New Book Highlights Cleveland’s Eateries, Tasty Dishes and Food Stories

Fri 5/31 @7:30PM

Tue 6/4 @5:30PM

For years Clevelanders have been bragging about the foodie scene in Northeast Ohio.

Now they have proof in the form of the brand-new book Unique Eats and Eateries of Cleveland, which was co-authored by former Plain Dealer travel editor David G. Molyneaux and Boston journalist Fran Golden.

The couple accepted the brave endeavor that found them taking a gastronomic tour to iconic restaurants, fine dining establishments and tiny storefronts. Through their effort they uncovered stories of hard work and resilience from cooks, growers and entrepreneurs. They also talked to famous local chefs like Zack Bruell and Michael Symon.

Golden and Molyneaux celebrate the release of the book with appearances scheduled for Fri 5/31 at Visible Voice Books in Tremont and the official launch party Tue 6/4 at Alley Cat Oyster Bar in the Flats.

CoolCleveland conversed via email with Golden and Molyneaux, who were traveling in Australia, regarding Unique Eats and Eateries of Cleveland.

CoolCleveland: Congrats on the new book. Where did you get the idea?

David Molyneaux: Unique Eats and Eateries of Cleveland is a collection of stories about more than 100 restaurants, markets and other food venues that make the city a special place to dine. We got the call from Reedy Press about 18 months ago. The point we made was Cleveland is a city that’s starting to get recognition both locally and nationally for its food scene.

Fran Golden: We decided to write it because we felt the city’s food scene deserved recognition. Also, we like to eat. Plus, the publisher came to us asking if we would shine a light on the city’s food scene as part of a new nationwide series. So it was a good year and lots of eating. Since we are travel writers we are away quite a bit. But when we are home we explore, even dragging along friends for the ride.

CC: What was the criteria you used for the book?

DM: We were looking for good food and compelling stories.

FG: If we had to pick between the two, we went for the story. We primarily focused on restaurants in the city, because we wanted the recognition for the city.

CC: Through your tasty research, what are a few of the more interesting stories you uncovered?

DM: The recipes and concept for the Barroco Arepa Bar on Larchmere began with a street cart in Columbia. The family moved to Cleveland, brought their recipes with them, and now owns three restaurants. They make the arepas a traditional — a three-day process.

FG: As someone who moved here from Boston a few years ago, I was particularly interested in local food stuffs such as the Polish Boy, the delicious mess of a sandwich. Topping a beef kielbasa with fries and coleslaw and BBQ sauce is weird, but it somehow works as a guilty pleasure. And it comes with a history that dates back to the middle of the last century.

CC: What else did you discover during your research?

FG: I love discovering why people get into the food business. Take Corner 11 Bowl & Wrap in Tremont. The owner, Thiwaporn Sirisuwan, and her husband Sam moved to Cleveland from Thailand because he was going to law school at Case Western Reserve University. She has a master’s degree in advertising. They noticed Cleveland did not have a good Hawaiian poke place so they opened one. The menu also includes dishes from her native Chiang Rai, near the Myanmar border in Northern Thailand. They are based on family recipes, and her mom makes the sausage when she comes to visit.

CC: Are there any locations or stories that didn’t make the book?

DM: Yes. We were limited to 90 entries, so we had to be selective. Sometimes we combined several spots into one entry, such as highlights of the West Side Market or great donut shops. And we wanted to include many neighborhoods, so in some restaurant-heavy places, such as Tremont, we had to be especially selective.

CC: Finally, do you think you have another Cleveland culinary book in your future?

DM: Hopefully we will sell enough books to justify a second edition. We’re always trying new places. And who knows, we may come up with another book idea or two.

[Written by John Benson]

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