Like bed partners, every burger is different. And fat or lean, thick or thin, in naked glory or pimped out in savory add-ons, every one of them brings a smile to someone's face. Still, when we crave the kind of pulse-racing, mind-blowing intensity that only the most voluptuous burgers can provide, Foster's Tavern of Hinckley (1382 Ridge Road, 330-278-2106) is where we head.
We succumbed again last week, sneaking out on a Sunday afternoon for a romp with a well-endowed cheddar-bacon burger. Measuring a good six inches from top to bottom and weighing in at nearly a pound (when you count the eight lean ounces of freshly ground Black Angus beef, slabs of melted cheese, and what looks like about half a pound of thick-sliced bacon, not to mention layer upon layer of lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and mayo -- always mayo), these bad boys simply could not be more enticing, offering an irresistible interplay of succulence, aroma, and huge, hearty flavor that never fails to wring a moan from our lips.
If the $13.95 menu price seems a bit steep, remember: A $2 discount is automatic, the accompanying fresh-cut fries offer a naughty diversion, and the dalliance will undoubtedly leave you sated and smiling.
Bistro fair . . . Give the brand-new Bistro on 185 (the former John Christie's Tavern, 991 East 185th Street, 216-481-9635) a little more time before dropping by. New owners Ruth and Marc Levine (previously of Ruth's Market House Grille in Wickliffe) couldn't be nicer or more eager to please. But a recent dinner visit left us feeling more like we'd raided Mom's fridge than dined at an up-to-date bistro. Homemade corn chowder was decent enough, and a thick-crusted cherry pie had honest fruit flavor. But a pork-loin special seemed more homely than haute, with slightly chewy meat and watery mashed sweet potatoes, smothered beneath thick mustard-horseradish "gravy." At least the nearby Grovewood Tavern doesn't have to start looking over its shoulder just yet.
Cheap lunch in Chinatown . . . We found some great midday bargains at Chinatown's charming Garden Café (3710 Payne Avenue, 216-431-8518) last week. For less than $6, lunchers can score one of a dozen or so "business meals," featuring dishes like curried beef, braised pork, and an excellent version of General Tso's chicken, served with soup, salad, rice, tea, and a homemade dessert.