It's not uncommon for Clevelanders to claim a favorite Zack Bruell restaurant (the acclaimed chef has several in town), and to get a little defensive explaining their pick. Now that Bruell's fifth restaurant, Cowell and Hubbard, has opened in the theater district, area foodies just might find their allegiances shifting.
Cowell and Hubbard is named for the building's original tenant, the Cowell and Hubbard jewelry store. With 18-foot ceilings, a wall of windows, stately pillars, and red and black banquettes, the 65,000-square-foot dining room almost feels like an oversized jewel case.
The restaurant offers bistro standards with contemporary twists. The food is pretty close to perfect, with flavors equal parts earthy and elegant. If French classics like foie gras and frogs legs sound a little too intense, try the truffled chicken breast ($20) with rich thyme dumplings that linger in memory for days. The Red Fish with Vadouvan Sauce ($25) is substantial enough to woo meat-eaters, and the velvety curry sauce is good enough to eat on its own. Save room (and $7) for the Meringues, an ultramodern ice cream sandwich the size of a hamburger with two soft crunchy meringues with a salty slab of burnt-caramel ice cream in between.
Cowell and Hubbard is great for pretheater dining, with well-orchestrated service guaranteed to have you fed and full by curtain, but don't wait for tickets to make a reservation. Meals here make for completely delicious entertainment.