purveyors, and a bar with 20-foot ceilings and a wall of glass that looks out onto the downtown streets.
» Crumb and Spigot
» Bainbridge | » May
Karen Gorman has always loved those crazy names and signs so prevalent in England, hence the whimsically named Crumb and Spigot, which will open in a few weeks near the corner of Washington and 306. The small neighborhood tavern will feature a large bar, communal seating and a wood-fired oven. The "crumb" refers to the pizzas exiting the wood oven, while the "spigot" refers to the bar, specifically craft cocktails and both beer and wine on tap. The menu will offer small plates like charcuterie, pizzas and wood-fired entrees like fish, chicken and steak. Gorman notes that there will be a large number of vegan and vegetarian options. Gorman's partner in the operation is Ryan King, a veteran cook who has worked in a number of Cleveland restaurants.
» University Circle | » May/June
Long in the works, James Beard-nominated chef Jonathon Sawyer's new Italian restaurant, Trentina, is on schedule for an early summer opening. The attractive 35-seat restaurant in University Circle, which for 20 years was home to the beloved Sergio's, is an ideal setting for the northern Italian-inspired foods that Sawyer and chef Matt Danko will be creating. Diners can look forward to creative cocktails, fresh pastas, tableside cooking, and al fresco dining on the restaurant's picturesque front patio.
» Spotted Owl
» Tremont | » May/June
Will Hollingsworth is inching ever closer to the conclusion of one phase of his life and the beginning of another. This bartender's long held vision of the perfect neighborhood bar will become reality when the Spotted Owl takes flight within weeks in the lower level of the Tremont Place Lofts. No asses-to-elbows pub this, the Owl will seat no more than 40 guests in 2,200 square feet of architecturally compelling space. Exposed brick walls envelop the space, illuminated by surgically placed spots. The bar, tables and high-tops are all built from salvaged old-growth tulip poplar boards and the poured concrete floors are stained midnight blue. Despite the time and planning, this will be a neighborhood bar with no pretension. Guests can expect a concise menu of cocktails, a very small wine list and just five beers on tap.
» Butcher and the Brewer
» Downtown | » June
Few projects have been so hotly anticipated as Butcher and the Brewer, which will open on East Fourth Street in the coming months. When complete, this ambitious, multi-faceted project will feature a 10-barrel brewery, restaurant, retail butcher shop and lower-level bar. The management team consists of Tremont Taphouse principals Jason Workman, Chris Lieb and Jeff Leonard, along with executive chef Jim Blevins, brewmaster Eric Anderson and butcher Rex Workman. At full capacity, the brewpub will seat approximately 185 diners — more when the lower-level speakeasy is complete. The menu will feature bar snacks, charcuterie and cheese, and entrees built around veggies, meat and seafood.