Lighting is minimal and soft pools of glowing orange punctuate every table. On the walls, sconces shift like a waxing eclipse against an all-black background. Driving music washes over patrons and servers, creating an ambient, instrumental drum beat of small plates and vibrant cocktails.
“We think that having fun in a space is such an important element of dining out,” says owner and restaurateur Douglas Katz. “We want to transport you out of your life in Cleveland into something really special and unique.”
We start with a drink. My palette welcomes the sweet, citrusy and floral notes of a gin-based mix simply labeled “a-2” ($14). Across from me, my fiancé sips a chai-infused creamy concoction of bourbon, mango puree and yogurt, the “a-5” ($14).
As far as food, two or three plates per person is usually safe. Order for the table; everyone is going to want a bit of everything.
The pace starts slow with clay bread ($5), a buttery flatbread served piping hot and easily torn. With it, we scoop up mouthfuls of spinach dip ($10) boasting a much deeper, floral flavor than Grandma ever made for a Super Bowl party.
Later, dishes akin to a main course mystify us as we share bites — ground lamb kofta ($18) with a rich flavor and bright pang of pickled shallot, crispy puris ($13) that taste like an elevated potato salad encased in a thin, wafer-like shell and Turkish fried eggs ($9) served with dill, yogurt and chili butter to create a wave of umami that coaxes your fork back for more.
By the time we, and four of our friends, are finished, we feel nearly too cozy to leave. Full-
bellied under that glowing orange light, speaking loudly to cut through the music, the table feels comfortable and private in an at-capacity Ohio City dining room. ambacle.com
Bite into the Cleveland dining scene by signing up for our free weekly CLE Food & Drink newsletter — your guide to food and drink throughout The Land. Arriving in your inbox every week, this coverage fills you in on everything from mocktails to shareable plates — and more. Click here to subscribe.