To me, the food is only part of the experience when dining out. The other driving factor is the atmosphere, both in terms of the overall decor and the vibe a place gives off. When a restaurant scores in all areas, well, those are usually the places we frequent on a pretty consistent basis (Umami and Greenhouse are two perfect examples).
Last month we made our first trip to the new Crop on behalf of Metromix. The first of many I assure you. This post really can only attempt to describe this restaurant – it honestly can’t do it justice. My hope is that is will spark your interest enough for you to go see for yourself. Because you need to do just that. You need to see this magnificent space that once sadly stood vacant for way too long. Lucky for us, the food is good, too. But given the chef’s history here, that was to be expected.
Here’s part of the review, or you can read the full story here.
Now reopen: Chef Steve Schimoler has completed his move to Ohio City and recently opened his beloved Crop Bistro & Bar in the historic United Bank Building, right across from the West Side Market.
Food: Schimoler is one of Cleveland’s most well-respected chefs. His original Crop, in the Warehouse District, was well-liked and often packed based solely on the reputation his food quickly earned. The menu is fairly similar as its original, keeping plenty of favorites, plus some new additions. The chef focuses on creative American cuisine, with a whimsical and often local twist. He doesn’t take himself too seriously, and carries that same philosophy into the kitchen. And because so much of the menu’s emphasis is on regional fare, expect an ever-changing menu.
We started off with the balsamic popcorn ($6), grilled mission figs with goat cheese and hazelnuts ($9), and the roasted beet salad ($9). Entrées included the braised short ribs with smoked mushroom barley and baby carrots ($24) plus seared ahi tuna ($27).
The figs were easily the standout and proved to be the perfect start to the meal. The popcorn, while a novel idea and certainly fun to order as a group, didn’t pop with nearly the excitement we were hoping for.
The perfectly-seared tuna was an instant hit. This generously-sized portion with its quinoa salad was incredibly flavorful, well-seasoned and simply a stellar dish. The short ribs also proved to be another smart order, though not as tender as we had hoped.
Post dinner, the happy eating did not stop as the chef sent out one of each of their desserts for the table to share, including the seared foie gras with espresso brownie. It was quite the feast for the eyes as well as taste buds.
Libations: Like the food, the drinks are equally as interesting and spirited. Sure, there’s a full wine and beer list, plus they’ll make you any ho-hum cocktail of your choosing. Or, you can opt for something slightly different, as in one of their numerous specialty concoctions. We recommend Murder on the Orient Express ($11), a gin-based drink with five-spice blood orange syrup topped with egg whites. It tastes as good as it looks—and then some.
Décor: Grand. Magnificent. Impressive. This is what comes to mind as you step inside this former bank, originally constructed in 1925 as one of the last classical bank buildings built during the city’s golden age for finance. There truly is not another space like this to be found locally. Much of the interior, particularly the ceiling, has been painstakingly restored. There’s lots of natural light, a large open kitchen complete with a must-sit chef’s table and a striking mural that oversees the bar and lounge area. The dining room itself is vastly open, which does lend itself to an above average noise level.
Insider tip: Be sure to ask for a tour of the vault downstairs, which is also available for private parties. And look for Crop Market to open in the near future selling many of the items found on the menu, plus coffee, desserts, cured meats, cheeses and other housemade items.
Bottom line: Change is good. Change is smart. And in this case, change is simply magnificent.