Lunch and dinner spots? We've got 'em by the score. But great breakfast fare? That's a little harder to come by in Greater Cleveland. All the more reason, then, to cheer the recent Woodmere arrival of The Original Pancake House (28700 Chagrin Boulevard, 216-292-7777), a clean, contemporary, kitsch-free eatery across from the upscale Eton shopping mall.
Self-described foodie Jane Frazin and her husband, Mike (a former assistant GM at the downtown Cleveland Marriott Hotel), opened the spot -- one of only four in Ohio -- earlier this spring. Based on the heads we counted during a recent weekday visit, they probably already have served enough strawberry pancakes, pecan waffles, cherry kijafa crêpes, and mushroom omelets to stretch from here to the company's headquarters in Portland, Oregon.
Although the menu is strictly limited to breakfast foods, the spacious kitchen is well staffed and fully equipped, all the better to craft nearly everything -- including the "secret recipe" pancake syrup -- from scratch. As a result, foods like the glorious Dutch Baby, an enormous soufflé-like baked pancake served with butter, powdered sugar, and lemon wedges, or the tangy sourdough flapjacks, so light they threaten to float right off the plate, arrive fresh, hot, and -- admit it, now -- a heck of a lot better than you're gonna whip up before heading off to work. Good thing, then, that breakfast is served daily, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Chic café . . . Savvy restaurateurs know the importance of offering options that will appeal to the casual after-work/after-theater crowd as well as to "special-occasion" diners. So chef-owner Roger Thomas's decision to supplement Piatto's upscale dining experience with a more laid-back "café menu," served exclusively in the restaurant's east dining room and at the long, granite-topped bar, makes all kinds of sense. The small bill o' fare focuses on relatively light noshes like grilled pizza Margherita ($9), calamari fritti ($9), and an eggplant-and-prosciutto sandwich on house-made bread ($8), and is served Monday through Thursday from 4 p.m. until closing. The talented Thomas promises to keep things interesting by mixing up the offerings on a regular basis. Piatto is at 326 S. Main Street, in Akron; 330-255-1140.
Salud . . . There may still be time to cop a spot at La Tortilla Feliz's tequila tasting on Thursday, June 3, from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Thirty bucks will get you a sample of three El Tesoro tequilas, as well as one cocktail and a sassy selection of apps. Call 216-241-8385 for reservations.