Chef Steve Schimoler prepares a carefully crafted ever-changing menu.
Few places in Cleveland can impress a date like Crop Bistro & Bar. Located in a grandoise 1920s-era bank designed by famed architects Frank Walker and Harry Weeks, diners can enjoy craft cocktails and seasonally inspired dishes among marble columns, a soaring gilded ceiling and even a private dining room tucked behind the restored vault door. But make no mistake, there's substance behind the flash, thanks to chef Steve Schimoler's background as a food scientist and product developer. "I'm the most objective guy when it comes to food," he says of his recipe process. Each impeccably consistent dish on the menu goes through rigorous testing and tweaking. The menu changes often, although a few crowd-favorites such as truffle or balsamic popcorn ($7) just get minor adjustments in homage to the seasons. Don't miss: Crop's chicken and waffles ($26) is a decidedly upscale take on the comfort-food staple featuring a tender, confited half chicken, moist waffles with fresh apple cooked in, wilted greens and a mildly spicy maple demi-glace. "We've refined that [recipe] literally over six years," he says. Take a seat: Reserve a spot at the chef's table and settle into a seven- or 11-course Tour de Crop tasting menu ($75 and $105). Starting with an amuse-bouche and ending with a sweet treat, it's an entirely chef-driven culinary journey with a passenger's view of the kitchen. 2537 Lorain Ave., Cleveland, 216-696-2767,cropbistro.com
At the trendiest and most coveted tables in Northeast Ohio, the dishes and the vibe is an extension of the creatives in the kitchen. Get to know them as part of 2023's Best Restaurants issue. By Anthony Elder, Annie Nickoloff, Cassie Tomaselli and Patrick Williams