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Fried Chicken Bender (Pt. 4): The Greenhouse Tavern

Greenhouse Tavern is one of Chef Jonathan Sawyer's
quadfecta of Cleveland-based culinary delights
Recent James Beard Award winner Jonathon Sawyer and, more specifically, his culinary ventures have been on the radar of many Columbus-area food-oriented folks for quite awhile. Tavern Vinegar Company, a collaboration with Columbus-based Middle West Spirits, has produced a well-received line of craft vinegars. Also, Sawyer's popular American take on Japanese Ramen, Noodlecat, has after much speculation announced its arrival into the Columbus market, hopefully set for the start of 2016 at the latest, per this Columbus Crave interview with the chef himself.

Of course, a roughly three-hour drive north on I-71 will bring you into the Cleveland city limits where Team Sawyer's eateries are located. Other than the previously mentioned Noodlecat, diners have the Northern Italian-based Trentina and his flagship eatery, the eco-friendly Greenhouse Tavern, to choose from. On recent travels up to this area, I had the chance to drop by the latter for a quick fried-chicken oriented dinner.

Cleveland's East 4th Street Neighborhood reminds me a bit of a more modern, fashionable combination of San Francisco's Maiden Lane and Belden Place, both pedestrian-oriented streets lined with restaurants and shopping. Greenhouse Tavern, which has no lack of hip flair within its space, lies more or less smack dab in the middle of this corridor.

Dining at the bar gives you a good look at the bicycles, burgundy
walls, and bustling space at the tavern while you
choose from a base menu of gastropub-style items.
Solo dining does have its advantages in that it's often fairly easy to grab a seat at the bar when its crowded (as was the case this day) and people who work the bar are generally pretty good about getting food and drinks to you. This turned out to be the case with my visit: my orders were handled pretty quickly and the light conversation with the bar staff was a pleasant distraction in what was overall a very bustling and sometimes noisy space.

While the Tavern does have a few craft beer choices, adult beverage choices lean more toward wine and the harder spirits, with a single malt whiskey and scotch menu. A separate menu contains coffee beverage selections from Cleveland-based Phoenix Coffee as well as options from their rare tea cellar.

Greenhouse Tavern's Barrel-Aged Tabasco Fried Chicken
While the Crispy Chicken Wings Confit (served with roasted jalapeño, lemon juice, scallions and garlic) had initially grabbed my attention, Greenhouse Tavern's Barrel-Aged Tabasco Fried Chicken eventually got the call on this night. As has been said, butter makes everything better, and a large gob of it was slathered on the two pieces of fried chicken on my platter, melting quite temptingly over both pieces. Suffice it to say, the butter only accentuated moist meat within; meanwhile, the Tabasco gave just a light tinge of heat to the crispy exterior. While some may think a double-digit price tag is a bit much for the dish (in general, Greenhouse Tavern's prices do range on the higher end of scale for their respective items) it was nevertheless a tasty rendition of the fried bird.

The base model Pommes Frites were a treat
I couldn't not say anything about the frites; apparently none other than Cleveland-based chef Michael Symon gave his "Best Thing I Ever Ate: Guilty Pleasures" designation to Greenhouse Tavern's Gravy Frites. That was not in the cards for me this night (my arteries were clogging from just thinking of topping my fried chicken off with this dish) but it didn't mean I couldn't NOT try the base model of their frites. Not that their Pommes Frites, fried in duck fat and coated with rosemary and raw garlic with a side of aioli, were that much healthier, but I at least felt mentally more relieved from a health standpoint as I consumed this delicious dish.

Greenhouse Tavern
2038 East Fourth Street
Cleveland, OH 44115
(216) 443-0511
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