Former Wilbert's owner Michael Miller says he's "awfully happy to be back in Cleveland and making some money" at his new gig as GM of Gillespie's (1261 West 76th Street; 216-631-7555). While Miller has been busy setting up a schedule of acoustic acts to entertain guests in the cozy upstairs dining room, he's also been pondering the restaurant's menu and plans on adding a few items -- like an ahi tuna and avocado salad with garlic dressing -- to the list. And look for Wilbert's favorites like the Health Burger and the graphically named Cherry Bombs -- cheese-and-chorizo-stuffed hot peppers -- to soon resurface on the Gillespie's menu. Johnson & Wales graduate Efrain "Chino" Rodriguez will remain in charge of the kitchen, cooking up the restaurant's popular stuffed artichoke appetizers, blackened tuna, and a luscious strip steak smothered in fresh lobster béarnaise. But Miller expects to take over some kitchen duties during the lunch hour, while Wilbert's former head chef, Bob Marks, waits tables. Lunch is on the schedule every Wednesday through Friday, and dinner is available Tuesday through Saturday. Gillespie's is closed on Sunday and Monday during the winter.
Fishin' for compliments . . . If our gloomy weather has you yearning for an ocean breeze, paddle over to the Linden Tavern (19865 Detroit Road, Rocky River; 440-333-1609) this Saturday, January 29, for Customer Appreciation Night. A modest $14.99 will land you a veritable seafood feast, including a cup of Chef Kevin Eglinski's homemade New England-style clam chowder and a platter heaped with a Maine lobster tail and claws, Rhode Island middleneck clams, mussels, fresh broiled scrod, and homemade Maryland crab cakes. The small family-owned tavern has long been appreciated for its menu of inexpensive and unusually tasty dishes raised above the ordinary by Eglinski's skills, and Saturday's seafood extravaganza should prove no exception. Dinner will be served from 5 to 10 p.m. Reservations wouldn't be a bad idea.
Strings attached . . . Severance Hall's reopening earlier this month also marked the debut of Severance: The Restaurant (11001 Euclid Avenue, 216-231-7373), located on the concert hall's ground floor. The rambling 180-seat restaurant will be a major convenience to concertgoers during the orchestra's University Circle season: While other tasty dining destinations dot the neighborhood, there's a lot to be said for only having to park and check your coat once during a snowy winter's night. Executive Chef John Krummrich, who comes to Cleveland by way of Chicago (Printer's Row, Prairie Restaurant, and Café Provençal); Hudson (The Inn at Turner's Mill); and Akron (Natalie's and Treva), has designed a solid if cautious menu of local upscale favorites, including standards like lobster bisque ($9), roasted rack of lamb ($31), and citrus cr&eagrave;me brûlée ($5). The understated deco-influenced decor sets black upholstered armchairs and black-granite-topped tables against gleaming fluted paneling and celadon-colored walls, with plenty of fresh flowers and sparkling crystal. The spot is operated by N.Y.C.'s Restaurant Associates, whose other 200 eateries include dining facilities at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, as well as loge and catering operations for Cleveland Browns Stadium.