If Great Lakes Brewing Co.’s First Pour event is Cleveland’s kickoff to the holiday season, Cleveland Restaurant Week is Cleveland’s kickoff to eating season — ya know, the time of year where those extra layers really come in handy.
While the set-up for this year’s event remains mostly the same, with most of the nearly 30 participating restaurants offering three-course, prixe-fixe menus, this year’s event is also a sign of the times. First off, rising food prices have forced restaurants to up the usual price of the annual special from $33 to $36. Meanwhile, many restaurants will once again be offering takeout options or limiting the prixe-fixe meals to weekdays due to budget constraints.
“Food prices are escalating, and restaurants are feeling the crunch. After researching how other major metropolitan areas have handled their Restaurant Week promotions, we discovered that, in every instance, they have increased their pricing. We are following suit,” said Myra Orenstein, acting executive director, in a press release.
Still, there’s plenty to be excited about this year. Here are a few offers that caught our eyes.
Astoria Cafe & Market
The hip Gordon Square Mediterranean spot kicks things off with an arugula salad before offering your choice of pastitsio-layered penne pasta with seasoned beef and béchamel finished with shaved mizithra cheese or moussaka-layered slices of eggplant, potatoes, seasoned beef and béchamel finished with shaved mizithra cheese. For dessert, a chocolate crumb and cream crust is filled with a sweet sesame spread then topped with toasted brown sugar whipped cream. 5417 Detroit Ave., Cleveland, 216-266-0834, astoriacafemarket.com
Batuqui: The Flavor of Brasil
Larchmere’s great South American restaurant, which just opened a new space in Chagrin Falls, dives into the taste of Rio street food with pao de queijo, or Brazilian cheese bread. After that move on to moqueca baiana, a fish, shrimp, veggie, chicken or beef stew, and finish it all with brigadeiro, or Brazilian fudge truffles. 12706 Larchmere Blvd., Cleveland, 216-801-0227, batuquicleveland.com
Great Scott Tavern
If comfort food is more your fare, snag your choice of stuffed cabbage rolls served with redskin mashed potatoes, a pot roast dinner or bacon-wrapped meatloaf. Each entree comes with a side salad and your choice of brownie or apple pie. 21801 Lakeshore Blvd., Euclid 216-417-3019, greatscotttavern.com
Restaurant Week is a great way to snag fine dining at more affordable prices. Zach Bruell’s flagship restaurant offers your choice of chili butternut squash soup, mixed greens or salmon kimchi nigiri as a starter. Entrees include shrimp ramen, roasted pork loin with miso polenta and braised greens or tempura tofu udon noodle stir fry. Finish it up with apple pie brûlée, carrot cake with cinnamon whipped cream or the sorbet trio. 2179 W. 11th St., Cleveland, 216-583-9999, parallaxtremont.com
Rood Food & Pie
Now is a great time to check out Rood Food & Pie’s recently tweaked concept, which has gone from sliders and pie to finer dining. For restaurant week, it’s appetizer offerings include kimchi fondue, whipped goat cheese and blackberry bruschetta, and crispy sunchokes. For entrees, choose between asiago crusted chicken, vegan ricotta stuffed tortellini or chili and citrus marinated beef. Of course, you can’t leave Rood Food without some pie, so try the cognac pumpkin, miso apple and apple cider reduction, or smokey black raspberry. Weekdays only, 17001 Madison, Lakewood, rfpie.com