It’s hard to get too attached to a single dish at Brett Sawyer and Vince Thomascik’s Ohio City bistro, because the menu changes so often.
Sure, their take on Cincinnati chili made with venison, red-pepper cheddar and rosemary-infused noodles was likely the most sophisticated take on the dish Ohio has ever seen. But as soon as that venison ran out, it was time to move on.
“We just really enjoy changing the menu,” says Sawyer. “We’re constantly building off of each other. We have ideas all the time. If you have an idea for a dish, and you test it and we like it, we put it on the menu.”
The Plum is unique among Cleveland restaurants. Since opening in 2016, its approach to dining is thoroughly modern in a way that few others in the city have embraced.
Diners are encouraged to eat family-style with a menu organized around the size of dishes — small, medium and large. Most offerings are recognizable takes on classics — think country-fried steak ($35) made more special with ingredients such as pickled sweet potato, sour cream gravy and foie gras dirty rice.
But every aspect of The Plum adds up to a fun, approachable dining experience.
The cocktail program eschews old classics for new blends heavy on liqueurs and oils such as the alluring Alcindor ($11), made with Four Roses bourbon, amaro nonino, aperol and lemon.
A 4 to 7 p.m. happy hour shaves $5 off of popular items such as the Ohio lamb burger ($8) and the chicken wings ($7) and includes beer, wine and cocktail specials. Even
something as basic as brunch feels new and exciting in the hands of Sawyer and company.
“When we opened The Plum, we sought to do something we didn’t see in Cleveland,” says Sawyer. “When I go out to eat, that’s how I eat. We order a bunch of stuff, and everybody shares, and you get to try a little bit more of everything.”
Three years on, The Plum still feels ahead of the curve.
“It’s not fine dining by any means to us, but it’s not super rustic gastropub-type food either,” says Sawyer. “We just do what we want, and we try to make it nice and tasty and keep it somewhat familiar.”
4133 Lorain Ave., Cleveland, 216-938-8711, theplumcafeandkitchen.com