Despite the economic chill, it's heartwarming to see that the local restaurant scene is still sizzling. The newest dining room to light up the Tremont landscape is Sage (2391 West 11th Street, 216-861-3734), situated across from Lincoln Park in the space that used to be OZ. Following a thorough redecorating, the restaurant and bar -- the joint project of former Ciao chefs Michael Fadel and Nick De Cocco -- opened quietly on the Tuesday before Christmas. Fadel, a native Clevelander who studied at the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts and worked in Pittsburgh's acclaimed French restaurant Le Mont before returning home, says the menu (rife with glorious phrases like "quail confit," "white truffles," and "crystallized ginger cream sauce") will change every six to eight weeks, to take advantage of seasonal foodstuffs. Despite the luxurious ingredients, prices here won't necessarily break the bank. The current menu's 10 appetizers are priced from $5 to $10, and its 10 entrées are pegged at $18 to $28, including a $27 signature dish of grilled beef medallions in a black Mission fig demi-glace, with scallion mashed potatoes and foie-gras-stuffed Anaheim peppers. Sous chef Jason Vincent rounds out the culinary team, while Fadel's wife, Linda, handles the books, and De Cocco's wife, Marisa, oversees the front of the house. For now, Sage serves dinner only, Tuesday through Saturday, although Fadel says lunch hours may be added.
3's a charmer . . .
As if we needed yet another excuse to drink, the beautiful minds at Chicago's Sovereign Brands have come up with a novel twist on super-premium spirits. Their newest offering, 3 Vodka, is the ultimate designer product, from its sleek glass bottle, inscribed with a stylized crimson "3," to the elaborately distilled beverage inside. According to its makers (the alliterative Barry, Brian, and Brett Berish), 3 Vodka is the first and, so far, only spirit to be made from soy isolates, carefully blended with select grains through a patent-pending process that took three years to develop. The result is a vodka of notable smoothness -- one that allows even the strongest Cosmopolitan to go down with deceptive ease. The product was introduced last September in Florida and Illinois, and becomes available in Northeast Ohio this week, although several local wine and beverage stores warn it may not show up on shelves until the end of the month. Look for the 750-ml bottle to retail for around $25.