Small menus and big personalities. That’s what Jill Vedaa, chef and co-owner of the acclaimed Lakewood eatery Salt, looks for in a restaurant. “My rule of thumb, whether you’re a fine dining establishment or doing bar food, is if you represent yourself properly I’m a huge fan,” she says. “Don’t put 4,000 things on the menu because there’s no way that stuff’s getting used, right? It doesn’t have to be over the top. Pay attention to what you’re doing and do it well.”
Lunch Spot: “Fat Cats in Tremont is really consistent and have set a high bar for themselves. I love the grilled octopus dish.”
Bar Bites: “Prosperity Social Club in Tremont is like being wrapped in a warm blanket. It’s a shot-and-beer place, but they’re making great food.”
Sushi: “When you go to Ginko in Tremont for the first time, you’re like Why have I robbed myself of this experience? It’s the best sushi I’ve ever had. I think that's definitely the shining star on the top of Dante Boccuzzi's restaurants.”
Cocktails: "Spotted Owl has always been like one of my favorite places. I also love LBM. They get super creative not only with naming their cocktails, but with their cocktails."
Shot and Beer: "I also love shot and beer places. Gunselman's Tavern on Lorain Avenue in Fairview Park. They have kick-ass food, and it's been family owned for a long time. Usually the median age is like 60-plus. My wife and I are typically the youngest people there. But it's just that neighborhood place you go where everyone's talking to each other, you meet new people and they sit next to you. I usually get whatever bourbon they have on the rocks. Their pierogies are good. Their meatballs are really good. Great salad. Great burgers. You can see all the crossover of ingredients, which is how you know they're doing a good job."
Who’s Inspiring Me: “With the open kitchen, you can tell Shuxin Liu loves what he does at Xinji Noodle Bar in Ohio City. I really admire his work ethic. Those spicy dumplings are so good. I always get, like, three orders. I've always been a fan of Karen Small (of The Flying Fig in Ohio City). I wish there was a I wish there were more female chefs that were getting some acknowledgement.”