It’s been five years since an arsonist destroyed chef Doug Katz’ dreamy Katz Club Diner on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights. Meanwhile, Fire
(13220 Shaker Sq., 216-921-3473), his flagship eatery at Shaker Square, is fast approaching its 18th birthday. It is such a finely tuned machine, notes Katz, that the time is right to make a move. Two moves, to be precise.
“We have such a great team at Fire that is ready to expand,” he explains. “My chef Cameron [Pishnery] has been with me for 12 years and Todd [Thompson] has been our director of operations for over five years. Plus, we are really passionate about these foods.”
“These foods” include Indian cuisine and Middle Eastern fare, each of which will be featured at a pair of new eateries. One will open next month at the Van Aken District
Market Hall, and the other, a full-service concept, will debut this fall in the Cedar Fairmount neighborhood of Cleveland Heights.
Chutney B, slated to open in June at Van Aken, is a fast-casual Indian/Thai rice bowl concept, hence the “B.”
“I’m inspired by Indian cuisine,” says the chef. “Fire actually started because I fell in love with the tandoor oven. Over the years I’ve become even more aware of Indian cuisine through a friend of mine. We’ve done Indian dinners here at Fire and, of course, I started the spice company
Recipes will start with freshly toasted and ground spices, which will be blended into three different base stews: Thai yellow curry, Indian tomato masala, and Moroccan harira, a vegan chickpea and lentil stew. The stew of choice is served atop steamed rice and topped with one of three different proteins: masala meatballs, curry chicken or miso-glazed tofu. One or two of the namesake chutneys come last, along the lines of creamy Indian raita, spicy green chutney, and fruity mango chutney.
One cold dish, a Thai peanut noodle salad with crushed nuts, will also be available.
Chutney B will be followed by Zhug, a full-service, 80-seat restaurant that will open this fall in the former Fawaky Burst/Liquid Planet spot (12413 Cedar Rd.) in Cleveland Heights. Katz says that the concept, still in the development phase, is built around “Fire-style small plates that build upon each other.”
“In most Israeli restaurants, zhug is the ultimate flavor, the main condiment that you add for spice,” Katz explains. “I like the name because I know it’s a word that every single person is going to ask how to pronounce.”
Katz sees the restaurant as a complement to what already exists in the Cedar Fairmount neighborhood, a place to go for a bite and drink while waiting for a table at Vero, perhaps, or to hit after a show at Nighttown. A full bar and small-plates menu will be the order of the day, but individual dishes are still a work in progress.
“I call it Israeli, but we’re going to be doing food from all different cultures from Mediterranean to Middle Eastern,” he notes. “We aren’t going to be limited to just one cuisine, just really flavorful small plates that work really well together.”
The goal is to be open by mid October.
“I’ve been looking at this space on and off for more three years and it was never the right timing,” he adds. “I love Cedar Hill and I live in Cleveland Heights.”
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