Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tremont Art Walk For Food And Fun

At the urging of my long-time friend Penny, I agreed to join her and several other friends at the Tremont Art Walk. Occurring the second Friday of the month from 6 PM until 10 PM (which, by the way, is coming up just two days from now!), the Walk is an opportunity for customers to wander from store to store, enjoying a glass of wine and finding just the right piece of clothing / art / knickknack to fill the artistic void we all seem to possess in our lives. The Walk is very free-form, and you are welcome to start at any point along Professor Avenue in the Tremont district of Cleveland.

Of course, when you get four foodies together, eventually it will have to be about food and tonight's route had us starting with food and ending with food. Because we had all agreed to meet up at the corner of Literary and Professor (home of Lolita, Lago, and Dante), we decided to walk a bit north to check out a rather new arrival to the Tremont area, A Cookie and A Cupcake.

Here was a shot of the exterior of the store:

Cookie And A Cupcake Storefront
My first exposure to ACAAC was back in late March when I attended the benefit put together to help out the Jarrett family defray some of the adoption costs for their soon-to-arrive daughter from China, Jewel. ACAAC had been one of the vendors handing out mini cupcakes in a wide assortment of flavors. My second exposure to ACAAC was at this year's Top Chef benefit dinner held back in June to raise funds for the St. John Medical Center. Once again, they were one of the featured dessert items and my compatriot Edsel and I polished a few of the mini-morsels at the end of our meal.

As I walked into the tiny area up front, I couldn't help but take a picture of the wide assortment of fresh cupcakes available today:

Cupcake Case
While they all looked good, the Espresso cupcake seemed to catch my eye:

Espresso Cupcake
Containing a caramel filling and topped with a buttercream frosting and a lone chocolate covered espresso bean, I knew I had to have one. I sat my cupcake down to Edsel's Signature cupcake and we each snapped a shot:

Signature Cupcake: C Is For Cupcake
Yes, gentle reader, that does appear to be Cookie Monster, doesn't it? It seems that besides making delicious cupcakes, the baker / froster / owner also has a wonderful sense of humor, too.

Having paid for our cupcakes, we returned to the warm outside air to enjoy our spoils. As I greedily tore into my cupcake, I discovered that not only was the cupcake utterly delicious, but it was also incredibly moist. Before I knew it, my cupcake was gone. I'm certainly glad I only bought the one! Each cupcake was $2.50, making them quite reasonable if you are only buying a single cupcake, but preventing you from going hog wild and buying them by the baker's dozen.

After cleaning up, we proceeded to walk south on Professor Avenue, stopping in at retail stores and art galleries, slowly wiling away a lazy Friday evening. Oddly enough, when we reached the end of the Walk at the corner of Professor and Jefferson, it was nearly 8 PM, which was fortunate for us because I had made reservations at Ty Fun Thai Bistro.

I have written about Ty Fun before, where I had attended a dinner put together specifically for us by owner and chef, Sonny Tingpatana. Tonight would be the first time I had documented having a meal ordered from their standard menu. While it was a bit crowded at first (which was fantastic in this economy), after a short while most of the crowd dissipated leaving the four of us to have a conversation with no problems at a reasonable volume. Do note that Ty Fun, like so many other restaurants, aren't big believers in well lit dining rooms, so most of my pictures turned out darker than I would have liked.

First up was their rather long menu:

Ty Fun Menu Page 1
Ty Fun Menu Page 2
Ty Fun Menu Page 3
Ty Fun Menu Page 4
Ty Fun Menu Page 5
Ty Fun Menu Page 6
Ty Fun Menu Page 7
Thankfully there weren't any daily specials to ponder as I think most diner's heads were already swimming with so many choices to consider. Collectively we decided to get two appetizers to split and then each of us would order our own entrée.

The first appetizer we split was the Mee Grob:

Appetizer of Mee Grob
This was a dish composed of cooked shrimp and crispy fried noodles tossed with a sweet chili sauce. While there were oodles of very tasty noodles, only three shrimp were to be found under that entire nest of fried and sauced goodness. Which meant that for our table of four, some went without. And while I loved the sweet chili flavor paired with this dish, it turned out to be mostly air for $7.

The other appetizer we ordered tonight was the Tod Mun Pla:

Appetizer of Tod Mun Pla
These were fish cakes that had been deep fried and served with a peanut-laden sauce that had a bit of chili kick to it. In contrast to our first appetizer, there was plenty to go around. This wasn't the best Tod Mun Pla I've ever had, but it still held its own.

Having finished our appetizers, we turned our attention to our next course, soup! Here was Ty Fun's version of Tom Kha Khi (also spelled Tom Kha Gai on some menus):

Tom Kha Kai Soup
This was a delicate and refined version of this classic Thai soup. Studded with cooked chicken, mushrooms, onions, and baby corn, the coconut milk broth had just the right amount of spice from the chili oil that it gently caressed the back of my throat. Do be careful with this soup, however. While there were plenty of edible components to this dish, those in the know look for and set aside the Kaffir lime leaves, stalks of lemongrass, and ginger/galangal root. Are they poisonous? Certainly not, but they can present a choking hazard.

Our soups (and one salad) now out of the way, we proceeded to the main event, the entrées. Being in a noodle kind of mood and not wanting to get the somewhat traditional Pad Thai, I decided instead to go with the Pad Khi Mao:

Pad Khi Mao Entree
Made with a wider rice noodle similar to fettuccine, the noodles had been stir-fried with various fresh vegetables and finished with Thai basil and a chili garlic sauce. Since I had eaten chicken in my soup, I chose the pork version of this dish (all the proteins are basically the same price). I find it interesting on Ty Fun's menu that dishes seem to hover either around $10 or $20. There doesn't seem to be much between. At $12, the Pad Khi Mao was definitely a good value as I had about half of my entrée left over when I was done.

The dish itself was good, but I missed the balance a little bit of sweetness would've added. A touch of honey or sweet chili sauce would've made this really good dish into a great one. That being said, the pork was tender, the vegetables were cooked nicely, and the noodles weren't overcooked. Definitely good qualities in a plate of Thai food.

Having paid our respective checks, we returned to the now cooler and darkened Cleveland skyline. As we rounded the corner to start to head back to our cars, we noticed that the Dim and Den Sum truck had parked itself in front of the Flying Monkey Pub and Chef Esterly was busy serving up their gourmet fare to hungry bar hoppers. We debated whether to attempt to split something from the truck, but each finally admitted that we just didn't have anymore room. So, an additional review of Dim and Den Sum will have to wait for another time.

If you happen to have the second Friday free of the month, I definitely urge you to check out the Tremont Art Walk. There were a lot of cool things to see, a lot of great art to appreciate, and a lot of tasty food to eat. And if you have a chance, check out both A Cookie and A Cupcake and Ty Fun Thai Bistro. You'll have a tasty experience at both venues.

A Cookie and a Cupcake on Urbanspoon


Katie said...

You know, I hardly ever say anything negative about local foodie haunts but ACAAC has never impressed me. Everyone seems to love them but on my 3 visits over the last year and a half or so I have always been disappointed with dry, crumbly cake and overly sweet frosting. I don't know why I always strike out there but I just can't join in the praise for them.

I've been hearing a lot about Ty Fun lately and we need to get down there. Question - if we go early enough (in the 5:00 hour) do you think it would it be ok to dine with a preschooler?


bonnjill said...

Yes, the Mee Grob was truly disappointing. I shall not be ordering that again. A very lovely write-up of a very lovely evening. Without a doubt one of the highlights of my summer.

Tino said...

@Katie: Sorry to hear about ACAAC. Like I said in the review, I've had them twice as part of another event (so I expected them to be good) and this time when I went specifically to the shop. All three times they've been consistent for me. That being said, I suppose the nature of being in the food business is that it is so inconsistent at times.

As for showing up at 5:00 PM with your preschooler ... I think you won't have a problem getting a table, but the menu doesn't strike me as particularly child friendly. If you have an adventurous eater, I'm sure you'll have success with something on the menu, between cooked rice and noodles.

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