Our rooftop garden is blooming with flavor!

Summer is now in full swing, and it’s a Cleveland locavore’s favorite time of year. By “locavore,” of course, we mean someone who tries to eat locally produced food, over food shipped in from outside his or her home region, as much as possible. In this part of the country, our growing season is limited by the weather, so we’re all the more appreciative of the short period of time each year when we can truly enjoy eating local produce.

Here at the Bistro, our effort to source food as close to our restaurant as possible includes growing our own — right here on the rooftop! Each spring we put in new plants and welcome back perennials, creating a garden full of fresh delights to add to our menu all summer long.

We’re sharing some of our early bounty with you already, in the form of arugula and fresh herbs. Chives, German thyme, rosemary, mint and sweet basil are among our offerings, part of which you can see here:

We’ve also put in some green beans and some yellow squash. The squash is really growing at an amazing pace, as you can see:

We also have tomatillos in this year — a staple of Mexican and other Latin American cuisine:

Of course, what just about every Clevelander loves about summer is the opportunity to quit settling for those mealy-textured pink supermarket tomatoes and enjoy fresh, ripe, red ones right off an Ohio vine — tomatoes grown for flavor rather than for shipping well! Obviously at Bistro 185 we’re no exception, and once again we’ve put in lots of tomato plants on the rooftop:

We like to grow several tomato varieties — from those that produce fruit early to those that last later into the season, as well as types that are especially suited to particular uses, whether fresh for salads or cooked in sauces. And our efforts are beginning to show rewards:

Mmm, you can almost taste them now, can’t you? One of our favorite things to do this time of year is head up to the garden with a knife and a shaker of salt, just to taste how fresh and flavorful our tomatoes are with nothing but that small enhancement. Amazing.

What all this means for you, of course, is that when you come to the Bistro, you’re going to have some incredible local produce on your plate very soon. Whether it’s fresh tomatoes in your caprese salad, rooftop squash in your ratatouille or risotto, spears of rosemary flavoring your lamb shanks, or a pasta sauce with the kind of flavor that only comes from tomatoes that haven’t taken a long trip from California to your table, you’re in for some great summertime eating. These herbs and veggies will be making a very short trip to you: down a flight of stairs and through a hall! Sure beats a cross-country trip when it comes to flavor!

Yes, the rooftop here at the Bistro is a wonderful place this time of year, and for more reasons than one. We’ve oftentimes had patrons ask if they can be seated on our rooftop deck during the warm months, and as a result, this summer we are opening our rooftop garden for private, catered parties. We will cater a special wine dinner for your group of eight on an evening you choose in advance. Our garden is a wonderful place to be on a warm summer night, and it just may be the ideal spot for that small get-together you have in mind. Whether it’s a birthday, a graduation, an engagement, an anniversary or just an opportunity to celebrate our all-too-short summer season, all you need to do is call 216.481.9635 to get Chef Ruth started on planning a menu that’s just right for summer dining al fresco.

Summer will only be with us for a little while. Make the most of it by stopping by and enjoying the bounty of our rooftop garden soon!

The James Beard Project: Coming full circle this week

This week marks the return of the James Beard Project, and to start with, we’re bringing back the same slate of dishes we featured in Week 1. That means if you missed any of these great dishes the first time around, you have another chance to enjoy them!

Monday, Jan. 11 — Noodles with Cabbage
Sautéed Medallions of Pork Tenderloin with a French Grainy Mustard and Horseradish Cream Sauce (Beard on Pasta, p. 88)

Tuesday, Jan. 12 — Coq au Riesling
Braised Chicken in Riesling Wine Sauce (Beard on Pasta, p. 116)

Wednesday, Jan. 13 — Walnut-Breaded Filet of Sole With Lemon Aioli, Grape Tomato Salad and Roasted Baby Redskin Potatoes (The New James Beard, p. 199)

Thursday, Jan. 14 — Roast Duck with Cherries and Wild Rice (The New James Beard, p. 338)

Friday, Jan. 15 — Ossi Buchi with Orzo
Braised Veal Shanks with Orzo (Beard on Pasta, p. 140)

Saturday, Jan. 16 — Lamb Shanks with Beans (The New James Beard, p. 399)

Bistro 185 Presents: The James Beard Project

We mentioned earlier that in the wake of the success of the Julia Project, Bistro 185 was going to keep exploring the work of the country’s greatest chefs — and now our newest project is ready for unveiling. “The James Beard Project: A Salute to American Icons in Food” will feature four weeks’ worth of new James Beard-inspired entrees each evening. And, just as with the Julia Project, we’ll be blogging about them right here and letting you know from which cookbooks we’re drawing the recipes.

Here’s what’s in store for Week 1, which begins tomorrow night. Be sure to join us for great dishes inspired by James Beard!

Monday, Nov. 2 — Noodles with Cabbage
Sautéed Medallions of Pork Tenderloin with a French Grainy Mustard and Horseradish Cream Sauce (Beard on Pasta, p. 88)

Tuesday, Nov. 3 — Coq au Riesling
Braised Chicken in Riesling Wine Sauce (Beard on Pasta, p. 116)

Wednesday, Nov. 4 — Walnut-Breaded Filet of Sole
With Lemon Aioli, Grape Tomato Salad and Roasted Baby Redskin Potatoes (The New James Beard, p. 199)

Thursday, Nov. 5 — Roast Duck with Cherries and Wild Rice
(The New James Beard, p. 338)

Friday, Nov. 6 — Ossi Buchi with Orzo
Braised Veal Shanks with Orzo (Beard on Pasta, p. 140)

Saturday, Nov. 7 — Lamb Shanks with Beans
(The New James Beard, p. 399)

Keep checking this blog to read “Behind the Dish” features and descriptions of these great entrees and many others we’re featuring this fall. We’ll also be posting a video soon of last night’s Halloween fun, featuring some of the delicious meals being ordered. So don’t be away for long!

You’ll nibble these bones ’til they’re naked

JuliaProject921

If you’re a rib lover in Cleveland, Bistro 185 is the place to be tonight. Our Chile Glazed Country Ribs will hit your sweet spot for sure — and your spicy spot, because they’re a wicked combination of both and are getting reviews like “phenomenal.” The sauce is brown, thick and clinging to every crispy, juicy bite of the fall-off-the-bones meat. If you’ve never had a rib with anything but a tomato-based sauce, you owe it to yourself to try this change of pace. After a half dozen of these, your palate will be wide awake and very happy!

The beans-and-rice dish alongside is a combination of yellow rice and black beans with turmeric and curry seasoning. To finish, we added a little salad of mixed greens topped with the peach chutney we serve with our Asian lump crab cakes — a little bit of a cool refresher to contrast with the heady spicing of the ribs. Don’t miss these — whether you eat them with a knife and fork or just slice them apart and pick them up with your fingers. As Julia herself might say, “BONE Appétit!