The Saffron Patch

Hidden in an office building at 20600 Chagrin Boulevard in the trendy suburb of Shaker Heights is the Saffron Patch, an extravagant Indian restaurant that tantalizes the eyes, nose and mouth with a four-star quality.

Vibrant colors are flourished throughout the restaurant as cream-colored linen tablecloths drape the fine wooden tables creating a lavish exuberance.

Opening the menu, we find a wide variety of items to choose from. The Saffron Patch offers multiple treasures from Tanduri and Kabobs to Tika and vegetarian delights.

Appetizers such as Lakshmi Kabobs, chicken simmered in a spicy tomato-based sauce, Sikh Kabobs; lamb sausages spiced with curry, garlic and pepper, Samosas, tiny fried dumplings filled with potato and green peas nicely spiced to perfection and Popper, thin strips of dough fried to a crisp served with a sweet, yet refreshing coconut chutney and a mild garlic and ginger chutney to dip these delectable treats.

We ordered Lamb Barini in a hot curry sauce and Chicken Tanduri in a medium hot curry sauce. Saffron Patch allows the customer to choose how much flavor will go into their dishes from mild to hot Indian curries.

The Lamb Barini was served as thick slices of succulent lamb simmering in a very hot curry served in a ceramic serving bowl on a mound of saffron rice spiked with cashews and raisins.

The Chicken Tanduri was served sizzling hot on a skillet layered on a bed of onions served with a mound of basmati rice and a side order of vegetable chutney that was full of body and richness.

Offering most dishes in either half or full portions, our server recommended ordering a half order of the Chicken Tanduri. He was correct in his recommendation as we were served huge portions and had to request for containers to take home.

We tempered the fires inside of our mouths from the extremely hot curries with an array of Coca-Cola fountain drinks, traditional Indian Chi Tea and an assortment of wines and alcoholic beverages.

Saffron Patch?s interpretation of Chi was fragrant and true to its original form with hints of cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and ginger accompanied by a creamy blend of milk and sugar tempering the war in my mouth from the meal.

Desserts were just as flavorful and simple as their main course counterparts. Items such as Rice Pudding studded with coconut, Coif, a refreshing cousin to the Italian granite blended with cashews, pistachios and saffron and Indian ice creams flavored with mango, coconut and saffron along with specialty syrups.

Unfortunately, your wallets will be skinnier than your waist lines as prices range from $10 to $24 per entr?e.

Saffron Patch is a unique experience as it brings simple dishes into the world of the contemporary cuisine dredged in a bounty of charm and wanton to travel to India.

Jaipur Junction

Tucked away in a shopping center in North Royalton, Jaipur Junction is a simple, yet fascinating Indian restaurant owned and operated by two Bangladeshi brothers. Located at 9377 West Sprague Road, this diamond in the rough offers traditional Indian food with a simplistic flair.

The restaurant is small and intimate, with only a few tables scattered about. The decor of the restaurant is also modest with a clean, yet hospitable, atmosphere and different types of Indian music simmered throughout.

The menu has a moderate listing of dishes to choose from, making it less cumbersome to select a meal. My guests and I started with an order of Samosas, medium-sized, triangular fried dumplings for $9.50. Four generously sized samosas were served with two different kinds of sauces; a sweet, refreshing mint chutney and spicy coconut chutney for dipping.

My guests ordered Curry Chicken, served with fragrant basmati rice, for $10.69 and Masala Dosa, a thin crepe filled with potatoes, onions and eclectic spices, for $9.95. I ordered the Chicken Tika, served on a hot skillet with rich gravy, spicy peppers and onions and was accompanied by Nan, fried Indian flat bread, for $11.50. I also ordered iced Indian sweet coffee that complimented the spiciness of my meal with its richness and sweet taste.

The best part about this restaurant is that you can control how spicy you want your food. You have the choice of having your meal from mild to Indian hot. My one guest ordered her meal on the mild side while my other guest and I ordered our entrees medium. Having the choice of how spicy you want your meal is a great suggestion to have, especially if you’re trying Indian food for the first time.

After ordering our meals, we expected silverware and ornate serving dishes, but we were given plastic utensils and paper plates for our entrees. This elaborates on how simple Jaipur Junction is as an establishment.

We were served by one of Japer Junction’s owners who was cordial and informative on the various dishes on the menu. He brought our orders out in a timely fashion and was very gracious.

For one person, a meal at Japer Junction would cost less than $20, which is quite reasonable considering the large portion sizes of each entree. If you’re looking for classic Indian cuisine, but are in a casual mood, Jaipur Junction is the first choice on your list.

The Fox and Hound English Pub and Grille

Some of the best pubs and beer joints are franchises with good alcohol, excellent service and fine entertainment. The Fox and Hound English Pub and Grille, a franchised pub and restaurant, is an exception, as it has none of these qualities.

Located at 8735 Day Drive in Parma, The Fox and Hound is a lackluster venue for the night life. It is dimly lit with hardwood tables and chairs that sit way too low to the ground and multicolored lights that jump around like fireflies.

My friends and I ventured to this establishment for some cocktails and a decent meal. But we were treated to a masterpiece of culinary disaster. My one male friend who is visually disabled ordered a Miller-Lite on draft for $3.50 and my other friend and his girlfriend ordered a cherry bomb, vodka with Red Bull energy drink for $6.50 and a Pepsi for $2.50. I ordered a star fire martini, a mixture of Chopin vodka, passion fruit juice, vermouth and quanttro for $7.50.

Our server was incompetent, as she took too long with our simple drink requests. Although the pub was slightly packed, we should’ve been given better service than that. My one friend ordered some appetizers; chicken tenders and French fries for $8.00. When the server returned with his order, he was given a completely different item; some sort of dumpling filled with chicken. The lack of good service forced us not to order a meal and we paid for our drinks and left in a scuffle.

The Fox and Hound English Pub and Grille doesn’t carry the charm of a traditional English pub. It carries the rehashed and repackaged charm that American establishments have scourged on traditional bars and pubs.

Although a pub should have the basics to entertain guests with lively sporting events on large television screens, comfortable tables and chairs and good food, The Fox and Hound English Pub and Grille have none of these characteristics.

I highly suggest you do not waste your money at this establishment or its counterpart at 1479 S.O.M. Center Road in Mayfield Heights.

Empress Tatyu

Empress Taytu is a very exotic restaurant, almost like a trip to another world. This small, yet elegant restaurant is located on 6125 St. Clair Avenue and it offers traditional Ethiopian fair.

The restaurant’s design is simple with traditional hard wood chairs that sit low to the floor with small end tables and an unusual deep-rimmed basket forming the table. Pictures of ancient Ethiopian monarchs and other tribal artworks are laden throughout this establishment.

The menu is small and may be difficult to understand for patrons unfamiliar with this type of cuisine, however the servers are friendly and will be happy to offer suggestions.

We started with Ethiopian iced tea, which was sweetened with spices indigenous to Eastern Africa; it was very fragrant and barely required sugar to sweeten it. For our meal, we ordered sega wat (lamb stew), kitfo (rare, almost uncooked steak grinded with a blend of curry, hot peppers and herbs) and doro wat (chicken stew). Then we choose from an array of simple side dishes, including steamed cabbage, carrots, mashed lentils, fresh cottage cheese and medium spicy green peppers.

After waiting more than two hours, our server who was dressed in traditional Ethiopian garb, brought out a large serving tray with tef (flat pancake-like bread) which had each of our meals laden on top. Included were injera, miniature versions of the tef bread, to use as our forks and spoons. We each shared from our meals and it was a fun, yet messy way to eat.

The total amount for three people came to $50, which we thought was very reasonable. With the exception of having to wait for a long period of time for our meal, this was a memorable experience and I recommend it to be a fun family affair or a sensual adventure with that special someone.

The Juniper Grill

I took 3 of the pickiest eaters along with myself (I am not as picky or classy, but can eat a lot and if I don’t leave full it can get ugly) and we went to The Juniper Grill.

The decor inside is made up of very cool and calm olives and sea greens. Dim lights overhead, and an open kitchen area all make for a relaxing place to eat. The restaurant isn’t very big, but the way it is laid out makes it easy to people watch while not feeling like you have no privacy yourself.

The Junpier Grill (1332 Carnegie) is located minutes from Jacob’s Field, Tower City, and the Flats. It is a fancy place, without the fancy prices and is a good idea for a large get together (call ahead for reservations) or a special evening with just the 2 of you.

The menu isn’t very lengthy, but we picked a few different items to get a good idea of how the Restaurant stacked up. The place wasn’t very noisy on a Saturday night and it was a nice change of pace to be able to have a conversation at a talking level.

The waiter, set with the task of pleasing myself, Michele and her very picky parents, was dressed casually and was very knowledgeable and personable upon arriving quickly to our table. The special of the night was rib-eye steak and 2 were ordered cooked two different ways.

It came with asparagus served right on top. Michele ordered chicken with carrots and mashed potatoes and I decided upon the chicken paprikash. My meal was two large servings of chicken drenched in a sour cream based sauce all on top of a heaping of wonderful mashed potatoes, but I guess I am getting ahead of myself.

Drinks were served quickly and I must recommend their green tea. It made a great companion to my meal. As we waited for the food, we talked about the interior, which we all agreed made for a great setting. Each light that hung from the ceiling had a long white covering with a glossy finish that set off a subdued glow. The walls were painted, as mentioned before, with cool olive and sea green designs. Before we had much more time the food was ready!

The Juniper Grill’s meals were priced between $16-~$25 and that may scare off some folks, but let me tell you the food is worth each penny. I am a man that hides no secrets of eating way too much food and even I had difficulty finishing the whole meal. The rib-eye was so juicy and both were cooked to the correct specifications.

The mashed potatoes melted like butter instantly upon consumption, and even Michele’s side of carrots was delightful! Oh, and I forgot to mention that we had been served a nice basket of rolls with a wonderful cinnamon butter with our drinks and salads.

Again, the waiter made sure we were comfortable and satisfied without interrupting the flow of conversation, which is always a plus. I often do not understand why some places insist on overdressed, overly polite employees when most people, I think, enjoy someone laid back and able to help with the menu and entertain when possible. We instantly liked our waiter without him having to wear an annoyingly bright outfit or a tuxedo. He was comfortable and so were we.

One in our party was worried because he had asked for his rib-eye to come without their usual sauce, but he gave it a shot and really enjoyed it anyway. The chicken on my plate was so moist and tasty I felt like the cooking staff had paid extra care to make sure that my plate was perfect.

Really, what more can you ask for, when you go out, spend a few dollars and in return get quality service with quality food? We left (after paying the bill of course) talking and trying to come up with a few negatives from our experience to have suggestions for The Juniper Grill, but really the only complaint was the small menu.

They might not have the biggest selection of foods, but I can tell you they have perfected the ones they do have. We strongly suggest a visit to The Juniper Grill soon.

I didn’t notice a webpage, but you can get more info and set up reservations by calling (216) 771-1334. As always let us know what you thought as well!

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