October 2009 Issue
The Greenhouse Tavern
There’s no better place for Ohio’s first certified green restaurant than the revitalized East Fourth District in Cleveland. Although chef and restaurateur Jonathon Sawyer’s farm-to-table practices at The Greenhouse Tavern would have been embraced elsewhere, the historic block of mixed-used redevelopment that contains some of Cleveland’s trendiest dining, entertainment and housing is the perfect location for this eco-friendly establishment.
On any given night, Chef Sawyer can be seen helping the staff and mingling with patrons in rooms furnished with bicycle-wheel chandeliers and old church pews — an eclectic decor that manages to look both uncluttered and intimate.
And Sawyer is happy to offer recommendations from the diverse menu filled with local, in-season foods, such as grain-fed beef and fresh vegetables.
The menu is broken into Firsts (small appetizers), Seconds (bigger appetizers), Thirds (entrees), Halfs (sides) and desserts. If you’re overwhelmed by choices (or really, really hungry), the four-course chef’s tasting is an excellent option, allowing you to choose something from the firsts, seconds and thirds, along with either a side or dessert.
Our knowledgeable server helped us make excellent choices, insisting that the crispy chicken wings were fantastic, and warning us that the grain-fed steak would be "a bit chewy, but better for you." And she was right on both counts — the succulent wings delicately spiced with diced jalapeño, scallions and garlic were the most tender I’ve ever eaten. The steak had an excellent flavor that made my dining companion say he would order it medium rare next time — instead of his signature rare — only to enhance the grilled flavor. It came with fries and grilled romaine topped with breadcrumbs and olive oil, which was a delicious twist on an otherwise bland vegetable.
For appetizers, we chose organic American prosciutto, which was wrapped around puffy potatoes, along with the delicately sweet, buttered French breakfast radishes that paired perfectly with a salad of watercress and radish tops dressed lightly with lemon vinaigrette.
Fans of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams — creative concoctions made in Columbus — will want to stop in regularly to try the featured flavor. The Greenhouse Tavern offers several other desserts to satisfy a sweet tooth, as well.
Because the menu is seasonal, I plan to go back often, especially at lunch and happy hour, when some of the items are offered at reduced prices.