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Cleveland Heath

Publishers note: Edwardsville Scene is an online events, news, and reviews magazine. About a year ago we decided to take a break and concentrate on other projects. Over the next few weeks and months we are going to try and get this site back up and running. Hope to see everyone out soon. Enjoy the story!

by Jesse Gernigin

It is Sunday night and I am out for the soft opening for Cleveland Heath the newest edition to Edwardsville’s downtown dining scene. Cleveland Heath is owned and operated by Jennifer Cleveland & Edward Heath two warm and well trained restraunteours. Cleveland Heath is located downtown next to Township Grocer. Its grand opening will be on Monday, November 28.

Inside you are met with a warm interior, a long copper topped bar and an inviting dining room where the music is as fresh as the food you are served. With me I’ve brought my editor and a good friend, they are both well traveled and know enough about food for me to value their opinions and input. We show up early and grab a seat at the bar. I take in a few cocktails, and while their prices are very reasonable, they offer nothing new to the curious cocktail drinker. They make up for this by stocking a full soda fountain with vintage lines ranging from Ski Soda to Frosty’s Root Beer. Their beer and wine selection is very good, offering high quality for every taste at great prices. Their bottle selection is also fair and is obviously put together by an individual who pairs bottles of wine with their meals.

The bar is great and we pass an hour talking to both the staff and Jennifer Cleveland. I ask her about how the soft weekend went.

“It was a busy weekend.” Jennifer says.

I mention my amazement at how fast the restaurant was put together and opened. Jennifer and Edward both agree it was amazing.

“The space was there and the time was just right.” Edward said.

So they took the chance and bought into the space. Cleveland Heath went up quickly as I’m sure you’ve seen driving by these past weeks as Jennifer and Edward worked diligently inside. And the work they have done is amazing. Jennifer and Edward took the space and made it a warm and inviting place using soft browns and warm copper colors.

After a few drinks we grab a seat in the corner and proceed to order half the menu. Our starters come out quickly assuaging any worries about slow service. The food is friendly, simple and delicious. We start our meal with brussels sprouts that were cooked to a crisp but delightful finish with capers, ham and cheese sliders served on fresh baked rolls topped with fruit compote and this was finished with a simple deviled egg. Each of these are great starters but the brussel sprouts were my favorite. Their fresh green taste was perfectly balanced by the salty fresh finish of the capers. The ham and cheese sliders were a close second with their sweet and savory flavors balanced so finely together. It was the sprouts freshness that won me over.

We skipped the salads (which I regretted because the Kale salad looked amazing) and went straight to the entrees. First up was the grass fed hamburger which was served on a grilled pretzel bun with fresh arugala, a horseradish aioli and grated cheddar. The hamburger was cooked to perfection (which I was worried about because they didn’t ask us how we wanted our burger, but it didn’t matter because it turns out they only cook burgers one way at Cleveland Heath, and that’s awesome) and the usual chewiness that comes from the low fat content of grass fed burgers wasn’t present. The burger was also served with the best fries I’ve been served in Edwardsville, crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, thin but not crunchy and served with a great dipping sauce. The whole thing came out on a large wooden tray looking as good as it tasted.

Next up was the pork chop. I am not a pork fan but my buddies enjoyed it thoroughly and suggest ordering it if you are a fan. I did try the sides that came with it and I was surprised by how good the grits with cheese and potatoes were and I am sure its rich flavor balanced well with the traditional lean flavor of pork. The last entrée was beer can chicken street tacos. The tacos were served with a slaw and grilled onion mixture that brought texture and pop to the flavor of the taco. The tacos were filling without being heavy and flavorful without being overly dense from sauces or salsa. The chicken was what made the tacos rock. The meat was moist and fresh and obviously just cooked (unlike some restaurants which cook enough chicken for three days and serve accordingly). Alongside the tacos was a mixed greens salad which sat awkwardly beside the tacos on those large white plates restaurants seem to enjoy serving people on. Awkward or not the mixed greens did a great job of balancing the savory flavor of the tacos with a slightly tart and fresh lemon dressing making the overall experience of the entrée delightful and not flavor drab.

After dinner we all split a bread pudding. This was a tough decision on my part as I am not a bread pudding fan. The mushy and overly sweet dessert often goes well past the comfort stage of comfort food substituting excess for excellence. So you can imagine my surprise when out comes two cake cut squares that changed my opinion of bread pudding. The dessert was served with a charred top that had caramelized the sugar locking in the flavor of bread’s natural sweetness. The bread pudding was dense and moist but not overly so (a mistake bread pudding often suffers from) and served besides a ribbon of chocolate dipping sauce. I loved it and it was the perfect after dinner finish.

The service at Cleveland Heath was great. Jennifer and Edward have worked hard on making a restaurant that is as much about the quality of the food as it is about the quality of its service. Their restaurant should become a local favorite for Edwardsville and Madison County. So after we had paid my friends and I had a long walk. During our walk we had a serious but sincere discussion at the end of which we all agreed that Cleveland Heath stands to become the best restaurant in Edwardsville.

WHAT?! I can hear you crying. We have so many good restaurants, why is this the best? You are just excited for the new guy. You may say. And you would be right. Edwardsville does have a great many awesome restaurants. You want great pizza hit up the 222 Bakery on Friday, you want a great cheap brunch hit up Mr. Curry’s. And yes, I am excited for the new guy, how can you not be? They moved into a historic building, made their space beautiful and brought jobs and good food into downtown. Cleveland Heath does great food that is fresh, well prepared and served professionally by a courteous staff. They do this without cutting corners or passing the price along too you. Jennifer and Edward are people trained in the art of details and it shows. Hands down, no question, best restaurant in Edwardsville. Four stars. Please share this story on Facebook and Twitter!

Update:  Cleveland Heath now has a Mini Menu at Global Brew! Cleveland-Heath on Urbanspoon

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