Sharing two more meals I had in Cleveland recently. Somehow ended up in reverse chronological order, but Part 1 here and Part 2 here. And I think I should mention in fairness to the finer gastronomic experiences I've had in Cleveland's vibrant food scene, we had an extremely nice Italian dinner on my final night in Tremont (Michael Symon's Lolita was unfortunately full). I just didn't photo document it. Maybe what I'm trying to say is that I don't hate fancy food! Haha. ;)
I look back and feel extremely lucky to have managed to squeeze in a lunch at Sokolowski's University Inn during my equally busy first Cleveland visit about two years ago. SUI was a spot that piqued my interest after watching a No Reservations Cleveland episode. (Ok I know, how original of me.. :P) And still having not done any "real" research I was curious in visiting the other spots on the show as to embark on my extremely nerdy personal A. Bourdain Cleveland tour sort of speak. I had some time after I arrived late Sunday afternoon and made it out to Hot Sauce Williams. I was more than ready because all I ate the entire day was a packet of peanuts and a cookie.
Late Sunday evening the place was pretty empty. I believe they are open until 10PM on the weekdays and as late as 2AM on the weekends.
The Barbie pink trim exterior theme is followed through throughout the inside. I went for the gusto BBQ ribs dinner. I think it was around $9..
Asking about the quantity, "You get five bones.." said the gentleman. So I stuck with only the basic sides that came with - Mac & Cheese and coleslaw or fries. Loved the styro box!
And opened (voila)... Looked like so.
I'm still not very familiar with all the regional styles of BBQ in the U.S. but these were the larger spare rib type cuts (as opposed to baby back). Would this be close to St. Louis, Kansas City, or Carolina style? At the moment I'm not the person to ask. Could be Cleveland has a branched style of their own.
Anyway wasn't exactly fall off the bone but that Hot Sauce Williams' BBQ sauce was quite delicious. Not too sweet and a little on the sharp vinegary side, it really stimulated my taste buds and appetite.
The meat itself wasn't very smoky and the flavor from the basting was a bit surfacey maybe but I loved some of the charred crusty edges and of course I thought the sauce was quite good. The M&C was pretty straightforward but good as well and the coleslaw nice and sweet but with also a mild edge of vinegar that I thought helped balanced things out.
I really enjoyed the bold flavors here and the meal was a good value.
But I also really wished I had room to try their fried chicken!
This man asked for sauce on his. Darn that kinda sounds good and I'm going to have to try that myself one of these days... :) In fact I think I'm going to have to go on a fried chicken run very soon.
Hot Sauce Williams, 7815 Carnegie Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44103
Skyline Chili was next on my list and later that night (yes you read that right) I found one only a few minutes away from my hotel. Lucky me! ;)
As I entered I immediately noticed a pleasant but somewhat out of place smell of cinnamon in the air.
I'm still trying to wrap my head around the concept of SC but reading its Wiki article was extremely helpful. Apparently the place was started in Cincinnati by an immigrant from Greece which may explain the cinnamon (and some also believe chocolate) spice.
You can get the chili by itself in a bowl, over some coney dogs, between some sliced bread as a 'chili sandwich', on a potato, on some fries, burritos, as a wrap.. or in my case over some spaghetti.
As you can see the other SC thing is their visually exorbitant amount of shredded cheddar cheese! "We try to make it look like the photos.." said the very nice and charming lady. :) Also since I had asked for 'everything' I ended up getting what they call a 5-Way which also came with diced onions and red beans.(!) I think it was $4.60-ish for the regular size, the oyster crackers are complementary..
The verdict? You know as much as Bourdain and Chef Michael Ruhlman was making fun, I didn't think it was all that bad. You do have to get a little used to the mild cinnamoniness of it all but the portion proved to be my biggest challenge. The plate sizes are very deceiving here because the food seems to tower straight upward from the stable earthenware base that it is.
Their label hot sauce which you can also purchase is a more vinegary version of Tobasco. It's just as hot if not more so watch out.
The cheese is actually shredded so airy fine that if melted all would probably amount to about two slices (a good thing IMO), so in actuality the amount is fairly reasonable. Ok maybe three slices.. ;) The pasta was bordering too soft for my taste so if I were back I might stick to coney dogs if I were inclined to experience again SC's chili.
Skyline Chili, 4752 Ridge Road, Cleveland, OH 44144
So that ends my Cleveland series hope it was entertaining. I managed to bring home a few souvenirs as well. The can of Skyline Chili by the way was given to me free by the cashier, how cool is that!
As long and busy the work was during the day and that I wished I had more time (and energy) to explore, it all turned out to be a really nice trip.
I hope to make it out there again soon. There certainly were no shortages of other curious places to try.. :)