Mad Greek continues updates with addition of new chef, menu

The flaming saganaki appetizer presents quite a spectacle when served.
A Heights institution since 1977, the Mad Greek Restaurant has been unveiling major facelifts to its dining areas since Chris Chopra, the son of the original owners, and Bill LaRue have been at the helm for the past five years. Now the owners have turned their attention to the kitchen, with the addition of a new chef, Robert Ledzianowski, and a menu that continues the restaurant’s homage to Greek and Indian dishes.

The extensive updates to the restaurant’s interior, including a renovated bar area, were complemented by the arrival of a beautiful outdoor patio last summer. Featuring a cascading waterfall and pergola, the umbrella tables are shielded from passers-by with raised flower beds and a limestone privacy wall.

In warmer months, diners now have two options to catch a pleasant breeze: the subdued patio in the back, or the tables up front when the garage-door windows are retracted into the ceiling to let the sounds of Fairmount rush in.

Embracing the seasons is a specialty of Chef Ledzianowski, who joins the Mad Greek most recently from Table 45 and the former Dante in Valley View. For more than 15 years, he has focused on contemporary cuisine with an emphasis on seasonality, which has inspired weekly specials for the revamped Mad Greek menu.

The spanakopitakia, always a favorite ($8), was largely overshadowed by the spectacle of our saganaki appetizer ($9.25). Delivered to our table with flames rising, other diners stopped mid-conversation to ogle the presentation of fried Greek Kaseri cheese. Our server doused the flames with squeezes of fresh lemon juice and presented soft, buttery pita to accompany the deliciously squishy cheese.

Speaking of fire, Indian dishes are ordered based on a spice level of one to seven. We chose a spice level of five for our kadhai paneer and rice entrée ($14.95), which offered a fiery kick. Unfortunately, it was less memorable than the saganaki.

The short rib stafado, however, which was braised in red wine and cinnamon, was incredibly tender and nicely presented on a bed of Greek horta greens and potato puree ($18.95).

We finished our meal with a generous portion of chocolate-drizzled baklava ($4.95) and Greek Island Tea ($7.50), which gave me visions of patio dining as I enjoyed the curious licorice flavor from the drink’s ouzo.

I can’t wait to go back once the weather breaks.

Per her grandmother, Christina Klenotic is a “good eater” who never met a carb she didn’t like. She enjoys sampling eclectic restaurants, galleries and neighborhoods, which is why she loves Cleveland Heights.

Mad Greek 2466 Fairmount Blvd.,Cleveland Heights

Monday: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Tuesday – Thursday: 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Friday – Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Sunday: 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

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Volume 2, Issue 4, Posted 10:19 PM, 04.08.2009