Greek Goes French In Cleveland

Friday, January 29, 2010 - by Janet Wilson
LaPlace is in Cleveland at 4765 TL Rogers Street NE
LaPlace is in Cleveland at 4765 TL Rogers Street NE
- photo by Janet Wilson

First, let me say, I am definitely not an expert on French food or cooking. I have only eaten at the French restaurants in this area, plus one trip to France (this past summer). So, with that “disclaimer” in mind, we went to LaPlace, a French restaurant, bar, and bakery in Cleveland. They are located at 4765 TL Rogers Street NE. The last time we were at this restaurant, it was Greek.

It wasn’t what we were expecting. The restaurant was nice (but a bit noisy), and our server was very friendly, although not very knowledgeable on the menu. She said she wasn’t familiar with “French”. There were several items I would have expected on a menu for a French restaurant, but then again, I could be wrong (see first paragraph).

I looked for items familiar to me such as Bouillabaise, Ratatouille, Chicken Cordon Bleu, Escargot, Chateaubriand, or Coquilles St. Jacques. But, alas, they were not to be found. There were quite a few pastas, which made me think Italian.

However, there were some tempting descriptions of menu items. LaPlace did offer Mussels Mariniere ($14.99), Calamari Plancha with Olive Oil ($13.99), and Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb ($24.99).

While we were awaiting the beginning of our meal, we were served crispy bread with an Olive Tapenade (again, making me think Italian). I don’t eat bread and Wayne doesn’t eat olives, so he ate the bread and I saved the olives for my salad.

We started our meal by sharing the Shrimp and Scallops salad ($9.99). The menu described this as “A bed of romaine lettuce surrounded by the ideal combination of shrimp and scallops sautéed and deglazed in balsamic vinaigrette. Freshly squeezed lemon brings all of the flavors alive.”

This was a very good, fresh salad – and the shrimp and scallops were delicious - tender and not overcooked. A salad I would order again – and it was plenty to share.

I was tempted to try the French Onion Soup, but since I was sharing the salad, knew I would not have room for an entree and soup, so it’s possible I might try the soup on another visit. Another “starter” item listed is Foie Gras Terrine ($11.99).

We both ended up ordering a duck dish. Wayne ordered Duck a L’Orange ($24.99), while I ordered Duck Breast with Foie Gras ($29.99). Each entree was served with potatoes au gratin and fresh vegetables. It took quite a bit of salt to give my potatoes any flavor (and I’m not much of a salt person). The fresh vegetables seemed to be your basic frozen chopped broccoli with carrots, really, really cooked to mush.

My duck was flavorful and tender and the foie gras was simply melt-in-your-mouth! Wayne said his duck was good, but he didn’t think there was anything orange about it. When we’ve had this dish in the past, there were slices of orange, but in this particular version there were none to be found. Near the end of the meal, we decided to trade duck slices and compare the differences. Guess what? There was no difference! The only thing making our duck dishes NOT alike, was the fact that mine had foie gras on top of most of the slices. However, the slices we traded did not include letting Wayne have any of my foie gras! We are guessing his Duck a L’Orange was just duck.

We both decided to splurge and enjoy dessert. Our server (again unknowledgeable about the menu), described these ice cream desserts to Wayne and he just loves ice cream, so that’s what he ordered. I ordered the Creme Brulee, which was really good – with the nice crisp sugar topping. A perfect Creme Brulee.

When our desserts were delivered, she brought Wayne three little cream puffs, stating she was mistaken about the ice cream dessert so brought these instead. I thought that was presumptuous. She should have returned to our table, at least giving him the option of making another selection; but she didn’t, and he took what she brought!

I’m not saying the food wasn’t good, because it was (other than the mushy vegetables) – it just didn’t make me think “French”. Nothing said “French” to me.

LaPlace restaurant hours are Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday until 10 p.m. The bakery area opens at 7:30 a.m. and closes with the restaurant.

If you’re in Cleveland you’ll have to check them out and let us know what you think. I’d like to hear from some of my French friends.

Share your opinions with us at Chattanooga Dine Out

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