So long, Irish; hello, Thai (and Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean …) Vieng's Asian Bistro (139 Crocker Park Blvd., 440.871.2888), which took over the Crocker Park spot vacated by Claddagh Irish Pub, aims to attract big crowds with its sweeping pan-Asian menu. Vieng's is the newest member of the Timothy Ly family of restaurants. The others include Thai Gourmet in Stow and Rockside, and Pad Thai in Hudson and Fairlawn. The restaurant received a complete makeover, the highlight of which is a central waterfall. Some 200 diners can be seated at the bar, in dining rooms or at the sushi bar. An outdoor patio, complete with alfresco bar, will accommodate another 150. The multi-page menu is indeed sweeping: In addition to the sushi and sashimi, there are Thai salads, Chinese noodles and Korean barbecue. Some 20 starters include both typical (spring rolls, satay) and less common (salt-baked shrimp, chicken lettuce wraps). The bulk of the menu is devoted to Bistro and Chef Specialties, many of which appear ambitious and delicious. Whole roast duck is carved and served tableside; red snapper is fried whole and drizzled with spicy garlic sauce; sake-steamed grouper comes with a black bean sauce. Beer, wine, sake and cocktails available.
Spy Bar has reopened as Barley House (1265 W. 6th St., 216.623.1700, barleyhousecleveland.com),a combination Irish pub and nightclub. The brand may sound familiar to those who travel to Akron, where the original has been a success since opening. "We sold that location one year ago," explains owner Corey May. "We missed it and wanted to bring the concept to Cleveland." May says the operation will morph over the course of the day from lunch to happy hour to dinner to regular nightclub. The interior has been gutted and reworked into a familiar Irish pub design, with warm wood and numerous booths. The menu is an amalgamation of American, Irish and Italian chestnuts like reuben egg rolls, wings, sliders, chicken caesars, burgers, fish and chips, and shepherd's pie. Outdoor seating is available in both front and back. Look for Republic, a "Vegas-style ultra lounge," to open on the lower level by the end of April.
Now in its third year, the Greater Cleveland Chili Cook-Off is a well-run event that benefits the Autism Society of Greater Cleveland. This year's affair will take place from 6-9 p.m., April 2, at the Terrace Club at Progressive Field. Call 216.556.4937 for info.