In a rare deviation from the norm, I decided to make a small departure from my Michael Symon influenced wishlist of Cleveland restaurants and venture out on my own. Well, not entirely on my own. I pulled up UrbanSpoon and checked the “Talk of the Town” list for something that looked interesting, yet was close to the office. There ended up being a few different options, but ultimately it was the contemporary American styling of Melange that swayed me away from a couple of international inspired options (though I’m sure I will eventually check those out as well).
Melange is nestled in a shopping center that featureed stores like Saks 5th Avenue and Williams-Sonoma (which I had to fist the urge to walk into and just browse…I’m such a foodie nerd). From the outside it has the appropriate mall facade, but inside it was appropriately modern and “swanky”. On the left was the main dining area consisting of low lights and dark wood tables and chairs. To the right, where I went, was the bar; backlit in orange, accented with dark wood, and fully stocked.
The special of the night was martinis, though the list was pretty girlie. The most masculine was the lemon drop, so that was my drink of choice. Yeah, I know, still girlie. Whatever. To make up for it I ordered pierogis…chorizo pierogis to be exact. Then my healthy eatng voice (which for some reason sounds a lot like Tony Horton…) kicked in, and for the main course I went vegetarian…whole wheat pasta with fresh local vegetables. Not necessarily the most cohesive meal, but it all sounded good.
I’m pretty sure that the pierogi is the official food of Cleveland…a stuffed potato dumpling that just feels blue collar and salt of the earth which is what I think of Cleveland. And these pierogis captured that and took it to another level. They were rich and flavorful without being heavy. The tomato kraut provided a bright contrast with its sweetness to the slightly smokiness of the chorizo and the starchiness of the pierogi. I ate half of them and packed the other half up for later, saving room for my pasta.
Given that we are in late fall, most of the vegetables that are in season are squashes and my pasta was full of them. Roasted beautifully, the various squashes, peppers and eggplant provided not only vibrant colors to the presentation, but also vibrant flavors to the dish. The pasta was nicely al dente, though more of a linguine than the pappardelle that was listed. And the garlic added that little bite to the dish. With everything being seasonal, there was just a wonderful freshness to everything, though if I had one gripe, there was just a tad too much olive oil used.
After eating about half the dish, I had them pack it up to go th my leftover pierogis. The taking of leftovers is definitely a combination of the larger portions offered and my personal shrinking of the amount of food that I eat. But I’m ok with it because it improves the quality of my lunches the next day.
I definitely enjoyed my meal. Quality ingredients, well-prepared food, and a contemporary American cuisine in a nicer. It relaxed environment that I like. It is a place that I would definitely recommend checking out and taking business colleagues to…assuming it is still around. From the talk of some of the regulars, it seems that it is struggling a little bit. Hopefully it survives as good food like this can actually be hard to find.