Aoeshi Restaurant

Excellent Japanese food is hard to come by in Northeast Ohio, but look no further than Aoeshi Restaurant at 24539 Lorain Road in North Olmsted. Aoeshi screams with intimacy and tradition as this is a small hidden restaurant tucked near Great Northern Mall.

Aoeshi’s decor is simple, yet elegant with warm colors, wicker chairs and low-ended wooden tables and the hint of original Japanese music flows throughout the restaurant.

Aoeshi offers both contemporary items on its menu and an array of sushi and sashimi. More than 70 items are offered on the sushi and sashimi list from the raw to the fried.

My guests and I were served miso soup and salad with dicon radish, lettuce, cucumbers and a light soy dressing. The soup and salad course was a refreshing start to a heavy meal.

Aoeshi offers several drink choices such as beers, saki, distilled beverages and fountain drinks. We ordered both Sapporo and Kearns Ichiban; the two most popular Japanese beers sold in the United States. Sapporo has a milder finish and Kearns Ichiban has a sweeter taste to it.

My guests and I who favored the sushi menu ordered several items from it both raw and semi-cooked.

We ordered the sushi and sashimi platter, which covered the gamut of flavors and textures. Such items on the plate were California rolls, salmon sashimi, tuna rolls, mackerel sashimi, eel hand rolls and tuna sashimi.

The platter was decorated with colorful patterns of dicon radishes, onions, pickled ginger and a small island of wasabi, Japanese horseradish.

We also ordered spider rolls and dragon rolls. Spider rolls are crab meat deep fried in a tempura batter and wrapped in seaweed. Dragon rolls are lobster rolls that are also deep fried in tempura and stuffed with rice and fragrant spices.

The presentation was spectacular as the spider rolls and dragon rolls were served on each platter with a sense of artistry and style in whimsical patterns.

Although most of the sushi was flavored well, some needed the saltiness of soy sauce and the spiciness of the wasabi to enhance its stiff flavor.

The guests who didn?t like sushi ordered the crab tempura and the salmon teriyaki. The crab tempura was a nice piece of lump crabmeat seasoned in panko bread crumbs and deep fried. Unfortunately it wasn?t as fresh and captivating as expected.

The salmon teriyaki however, was sweet and delicious as it was served on a bed of rice and vegetables in a luscious teriyaki sauce. The salmon was fresh and succulent.

We finished our meal with tempura ice cream; a beautifully filled soft serve ice cream placed in a tempura shell laced with slices of kiwi and fresh Japanese cherries laden with a sweet, simple syrup. This dessert was refreshing and cleared our palates from the heaviness and richness of our meals.

Aoeshi is a great place to experience traditional Japanese food in a relaxed and beautiful setting; however, it can be rather expensive, as a meal for four could cost $100 or more. The only downfall about Aoeshi is its location, as it’s hidden away from the viewpoint of impending customers.

Roly Poly Sandwiches

I recently visited the brand new Roly Poly Sandwiches shop in Strongsville. While they call themselves a sandwich shop, everything is actually served wrapped up inside of a flour tortilla. This is not only an interesting division from the typical sandwich, but is a great alternative to those watching their carbs.

Located at 14092 Pearl Road, Roly Poly offers fifty different types of cold and hot sandwiches, included numerous types of chicken, turkey, veggie, beef, ham, pork and seafood. For a counter service restaurant, the service is surprisingly upscale.

As I was surveying the expansive menu, the manager asked if this was my first visit to a Roly Poly. As it was my first time, the manager offered a full explanation of their menu, pointing out their sandwich selections as well as their soups.

I decided on the #23, Key West Cuban Mix, a hot sandwich based around slices of pork, ham and turkey topped with cheeses, veggies and dressing. My friend decided on the #38, the Hickory Cristo an upscale version of an old favorite, featuring melted brie and smoked turkey breast.

After paying, we got our drinks and sat down in the small dining room to wait for our custom made meals. Our sandwiches arrived hot off the grill in less than five minutes.
My Cuban sandwich was incredible; the cheeses were melted and the meats were warm and savory. The side of honey mustard made an excellent dipping sauce that accentuated the flavor of the sandwich. Warm smoked slices of turkey breast and a blend of soft, melty cheeses made up my companion?s Cristo.

All of Roly Poly’s sandwiches come in two sizes and toppings can be modified to suit. Their regular sandwiches range between $3.25 and $3.95 and their large sandwiches range between $5.25 and $6.95. In addition, they also serve soups, sides and chips, as well as offer an huge assortment of party trays.

Roly Poly is definitely the perfect alternative to the typical sandwich shop and it will take more than one visit to experience all of their tasty creations.

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.

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