table 45

When Table 45 first opened, I had every intention of dining there. During an interview for the blog, I spoke to chef Zack Bruell about his then soon-to-open restaurant inside the InterContinental Hotel. He spoke with such enthusiasm for the space, menu and plans for future expansion into other cities. But we never made it in. We tried to go for lunch one day last summer after a morning of appointments at the Clinic, but there was a large event and we opted not to wait.

Obviously, we go out to eat quite a bit. I was thinking about why we never made it to Table 45 previously and I think it comes down to its location. Being inside a hotel, it’s somewhat hidden from the outside world and therefore never top-of-mind. On the flip side, its proximity to the museums and orchestra is ideal, especially since there are only a handful of places I would recommend dining in that area before an event. For the most part, we like to go to places where we can walk around after, sit on a patio or sit back and enjoy the crowd and atmosphere. I suppose if I really think about it, being situated inside that hotel in particular is the reason why we’ve never gone until recently, when Bruell’s PR person invited us to have dinner, thus completing the tour de Bruell (if you’re a regular reader, then you know I’m a big fan of Parallax and L’Albatros).

Table 45, which is named after Bruell’s favorite table at Parallax, sits on the first floor of the hotel. And while there are a few negatives associated with its location, one big plus is complimentary valet parking (just be sure to have your server validate you ticket). Like Bruell’s food, I also appreciate his taste in décor and how he transformed L’Albatros and Parallax. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for Table 45. The restaurant itself is big and super contemporary with lots of blond wood. It’s clean and simple, just not my taste. It reminded me of a giant, cold, sterile conference room. Perhaps that’s because it’s in a hotel and surrounded by the massive Clinic. Perhaps he didn’t have much of a say in the design and the restaurant had to fit within certain confines. I’m not sure. But we both definitely preferred the atmosphere of his other restaurants over this one. With that being said, there were a couple elements we both enjoyed, specifically the flatware and bread and appetizer plates as well as a few booths that are somewhat hidden – plus table 45 itself, which is a glass-enclosed table located inside the kitchen and provides guests with direct access to the chef (who cooks just for you). I haven’t seen anything like this in our area before; ideal if you have a special occasion.

Table 45’s menu is globally focused, with extra nods to Indian cuisine (a big plus for me). We started off with the homemade naan which featured four different spreads (the hummus and olive tapenade the clear winners). From our table we watched the one chef toss the dough into the 800 degree Tandoori oven and a minute later, carefully pull out some of the best naan we’ve ever sampled. After dinner, we got an even closer look into the oven and all that goes into naan.

For appetizers, I had the tuna carpaccio with cucumbers, tomato, Feta and mint oil; Jamie went with the black bean soup topped with generous amounts of goat cheese. For salads, I tried the Belgian endive with shaved prosciutto and Parmesan, citrus slices and olive oil while Jamie had the wedge with Maytag bleu, eggs, red onion and caramelized lardoons. For our dinner, I chose a new item: the poached halibut infused with olive oil and herbs served atop lentils, saffron aioli, roasted garlic and smoked paprika broth. Jamie ordered the fennel-crusted short ribs with red peppers, potatoes and roasted fennel.

The tuna was outstanding, both in taste and presentation. Fresh, flavorful and incredibly satisfying. I loved the mint oil and cucumbers paired with the tuna. Jamie was also equally impressed with his soup, and so was I after the few tastes I had. I loved the texture of this soup and the creamy goat cheese. The salads were just ok – nothing memorable here. In fact, my salad was missing the one ingredient I was most excited about – the prosciutto.

As for the dinners, it’s been two weeks since we dined there and are still telling friends just how good both dishes were. My halibut was absolutely wonderful. I savored each bite and was truly impressed with this dish, same for the short ribs. While the ribs didn’t have as much fennel taste as I would have hoped for, they were tender, cooked perfectly and left Jamie speechless during most of the meal. Both dishes were executed beautifully and left us smiling the whole ride home.

Zack Bruell continues to impress us with is culinary know-how and creativity in the kitchen. I am a bona-fide fan. We truly have so much talent in this city and while some of my favorite chefs are no longer technically cooking on a daily basis, they are educating, training and passing on their points of view to the next generation, like sous chef Tom Shrenk who was in the kitchen the night we were there.

So while I may not be wowed with the space itself, based on this visit, the food is truly wonderful and a good choice if you’re in the area. Again, aside from L’Albatros and Michaelangelo’s, there isn’t much else I’d recommend if you have plans within the vicinity.

16 Comments

  1. Amy
    Posted June 10, 2009 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Great post. I still haven't made it there myself- mostly b/c of the location. Sounds delicious though and I think I am officially persuaded to make it our next meal out.

  2. offshore
    Posted June 10, 2009 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    I completely agree with your review of the food, however I have to say that the design of the space is excellent. Yes, it's clean and modern, but the clear maple that wraps throughout the space is warm and comfortable. Good modern design is in short supply in Cleveland, but table 45 is a notable exception.
    Also, the valet parking can not be beat in the dead of winter!

  3. mexichef
    Posted June 10, 2009 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    i actually worked with chef tom shrenk / he's a very talented + hard working passionate young chef / all of zachs restaurants have some really talented chefs in the kitchen / as for 45 … heather + i had a great meal there not too long ago / continued success to zach + his staff

  4. discount Cleveland Browns Tickets
    Posted June 11, 2009 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    yes man i agree with you but you should the food of italian chef they have magic hand

  5. Bite Buff
    Posted June 11, 2009 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Great post! I am also a big fan of Bruell, but have not made it to Table 45 yet. I almost forget about it (because of the location) until someone mentions it or I happen to drive by and see the banners. I haven't heard much about the place, so it's great to hear that it is worth stopping in. Thanks!

  6. Christina K
    Posted June 11, 2009 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    MV,

    I LOVE Table 45. Didn't realize that you hadn't been before. I also really dig the Indian fusion menu. The staff is great too! A few months ago, I was obsessed with finding similar olive oil plates for dipping bread (they look like mini paint roller trays) and the staff hooked me up with a supplier, which I really appreciated. P.S. Are we still on for lunch??? :)

  7. tim b
    Posted June 12, 2009 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    I've had very inconsistent experiences at Table 45, but when it's good it's very good. For a hotel restaurant, it's definitely a step above. (I guess that's kind of back-handed compliment.)

    On a side note, does anyone else find mexichef's personal grammar code annoying? give it a rest, man. haha.

  8. Cleveland's Food Critic
    Posted June 13, 2009 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Umami is not open for lunch. Get your facts straight.

  9. Anonymous
    Posted June 14, 2009 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    Hey Cleveland's Food Critic… I think you are the one that should check facts first, Umami was open for lunch for a few months but last week decided to just stick with dinner service because they weren't doing a big draw for lunch. The chef sent out a notice on facebook last week. Too bad, lunch was a nice option.

  10. Anonymous
    Posted June 14, 2009 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Too bad for Umami that in Chagrin Falls old people eat at horrible places like Fresh Diner and Yours Truly. They can't even do a salad right. The biggest crowds are usually during the day. If Umami can't serve lunch, they'll be around until the end of the summer and then close up. The only food that can exist in the falls in crap subs and crap pizza. The old farts deserve the food they get.

  11. Christy K
    Posted June 14, 2009 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    I had a big part show up to Umami hoping for lunch. We were completely put off when told to get out as they didn't serve lunch anymore. Its bizarre that ML would post comments on his Facebook but not post a notice on, oh I'm not sure, HIS WEBSITE?? Ridiculous.people do not yet check Facebook for restaurant hours change announcements. He just lost 10 potential diners. It'll be a matter of time Umami goues under and is replaced by.a bar.

  12. Patty
    Posted June 14, 2009 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    I completely agree. We were in Chagrin for the art show and wanted to try Umami. CLOSED and by the way YOU DIDN'T SEE THAT ON FACEBOOK? We said no and walked over to Joey's. Nice try Umami, better luck somewhere else.

  13. Danny Boi
    Posted June 14, 2009 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Why is everyone talking about Umami?

  14. Bok Choi Dave
    Posted June 14, 2009 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Wow. I. Glad I read these posts. I had wanted to try Umami for lunch too. Oh well, onto Dave's Cosmic Subs!

  15. Stacy
    Posted June 14, 2009 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Getting a reuben at Dave's is the best. If Umami doesn't want to do lunch anymore, it's their loss.

  16. michelle v
    Posted June 14, 2009 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Wow – a lot of chatter about Umami, which is kinda funny b/c this post has nothing to do with that restaurant. And it sounds like it's the same person posting under different names.

    Clearly one of you had a bad experience there and is now on a mission to spread the word. Christy, if you were this unhappy, perhaps you should share your experience with the chef/management? That's what I try to do when I have a bad experience someplace. I'm sure they would want to know how a server treated you. I don't know the chef or have any ties to that restaurant, but I can say that I have had lunch there twice – when they served lunch – and both times it was just us. So if I ownved a business that in the end was costing me money to keep it up, then I'd close during that time, too. And while the falls may be packed on the weekend and in the evening, it really isn't during the day – and I'm down there constantly during the week. For dinner, they always seem to be packed – which isn't hard because the place is small. And yes, I agree that there are horrible choices in the falls, I've written that several times. That's why I am so happy to have Umami and have really enjoyed all our meals there – and am looking forward to the Slow Food dinner in a few weeks. As for posting on Facebook, I can only assume he shared the news via other communications b/c yes I agree, not everyone is on FB. but why wouldn't he also share on FB – that's a no-brainer. He has a fan page and it's an easy way to communicate to your customers.

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