On the first Thursday of every month, the only surviving member of the First String Band plays with fellow musicians at the Barking Spider on Case Western's campus in University Circle. Every six months or so, myself and a few other fraternity brothers will take a road trip back to Cleveland to hear this ensemble play. It's a great way to relive a bit of our past glory, catch up on what is going on in each of our lives and in general, just a nice way to spend an evening. We also usually take the next day off of work and bum around, revisiting some of the old restaurants and haunts we did in days past.
So it goes again. Even though yesterday was January 1st, it turns out that the Spider would be open and the group we wanted to hear would be performing. So we checked into our room at Glidden House (CONVENIENTLY located right next door to the Barking Spider) and headed to Coventry to see what was open for dinner.
We decided to eat at a new place, Tree Country Bistro, located where the Que Tal used to be. It is now a Japanese / Korean / Thai restaurant. This appealed to all of our group since we could each get what we wanted. My friend Mike ordered sushi, and ended up getting the Snow Mountain:
He reports that this was quite good. It had tempura eel that was then wrapped in a maki style roll and topped with crabmeat (well, the fake kind used in California rolls). I decided to go with a Thai curry and opted for the green chicken curry:
It also had peas, green beans, bamboo shoots, green peppers and eggplant. The flavor was excellent, but the heat level was nowhere near what I had asked for (confirmed by another taster in our group who also likes spicy foods). I ordered this Thai spicy. I even went so far as to say, "Not American Spicy. Thai Spicy." And what did I get? Barely warmer than mild. As with other Asian restaurants, I am finding that just because the menu says that spice levels are 1-3 or 1-5, the upper number is never the absolute limit. When I brought the spice level issue up with our waitress, she only then admitted that Thai spicy was probably closer to 5 than a 3 (which according to our menu was the spiciest level). *Sigh*
Today for lunch we decided to hit up an old favorite, the Mad Greek on Fairmount in Cleveland Heights. This has always been a favorite of mine as they make such an excellent grilled pita (I know, it's the simple things in life, isn't it?). The prices were noticeably higher than they have been in the past and the lunch menu was a much more pared down from what we've seen the previous times we went. However, the foods and flavors were outstanding. We decided to start by splitting an order of hummos and grilled pita bread:
It almost looks like a bowl of oatmeal, but I can assure you it isn't. This was very good, if not a bit too much of tahini in the hummos. The grilled pita is like crack and you most assuredly will run out of it before you finish the amount of hummos they give you. Fortunately, additional pita is free of charge. The pita is reasonably fresh and what really gives it it's "crack-like" status is that before serving it, they brush each side with olive oil and throw it on the flat top to slightly caramelize each side. So, so good.
For my lunch I decided to go with a standard: gyro with fries.
The fries were quite good, crispy and hot. The gyro was also delicious, with its blend of spiced meat, the tomatoes, onions and the yogurt sauce.
Tonight we'll be tackling another favorite old haunt, the Euclid Tavern. More on that in my next post.