grasshoppers and saturday lunch

In this morning’s restaurant row, Joe Crea over at the PD talks about a few changes at Light Bistro – plus the fabulous food (that he sampled with Parker Bosley!), as well as menu changes over at everyone’s favorite modern Mexican joint, Momocho.

On a personal note, I am very happy that Light Bistro will soon be offering lunch on Saturdays. A few weeks ago we met my cousin, who was in from Chicago, for lunch. She wanted something in Tremont or Ohio City – even downtown, and pretty much everywhere we would want to dine at was closed, so we ended up at Dante. Not a bad choice per se, just not the location we wanted.

Light Bistro draws a well-deserved share of praise from Cleveland’s savviest foodies. Much as I lamented the final curtain for Parker’s American Bistro, which used to occupy that lovely space on Bridge Avenue in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood, former owner Parker Bosley left it in very good hands. The capable team of owner/chief operations officer Erich Dietrich and executive chef Matthew Mathlage provide a similar level of crisp service and generally excellent and imaginative cuisine as did their predecessors.

Now Light Bistro is expanding. What was once a rather weary, atticlike upper level has been refreshed. New wall coverings, cool lighting and a lighter vibe have helped transform the space into an additional seating area for dinners, as well as private parties.

I’ve scarcely sampled enough from Mathlage’s intriguing menu (its emphasis is fresh and local, with dishes ranging from small plate samplers to hearty entrees), but I can heartily endorse his box-style lunches. During a recent visit, with Bosley, I immensely enjoyed the combination of a delicious soup, the sumptuous Pork Belly Panini (utter decadence) and a mouthwatering panzanella salad, ripe with excellent balsamic vinegar-laced croutons and heirloom tomatoes ($14).

And speaking of expansion: If you’re one of the many callers who crave a more stylish Saturday lunch spot than the usual surfeit of mediocre chains, Light begins Saturday lunch service, from noon to 4 p.m., on May 17.

HOP TO IT: Eric Williams, the ever-imaginative chef/owner of mod-Mex restaurant Momocho, promised a menu change during a recent conversation. Now it’s here, complete with an unusual new entree.

Semitraditionalists will, no doubt, go for the chef’s halibut cheeks served with a classic Veracruz tomato sauce of stewed tomatoes, capers, green olives, carrot and poblano chiles. But the one that’s bound to blast some buzz is Williams’ new taco offering, dubbed Chapulines.

The filling? How about tequila-marinated grasshoppers (“Seriously. As in, really,” Williams says) served with an Oaxacan mole and a little melted Chihuahua cheese. (Um, that’s Chihuahua, as in the Mexican state, not yet another offbeat ingredient.)

Why? “I like that shock factor, that ‘wow!’ factor,” Williams says. “We may only sell 10 or 12 a week, but when you come in and see ‘grasshoppers’ on the menu, I’m thinking a few people will order it.”

In case you’re a locavore, sorry, these babies aren’t harvested locally.

“They’re organic, out of the UK, wings and legs removed,” Williams says. “You don’t want them to get stuck in your teeth — and heck, we just want to be different. We just try to put it all together in a fun atmosphere.”

Have I mentioned that his guacamoles are a smash? Insect-free, too.


  1. Randy
    Posted May 7, 2008 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    Love the blog and all the recommendations.

    I am curious, though: What would you estimate is your monthly restaurant budget?

  2. michelle v
    Posted May 7, 2008 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Hi Randy: Glad you like the blog, thanks for your comment.

    I don’t have a budget per se. We actually cook most nights so I would say Heinen’s receives a nice weekly deposit from us! We do try to go out at least once or sometimes twice a week. Sometimes it’s for an all out meal, other times it’s for happy hour at Lolita – which you could walk out of there full, satisfied and have a nice buzz for less than $35. And sometimes we got out for drinks and just appetizers, it all depends. But I will say going out and exploring Cleveland is a big part of what we like to do together – it’s part of our lifestyle. And we are both fortunate in that we have great jobs that affords us the opportunity to enjoy a lot of the things this city has to offer.

  3. BloggingJason
    Posted May 8, 2008 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    I totally want to try the grasshoppers. I think it’s awesome that we’ve got plenty of places in town willing serve something other than just pork, beef, or chicken.