Dining » Dining Lead

Clean Food?

In Richard Cicic's world, there is no (TGI) Friday.

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He's only 31, but outspoken chef Richard Cicic already has a lock on that grumpy old man thing. Mostly, he's pissed about what's on our plates. "People don't know what food tastes like anymore!" he fumes. "The food at places like Applebee's and Friday's is a trainwreck. And my friends come over to visit, and they are stunned to discover that chicken soup doesn't necessarily come out of a can."

Naturally, the professionally trained culinarian thinks we should all wise up already; and with last week's opening of Madd Chef's, his Brunswick restaurant, catering, and carryout biz (1091 Pearl Road, 330-225-5544), he's doing his part. The place specializes in additive-free lunches and dinners, made from scratch in his 11,000-square-foot open kitchen. More than 20 salads, a dozen grinders, and entrées like chicken scaloppine, bourbon-brined pork tenderloin, and panko-crusted cod with homemade hush puppies make up the menu; entrée prices rarely stray above the $13 mark, and there's a $3 kids' menu.

But while he's passionate about what he calls "clean food," Cicic is no diet cop. For proof, consider his Madd Fries: twice fried, Belgian-style frites, seasoned with sea salt and served with a choice of homemade dips, including garlic-pesto aïoli, curry-flavored ketchup, and cherry-Dijon mustard. "In my world, fat is flavor. Stick to proper portions, and it's not the enemy."

Madd Chef's is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and till 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; visit www.maddchefs.com for more info.

For wine geeks . . . Savor is the new Napa-style tasting room scheduled to open later this month at The Viking Store in Lyndhurst's Legacy Village. In collaboration with the Cleveland Wine School, Savor will feature sampling, sales, and one-on-one consultation from Wine School founder Marianne Frantz. "Fax me your menu, and I'll help pair it with wine. Or pull up a chair, and I can help you start building your cellar." Eighty in-stock selections (priced at $10 to $40) will focus on what Frantz calls "unique, interesting, and value-oriented wines." But new labels will arrive quarterly, and any wine that Frantz doesn't have can be secured through special order. Once the cork pops, Savor's hours will be 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday though Saturday. Contact the Cleveland Wine School at 216-295-9583 for details.

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