Perfect Pairings: Odd Couplings
It sounds like it was inspired by Homer J. Simpson: a half-pound burger topped with two strips of honey-peppered bacon and sharp American cheese between a gooey Krispy Kreme glazed donut.
But Burgers 2 Beer's Luther burger actually has its roots on the menu of a soul food restaurant in The Boondocks, an animated series on Cartoon Network, and its alleged creator Luther Vandross.
Either way, the cardiologist's nightmare doesn't seem fit for actual human consumption. "It sounds kind of weird and not OK to eat," says chef Heather Swartz, who originally whipped up the Luther for her staff at another eatery.
She never found the right place to feature it until the upscale Mediterranean restaurant Naya in Highland Heights, where Swartz was working, decided to rebrand itself as B2B. To make the concept work, she knew every sandwich had to be original and memorable. So B2B also features a burger with bacon and peanut butter and one with Tater Tots, sloppy joe and nacho cheese.
"We don't just put a bunch of crazy stuff on a burger," she says. But she does admit that playing around with strange pairings is more fun than making fine dining fare.
She loves that the Luther's ingredients work together. The lightly toasted doughnut soaks up the beef and bacon strips' salty and savory juices and adds sweetness to the familiar mix. "The flavor combos are important," she says. 6323 Wilson Mills Road, Highland Heights, 440-446-1234, b2bcleveland.com
If you love sushi, then Sushi on the Roll's fruit roll may seem a little strange. It contains no eel, tuna, shrimp or salmon at all. Instead, the colorful maki roll, held together with a bright yellow soy wrapper, contains cream cheese and three to five fruits such as mango, kiwi and orange.
That's exactly the point of the recently opened Medina restaurant and carryout spot, which aims to "bring sushi to the masses," says owner Ken Oppenheimer. So think of the fruit roll as a Japanese version of a fruit parfait.
"The acidity in the fruit, blended with sweet cream cheese and seasoned rice gives the fruit roll a nice blend of sweet and savory," Oppenheimer says. "The caramel and raspberry glaze gives the roll a nice finish of mild sweetness, as well."
Oppenheimer has been selling the popular fruit roll, which took only a few days to perfect, for four years through Sushi on the Roll's catering and corporate business.
At the Medina location, sushi chefs make each order right at the counter in less than two minutes with choices from eel and tuna to Americanized offerings such as sautéed chicken rolls.
"Everything we have is create-your-own," Oppenheimer says, "so you could just have strawberries if that's all you want." If you do like seafood, try the tangerine dream, which includes fruit, crab and shrimp.
"The word sushi doesn't mean raw," he says. Sashimi means cut fish; sushi loosely translates to vinegar or seasoned rice. "Eating a fruit roll is no different than eating a spicy crab roll." 985 Boardman Alley, Medina, 330-661-0600, sotronline.com