make sure you grab a seat at this traveling restaurant

Luckily, there are no shortages of wonderful places to eat in this city regardless of your location. But sometimes, you want something a little different, a little unexpected. At least I do. And if you agree, this might just appeal to you as much as it did to us.

Last month we found ourselves downtown, in an area that most would consider undesirable. But tucked away in an unassuming building was an artist’s studio that housed an impressive gallery, a kitchen that would make anyone of us jealous and a simply beautiful courtyard. This was the setting for chef Ben Bebenroth‘s second Plated Landscape Dinner of this year, which I was reviewing on behalf of Metromix.

I was excited for this event for many reasons. One, I’ve heard from many people – chefs and foodies alike – that each dinner always promises to be a deliciously good time; and two, I would finally get to taste much more of the chef’s offerings versus just a few samplings here and there.

I was not disappointed. From the second we walked and were greeted with firefly sweet tea vodka to the moment we left with wonderfully full bellies and a few new friends, I knew we’d back and would encourage others to do so as well.

Here is part of the review, or you can read it in full here.

When the weather’s right, there’s no shortage of restaurant patios vying for your business. And you’d be well-served at many of them. But why not take a night off from your favorite al fresco dinner spot and experience outdoor dining in Cleveland in a more unexpected way. An evening that’s part adventurous, borderline whimsical, naturally beautiful and of course, palate pleasing.

It’s called “Plated Landscape” dinners. This traveling restaurant concept, presented by chef Ben Bebenroth, a sustainable food pioneer, and his company, Spice of Life Catering, takes place among Mother Nature’s finest backdrops, including local farms and urban gardens. The dinner events are typically held outdoors and feature ingredients that guests may have gathered themselves just before the meal. The hope is that guests gain a fresh connection with the land in true “return to roots” form.

Patrons (approximately 20) included a good mix of foodies, a few local chefs and an all around enjoyable crowd (don’t be surprised if you leave with a few new friends). The evening’s menu, which is typically developed and tweaked right up to the day of depending on what’s fresh and in-season, consisted of:

*English pea soup with crème fraiche (paired with 2007 Domaine D’Arton, Des Cotes de Gascogne)
*Double bacon mizuna salad with fried egg and verjus vinaigrette (paired with 2007 Clos LaChance unoaked chardonnay)
*Grits with homemade andouille (paired with 2007 Lolonis Fume Blanc)
*Rhubarb-B-Q short ribs with a berry hot sauce (paired with a 2007 Clos LaChance meritage)
*Family-style shortbread cookies, strawberry ice cream, dolce de leche, smoked cheddar and strawberry jam (paired with Aris petite syrah port)
Each course, which features sustainable and organic ingredients from small family farms within a 100-mile radius of Cleveland, is served with a brief chef introduction that includes background on the dish and a few fun details. The dinner was exceptional, from start to finish. Standouts included the grits with sweet and slightly hot andouille sausage, tender and succulent short ribs and chilled pea soup. Each course was adequately spaced and appropriately sized; you weren’t too full from what you just sampled but still look forward to the next dish.

The “Plated Landscape” dinners cost $100 per person, which includes all courses, drinks and gratuity and last approximately four hours. Now in its fourth year, the mini events continue to gain in popularity and are earning a reputation for must-attend summer and early fall dinners.

(photos courtesy of Michael Sawyer & Keith Berr)

One Trackback

  1. By Cleveland Foodie on August 30, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    [...] even did a nice piece on it). I was first introduced to this vodka earlier this summer at the Plated Landscape dinner (the Bebenroths used to live in Charleston). Warning: this stuff is dangerous. One can easily [...]

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*