Rare is the menu that is truly unique — if not in the world, then at least in Cleveland. Apart from the usual twists and tweaks, most menu items simply riff on an existing body of work.
Imagine our surprise then when we stumbled into Barroco Grill, a small and snazzy start-up in Lakewood specializing in Latin-inspired street food, with grilled meat skewers, Cubano sandwiches, and stuffed arepas.
Those arepas — puffy tortilla-like disks made with corn dough — are filled with chicken, steak, or veggies and eaten like a sandwich. Topped with a choice of killer house sauces — spicy peanut, chimichurri, and ranchero — these little gems have our vote for Best New Street Food.
As good as they are — and not to mention Barroco's lush Cubanos — we went absolutely bat shit over the arepa fries and cheesy corn: deep-fried arepa fingers served alongside a molten crock of melted cheese piqued with chicken, bacon, and corn for dipping, fondue style. This is the Latin version of cheesy fries — and it may be the best drunk food in town.
Find them at 12906 Madison Ave.; for more info, call 216-221-8127.
Now in its ninth year, the upcoming Veggie U Food & Wine Celebration has once again attracted high-profile chefs and culinary professionals from around the country to rural Milan. The can't-miss foodie bash generally draws more than 1,000 guests who come to eat, drink, and mingle with their favorite chefs and television personalities.
This year's July 16 shindig will feature 30 top chefs dishing out tasty vittles. Other high-profile folks will be doing cooking demos, presenting wine instruction, and offering on-stage culinary entertainment.
In addition to local chefs like Brandt Evans, Jeffrey Jarrett, and Jonathon Sawyer, national notables like Aaron Sanchez, Govind Armstrong, Amanda Freitag, Dean Max, and Lee Anne Wong will be on hand. Other big names include Ruth Reichl, Michael Ruhlman, and Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni's Ice Creams.
Tickets are $145 to $500. Snag them at veggieufoodandwine.com or by calling 419-499-7500.
Chef Ellis Cooley is leaving AMP 150; his last day is June 10. He has accepted a position as food and beverage director for the West Palm Beach Marriott; his young son lives in South Florida.
This is not necessarily goodbye, however. Cooley is in the process of buying a Cleveland restaurant with partners Jeff Jarrett (Palate) and Brian Okin (the former Verve). Details of the new venture should unfold in the next week or two.