Sometimes what we really have an appetite for can't be satisfied with a menu. That's why we love the luxurious new Mediterranean restaurant Adega, where the mood strikes a balance between intimate and exhibitionist.
Enter the main dining room through the adjoining lobby of The 9, the hotel and apartment complex that transformed East Ninth Street's long-neglected Ameritrust Tower into the place to see and be seen. Once seated, though, Adega (this year's Silver Spoon winner for best new restaurant) is like your own private event. Tables are nestled into every angle of the partitioned space, and booths are built with tall, upholstered backs to cozy up an otherwise grandiose venue.
Under the direction of executive chef Eddie Tancredi, the staff is attentive and courses flow at a steady, measured pace. Like a discreet and efficient butler, high-tech visual aids are out of sight to diners while helping to regulate the kitchen.
That intimate feeling is exactly what we want on a date night, while the atmosphere (and valet prices) make it feel like a splurge. But the menu is flexible enough to accommodate all kinds of pocketbooks.
"We have selections for the people who don't want to spend as much but also for high spenders who want to impress," Tancredi says.
For instance, if the bouillabaisse ($52) is a little too precious, opt instead for the pan-seared trout ($27) with watercress salad and sofrito. A specially imported Iberico pork chop ($45) is a spendy signature item, but pork tenderloin medallions ($28) are nearly as tender — and are accompanied by heartier sides, including a creamy, crunchy corn risotto.
If all this is a little showy, so be it. "In layman's terms, we just want to kick everyone's ass," says Tancredi. "That was my goal." 2017 E. Ninth St., Cleveland, 216-331-6289, metropolitancleveland.com/restaurant
Try This ‡¨The chorizo sausage flatbread ($14) is the perfect warmup to a main course, with not-too-spicy sausage, salty manchego cheese and roasted red peppers on a lightly charred crust. For a fresh finish, it's topped with peppery arugula and oil after baking.