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

Tree Country Bistro's casual space has a welcoming aura
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.

Tree Country Bistro joins fellow Coventry Asian restaurants Hunan Coventry, Mint Café and Pacific East…and let’s not even talk about Lee Road, which is sporting two new sushi joints, Ariyoshi and Aoeshi Café. Seems Cleveland Heights is morphing into Little Asia. In fact, as I was leaving Tree Country Bistro after my second visit, I overhead a passerby comment, “Another Asian place?”

The good news is Tree Country Bistro differentiates itself from its neighbors with Korean offerings and the presentation of its dishes. For example, an intricately carved carrot butterfly sits atop served sushi dishes. Korean specialties are served with miso soup and rice, and the tender spicy pork bulgogi ($12.95) we sampled was served sizzling on a skillet over a wooden board.

Appetizers were a hit. Spring rolls ($4.95) were light and crisp. The sushi appetizer ($7.95 for four pieces) was fresh and flavorful, and the scallion pancake ($5.95) and its accompanying green curry sauce were finger-lickin’ fantastic. In fact, the appetizer sauce prompted me to try green curry with tofu ($6.95 for lunch, $10.95 for dinner). Unfortunately, the dinner dish didn’t pack the same flavor punch as the appetizer’s curry.

I’ll come back for the Thai iced tea, which has an addictive and aromatic milky, chai flavor. An assortment of fruit shakes also are offered (tapioca beads can be added for a bubble-tea effect).

The casual space has a welcoming aura with richly painted walls in plums and mustards and plenty of bamboo greenery (albeit fake). Tables are spaced generously apart for privacy, which were filled by families, college students and groups of friends over the course of our visits, although nowhere near capacity. At the sushi bar, a chef prepares sashimi and makimoto (I really wanted to try the Coventry Maki that featured spicy tuna, avocado, cucumber, tempura crumbs and tobiko, but never got to it).

Food service was quick, but not rushed. Staffers were attentive and presented diners with a rolled, room-temperature hand towel once seated. It’s evident that the Tree Country Bistro staff takes pride in its work and aims to please. I swear a couple of servers almost seemed melancholy when we left food scraps on our plates.

Tree Country Bistro is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Takeout service is available.

Tree Country Bistro, 1803 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights, OH 44118 (216) 321-0644 www.treecountrybistro.com

Monday – Thursday: 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m., 5 – 10 p.m.

Friday – Saturday: 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m., 5 p.m. -1 a.m.

Sunday: 12 to 10 p.m.

Per her grandmother, Christina Klenotic is a “good eater” who never met a carb she didn’t like. She enjoys sampling our area’s eclectic restaurants, galleries and neighborhoods.

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