Monday, October 29, 2007

Silver Spartan Diner

11377 Bellflower Court
Cleveland, OH 44106
(216) 368-0634

Bite: Don't mix what you don't understand.

By Beau Cadiyo

I grade friends on multiple scales. Two are closeness (i.e., knowing a little or a lot about each other) and goodness (i.e., friendship based on similarities and mutual respect, not circumstances or closeness). You don’t need to be close to be a good friend; I prefer good friends over close, and my best friends are good and close. Bob was a good friend. I liked and respected him a great deal, but there was always a barrier up to getting too close.

We both had some free time and he suggested the diner. We got a back corner table, which I think is always a symbol of power – you can see everything that goes on if you’re the one with your back to the wall. Chicago establishments used to do the same for Al Capone. Diners not so well-respected included professors and a student couple I knew who conversed intimately over their retro table. The décor, though contrived, projected an impressive authenticity. It wasn’t a bad thing in this situation but if they’d gone any less than whole-hog on, it would have been a disaster.

I had a cheese Spartan Stack. I appreciate the concept of fries on a sandwich. It’s cute, and I might have let it slip were it not for the fact that the coleslaw was also on the sandwich. Imagine pouring red wine on a steak and telling the diner that it will cleanse the palate while you’re eating. Coleslaw goes ON THE SIDE, IN A MINIATURE BOWL. If they’d put the sandwich, fries and coleslaw separately on a plate I think it might have been very, very good. But.

After lunch we sat around. Bob told me about his children, and how he was writing books, and the things he would never forget but didn't quite know how to remember. I ran business ideas by him and talked about fighting blind people. We moved a little more toward the closeness quadrant. An attorney I work with told me that at her first clerkship, a partner made her call all the partners by their first names so that she quickly established herself as an equal. I don’t know that I’ll ever feel comfortable enough to call him “Bob” in person – face to face, he’ll always be Professor Lawry. But going toward close with a good person and a good friend is rare and special, and I’ll always be thankful for that lunch, even if the sandwich was disappointing.

Silver Spartan Diner in Cleveland


Monday, October 15, 2007


50 N State St
Painesville, OH 44077
(440) 357-1388

Bite: Worth the trip to Painesville.

by Beau Cadiyo

Aesthetically, DC’s is a dismal failure. Patrons sit at what appears to be old church café furniture. Thrift store paintings decorate the walls, with small little league awards distributed in a seeming random manner. There is poor lighting, an awkward front door, and, in the back, a large, unlit deli freezer with suspicious few old-looking cakes inside.

Luckily we were not put off by the appearance. DC’s serves breakfast all day, so Gary got a make-your-own omelet and Greg got a breakfast sandwich. Shelly went with biscuits and gravy, and I got a fried perch sandwich with a side of biscuits and gravy.

The long, long, long wait was well worth it. DC’s fried perch sandwich was rather unfulfilling. Two fried pieces of fish were placed on a piece of lettuce, a tomato and put inside a rather dull hamburger bun, with relish-tasting tartar sauce on the side. However, it all tasted fresh – the fish was not fatty or greasy, the breading was crisp, the lettuce was crunchy and you could actually taste the tomato. The French fries were fresh-cut, and while perhaps a little soggy were not overly-salted.

It was the biscuits and gravy which stole the show. The biscuits were warm, crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. The gravy was served in a bowl on the side, and looked suspiciously like grits – a mass of mash, mixed with sausage bits, in tablespoons of oil. However, mixed, it was heavenly – while not, perhaps, traditional gravy, the waitress explained that it was made like normal gravy and separated because of the ingredients; the chef made it up special. It was smooth, not fatty-tasting, and not too runny. The sausage, liquid and biscuits created a heterogeneous mixture, allowing the diner to push parts together and cut the biscuits with a fork.

While I love biscuits and gravy in general, I now realize what has been long with it for so long – it’s like living with poor eyesight for your whole life and, upon putting on correct-prescription glasses at 33, seeing what things actually look like – and realizing you’ve had a problem. These are worth the trip to Painesville alone, but when you get there, don’t be put off by the interior decorating. Judge DC’s for the food and the surroundings will cease to matter.



12387 Cedar Road
Cleveland Heights, OH 44106

By Edward Sandwichhands

Ambiance is the word. Waterfalls, Japanese maples, lavender, well dressed Clevelanders, and sheer exuberance. When I first walked into Nighttown I was positive that I was at the wrong place. You just get the feeling that you’ve stumbled into a private party and you are underdressed. It was exactly like Wedding Crashers except for the fact that it was almost nothing like that and that movie is absolutely terrible.

The highlight of my meal had to be the bangers and mash. My guess is that these bangers and mash were better than any served in tyrannical England. The cabbage was not overcooked, the potatoes were well seasoned, and the sausage reminded me of breakfast at a greasy truck stop. The dish was extremely well presented with green onions and a light dressing that helped to sweeten the cabbage. I think the bangers and mash were so good that I was bound to be disappointed by my grilled chicken sandwich. Although adorned with Canadian bacon and Swiss cheese, the sandwich was boring. When a sandwich makes you excited to take another bite of your pickle you know something is wrong. If you go to Nighttown I recommend you go to check out the scenery. I promise waterfalls, waitresses wearing neckties on their heads, 30 something’s ignoring each other at lunch while they talk on their cell phones, and a bunch of people who dress better than the cast of CSI Miami.


By Beau Cadiyo
It sounds cheesy, but the hostess made the trip to our table sensuous. We followed her outside to the patio, past dividers and next to a small waterfall, framed by Japanese maples, lavender and hanging flowers, all the while swaying her hips and looking back in a way I thought was suggestive but Ed blew off as a normal reaction to his raw animal sexuality. After we sat down we realized that the average age of the other patrons hovered somewhere in the fifties, and except for us everyone was in at least khakis and a polo shirt. It was a quality establishment, and we expected the same from the sandwiches.

We ordered bangers and mash as an appetizer. Cabbage, mixed with green onions and a salty sauce, lay under two scoops of fluffy, delicate mashed potatoes, and two sausages leaned casually against the pile. The sausages were crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and willingly yielded to a very dull knife. We had to look at the menu to determine that the cabbage was not some exotic green. The potatoes were finely mashed and buttered and slid into my mouth, dissolving completely under pressure from my tongue.

I had the crab cake sandwich, which came with a side of fries and a pickle. The crab cake was served on an average bun, a zig-zag of some unidentifiable sauce spread on it. Two slices of tomato and a piece of lettuce lay unenthusiastically on the side. Biting into it, the crab cake squished apart; the bite mark left a window into interconnected crab fibers, reminding me of a summer spent near the docks in Maryland, watching Vietnamese immigrant women pull crabs apart to make patties. Entire, the pieces all formed a nice sandwich, but not a spectacular one, which I would have expected from the establishment. The waitress actually asked us if we wanted ketchup for our mediocre fries, and returned later with a slightly dusty unopened bottle of Heinz. Ed suggested that perhaps we were the only people to use ketchup in the entire establishment. It wasn't for my sandwiches, mind - it was for the fries, although in retrospect it might have done the crab cakes good. But we felt a bit like it was a blunder. Note to self: on job interviews, no sauces. Finally, the lack of coleslaw disappointed me.

Still, there’s something sexy about Nighttown. It’s not the hostess, really, or the waitress with the pink tie wrapped around her forehead and rouge on her cheeks, or the cougars one table over talking obnoxiously on their cell phones to other people and obviously reacting again to Ed’s animal magnetism. We were there on a late summer afternoon, but the club held the promise of dark evenings, smoky rooms, drinks, chatter and horns – magic, really. If only their sandwiches delivered as much.

Nighttown in Cleveland


That Place

11401 Bellflower Rd
Cleveland, OH 44106
(216) 231-4469

Bite: Best veggie burger and fries I've had.

by Beau Cadiyo

One of my pet peeves is people who talk on their cell phones in the library. If it were up to me, they would all be suddenly struck by severe nut allergies while hiking miles and miles from civilization, their throats constricting horrifically, and just before they black out from a lack of oxygen a forest fire would engulf them, leaving their suffocated bodies charred beyond recognition. Their small, immature minds cannot grasp the concept of letting a call go to voicemail. It's really quite pathetic. It was after correcting an unfortunately overweight girl for this offense that I realized I was almost late for lunch at That Place with Dave. I was in an agitated state of my own making; it was a relief to escape the library for business.

My mentor, Tom, recently sent me an email saying that most business happens best over lunch, not at meetings or conferences or golf courses. “Eating is the most intimate thing you can do with your clothes on,” was how my college literature advisor put it. This was not an exception. I ordered a veggie burger with cheddar and extra fries; Dave got a regular burger. That Place was loud and crowded, or I’m going deaf; the waiter, however, was calm and pleasant, and we were served promptly – but not so promptly that we didn’t accomplish a mind meld and form, from exploding synapses and bursts of absurdly doable eurekas, the next new important e-business.

The veggie burger was amazing. A learned and distinguished friend of mine had to have her boyfriend taste her veggie burger because she wasn’t sure it was not meat. The portabellas are perfectly packed into patties and cooked; the buns are not cheap, and the tomatoes and lettuce taste fresh. The extra fries did a lot to fill my belly. Growing up, I despised coleslaw. The coleslaw at That Place is about the best I’ve ever had.

Upon returning to the library I was in a much better mood than when I’d left. However, a 2L started gossiping loudly with the girl who works in the computer lab about some inconsequential matter. I often wonder why girls talk about so many things that even they don’t seem to care about much. Well-fed, however, it didn't bother me all that much.

That Place on Bellflower in Cleveland


La Bodega

869 Jefferson Avenue
Tremont, Ohio

Bite: Big promise, small delivery.

by Beau Cadiyo

Terminally cool, the proprietor said that my friends weren’t there, but I should sit down. The first thing I noticed was that the stools all had three legs. It’s funny what you remember: in ancient Greece, three-legged chairs were apparently common because three legs don’t wobble. Four legs are supposed to be the symbol of some sort of quality craftsmanship. Second, my Boylan’s Orange Soda was delicious (and reminded me of YouTube’s Fake David Blaine #2).

That was sadly the high point of the trip. When Jen and Tom arrived and we sat down at a proper table, we found the menu long and confusing. The groupings do not correspond with the numbers; thus, if you tell someone “I’m getting 53,” there is a good chance that “53” is near neither “52” or “54.” I initially liked mine (#33), enjoying the softness of the smoked salmon and the spice of the wasabi cucumbers, until Jen asked me how fresh the bagel tasted. I then realized that it didn’t taste fresh at all, but store-bought, frozen, thawed, not even toasted to give it some crispness or semblance of recent boiling/baking. Tom noted that sometimes restaurants propose a spin that doesn’t really work with food. For example, one might try to freshen up PB&J with tomatoes. He got a tuna salad sandwich which had sesame seeds; after deliberating he decided that the seeds worked. For me, if you have to deliberate, it doesn’t work. Jen got something with eggplant which she found lacking; after a while she realized that the cheese was soft. She wanted a harder, firmer, chewier cheese, a cheese of substance. She didn’t even touch the flaccid, probably store-bought pickle.

Done and mostly disappointed, we talked art. The pieces on the wall were interesting, but somewhat forgettable; the wall itself was intriguing, with what appeared to be old boards inserted between the bricks. I proposed that true art only occurs in the face of its opposition; Jen argued that seeds can’t grow in the desert; Tom pointed out that every seed is different. It’s all a matter of figuring out what works and what doesn’t, and that requires extensive experimentation. There’s promise in La Bodega, but they’re going to have to keep trying.

La Bodega in Cleveland