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Oct 22, 2017
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Readers’ Choice 2015: Favorite Restaurant – Cleveland-Heath

July 9th 01:07pm, 2015

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Jenny Cleveland and Ed Heath culled the inspiration for their 4-year-old Edwardsville restaurant from family recipes, restaurant road trips and tenures in other people’s kitchens. The result: an arsenal of cooking techniques, unexpected dish compositions and core dining philosophies that are the hallmarks of your favorite restaurant of the year, Cleveland-Heath.

The Pork Chop
Heath: The pork chop was the one I’d done at Henry’s Fork Lodge, a little seasonal fishing place in Island Park, Idaho. I knew in Idaho they were meat-and-potato people, and I thought I could branch out with some bread pudding. It went over really well. I think I did asparagus or green beans and the pork chop. The egg came later.

Cleveland: The egg is us because the only meal we ever cooked at home was breakfast. It was always leftovers and an egg on top. Everyone says the egg on top of things is done, but I don’t see how it will ever be done because it tastes so good.

The Chicken Wings
Heath: We ate at Redd in Napa a lot. Their chicken wings were the best we ever had … It was a Michelin-starred restaurant, and we would always sit at the bar and eat the stupid chicken wings. It was like a dark soy-caramel glaze. We tried to figure out the sauce. We worked on it at our place for six months before we came up with our chicken wings.

The BLT
Heath: We used to eat BLTs four days a week in Napa. There was a little grocery store a block and a half from our house.

Cleveland: We’d walk down and get two cups of coffee, two BLTs with pickles on them and bring them back.

Heath: Tom (Grant) at Martine (Cafe, Salt Lake City) used to take cherry tomatoes and cover them in garlic and olive oil. At the end of the night, he’d throw them in the oven and leave them for 12 hours until he got back the next day. It was like tomato sauce in a bite. At our place, we were going to do it that way, but our volume got too high. We go through 10 cases of Roma tomatoes a week just to keep the BLT on the menu. Ours are roasted; we can’t really call them oven-cured.

The Pulled Pork Sandwich
Heath: At Farmstead (St. Helena, California), we did ours on the smoker, which was our original intention (for Cleveland-Heath). But once again, volume hit, and we had to start braising. We have the pretzel bun because Companion came by to do our bread. We wanted our pickles to be different, so we did cider vinegar and coriander seed. And when you get all that together – the bite of the coriander seed with the blue cheese dressing – I will eat that sandwich every day.

Cleveland: I think the pickles are because that’s how my mom did them. That’s how I grew up eating pulled pork.

Heath: The blue cheese coleslaw – that was (Farmstead’s) Seamus Feeley. Seamus did the blue cheese coleslaw, so we borrowed it. I don’t think we could have opened without me having worked for him for a year at Farmstead.

The Shaved Raw Beef and Celery Kung Pao
Cleveland: This January, we ate at Mission Chinese in New York. They had this celery dish on the menu that was just the simplest.

Heath: Celery, hazelnuts, soy sauce.

Cleveland: It looked like sauteed celery with hazelnuts, and it was so good. … When we got back, for two days we did nothing but: “No, this is how it was,” “No, this is how it was.” … It was like this celery competition. We were trying to hit the flavor with that dish.

Heath: It’s strange, though. It’s not carpaccio because it’s not super thin. But if you cut it against the grain, it gets that nice chewy element … It was seriously like eating at a regular Chinese restaurant where you get big chunks of celery in a dish. But his was so beautiful and tall and gorgeous, and we’re like, this is the best celery stick I’ve ever eaten. … And what’s everyone saying right now? Celery’s the new thing. I can see that.

The Vibe
Cleveland: Prune (New York City) was awesome.

Heath: It’s tiny and it’s not dirty, it’s –

Cleveland: It’s worn. It’s like your favorite teddy bear. The food had a lot of heart.

The Wait Time
Heath: What’s that ramen place we went?

Cleveland: Ippudo (New York City). The food was amazing. We waited an hour and something for that table. I walked away thinking that’s not a big deal. I would’ve waited longer to eat there. The wait is a sensitive thing for us. I feel so bad – on the weekends, our wait gets so long. So I really appreciated waiting. And I didn’t mind.

The Plating
Cleveland: Ad Hoc (Yountville, California) was family style. The plating was designed to look sort of unplanned, but it was incredibly precise. The thing that you walk away with from there is that casual and comfortable is not an accident. It takes just as much work as fine dining.

-photo by Jonathan Gayman

By Ligaya Figueras

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