out to lunch

I live fairly close to my office, so for lunch I typically run home or just eat at my desk. When I do go out for lunch, it’s usually a quick bite at The American Tavern or takeout from Pacific East (you can’t beat their lunch special / 2 rolls, soup & salad for $8.95). Over the past month however, I’ve had a marathon of lunch meetings throughout the city. Here’s a recap of standout dishes from each place:

Lola // I love black beans. I cook with them all the time and am a sucker for any dish that lists this as an ingredient. I even made brownies last night that called for black beans as a secret ingredient. A few weeks ago I met a client for lunch at Lola, her first visit. I started with the pureed black bean soup topped with cilantro and I believe bits of guanciale. Outstanding. If I wasn’t with my client, I would have easily ordered a second bowl! Incredibly smooth and perhaps the lightest version of this soup I’ve ever tried. I’m still thinking about it. And the best part about going to East 4th for lunch? Grabbing a cappuccino at Erie Island after. Best in the city.

Shinano // The service is so slow that sometimes I swear they even forget you’re there. But they make a good roll. Several in fact. And that’s why I keep going back. And if you’re not in hurry, it’s a good place for lunch (actually, the food comes out super fast; it’s just taking your order and dropping off the check that they’re fairly leisurely about). The one roll in particular that keeps me coming back is the Volcano – an inside out roll with crab and avocado topped with broiled scallop, octopus tobiko and mayo. This roll is so good, that we ended up ordering a second one for the table on our last visit. The only thing I didn’t care for the first time I tried it was the amount of mayo. So when I get it, I always ask for very little mayo and it’s perfect each time.

Moxie // With its proximity to our office, this ends up being a popular spot for meetings. On this lunch in particular, I met with the coordinator for Flavors, the main fundraiser for The American Liver Foundation (I’m volunteering this year), who suggested we meet here. Moxie has several salads I like off the lunch menu, but this time I opted for something new – the Atlantic salmon with cauliflower puree, cauliflower florets and pomegranate reduction. Part of my New Year’s resolution was to eat more fish (cook more actually, but this counts), and with this dish, I’d eat it daily. I may never order salads at Moxie again.

Phnom Penh // Nothing warms you up during a Cleveland winter like a bowl of spicy hue beef soup with rice noodles, beef brisket and lemon grass. Pair it with their overstuffed and aromatic egg roll, and you’ll leave happy. While my past few visits here have been hit or miss, this place is still one of my favorites and this soup is the reason why.


  1. Posted February 7, 2010 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    I thought I’d add one of my favorite lunch spots to your list. Fat Cats is an under appreciated gem in Tremont. Also, I love to pick up lunch at the Westside Market. There are lots of places to pick from there!

  2. Posted March 4, 2010 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    A quick note about Moxie.
    Though the food was great, I must say that the service was the worst I’ve ever received. A friend of mine ordered their chicken breast salad which looked great until finding a piece of hair in her salad, and after it was re-done, the 2nd plate had a piece of cardboard mixed in with the salad. Needless to say the manager at the time, Mimi blamed us stating that a piece of cardboard could have never come from her kitchen. And after talking to their manager Jonathan Bennett who promised sending a gift certificate which he failed to do, I can say wholeheartedly that I will never go back to Moxie again.