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Grand Prix Fixe

Century at the Ritz-Carlton races to please with its Holiday Dinners.

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From the moment the doorman throws open the portals to the instant we daintily dab the last crumb from our lips, a visit to Century, in the downtown Ritz-Carlton, always leaves us feeling indulged. And that's especially the case during the holidays, when the hotel sparkles with elegant Christmas decorations and the decked-out Avenue at Tower City provides a festive backdrop. In fact, we felt positively pampered last week after treating ourselves to Chef Joseph Panarello's Holiday Dinner Special, a four-course prix fixe feast featuring some of the most delightful flavors of the season. There was bisque-like squash soup . . . a miniature baked pumpkin, stuffed with sage gnocchi and exotic mushrooms . . . velvety, crabmeat-stuffed filet mignon (or, for those who prefer, a succulent whole Maine lobster), with whipped potatoes and asparagus . . . and then, warm chocolate cake, topped with whipped cream and sided with a fan of roasted pear and a tiny scoop of spice ice cream. The real clincher, though, was the price: a very reasonable $38. The Holiday Dinner is available nightly through December 23; call 216-902-5255 for reservations. Just think of it as a little present to yourself.

Two chefs, less waiting . . .

The Grovewood Tavern & Wine Bar (17105 Grovewood Avenue, 216-531-4900) recently signed on Craig Abram to assist Chef Tim Ogan in the snug kitchen, a move that owner Beth Davis-Noragon says will expedite order turnaround time and will allow the tavern to begin offering Monday-night dinner service, from 6 to 11, at least through the holidays. Abram, a Clevelander, has a degree in hospitality management from OSU, and his career has already taken him to the Hilton Resort at Hilton Head, South Carolina, and to the corporate kitchens of Symyx, a research facility in Silicon Valley.

Diner might . . .

The shiny new glass and stainless-steel diner on the northwest corner of St. Clair and East 55th Street makes a welcome addition to the area. The aptly named Diner on 55th (216-361-0550) opened November 7, with 78 red vinyl seats inside a bright retro-style interior. Owner Jim Anagnostos and his sons offer a large menu of homey breakfast and lunch items, including several Greek specialties. And don't miss the chicken pot pie, full of vegetables and slowly simmered meat. Hours are 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. weekdays, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

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