Note: This is a review under chef Kenneth Corrow, who left the restaurant about a month later. He was replaced by Tal Aboav, formerly of Balaboosta. As of January 2014, the executive chef was Max Sussman, formerly of Roberta’s. Sussman was able to breath some life into the place, but it closed in November 2014 due to a dispute with the landlord.
It’s redecorated in the over-familiar “rec room chic,” with exposed brick walls, hardwood floors, bare wood tables, mix ’n match chairs, flower arrangements in small mason jars, and napkins that resemble dishrags.
The chef, Ken Corrow, was a sous at Anella and Acme. I gather this is his first solo venture. Like the décor, the cuisine suffers from a lack of purpose. All FloFab could make out from the press release, is that Corrow “takes vegetables a creative distance.”
Pedestrian, rather than creative, is the word I’d use to describe the opening menu of just four small plates ($8–11), five mains ($17–26), and three sides ($6). The mains, for instance: steak, chicken, cod, papardelle, and risotto, none with any unusual take on vegetables that I could make out.
If the aim is to serve the neighborhood with hearty, inexpensive fare, it is undermined by the brief wine list. When three out of five entrées are under $20, the median price of a bottle of red needs to be below $60. I can’t find an Internet price for the 2011 Beaujolais we drank, but it didn’t taste like a fifty dollar wine.
Lamb meatballs ($15; above left) were overdone and under-seasoned. Cod ($21; above right) was bland.
Barley risotto with shredded duck confit, braised prunes, and caramelized onions ($17; above left) was too oily. A side of sautéed kale, herbs, pears, and pancetta chips ($6; above right) was too dry.
We had no trouble getting a weeknight 7 pm reservation at short notice, though by 8:30 pm the 34-seat dining room was close to full. (A 40-seat garden will open in back, when the weather warms up.) The server was attentive at first, but seemed to forget about us later on.
I’m sure the chef can do better, but we have to call it as we see it: we didn’t much care for any of the dishes we tried, and though they were inexpensive, the over-priced wine list practically doubled the bill.
The Cleveland (25 Cleveland Pl. between Spring & Kenmare Streets, NoLIta)
Food: Unadventurous seasonal New American
Service: Enthusiastic but occasionally inattentive
Ambance: Rec-room chic, right out of the playbook
Rating: Not recommended
Why? The food was not very good; the wine list was over-priced