Here’s a guest review from my wife, Sara. After months (if not years) of badgering, she was finally inspired to produce the following. It was worth the wait.
I always promised stephenherron.com that I would contribute to the ClevelandEats blog. However, that is a very difficult venture, because soon after eating, I often fall into a food coma and am rendered useless with the, how you say, “words” necessary to document an eatery experience. However, upon recovery from my food induced fugue, I become hungry, and the abject terror that I may never eat again causes a sort of amnesia state about the finer points of the previous meal, so any review written would consist of something along the lines of “I ate food. Food good.”
So now, in the golden hour between my feedings, I seek to share the experiences of dining at Philomena’s, located at 7503 Granger Road – Valley View Ohio 44125. In order to make sure that the review could fair and balanced, two meals had to be consumed. Such is the sacrifice I am willing to make as an aspiring guest blogger. These two occasions actually sandwiched a girl’s only vacation which left the husband and cat home alone a week, so the first trip to Philomena’s served as a tearful farewell dinner, whereas the second trip was to reintroduce Stephen to eating with utensils and the social graces that are lost during a week without constant nagging from yours truly.
To start off with, I think it is fair to note that Philomena’s is located on the former premises of a *ahem* “gentleman’s club”, and lest you forget, the “Cleveland P.M.” sign is still firmly attached to the building. According to my sources, the décor has changed very little inside. How stephenherron.com came to possess that knowledge is another story entirely, and involves a lot of yelling and more of that aforementioned nagging.
The staff could not be more welcoming and friendly at Philomena’s. I think between our two trips, we met everyone involved with the restaurant, from the owners to the chef, who eagerly wanted to know how our dining experience was progressing. Attentiveness to our needs was never in question, and drink refills were plentiful (blogging works up a powerful thirst, as you know).
We ate dinner at Philomena’s on a Friday night for our first meal. Stephen glanced over the menu and declared that there wasn’t anything on it that he liked, so he was half tempted to leave before ordering. However, after kind encouragement (or a withering sigh) on my part, he decided to forge on. Stephen’s interest was piqued by one of the specials, sausage stuffed mushrooms, so he ordered that as an appetizer as we were presented with a bread basket filled with warm, buttery focaccia. The bread was incredible and Stephen nearly lost fingers as I snarled protectively over it as he tried to partake as well. I had to relent as he raved about the Philomena’s Marinara Sauce that his mushrooms were bathing in, and I had to agree that it was one of the best sauces I’d had as I began dipping the bread into it. Rich, sweet and velvety, I looked forward to it being slathered on my entrees.
Stephen opted for their Italian meat pizza as a main course, and was satisfied with the thin, chewy crust. Topped with sausage, meatballs, pancetta bacon, Genoa salami and shaved Prosciutto, there may have been too many meats to the party. Stephen found that many were a bit dry and heavy for the delicate crust. Overall, however, he was pleased with the pizza.
I partook of the Parmigiana Italiana with chicken, and found it delicious. The chicken was tender and cooked perfectly inside the breadcrumb and parmesan crust. It stayed crispy underneath a layer of mozzarella and parmesan cheese, doused with the heavenly marinara sauce. A side of angel hair pasta with more of the sauce accompanied the dish.
During the meal, our server and about 8 other people who stopped by to chat, let us know of their schedule of live music on the patio and of their Sunday Grand Brunch. While the Herrons enjoy their music, combining two of our favorite meals into one is a singularly wondrous accomplishment that we cannot say “no” to.
So, the Sunday I return from vacation, bronzed goddess that I am, I whisk Stephen off to Brunch. So Grand is the Brunch, that we must be formally introduced to it, which was certainly a new experience [we were literally offered a tour – Stephen].
Much flourishing and gesturing commence, and I decide to make Brunch my new best friend. Presented on granite and marble slabs, the dishes make for a stunning presentation. A wide variety of fruits, cheeses, salmon, shrimp, pasta salads and meat dishes take the center stage, while three stations surrounding offer up eggs and pasta made to order as well as a carvery. My first trip to the buffet, I chose some of their crispy, fat-imbued hash-browns with a crown of cheese, fluffy scrambled eggs, thick cut bacon, a slice of cinnamon scented, thick French Toast dolloped with blueberry preserves and a small raspberry pastry from their vast selection.
Please note that each serving of what I described was miniscule and should not be construed as a gluttony, as that would be most unladylike. On the second trip (remembering the mouse sized portions from before), I chose some piquant, caper-decorated pieces of lemony chicken piccata, a sliver of carved turkey and dressing, some Caesar salad complete with anchovy dotted dressing and a dollop of a spicy pepper and broccoli imbued pasta salad.
Groaning, but knowing that I had to charge ahead with a full accounting of the buffet’s glory, I waddled back for some creamy, light and tart lemon mousse and a triangle of rich, decadent brownie and of powder sugar dusted lemon square. To summarize, allow me to say that I didn’t meet a buffet item that I didn’t like. Or love. I believe that we will continue to explore our relationship to define it more clearly.
Stephen very austerely visited the egg station for a well prepared omelette and selected from their in season, ripe fruits. For the record, let it be known that he’d already had breakfast, so it was incumbent upon me to have the fortitude for this endeavor, who had so valiantly refused to cheat on brunch with breakfast [my austerity was thusly quite fake – Stephen].
Though it will not be a regular occurrence, this will be a wonderful place to take out of town or country friends and relations for a special treat. I was fully satisfied with my two meals at Philomena’s (all right, three, I begrudgingly agree that the last one counts as two… portion control and wise food choices start tomorrow!)