Article and picutres by Jawaun Jackson, Contributing Writer
An Edwardsville favorite located on North Main Street – with a blink of an eye you may miss it. The front of the eatery is modest compared to the back that is much livelier with the outdoor seating. Inside it is warm and cozy; the décor has resemblance to grandma’s house with modern undertones. No matter the season the décor remains in a state of late summer early autumn.
The décor may look like gramgram’s but the food is not!
A very sophisticated array of choices lies upon the ever-changing menu, all including the freshest ingredients possible, so fresh that if it is not available local during a certain season the menu/recipe will be altered. I took on a complete three course dinner and was not disappointed.
Founded by culinary duo Jenny Cleveland and Eric Heath who met in Salt Lake City working in a brewery together, the two found themselves having a shared love of cooking and set out to open their own restaurant. “Come in for one of the best dining experiences you will have in a great environment, surrounded by happy people, awesome drinks and fun food. We’re incredibly grateful for having had such amazing friends, family, teachers and mentors along the way. We hope everyone will share in our imagination and desire for creative cooking. Let’s eat!” say Jenny Cleveland and Eric Heath. Their restaurant lives up to this mantra; their twist on comfort gives the same taste we know and love with a unique upscale eating experience.
Onwards to the Three Courses
For starters I ordered crispy pork belly. Like bacon, pork belly is just a thicker cut and tends to be uncured, cooked to a prefect blend of crispy edges with tender meat. It hits the Three S’s: Sweet, Savory, and Spicy – an amazing blend. The presentation adds onto the dish as the watermelon soaked in the sauce with serrano chilis is a wonderful fresh complement to the charred pork.
The Entrée: Gringo Tacos made with charred Chili lime shredded chicken topped with cabbage drizzled with a spicy chipotle aioli and garnished with crisp cool cilantro
The chicken was packed with much flavor and the cool cabbage and cilantro worked well with the spice from the chicken and aioli making the dish spicy but flavorful and satisfying. To accompany the tacos are the signature 50/50 fries: half russet potatoes half sweet potatoes that come out of the fryer nearly curly. Served with a side Utah sauce, a ketchup and mayo blend with secret spices that is just too perfect. It combines the sweet and tangy from ketchup with the creaminess from mayo. An excellent addition to the 50/50 fries.
A Sweet Ending: Beignets, brioche beignet to be exact
These were warm, fluffy, and delightful, but not too heavy where you stick to your chair, overwhelmed by the feast you have partaken in yet enough to warm your belly and complete your meal. Sweet does not begin to describe the identity of these light pastries, served with an excellent milk jam that is like caramel but is made with more cream over sugar. It gives the beignets an extra punch of sweetness that has no lingering aftertaste in comparison to chocolate or caramel. It is a sweetness incapable of describing because it has no other flavor than sweet, as if the only purpose is to bring out the sweetness of a dessert such as salt to a savory dish, a facilitator of flavor if you wish, the flavor being sweet. Overall the chemistry of the pastries with milk jam will leave the average person searching for delicious adjectives to describe the sweet confection.
Final thoughts: The type of place that deserves a section dinner, drive ins, and dives or cheap eats
It’s not entirely cheap in terms of a college student budget but some items are affordable, like the happy hour bar snacks and selections. Cleveland-Heath is a place to visit on a weekend afternoon for a little bit fun and out of the norm food. By out of the norm, it’s not a chain restaurant with a consistent menu. It comes out of left field with their interesting meal selections and warm and homey décor. In terms of experience it earns 8.5/10. The only downside is the price in relation to the college student’s wallet but in other ways high praises all around. If Cleveland-Heath is an option, my best advice would be stay hungry!