Restaurant of the Weekend: Crop Bistro

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It’s that time of year when our better restaurants start rolling out the new menus: Out with the heavy braises and root veggies, in with the light, bright flavors of early spring. Among the most mouthwatering menus we’ve come across lately is the one that recently debuted at Crop Bistro (1400 W. 6th St., 216-696-2767), that citadel of casually upscale, New-American dining in the Warehouse District. ... Filled with inventive assemblies, clever re-imaginings, and brilliant flavors, dishes like sweet pea flan with beet dressing ($8) and Tasmanian salmon with asparagus salad, lemon emulsion, and rice fritters ($27) are a breath of fresh air to a winter-weary palate. Never one to assume the mantle of false modesty, chef-owner Steve Schimoler is particularly proud of his newest starter, Tobacco Calamari with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce ($11). Julienned to fishing-line thickness, tossed in seasoned flour, attentively pan-fried to crisp, greaseless perfection, and then settled on a bed of smoked red-pepper aioli, it’s what the chef considers “the definitive, to-die-for” version of this too-often dreary dish. Also high on Schimoler’s to-try list is the housemade Cinnamon Pappardelle ($25), served with sauteed shrimp, julienned leeks, red peppers, and fresh cilantro, and a Thai-inspired green curry. “It’s fuckin’ awesome,” the straight-talking chef opines. What better way to launch a spring fling? Dinner is served from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday; the bar remains open until 1 a.m. Thursday through Sunday. Reservations would be very wise. To read our full Crop report, click here. -- Elaine T. Cicora Read Elaine Cicora's restaurant reviews, food news, and comprehensive dining guide on the restaurant page at clevescene.com.

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