Willoughby restaurateurs Nicholas and Giovanna Kustala, proprietors of Lure Bistro (38040 Third Street; 440-951-8862), returned from their annual Maui vacation with a craving for a crazy little tiki bar to call their own.
"The '80s were cruel to the concept," says Chef Nick, "but today, tiki bars are so retro and over-the-top that they're becoming downright trendy."
Of course, anyone who's been to the Kustalas' ever-more-artful bistro (recently outfitted with new dining-room chairs, a wallful of Dali-esque mirrors, and a groovy new airbrushed bar top) knows that these kids know trendy. So we weren't surprised to hear that tiki torches now illuminate what is already our favorite East Side patio. The 100-seat outdoor dining room also features a newly installed 45-seat island bar, complete with bamboo and black lights, where trendinistas can sip such traditional tiki 'tails as Planter's Punch, Zombies, and Mai Tais, and such not-so-classic frozen drinks as the Chocolada (with rum, crème de cacao, Coco Lopez, pineapple, and chocolate ice cream) and the Midori Colada (with rum, Midori, Coco Lopez, pineapple, and vanilla ice cream) -- out of tall ceramic tiki tumblers or plastic coconuts.
Warm weather will also mark the return of the bistro's raw bar, as well as a new dinner menu, filled with such tropical treats as grilled Hawaiian marlin, poi tuna salad, and spicy crab-crusted grouper. And don't be surprised if reverent diners someday refer to the Kustala's Willoughby bistro as "the original": The restaurateurs are playing with the notion of taking the Lure concept nationwide.
"See" food . . . Eat, drink, traipse through other people's beautiful homes, and wind up in the Tasting Room at the Great Lakes Brewing Company for coffee, dessert, and suds . . . Yes, it must be the annual Evening in Ohio City, set this year for Saturday, May 17. The progressive food-and-wine event, held in six unique Ohio City homes, is a perennial sellout, and the array of hearty hors d'oeuvres and wines has rarely sounded more enticing. Among this year's gustatory attractions will be grilled Moroccan chicken breast with curry-apricot glaze (Flying Fig), jasmine rice cakes topped with smoked salmon and wasabi-lemon cream (The Culinary Artist), Jamaican curried pork loin with pineapple salsa tarts (Opa! Catering), and grilled portobellos with roasted red peppers (Traci's Catering). The movable feast (with transportation by Lolly the Trolley) begins at 6 p.m., and the $100 tickets are going fast. Order yours through the Ohio City Near West Development Corporation, at 216-781-3222, or online at www.ohiocity.com.