Pop-up restaurants, while still a novelty around these parts, have become a necessity in areas where talented chefs outnumber brick-and-mortar restaurants. Just because you don't have a professional kitchen, the notion goes, doesn't mean you can't host a happy bash.
That will be the case for four nights later this month, when two kitchenless chefs set up temporary operations in Cleveland. The location will be 204 Euclid Ave. — also known as the future home of Noodlecat, Jonathon Sawyer's Japanese noodle bar.
The first two nights, June 21 and 22, will be under the direction of Chris Hodgson, founding chef of Dim and Den Sum and recent contestant on the Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. Hodgson will be preparing a $40 four-course prix-fixe meal that will offer a nod to the soon-to-open Noodlecat.
"I'm sticking with the Asian theme," says Hodgson, fresh off his cross-country travels. "Diners can expect a fun, playful menu that falls somewhere between street food and restaurant food."
Menu items will include a steamed bun filled with smoked pork jowl, quail egg and tomato; rib-eye tacos with pickled daikon; and Peking quail with somen noodles and miso broth.
The second two-night stint, June 24 and 25, will be under the direction of Lee Anne Wong, perhaps best known for her participation on Bravo's Top Chef. Unlike Hodgson's prix-fixe menu, Wong will be offering a traditional à la carte experience, where guests order from a tight menu of starters, greens, and Asian bowls.
Sawyer says he hopes to host these events — dubbed Brick & Mortar Pop-Ups — at least quarterly.
For more info, visit the Brick & Mortar Pop-Ups page on Facebook.
In the fight against junk food, it's good to know Bob Stark has our backs.
"In our continued efforts to enhance the quality of life of East Side residents," explains the developer behind Eton Chagrin Boulevard, "we have opened three new healthy food alternatives."
Those new Eton eating options include Menchie's Frozen Yogurt, a popular chain with locations around the country; Chop It Salad Co., a small Ohio-based soup, salad, and smoothie concept; and Vegan Sweet Tooth, a Cleveland-based sweet shop specializing in vegan, diabetic-friendly, and gluten-free desserts.
The first is located on the exterior of the mall; the other two are indoors.
As for the recently opened Menchie's, Stark says, "It's all about fun. Our target customers are families with school-age children making their own combinations with flavors and toppings. What Trader Joe's is to grocery stores, Menchie's is to frozen yogurt."
The self-serve stores allow customers to build their own creations, mixing fat-free yogurt flavors, fresh fruit, and candy toppings. (Hey, how healthy do you need to be?) The price is determined by weight, with each ounce going for 45 cents.
Stark says the plan is to open as many as 30 new Menchie's locations in the region within two years. Next up, he says, are Westgate Mall, Lakewood, Avon, and Mayfield Heights.