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Light Bistro - Cleveland


edsel
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When pioneering Cleveland chef Parker Bosley retired from the restaurant business at the end of 2006, he hinted that the space formerly occupied by Parker's New American Bistro would not remain idle for long. This week chef Matt Mathlage and partner Eric Dietrich will open Light Bistro.

I attended a pre-opening dinner last night, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Foundation. We started the evening out with drinks at the bar, accompanied by "snacks" - small bites of some very tasty stuff. We had (if I recall correctly) pickled shrimp, foie gras fried rice with seared duck breast, crab-and-shrimp cakes, and house-cured gravlax. Small plates will be a primary feature of the menu, and if what we had last night is any indication, Cleveland diners are in for a treat.

When portions are small, it's even more important to present the taste and texture of the food at its best. You've only got a bite or two to make an impression. :smile: I was especially wowed by the pickled shrimp (fresh, bright mustardy flavor) and the gravlax, which was delicate and subtly seasoned. It's clear that the Light Bistro crew is already executing on a very high level, and they aren't even officially open yet.

more to come...

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on to the main event...

For this special event dinner, Chef Matt and company prepared a seven-course tasting menu. While these dishes are not exactly replicated on the official post-opening menu, they can serve as an indication of what's in store.

Amuse

papaya/pineapple/cucumber soda

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A lively and provocative start to the meal. Served in a tall glass with a long-handled spoon.

Course I

prosciutto/peas/lavender/mint

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Where do you find peas this fresh in Ohio in March? Yummy.

Course II

Seared tuna/rice/vinegar/edamame purée/soy sauce powder

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A sort of "deconstructed" nigiri sushi. The tuna was top-quality and perfectly prepared. The soy sauce powder is a fun twist on a traditional ingredient, and indicates that chef Matt isn't afraid to employ unusual techniques in the service of flavor. I enjoy the playful aspects of this dish, but in the end it's the flavor that counts. Delicious!

Course III

duck/braised red cabbage/goat cheese/crisp potato

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Wonderful layers of contrasting texture and flavor. For me, the most outstanding thing was the braised red cabbage, which had a deep winey complexity.

Course IV

Licorice Sous Vide Pheasant breast/blackberries/brie fondue

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The pheasant was just warm from it's gentle sous vide bath - we were instructed to dip it in the hot brie "fondue". Whoa, was that good!

Course V

Wagyu short ribs/Thai peanut glaze/tater tots/powdered beer

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Steak, spuds 'n' beer - a sly little tribute to Cleveland dining. :raz: The seared wagyu beef had that elusive savor of the perfectly-charred steak. Wagyu can sometimes be over-the-top rich (unctuous, even), but here the surface char was the star, supported by a dense, beefy center. The "tater tot" is an example of the small portions playing with the diner's affections. I wonder how many of those present last night would have gladly chowed down on a big plate of these. :smile:

Course VI

Pork two ways: glazed belly/shoulder sandwich/spicy mustard greens

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The pork belly was as good as it gets. Indescribably lovely. The mustard greens lived up to the "spicy" label, which made me happy.

Course VII

Chocolate covered strawberry tartlet

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A great finish to a superb meal.

Light Bistro is a great addition to Cleveland's dining landscape. I'll be back!

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Edsel,

Thank you so much for the report! When Chef Matt sent me the e-mail announcing the opening I was so jealous knowing I wouldn't be able to go. I am glad you were there and with your camera. Another restaurant on my list for this summer. :biggrin:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Your pictures and descriptions are great as usual. Sounds like a wonderful addition to Cleveland.

I heard somewhere that the small plates focus was only going to be temporary for them, any truth to that? I know MS tried to make a go of small plates at Lolita and Clevelanders just didn't seem to get it. Are the small plates part of a larger menu or is it all small plates (which I would LOVE, by the way)?

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As far as I know, the small plates will be a permanent part of the menu. (Chef Matt and sous chef Jeff both participate on eGullet, so they can correct me if I'm wrong about that). The menu is online on the restaurant web site.

I think they mentioned that there will be a regular chef's tasting menu that will always be available. The menu we enjoyed on Saturday was for a special event, but should be fairly representative of the kind of stuff they'll be doing.

I forgot to mention in my original posts that the wine pairings for the tasting menu were excellent and the service was outstanding, even discounting the fact that this is a brand new restaurant that's just getting ready to open to the public.

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Saturday's dinner was, I hope, a harbinger of wonderful culinary things to come!

We began the evening with passed hors d'oeuvres:

This was Seared Duck Breast over Foie Gras Fried Rice:

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The following two items were actually served separately, but I thought they went well together:

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The first was a mini-crab cake, the second, the marinated shrimp Edsel mentioned. Normally, I just take a nibble of shrimp, note that I don't like it for whatever reason, and move on. Here - well, I not only ate a whole shrimp - I ate 3 whole shrimp and loved them! The marinade did beautiful things to both taste and texture.

This next item melted in the mouth:

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This tiny presentation packed a mouthful of flavor; the Gravlox was perfect:

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I confess - I don't remember exactly what composed the last one - but it was smooth and delicious - Chefs Matt and Jeff - help me out here!

I know the base was sweet potato, and there was nut and coconut:

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On to the sit-down dinner!

My shot of the amuse gets a slightly different angle than Edsel's:

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Ditto the peas - Chef Matt said they were literally "just out of the ground" and they tasted it!

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The tuna, and its accoutrements, were so fabulous - I ate the last slice of tuna over a layer of the flavorings and the rice, like Nigiri - it was fantastic!

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I can't add much to Edsel's description of the Duck, though I'll add my photo:

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I've never had pheasant before - this dish was devine, and all three of the diners at our table devised different ways to get every drop of the brie fondue out of the cup - waste not, want not!

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My photo of the "spuds & beer" is not as good as Edsel's, so I'll let his speak alone for the dish. After the Waygu Beef, which melted in the mouth, came the Pork Two Ways.

First - the whole plate:

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Then - a close up of that gorgeous hunk of pork belly:

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And finally - dessert - wonderfully flavored and textured house-made ice cream over a tartlett:

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Also - each two courses were paired with wine, and the choices complimented the foods perfectly. While I didn't get the names of the wines (the Wine Menu should be on the Light website shortly) - we started with a Chilean Rose, then a Pino Noir, then Robert Hall Cab Sauv, and finally a delightful sparkler, which comes in a small red can, from Francis Ford Coppola Vineyard.

We're looking forward to returning to Light for a "regular" meal next week - stay tuned!

Edited by NancyH (log)

"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" 

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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Fantastic pictures Edsel and Nancy! Thank you so much for sharing these. I too can not wait to try their regular menu. The seared rare tuna entree is calling my name!

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Between the two of you, Edsel and Nancy, it sure looks quite marvelous. I'm sorry, Nancy, that you are going to have a long drive for your favorite neighborhood retaurant from now on. But then, this isn't going to be your average Tuesday night dinner.

And I imagine that Matt and his staff will turn any night of the week into something quite delightful and unusual. This is going to be very interesting to follow. Lots of good luck to everyone. Thank you so much, both of you, for sharing these marvelous pictures and notes.

You all supported a very good charity...close to my heart, as you know. Thanks to all of you.

Now I have to go exercise off your meals.

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Wow, thank all of you guys so much for the kind words. I am sitting at my desk with a huge smile on my face from our better than expected first night and now all of you have me blushing also.

Rockandroller-The small plates are here to stay and I believe we are not the average "small plate" or "tapas" restaurant I only use those words to describe what we do because we haven't invented the word for what we do yet. We are more of a tasting menu restaurant. We do have larger "share plates" that could be an entree if you are so pursuaded.

NancyH- The sweet potato appetizer was a sweet potato and licorice parfait with pecan, coconut and brown sugar strusell.

Torakris-I wish you could have been here also don't miss us this summer.

Linda- Hang on, if the last week is any indication this is going to be a fun ride.

Thank all of you again for your continued support.

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Chef Matt,

After the wonderful dinner you prepared for the group last summer, and the beautiful pictures here, I'm really looking forward to eating at Light. My girlfriend has promised a birthday dinner there in early-mid April, so I guess I've got a while to anticipate.

--Scott

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  • 2 weeks later...

Light Bistro again last night, with a larger group this time. I had the five-course Chef's tasting menu.

Course 1

Scallops/Bacon/Onion/Banana/Lime

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The banana and lime flavors add a novel touch but didn't interfere with the main attraction. The scallops were excellent, prepared just the way I like them. The plate had lime zest and fleur de sel scattered about - nice for dipping the scallop pieces.

Course 2

Foie Gras/Flavors of Neapolitan

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Seared foie with chocolate, strawberry, ,and vanilla flavors. Incredibly rich and decadent. :smile:

Course 3

Squab/Licorice/Quinoa/Carrot/Celery

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Squab breast cooked sous vide. The licorice added aroma more than flavor - quite enticing. The quinoa's texture pairs nicely with the tender squab breast. The garnish is a corn sprout.

Course 4

Veal/Toasted Almond/Goat Cheese

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I believe the veal was also cooked sous vide since it was perfectly pink throughout. Toasted almond is an inspired partner for the veal.

Course 5

Dessert

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A tasting-sized portion of the Chocolate Crème Brûlée from the main menu. Others at the table ordered the full-sized version, but this was plenty for me. Very rich, with a perfect crackly crust of caramelized sugar.

Other folks at the table ordered full-sized entrées or assembled their own tastings from the menu. Everyone who had the blue crab and shrimp cake raved about it. The braised oxtail was also a huge hit. I took photos of a few of the other dishes, and I think Nancy and Stuart took some as well.

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Bread and Butter

The bread is baked in house and is delicious. Brought to the table in little brown paper bags to be passed around. I think the flavors we had were prosciutto, parmesan, and a simple crusty Italian. I've forgotten who makes the butter, but it was from a local source and was fantastic.

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Spring Garlic Soup

This was served with a mound of puffed rice in the center. Very rich and deeply flavorful.

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Tuna Niçoise

Seared sushi-grade tuna, French green beans, and Niçoise olive mousse. My picture doesn't do it justice - this was gorgeous. The friend who ordered it always orders seared tuna if it's on the menu whenever she's trying out a new restaurant. It's one of her favorite things, and I think it's become a sort of benchmark for evaluating restaurants. Light Bistro passed with flying colors. :biggrin:

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Braised oxtails

Served over celery root purée and sourdough toast rounds. I had a taste of this - it was incredible. Falling-apart tender and deeply flavorful. The friend who ordered it shared my opinion that the gentle sweetness of the braise was perfect. We both find that the sweet notes are often overdone with this style of dish, but Light Bistro got it exactly right.

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White bean, rapini and red pepper cassoulet

A vegetarian version of cassoulet.

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Well, I'm always a day late and a dollar short on posting photos when we eat out on Friday! I second everything that Edsel said (and my pictures don't add much to what Edsel posted, so I won't waste bandwidth on them)!

I also had the tasting menu - and it was as wonderful as it looked. I also sampled the Garlic Soup and the Cassolet that my husband ordered, and they were as fabulous as my dinner.

The braised oxtail was clearly the "winner" - as the most lip-smackingly good dish on the table. But there were a lot of close seconds!

The butter is sourced from Lake Erie Creamery, and is wonderful, as were the freshly baked breads.

The 2007 HG (Heartland Gathering) Committee has just decided to set up a dinner at Light for the Thursday preceding the weekend (July 19) - so please keep an eye here if you are interesting in joining us (or PM me)!

"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" 

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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The 2007 HG (Heartland Gathering) Committee has just decided to set up a dinner at Light for the Thursday preceding the weekend (July 19) - so please keep an eye here if you are interesting in joining us (or PM me)!

Now that the cat is out of the bag, I'd better get my act together and contact the restaurant.

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  • 2 weeks later...

these pictures have backed up what I have heard so far about this place! definitely interested in going soon; is the chef's tasting course off the menu? i viewed the menu as posted on their website, and there was no mention of prix fixe/tasting menu. i'll give a secret handshake, if that's necessary.

and ps- i'm really excited to see what they've done with the space from parker's. that place was gorgeous. one of the first eye-opening meals i ever had was one day in high school with a "date;" and yep, it was at parker's.

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As far as I know the tasting menu will be a regular feature. It should be changing frequently, so it isn't listed on the web site menu. You can also assemble your own "tasting menu" by picking a number of small plates off of the regular menu. They have a fixed price if you order four or five small plates, and they'll pace the service to your liking.

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  • 1 month later...

Five of us met up at Light Bistro for dinner last night. We sampled a number of small plates.

Seared foie gras / pecan pie / vanilla powder

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A somewhat sweet treatment of the foie, which was delicately seared.

Roast quail / heirloom apples / spiced pecans / honey aioli

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The apples were nicely spiced.

Braised oxtails / celery root puree / sour dough

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The puree compliments the oxtails beautifully.

Cuba libre braised pork belly / pineapple carpaccio / chipotle couscous

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Wow! This is incredibly good.

House cured gravlax / flavors of gin / beet and potato cake / cumin cream

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The beet and potato cake almost deserves top billing. (Well, except that the gravlax is awesome too...)

We also enjoyed some marinated olives, marcona almonds, eggplant flan, pickled shrimp, and the blue crab and shrimp cake. And finally, a few desserts:

Apple and guava tart

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Warm chocolate chip cookies

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Cheese plate

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We also shared:

Mixed olives, house marinated in orange, saffron, and fennel

Green Tea Dusted Marcona Almonds

Eggplant flan w/red pepper and Crème anglaise, which was even better than I remembered it from our last visit,

Pickled shrimp w/chili, lemongrass & chive - presented whimsically in a small jar that is opened and poured, and again tasting every bit as good as the last time I had it.

Blue crab and shrimp cake w/green curry and honey dew sauce & yellow pepper ceviche

Braised oxtails w/celery root puree over toasted sour dough

We were too hungry to photograh these plates as they came out, in part because service was a tad slow - but for a wonderful reason - the house was positively packed!

Also - the bread deserves a mention - the proscuitto bread had pea-sized chunks of warm, tender meat and was almost an appetizer in itself! The plain bread happily soaked up the Lake Erie Creamery Butter, and later, the wonderful Olive Oil from the Olive app.

And those desserts! The "Cheese Course" was fabulous, and I can't really describe the "Cheese Cake" (the round item) adequately - a delicate bleu cheese, and two other cheeses, baked in that wonderful crust - I could eat that every day!

Another fabulous dining experience from Chef Matt and his crew!

"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" 

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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Those pictures look great! Thanks for sharing them.

I have to get back there for their crab cakes - those must be the best in the city.

Those choc chip cookies look very good too!

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  • 5 months later...

Wednesday October 10, our table of 4 EGulleteers enjoyed the first Farmers Dinner presented by Light Bistro. Special guests James Falb, of Country Gristmill and Riverbank General, and Monroe Stutzman of Stutzman Farms, provided most of the foodstuffs that wound up on our dinner plates. And it was a wonderful dinner!

We started with an amuse of Green Onion Hushpuppies served with a whipped Honey Butter, that was presented in a shotglass topped with honey granules:

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The first course was a cold Mint Tea Smoked Chicken with a Carrot-Lime-Basil puree:

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The skin topping the chicken morsels was perfectly crisp and redolent of tea smoke:

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The flavors of the puree burst off of the plate and onto the palate, with the micro-basil adding an extra dimension:

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As always, Lake Erie Creamery Butter accompanied the bread service, which came to the table after the smoked chicken course:

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We enjoyed two types of bread, hot from the oven! First - Olive Bread, studded with beautiful olives that made butter unnecessary:

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The second type was a straightforward whole wheat roll - dense and toothy:

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The breads were followed by a rich Butternut Squash Soup, which contained apple, bits of Hot Italian Sausage made from the Stutzman Farm pork, and a heavenly ricotta stuffed ravioli:

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The flavors were fabulous - though it was served somewhere between hot and cold, and we couldn't tell if that was intentional or not!

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A second chicken course came next - a morsel of the fabulously fresh bird was wrapped in bacon and plated over smoked potato puree, and topped with a luscious Peach Leather made in the Light Bistro kitchen from the last of the season's local peaches:

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I was too full to eat more than a taste of the final savory course - but it made a fabulous lunch today! Citrus and chile braised spare ribs were served with fig BBQ and an amazing cold corn pudding (that is the yellow rectangle you see below), simply cooked peanut potatoes, and a slice of sweet fried green tomato that melted in the mouth:

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Close up of the Spare Ribs

Thankfully, dessert was light. But it was most satisfying and creative! Chef Matt made Carrot Panna Cotta, topped with Pecan Brittle and a Cream Cheese Foam - even though I was too full for my last meat course, I was able to enjoy this treat:

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Chef Matt - if you are out there - give us a shout and remind me what that sweet drop off to the right was!

As I mentioned up top, most of the foodstuffs were provided by Stutzman Farms. Their products are available at the Shaker Square Farmers Market, and at Riverbank General, an Organic Store located at 5539 Butternut Road, Canal Fulton, OH 44614, near State Rt. 21. Country Gristmill, represented by James Falb, also specializes in chemical free foods, including dairy, free range eggs, grass fed pork, produce, baked goods, baking flours and breakfast grains. PM me if you are interested in their contact info.

We look forward to dining at Light Bistro again soon!

Edited by NancyH (log)

"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" 

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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Wasn't the drop on the right a cinnamon flavored maple syrup?

That sounds right. The idea was to mimic the flavors of carrot cake. The cream cheese foam was cool.

I love the idea of having dinners with the farmers - truly "local and sustainable". The farmers and their families seemed to enjoy the "modern" cuisine. It was a trip walking into Light Bistro and seeing a bunch of people dressed in traditional Mennonite garb. :cool: I hope they do more of these in the future.

Since nancy already posted pictures of everything I'll just link to mine.

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