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Cleveland Food Tour: Cole’s Public House in Amherst

Nestled on Main Street in the quaint Sandstone City of Amherst sits the best restaurant this critic has been to in years, in Cleveland or Cincinnati, and is so far the top spot in the Greater Cleveland Food Tour. It rivals the very best of the best in Cincinnati, a great foodie town and  is reminiscent of the great spots in OTR, as well as Brew River or Incline. If you’re talking Greater Cleveland, it has a Tremont vibe but far less pretentious. Of course, I’m talking about Cole’s Public House. If you’ve haven’t been, you’re missing out and if you have, then you already know how amazing this place is.

For starters, guess what cocktail we started off with? That’s right, the holy grail quest for the perfect Old Fashioned has come to end — the holy grail is at Cole’s Public House. No, itimg_0021 is still not the standard bearer that is Bour Bon in Paris (KY), but it’s the best Old Fashioned I’ve ever had in Ohio. Crafted beautifully by friendly, knowledgeable and charismatic bartenders Wendy and Mike, it was the perfect combination of rye, sugar, aromatic bitters and style (the recreation of the Cavaliers logo for the cherry and orange peel was icing on the cake.). It was, quite frankly, delicious. The space has an old feel to it, the exposed brick walls and large, heavy dark wood accented by nice lighting and natural light from the front window made the space feel larger than it actually is. The back and side walls had faux windows with scenery and was quite cleverly designed. The bar is large, with ample seating and fronting an excellent selection of draft beers and an amazing selection of bottled and canned beer from the past (black label, for example, which I’ve never actually seen) to present.

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For the entree, I can never resist fresh, raw hand shucked oysters (I call them shuckers). They have a variety of things to put on them, but of course the only way to eat them is naked. Cleaned perfectly, filled with salty briny awesomeness, these were fresh, flavorful and a site for sore eyes — oh we love a good raw bar. Just delicious, a tad pricey, so this isn’t an everyday appetizer, but yummy and nicely unexpected in Amherst.

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After the apps, I had a roasted beet salad. Two types of beets roasted to absolute perfection. Tender and flavorful, a little earthy as you like them, but not mushy. Highly recommend the beets. The entree was a delightful black cod, served over a bed of hand made spinach fettuccine served with olives, crushed tomatoes and a garlic sauce. The fish was cooked absolutely to perfection, light and flavorful, and flaked off the fork with ease — glistening with natural oils and not overly seasoned as to ruin the great taste of the fish itself. Pasta in most restaurants I find they don’t know how to make noodles al dente. These were perfectly prepared, not drowning in sauce but rather allowing the fish and the pasta to brilliantly intermingle and create an amazing texture and taste.

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Overall, what can I say 9 out of 10 or perhaps a 9.5 if we gave out such numbers. Not particularly expensive, not pretentious and incredibly fresh, friendly, vibrant and creative. The drink menu is a masterpiece of creativity and skill, and the food menu is perfectly balanced to please any foodie. HIGHLY recommended, and the best restaurant in Ohio to date.

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