Road Trip Restaurant: Cleveland & noodlecat

A few weeks ago I applied for a blogger trip to Cleveland from Positively Cleveland. I was so excited when I was chosen - I do Road Trips but this was my first official Blogger Road Trip! How fun is that! 

The city was actually voting on what we would be doing on the Positively Cleveland Facebook & Twitter pages. They nominated a bunch of attractions and restaurants and then the folks at PC narrowed the trip down to specific neighborhoods and then they voted again to make our final selections. So the trip came together as we went along - we never knew what was coming next! It was a really fun idea!

They put us up at the Holiday Inn Express in Downtown Cleveland and it was beautiful! I couldn't believe THIS was a Holiday Inn Express!?! They bought an old building downtown with tons of gorgeous art deco touches and then renovated all of the rooms. The elevators stayed the same though - beautiful doors. The rooms were very large and modern - I really enjoyed my stay there.

The fun part of the trip was that my good friend Adventure Mom was also chosen - so we got to experience it all together!

We also got to meet Breakfast with Nick from Columbus (not pictured) as well as 30-something Therapy and The Steel Trap from Pittsburgh.

Our first adventure was noodlecat which is a Ramen house run by celebrity chef and one of Food & Wine's best new chefs - Jonathon Sawyer. The noodles featured at noodlecat are also local from Ohio City Pasta in Cleveland.

As the Pittsburgh girls found out - I'm a soda drinker - breakfast, lunch and dinner. (lots of mocking when I ordered Coke with my eggs). At noodlecat - they don't serve Coke! (gasp!) They are all about local, sustainable and natural. So I got to try something new - Gus Dry Cola. The server said it wasn't as sweet and that was a good description. It was okay but I definitely won't be abandoning my red & white love anytime soon.

The girls from Positively Cleveland knew exactly what to order and had us start with these steam buns (2 for $6). This starter was completely new to me and they have 8 varieties ranging from vegetarian to chicken to pork to beef and even fish!

I tried the Pulled Pork w/ sesame BBQ and it was DELICIOUS. I seriously could have eaten a meal of just those! The yeast bun is so light and airy with not a lot of flavor - just soft warm dough and then the filling has all of this mouth-watering, eye-opening FLAVOR. Heaven on a little plate for sure.

As we were discussing what to try - Adventure Mom was saying how she'd never tried octopus. So I challenged her that if she really is the ADVENTURE Mom - then she had to take the adventure of trying octopus! She did it and got the Spicy Octopus Udon Stir Fry. The spicy she liked - the octopus - not so much. But I give her mad props for trying it! (I hate tentacles - gak)

The half bowl shown here was only $6! Quite a lot of food for such an affordable price. 

Per the reco of the server, I tried the Crispy Beef Short Rib Ramen w/ pork broth, super dashi &
sweet sour short ribs (again $6 for half bowl).

The short ribs were great although I wasn't really sure if I should dip it in the noodles or just eat separate? They were had a great rich sweet & sour sauce that made them finger-lickin good. 

Then the ramen - it was tasty. I really enjoyed the noodles - they were firmer than the kind you get in the package. The pork broth was great with the noodles and enhanced the taste of the short ribs. And with a bowl full of noodles - you fill up too!

noodlecat also offers vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free meals. It's interesting how a city that's 100K larger (inner city of Cleveland vs. Cincinnati) has so many more "celebrity" chefs (Iron Chef Michael Symon, Food Network Star Chris Hodges, Sawyer) and seemingly interesting spots. It's definitely progressive on the dining front.

Why Should You Go? If you're in the Cleveland area - it's a great stop. It's right downtown - we walked from our hotel - and the food is delicious. It's so unique and I am so excited finding out about those steam buns! I even got to meet Chef Sawyer after our lunch - so hey Chef Sawyer - bring your culinary delights to Cincinnati!

* My weekend in Cleveland was fully paid for by Positively Cleveland as part of their blogger tourism program. All opinions are my own - as always.

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