Like the Cleveland Browns, the Mad Greek (2466 Fairmount Blvd., 216.421.3333, madgreekcleveland.com) is undergoing a reconstruction phase. By hiring classically trained chef Robert Ledzianowski, management has shown that it is serious about improving the quality of this Cleveland Heights institution. "We're rebuilding," explains the chef. "There was a lack of refinement in what the restaurant was doing." Since starting in November, Ledzianowski, who has worked in such notable restaurants as Vue, Table 45 and Dante, has introduced a heightened emphasis on ingredients, technique and presentation. He is working with Greek and Indian food importers to secure more authentic products; is replacing outmoded kitchen equipment; and has hired a brand-new kitchen crew. The chef has begun crafting his own spice blends, using ingredients like fresh curry leaves and fenugreek. He hopes to add a tandoor oven by summer. "I am bringing a more contemporary feel to the food," he notes. "We still serve mainstays like spanakopita, dolmades and moussaka. We are just bringing the recipes into this century." Look for an updated wine list as well. Despite the added quality, customers will see no increase in prices, he promises. "When you've been here for 33 years," says Ledzianowski, "there will be those customers who are horrified that we got rid of their favorite dish. But most of the response to the changes has been really, really good."
The next few weeks will be good ones for value-conscious diners. To celebrate Valentine's Day, scores of area restaurants will be offering deals to seduce diners. Then, beginning February 23, the Downtown Cleveland Alliance kicks off another installment of its wildly popular Restaurant Week. To check out the hot Valentine's Day deals, visit the Cleveland Independents website (clevelandindependents.com). Among them are specially priced dinners from Creekside, Melange, Grovewood, Crop, Light, Luxe, John Q's, Sapore and more. Many include appetizer, entrée, dessert and wine for one low price. Running from February 23 through March 1, some 40 different downtown restaurants will be offering three-course meals for just $30 as part of Restaurant Week. This is a great opportunity to try new places like La Strada, Saigon and Bob Golic's Sports Bar. Many downtown parking facilities will offer $2 rates during this promotion for those presenting a parking voucher. To print the vouchers and see the complete list of participating restaurants, visit downtownclevelandalliance.com.