It has already been a busy summer…and it just freakin started!
Our cukes look great, lettuce patch is thriving in this cool weather, and of course our tomato patch has started to show. Who doesn’t love the smell of the garden in full swing! Enough about us, lets continue on with the restaurant reviews!
Since the start, we have heard nothing but good things about this restaurant AMP150. Chef Ellis Cooley has been twittering and interacting with his guests via twitter and caused quite a stir when he organized a CLE Tweetup – Congrats on the swarm badge!
Located at the Cleveland Airport Marriott...
Now traveling to the Cleveland Airport Marriott is a bit weird at first. “How can any restaurant be any good in the lobby of the Airport Marriott?” Ahem–Don’t judge a book by the cover as this is the diamond in the rough. AMP150 reminds me of Top Chef Contestant Jennifer Carroll’s restaurant 10 Arts by Eric Ripert in Philadelphia – it is an open floor plan that flows basically into the lobby of the hotel. Open for all the guests to see and smell, the decor is calming, nice and cool colors make this kinda like the living room…esp since the seats are very comfortable too.
Seated quickly, no problems getting our drink order followed by a detailed menu description and daily specials.
What exactly is a "modern palate"? Who has an ancient palate?
Now since we are visual people…see pictures/descriptions of the food.
This beer sucks. No real bold flavors and empty follow-up which leads me to believe this was as good as Natural Light (Natty Light) in college. Don't waste your time.
Flat bread Oyster Mushroom, Goat Cheese, Celery Leaves is the work of a master. I could eat this everyday! The interplay of the robust oyster mushrooms and the smooth goat cheese make this a perfect starter. Additionally, the celery leaves feather your imagination to the future dishes inbound to your table.
Here's another closeup of the oyster mushroom and goat cheese interplay. As you can see, the goat cheese just starts to find its way into each of the mushrooms. Robust fungi meets smooth creamy cheese. Outstanding.
Sweet Soy & Peanut Chicken Wings with house made spicy kim chee: Ladies and Gents: I give you the best wings I have ever eaten! (Sorry Chef Sawyer). The perfectly crispy wings are awesome and so juicy esp with flavors like sweet and savory fighting each other to lead in the dance. The kim chee is not spicy, but the sour and crunch of the house made kim chee makes this a PERFECT accompaniment to the chicken wings. BEST WINGS EVER.
Another intense closeup of the wings. You can see the perfect crispness on the wings glazed nicely shimmering in the light. Generous helpings of kim chee provide the bed for the best wings ever. Truly the best wings ever.
Rabbit Spaetzle with Peas, speck ham, and tarragon. We have been in love with rabbit since the days of Trio in Chicago with Chef Achatz. So when we saw "rabbit spaetzle" on the menu, we jumped at the chance to devour little Floppy bunny again. This little dish was FULL of flavor, the spaetzle soaked up all the flavors from the rabbit and ham. Both rabbit and ham were prepared perfectly. Peas were bright and crisp a perfect add to this awesome dish. Kinda wished we had a bit more tarragon, but with the perfect amount of rabbit and spaetzle - we throughly enjoyed this dish. Another winner winner Chef Cooley.
More closeup view of the spaetzle - the creaminess of the dish is perfect. Not too heavy like risotto, but not to thin like a shoddy Olive Garden spaghetti, this was perfect. Don't bother looking, just order this dish immediately.
Chopped Salad: Tomato, avocado, cucumber, carrots, onions, olives, market beans, white balsamic vinaigrette. We ordered a salad cause veggies are the new key word these days. Nothing special-just a salad. Not impressed, but hey-its just a salad. Our impression: there are other dishes and you need to focus your attention on those.
Vidalia onion soup with crispy onions. Apparently the staff thought we would enjoy a quick tasting of their soup. Nice, but it wasn't that flavorful. Yes it was sweet thanks to the Vidalia onions, but it needed more savory which is the hallmark of any onion soup. Also lacked body with a weird gritty-ness about it-almost seemed like the soup wanted to be "cream" but then got confused and wanted to go back to a "liquid" soup. Crispy onion toppings were a plus.
Chicken Soup with avocado, radish, spicy pepper, corn dumpling, tomato, cilantro, lime. This soup was full of flavor and definitely enjoyed all the different components. Reminding us of an authentic tortilla soup (thanks avocados), this is a great winter or spring soup. So much going on, perhaps served with some sourdough to sop up the parts, we believe this is great dish.
Much to our surprise, two sips in, we found a chipped cup. Could have been bad, but the staff was apologetic and things like this happen in the restaurant industry. No worries, our lips are fine and all is well (For those persnickity people that would have complained and yelled-get a life).
Chicken paillard sandwich: Oven roasted tomatoes, arugula, balsamic aioli, pretzel bread. This sandwich was recommended by our waitress on two different occasions. We suggest you NOT recommend this sandwich. First off, the pretzel bread is cool-you should keep that since Cleveland has a lack of places that serve pretzel bread. The chicken was dry. Arugula was there, but apparently the chef applying the balsamic aioli has been hit with the financials of tough economic times as we got no balsamic or aioli on our dry sandwich. "Where's the Aioli?!?!?!?"
As you can see, the chicken breast was cooked well and the arugula was stacked well. The monster tomato was ready but didn't see too much of the roasting. Again, the MIA Balsamic aioli was sorely missed. Like a high-priced Congressional whore, this sandwich needs to have more bold flavors and juicier.
House made potato chips: Brewer's yeast, malt vinegar aoili, Dortmunder aioli. These house made chips did not disappoint. They were crispy and well made. Perfectly cooked, these are worth saving your diet "till tomorrow". The dipping sauces were not necessary, but we liked the Dortmunder aioli. Chef Cooley-please consider a nachos option with your house made potato chips. Mmmmmm
Apparently we ordered more grilled veggies too. Dunno what we ordered, but the veggies are touted from either the west side market or their own garden in the rear of the restaurant. Big Kudos for the support of locally grown veggies and farm to plate actions. Nice.
Shrimp & Grits: Anson Mills Grits, house made Tasso ham, Peppers. Strange that "Shrimp & Grits" made this menu as this is more of a southern or low country cooking comfort food. Never the less, the shrimp cooked perfectly made us scream with excitement. Grits were thicker and flavorful and a great dish all around. Great work Chef Cooley.
Seared scallops: Pea & coconut puree, pickled ramps. The pea and coconut puree was a great flavor for these scallops. Ramps? We can't get enough of them. For us, we would have liked to see more of a crust on the scallops. But the puree made it.
Glazed Chesapeake Bay Cod: Bok Choy, broken shrimp, edamame, smoked onion broth. This cod was prepared perfectly with a nice crust on the outside and juicy tender flaky insides. Didn't think you needed the broken shrimp. If you are looking for the old school chinese shrimp flavoring, consider harm ha or dried shrimp paste. Maybe integrate that into the onion soup base. Or just leave it alone as the fish was prepared perfectly - that alone is big kudos.
Natural free range chicken wings: spicy glaze. Since we were SO in love with Chef Cooley's Kim chee wings, we opted to try the "normal" wings. Prepared the same way, they were crispy and sweet but sadly, no hint of spicy at all. If you say spicy glaze, I kinda expect to have at least a single droplet of sweat from my brow. In any case, for those that like the "naked" wings, this is a good option.
Now like any good review, we opted to stuff ourselves silly with desserts too. Unbutton your pants people!
Single Scoop honey vanilla ice cream (Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream): Toasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed oil. This was indeed splendid and indeed a great dish. Aside from Jeni's being a perennial Ohio favorite, the addition of pumpkin seeds and salt to this dish is perfect. That's right people, we said salt and ice cream. Get out of your comfort box, punch yourself in the face, and then try something new. Outstanding.
Semifredo Trio: Hazelnut, salty caramel, popcorn semifredo layers, house made hazelnut carmel corn. This could very well be the best trio we have seen which includes popcorn. One of our line chefs insisted on ordering this and she about passed out on how good this was. The different popcorn flavors, house made carmel corn, and joint crunchiness of popcorn and creamy cold ice cream was too much to handle. A great dessert we will order again, and again, and again...
Jelly Doughnut: Sour cream doughnut, strawberry jalapeno, creme fraiche, agave nectar, and almonds. This desert was awesome. Purely on the use of strawberry jalapenos and agave nectar - really a good use of ingredients that you don't normally see in the dessert category. Mmmmm. Nice work Chef Cooley.
Also to note: Chef Cooley’s social media interactions on twitter is the new wave of success for any restaurants. @QuarryLaneFarms has really appreciated the many visits and exchanges of info (and ball bustings) with the Chef. For those that use foursquare, don’t forget to check in. Special surprises await you.
Even if his staff doesn’t know what Twitter is about or how Facebook is used, Chef Cooley remains at the front of his social media push. We hope he keeps that interaction going cause we, as patrons, love it.
Thanks to all the Chefs and staff at AMP150. We plan on returning soon and we suggest you do the same.
Restaurant: AMP 150
Location: Cleveland Airport Marriott, 4277 West 150th Street in Cleveland, Ohio
Reporting live from QuarryLaneFarms