This review is written for those who are less strict about kashrut when going out than they may be in their home; or those who don’t keep kosher but (for whatever reason) are readers of this blog. Fracas is NOT a kosher restaurant, so I don’t want anyone to be confused on that fact.
My family had the chance to attend the private opening of Fracas in Cleveland Ohio. Short story: you need to give this place a try.Walking into the main room was breathtaking. I hadn’t ever been in the theater before (yeah, I never actually went to see Rocky Horror) but I’m willing to bet the it hasn’t looking this good in about 70 years. The lighting was perfect to show off the arched ceilings without being blinding. The bar in the middle of the room was present, but not overwhelming either. I didn’t feel like I was in Champs. It also did a good job of creating a natural division and privacy to each table. I didn’t feel like I was in a sea of tables and that my waiter would need a GPS to find me again.
The table decor was beautiful, but also didn’t make me feel like I was outclassed. I think the combination of linen service with the silver wrapped in the napkin set the tone as “nice, but not pinky-in-the-air formal.”. The music set the right mood and wasn’t loud enough to be distracting. Just the right level to provide a background sound and mood enhancer.
Our waiter was ready for us even before we had sat down (but that’s because we were too busy googling over Pineapple, the owner’s new baby.) and was extremely willing to take our order in pieces – kids drinks, then back for adult drinks since we weren’t sure, then back for appetizer order, and taking the dinner order after the appetizers had arrived. The flexibility was appreciated.
We ordered the pretzels and qesadillas for appetizers – vegetarian style of course. The smoked gouda fondue for the pretzels was out of this world. I could imagine eating a whole pot of that stuff. The corn salsa that came on the side with the qesadillas was also incredible. Pandora just ended up eating that with a fork by itself.
We got two different wines, the Riesling and the Moscatto. It is an understatement that we liked the Moscatto because we bought a bottle of it to take with us. Aaron – the maitre d’ and somalier – was gracious, informative and deferential when he came over to make sure everything was Ok and to tell us more about the wine (we asked first). By the way, the Riesling didn’t stink either. It was just completely overshadowed by the best Moscatto we’ve ever had.
We also ordered the caesar and fried green tomato salads. The FG tomato salad was good enough that my wife (Mrs. “I hate tomatoes”) ate most of it herself.
For dinner, we ordered Fish and chips, grilled cheese, gnocchi, Portobello sandwich and Grouper BLT. Again, everything was easily altered to make it vegetarian-friendly. Everything was passed around the table, so we all got to try everything.
The grilled cheese sandwich was out of this world. No other words for it. The Portobello mushroom sandwich I also predict is going to be a favorite. Just a lot of flavor and “stuff” (onions, etc) that added to the whole experience. The gnocchi were probably some of the best we’ve had. If I hadn’t gotten to his plate after devouring my food and part of the grilled cheese sandwich, I would have cleaned them out. The grouper was really good. I might have liked to see it grilled, but that’s only because I’ve had that before. My own bias aside, the thing was gone in 60 seconds. Oh, and I never got to the fish and chips. They disappeared too fast.
For dessert we ordered the chocolate cake, the beer-imasu, and bread pudding. The beerimasu was good, different, interesting. NOT for a kids palate (my son got a taste of it first) but I think adults are going to like it. The bread pudding was wonderful. Even though I was already stuffed I ate half of it. And the chocolate cake was wolfed down by half the table.
I cannot WAIT to see how things go this week when they have their official opening on December 14; and I’m equally eager to see how Fracas becomes a part of the neighborhood as well as the Cleveland culinary landscape.