Like any joint with "martini" and "wine" in the name, Clifton Martini & Wine Bar's inside attitude is all warm colors, soft seating and dim yellow lighting. It's attractive, but fairly standard nowadays for a cocktail-centered bar hoping to offer an inviting, romantic feel. Don't misunderstand us: Clifton is worth the visit for the very reasons it should be. There's a fun $9 martini list with clever concoctions, such as the spicy tini made with vodka, homemade Bloody Mary mix and pepperoncini, and a nice wine list with a few dozen by-the-glass selections in the $8-$11 range. The relatively small menu nicely supports the lengthy cocktail list, and though you can order pizza or entrees (steak, fish and chips, and short ribs), we suggest sharing a few of the wine bar's Mediterranean-inspired small plates. The Tuscan bruschetta ($7) arrives with Kalamata olives, red pepper and feta atop the crostini, while the day boat sea scallops ($12) are served with a creamy tomato basil risotto and fun carrot garnish. We also liked the lamb lollipops ($12), which were memorable not only for the dish's main ingredient, but also the citrus-tinged mint pesto couscous that accompanies it.
Clifton Martini & Wine Bar, 10427 Clifton Blvd., Cleveland, 219-965-0221, cliftonmartini.com
12:00 AM EST
August 23, 2010