I traveled to Cleveland a couple of weeks ago to attend Content Marketing World, and, over three days, I ate dinner twice at the Greenhouse Tavern. I’m usually more adventurous in a city that I am visiting for the first time. But I immediately forgave myself for being such a sucker for the restaurant when I started reading about the restaurant and its founder, Chef Jonathon Sawyer.
The food was fabulous — Food and Wine named Sawyer a “Best New Chef” in 2010 and he was nominated earler this year for a 2014 James Beard Award. I had the “properly butchered rib steak,” and, although I thought the Buttered Popcorn Pot de Creme with Caramel and Sea Salt that I had for dessert might be over the top, it, too, was perfect.
I was ordering from the gluten-free menu, which meant that I couldn’t try everything. It’s no fun to have restrictions, but I have found that it makes me pretty well-attuned to a restaurant’s overall atmosphere. If I like spending time in a restaurant where I can only eat a fraction of the menu, that means it has something more than good food going for it.
One of the things that Greenhouse Tavern has going for it is that Sawyer flat-out loves Cleveland. He worked in some of New York City’s premier kitchens before returning: “For us, Cleveland is at the beginning of its glory and we love a good Renaissance,” he writes on his website. “From vegan to carnivore, gluten free to vegetarian, all are welcome in our house.” And that’s exactly how I felt there, welcome. And that — along with the rosemary-topped pommes frites — is what brought me back.