Steve Schimoler is using food to squelch Cleveland's historic sibling rivalry: East Side versus West Side. Crop Kitchen, the casual Uptown offshoot of his Ohio City restaurant Crop Bistro and Bar, lets the chef satisfy hungry Rust Belters regardless of zip code.
With a fair number of East Side regulars frequenting Crop Bistro, Schimoler would often get the same question: "Hey, when are you going to open closer to home out here for us?" he says.
Bridge building aside, we'll cross any number of rivers to enjoy the creations from one of Cleveland's favorite culinary minds.
Much like its older sibling, Crop Kitchen focuses on sustainable, seasonal ingredients brought in from local farms, such as the Middlefield Amish cheese and shredded Ohio pork found in the mac and cheese ($14), an encore of the bistro's beloved mac and brisket.
But while such dishes have made Crop Bistro a perennial favorite, it's not just more of the same here. The addition of chef and partner Matt Anderson, formerly of Umami Asian Kitchen in Chagrin Falls, has introduced an Asian influence to most of the dishes at Crop Kitchen, giving them an eastward reach that goes beyond trendy blistered shishito peppers ($6). His experience with classics shows up throughout the menu in more traditional items such as noodle bowls, curries and even sushi.
While the menu changes so frequently that it's hard to tell what you'll find on any given week, we recommend anything with Anderson's dashi broth, a velvety, rich fish stock traditionally made with kelp and katsuobushi (petrified shavings of fermented fish puree). When heaped with long, chewy udon noodles, braised Ohio beef, bok choy and, surprisingly, Parmesan, the resulting beef udon noodle soup ($18) feels foreign and familiar at once.
"[It's] an eclectic mashup," says Schimoler. "And people love it." 11460 Uptown Ave., Cleveland, 216-696-2767, cropkitchen.com
Try This ‡¨Crop Kitchen is just steps away from Mitchell's Homemade Ice Cream in Uptown. So it might be surprising to learn that the restaurant makes its own frozen treats — until you try the coconut sorbet ($5). Simple and dairy-free, it's so smooth and buttery you'll want a pint to go.