Food does more than bring people together — it can lift up a neighborhood.
The Standard co-owner Chris Hammer wants to be part of returning the area around North Collinwood to prominence in the same way Michael Symon's Lola revitalized Tremont in the late 1990s. Hammer, who moved to the burgeoning West Side neighborhood around that same time, has witnessed the transformation.
Inside the East 185th Street restaurant, you'll find that Hammer plans to accomplish the feat with a mix of sophistication — robin's-egg blue walls, sparkling chandeliers, exposed brick, craft cocktails — and a menu of elevated items often found on dining room tables just around the block, such as chicken paprikash, beef stroganoff and smoked Slovenian sausage.
"Our menu is biased because of where we are, the Old World neighborhood," Hammer says. "We have that Eastern European influence with our little bit of a twist on it."
So the rich chicken paprikash ($12 half/$23 full) is made with confit drumsticks and Brussels sprouts over fluffy house-made spaetzle. The creamy beef stroganoff ($12 half/$23 full) features braised short ribs with wild mushrooms and pearl onion. And while Collinwood is home to a handful of great sausage shops, the Standard impresses with its in-house made and smoked sausage.
It's familiar but elevated enough to bring you back.
Add to the menu an 80-seat patio, which is scheduled to open this month. Facing a side street, the outdoor space comes complete with its own bar and taps, which serve recently opened neighbor Cleveland Brewery beer. Connecting diners to the neighborhood via the patio and the classic-but-refined food is evidence that the Standard seems well on the way toward its goal.
"It's nice to see everyone moving forward," Hammer says. "This neighborhood is becoming vibrant." 779 E. 185th St., Cleveland, 216-531-9643
Try This ‡¨ Cauliflower doesn't have a reputation for abundant flavor, but this one is roasted with sage, brown butter, capers and golden raisins ($6) for an unexpectedly popular appetizer that's sweet, nutty and briny.