Restaurant Reviews

Jimmy O'Neill's, a good alternative to the ubiquitous sports bar

The Heights Observer recently learned that Jimmy O'Neills has joined the ranks of Turkey Ridge, the Knotty Pine and Peking Gourmet. It closed for business abruptly on Aug. 31. No further details were available.

Sports bars specialize in the non-conversation, with eardrum-aching, trendy music, and rows of TVs showing 21 flavors of assorted sports. These bars become the sad backdrops for whatever dull reality show currently shoplifts the collective consciousness.

Jimmy O’Neill’s, by comparison, is a rare, Indiana Jones-smuggled find. Like long-gone gems Turkey Ridge and Knotty Pine, Jimmy's keeps the volume low on the TVs so that Monk, Miles, Ella, Louis and Blossom can rise to the top. Jimmy O’Neill’s is such perfect can-kicking distance from the Cedar-Lee Theatre that the regular movie enthusiast can swing by before or after the flick for the best—believe it or not—beet cake in Northeast Ohio, and a mug of the cheapest Moosehead draft on Lee Road ($2.50).

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Volume 4, Issue 9, Posted 5:07 PM, 08.14.2011

International wine dinners in the Heights

Taste on Lee Road has one of the most ambitious wine and food menus in the Heights area, combining the advantages of a wine bar with a full service restaurant. It also has a splendid program of events and wine tastings. Many of these are, for a nominal fee, basic tastings of five wines geared to a central theme. A Champagne tasting is scheduled for December. On occasion, Taste will also hold more elaborate wine dinners.
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Volume 2, Issue 11, Posted 10:19 PM, 10.20.2009

Kosher wines: gems to celebrate the New Year

This is the start of the Jewish New Year and for this month, the calendar is filled with celebrations. For many in the Heights, that will include kosher wines. I decided to check out some of them and found a good selection at many area stores, including Heinen’s, Zagara’s, Tibor’s Kosher Meats and Cedar Green Wine.

Kosher wines tend to be more expensive than their counterparts. I spent a little more on these than I usually do for the wines I review here. Good kosher wines are made just about anywhere good wine is made—from Australia to Napa, South America to Bordeaux. For this column, I am reviewing only wines made in Israel.
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Volume 2, Issue 10, Posted 10:56 AM, 09.20.2009

Merit at Merritt Cafe: Home-cooking, hospitality, and culinary surprises

For breakfast or lunch, made-to-order with fresh ingredients, served up with warmth and a sparkle, Merritt Bakery & Cafe at the corner of Roanoke and Noble roads in Cleveland Heights might be just the place for you. 

Owner Bonnie Graham opened the business in February 2000, assisted by her mother, Estella Merritt, for whom the café is named. Both mother and daughter do cooking and baking, but Estella (called “Mom” by some of the regulars) is the primary cook.

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Volume 2, Issue 2, Posted 1:47 PM, 02.03.2009

First Watch Daytime Café serves up a smile

Until a friend invited me there for a breakfast meeting, I thought First Watch was a medical supplies store. Tucked in the back of Cedar Center near Whole Foods, First Watch is actually a café that serves up breakfast, brunch and lunch…and wonderful customer service.

The restaurant’s name is inspired by a nautical reference, referring to the first shift of the day. (Okay, now I get it.)

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Volume 1, Issue 6, Posted 10:11 PM, 08.27.2008

Tour of Heights patio dining spots

“Al fresco” dining is one of summer’s pleasures. There’s a sweet satisfaction to sipping a cool beverage with good company while enjoying a breeze and a tasty dish as the sun goes down. The Heights area, particularly on Lee Road and the Cedar-Fairmount areas, abounds with wonderful patio dining options. Here are some favorites along with suggested dishes and drinks to sample.
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Volume 1, Issue 5, Posted 6:49 PM, 07.24.2008

"Adios" Que Tal, "Konnichiwa" Tree Country Bistro

New Coventry Asian spot differentiates itself with Korean fare

Tree Country Bistro, Coventry’s newest Asian restaurant, took over the space formerly occupied by cult-followed Que Tal when it closed its doors after a 13-year run. The extensive menu features a taste of Japanese, Korean and Thai food including sushi, noodle and fried rice dishes, Thai curries and more.

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Volume 1, Issue 4, Posted 4:17 PM, 06.24.2008

Bodega brings a touch of class to Coventry

Bodega, the newest wine and tapas bar on Coventry, celebrated its grand opening on May 21. Wine glasses were filled, martinis were mixed to perfection, and beer bottles were opened, as the place buzzed with curious guests.
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Volume 1, Issue 3, Posted 12:16 PM, 05.22.2008

“Where everybody knows your name” Brennan’s Colony – A Cleveland Heights tradition

Most of us remember the popular 80’s sitcom “Cheers,” which revolved around a neighborhood Boston pub with friendly bartenders and an entertainingly diverse mix of regular customers that included a psychiatrist, accountant, and a mailman. You will find the same welcoming atmosphere and diverse crowd when visiting Brennan’s Colony on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights.
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Volume 1, Issue 3, Posted 4:40 PM, 04.29.2008

A nearby taste for cultura Italiano

There are times when I have a taste for culture. When this happens, I head for a wonderful ristorante italiano owned by Antonino Calandra, Il Bacio.

The small but classic ristorante offers a menu filled with authentic, yet contemporary Italian dishes and desserts. Inside, the sound of Italian music fills your ears, the smell of Italian food fills your nose, and soon, the taste of delicious Italian recipes will fill your mouth.

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Volume 1, Issue 2, Posted 11:55 AM, 04.10.2008

Anatolia Café brings authentic Turkish cuisine to Cedar-Lee district

Anatolia Café, the Turkish restaurant formerly located at Cedar Center, recently moved into its new home in the Cedar-Lee commercial district of Cleveland Heights. Known for its fine food and attentive service, Anatolia Cafe now has a larger space and sophisticated new décor to accommodate its growing clientele.

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Volume 1, Issue 1, Posted 12:47 PM, 04.11.2008