Creative Cocktails to Celebrate the Season

Tis the Season

It’s the perfect time of year to try something new and luxurious; to treat yourself to a delicious cocktail that’s made with seasonally inspired ingredients prepared fresh in our kitchen.

That’s why we’re so excited to have Scott Bishop, our new Restaurant Manager in charge of beverages, leading the way to create the best cocktail menu in Cleveland. 

Bishop returned to Urban Farmer after some time in California, where he worked as a food and beverage director in Palm Springs. “I realized Cleveland was home,” he said. “I missed the seasons.”

Bishop offers some insight into his new role and our winter craft cocktail menu: 

What did you want to accomplish with this cocktail menu?

We wanted to create bold cocktails to invite guests to get out of their comfort zone.

Also, with these cocktails, it’s all about the senses: When guests put the cocktail up to their noses, they smell the cinnamon, for example, and it reminds them of wintertime.

Where did you get the inspiration for these drinks?

Our bartenders worked side-by-side with our chefs in the kitchen to create and determine the ingredients. We tried to include a fine line of seasonal ingredients such as root vegetables, fennel and beets. We sort of explored the kind of “geeky” craft cocktail side of things.

What motivates you to create “wow” cocktails? 

Food and beverage for me is kind of the same as music: When I hear a certain song, it takes me to a certain part of my life. When I walk into Urban Farmer, it feels Cleveland. The smells, look and feel takes me back home.

Tell us about the ingredients used for your beverage menu.

With this menu, we used more items from the kitchen: We’re using fennel, beets and

we made our own Chai Mix for “Live & Let Chai.” It feels warm even though it’s a cold martini. Also, we stayed true to local vineyards by featuring a Ferrante dessert wine and even created our own beet shrub. 

What about some of the cocktail names such as Fennel Flip, Winter Blues and Live & Let Chai?

I’ve empowered the bartenders to thrive in their own creativity and have fun. When I describe drinks to people, I want people to get thirsty when they think about them.

What if guests want to skip the alcohol?

That’s becoming a bigger and bigger trend: non-alcoholic cocktails. And we’re right on it. We have a non-alcoholic cocktail list. I know some people call them “mocktails” but I prefer to call them “Zero Proof cocktails.” Either way, they’re satisfying and delicious.

What if guests don’t want to try something new and instead desire an old favorite?

Of course! Our bartenders are just as good at making traditional cocktails as our new creations. We still have guest favorites such as Smokin Barrels (bourbon), Magmarita (tequila) and Farmer No. 5 (vodka).

What can guests look forward to with you leading the beverage selections at Urban Farmer? 

More local influence and creativity. We’ll always be one step ahead of the Cleveland scene. We want to be the most eclectic one in the market.

View Urban Farmer’s full beverage menu here: Drinks

It’s Holiday Pie Time

Holiday Pies are Always a Scrumptious Ending to a Special Meal Thanksgiving means turkey, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce, but it also means pie. Lots of delicious, fresh pie. At Urban Farmer, we like to bake traditional holiday pies and also show our thanks to one of our local partners, Refugee Response. Refugee Response, which helps refugees build a foundation for a new life, is the force behind the Ohio City Farm in Cleveland, where we get some of our produce. It’s part of our commitment to local and supporting our community. From November 1st-21st, we’ll hold our annual holiday pie sale to benefit Refugee Response. For purchase will be traditional favorites such as pumpkin and apple as well as Pecan and French Silk. Our pastry chef Kara Swortchek will lead the pie-making. The tradition of making holiday pies is meaningful to her. “They bring back a lot of good memories,” she said. Though she’s had it many times, pumpkin pie remains her favorite. All of our pies are made from scratch, hand rolled, cut and filled with ingredients that do not contain artificial preservatives or colors. We are happy to take special requests and we make gluten-free pies, too. To order, visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/myevent?eid=79041074983

Turkey, Trimmings and Prime Rib: Our Thanksgiving Feast To-Go

Fall is here and that means turkey, trimmings and holiday fun are coming up. 

We’re excited to again offer our special to-go Thanksgiving feast, prepared by our professional chefs and delivered to you. You don’t even have to get out of your car!

Our Thanksgiving Curbside kicks off this week, and we’re delighted this year to donate a portion of the proceeds to Cleveland’s Malachi House, which compassionately provides end-of-life care to terminally ill people with limited or no financial resources. We’ll also donate a Thanksgiving meal to the residents and volunteers on Thanksgiving Day.

If you want to relax and avoid the fuss of cooking at the holidays – and support a good cause – consider ordering our Thanksgiving Curbside feast that serves 6-8 people. You simply order online and then pull up to our front door on Thanksgiving morning, and we’ll deliver a hot meal to your car.

The meal includes:

  • Turkey
  • Gravy
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Green beans
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Potatoes
  • Rolls
  • Pumpkin Pie

If you’re a red-meat lover, we offer a Prime Rib, Au Jus, option, too. And if you’d rather skip the meat all together, we’re serving a vegetarian option: Roasted Vegetable Wellington with an array of vegetables.

Deadline to order Thanksgiving Curbside meals is Thursday, Nov. 21, by 6 p.m., which is one week before Thanksgiving. Pick-up is 10:30-2:30 Thanksgiving Day. To order and see details of our full Thanksgiving Curbside offerings, visit our Eventbrite page.

A Passion for Cakes

Urban Farmer Pastry chef whips up delicious, creative cakes for any special occasion

Any guest who has saved room for dessert or celebrated a special occasion at Urban Farmer knows it’s worth the wait for pastry chef Kara Swortchek’s scrumptious cakes.

Baking has been a part of her life since she was a child.

“I’ve always enjoyed baking from a young age and inherited a talent from both sides of my family,” Swortchek said. “I made Slovakian treats with my Grandpa Swortchek and mastered many ‘secret’ family recipes with my mom, grandma and great aunts.”

She still can’t reveal those secret recipes, but she can say they led to many wonderful hours making Kolachi, nut and poppy seed rolls, potato candy and cookies.

What drew her to the art of baking was the science and precision of producing many delicious desserts using the same simple ingredients.

Cakes are a particular favorite and she’s produced many great-tasting, creative designs for guests celebrating everything from birthdays to anniversaries to retirements.

Take the calculator cake (pictured below) she created for an accountant’s retirement party. Or the delicately decorated bunny cake (pictured below) for a birthday. The latter elicited this response:

“Besides my wedding cake, this was the best cake that I have ever had in my life and I am 73 years old!” the birthday celebrant said.

Swortchek said she gets her inspiration for her designs from photos and nature and also explores the Internet searching for all kinds of creative cake designs and new techniques to try.

She’s deftly handled requests for cakes depicting sunset sailing and a princess unicorn castle.

Sometimes the cakes take only a few hours to prepare. Other times it can be a week before the final touches are put on a special cake. A fondant topper or figure takes longer because it needs to dry before being assembled, for example.

Even away from Urban Farmer’s kitchen, she likes to bake, especially for her cousins, nieces and nephews who come up with some of her funnier requests, including a Robot cake, a chocolate horse and VW Bug and Cuckoo Clock cakes.

If you have a request for a cake for your next special occasion, we’d love to hear from you. Contact Barbara Gantous at Urban Farmer at Barbara.gantous@sagerestaurantgroup.com or 440-730-4250.

Dinner in the Dark Returns for a Summer Evening of Eclectic Dining

Dinner in the Dark is back at Urban Farmer, and with it comes great food, great chefs and a little bit of mystery.

As is tradition for this popular Cleveland dining event, the six participating chefs and their dishes are not revealed until guests arrive that evening. But history shows it promises to be a great lineup, and it always benefits a local charity selected by the participating chefs.

It is the third time we’ve hosted Dinner in the Dark and we’re excited to welcome the event back on Monday, Aug. 12. To get ready for the evening, we checked in with “Dinner in the Dark” co-creators Jeff Jarrett and Brian Okin:

Q. Dinner in the Dark has earned quite the following in Cleveland. What do you think is the appeal? What do guests tell you they like about it?

A: I think what guests enjoy the most is that it supports a local charity and gives them the opportunity to basically eat in six different restaurants the same night and sample those chefs’ fare.

Q. What do chefs tell you they like about it?

A. They like that it gives them an opportunity to showcase themselves and their restaurant while also getting to network with other chefs.

Q. What’s your goal each time presenting a Dinner in the Dark?

A. First and foremost, it is to raise money for a local charity. Second is to showcase the host restaurant. They have opened their doors to us. We want to be able to get 70-80 people there who will hopefully return and be a patron.

Q. This is your third Dinner in the Dark at Urban Famer. What do you like about their venue/setting?

A. It is a great location with a beautiful and spacious dining room, plenty of space for the chefs to work and [Urban Farmer executive chef] Vishu and his staff are always organized and professional, for just an overall great experience for the guests.

Q. Can you share a lasting memory/story or two from a Dinner in the Dark?

A. Dinner in the Dark has had the opportunity to cook at the world-famous James Beard House [in New York City] twice, taking what we do to another much bigger market.

Q. If someone has never been to the Dinner, what’s your message to invite them there and try it?

A. Just take the leap! It is a fun-filled culinary event that benefits a worthy local charity. And where else can you eat food from six different chefs in one night?

James Beard Celebrity Chef Tour dinner showcases best of Cleveland chefs

What a Night!

Like a conductor who skillfully leads his orchestra, Urban Farmer executive chef Vishu Nath assembled a cadre of local chefs to lead a fine-tuned dining experience to a sold-out crowd in June.

One-hundred and seventy guests filled the main restaurant and private dining rooms at Urban Farmer on June 5 to enjoy the first James Beard Celebrity Chef Tour dinner at the modern downtown steakhouse. It was the only stop in Cleveland this year.

More than a dozen local chefs, including James Beard Award winner Michael Symon, created unique and delicious dishes ranging from crisped spring onion crepes to chicken liver matzo balls to lamb loin.

“It was a great night,’’ Nath said. “So inspiring and fun to see all the creative dishes that came out of the kitchen by some of the top chefs in Ohio.”

Chefs who prepared the nine dinner and dessert dishes also included James Beard Award nominee Karen Small of Flying Fig, Jamie Simpson of the Culinary Vegetable Institute, John D’Amico of Chez Francois in Vermilion and pastry chef Annabella Andricks of the The Dinerbar on Clifton. Urban Famer pastry chef Kara Swortchek and chef Justin Lucas participated as well.

For a full list of chefs, visit: James Beard Dinner: Cleveland

Each guest enjoyed the nine dinner and dessert dishes that were paired with a wine carefully selected by Nath and Urban Farmer general manager Andy Hata. Local varieties included the Reserve Meritage by M Cellars and the Cask Red Blend by Ferrante Winery.

Each dish was personally introduced and described by the chef who created it. Guests received a specially designed menu for the evening, which they got to bring home with them in addition to a salt cellar gift from premier James Beard sponsor U.S. Bank.

Nath was motivated to host the dinner after he and a select group of other local chefs visited the James Beard House last year to prepare a Cleveland-inspired dinner. Several of the chefs who were there with him participated in the Celebrity Chef dinner at Urban Farmer.

“It was great to bring a touch of the renowned James Beard House to Cleveland,’’ Nath said.

Learn How to Make Pasta with Us

Expert guidance for at-home chefs

Back by popular demand, our pasta class is for anyone and everyone who enjoys a hearty dish of spaghetti, rigatoni or other noodles.

On Saturday, July 13, our Chef Jared Bergen will lead an afternoon pasta class that will teach how to artfully shape pasta noodles and make ricotta gnocchi. Every part of the gnocchi dish is made from vegetables, including the pasta.

Bergen is not surprised at how much people love pasta – or how interested they are in learning how to make it.

“I think the popularity of pasta is in part because it is made in many different cultures,’’ Bergen said. “It’s a versatile food, and once the recipes and dishes are shared, the hype escalates.

“In addition, pasta-making is recognized as an artisan craft that many people devote their life to in the culinary world.”

Bergen believes it’s a common misconception that pasta making is time-consuming and requires special equipment. But that’s not the case, he said. Everyone can make it; you don’t need special equipment.

His class will put a twist on pasta-making – a trend that’s become a popular carb and gluten-free substitute to the doughy noodles. All participants will make squash spaghetti, vegetable Bolognese with mirepiox and fennel in a tomato base sauce, finished with gluten-free breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. Mirepoix is a combination of onions, celery and bell peppers and is common in Cajun and Creole cuisine.

After Bergen’s class, participants will be equipped with a straightforward and simple way to impress dinner party guests by applying their knowledge immediately.

Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to learn a fun and practical new skill and of course, eat the dish you make. Sign up here.

Get Ready for “Give Back Wednesday” Happy Hour to Kick off the Summer

Summer is almost here and we’re ready to celebrate with fun, friends and great food.

Starting June 19 throughout the summer, Urban Famer will host a “Give Back Wednesday” Happy Hour from 5-7 p.m. on the third Wednesday of the month.

It’s a chance to gather mid-week to relax, enjoy, and give back to the community. Each month, we’ll pick a charity to donate a portion of the proceeds. If 100 guests or more attend, Urban Farmer will donate an additional $100 to that charity.

Admission for each Happy Hour is $10 per person.

The Happy Hour will have a seasonal theme, which will be reflected in the menu. As always, our selections will stay true to our commitment to locally sourced food and drink and highlight our dedication to sustainability.

Guests will enjoy a complimentary drink special and delicious appetizers between 5-7 p.m. in our  bar and lounge.

We’re excited for our Give Back Wednesdays to stand out as one of the top Happy Hour events in Cleveland. We welcome business and social groups to attend together.

So come join us at our kickoff Happy Hour on June 19 and give back to our Cleveland community. Please keep an eye on our social media for our charity each month and to reserve a spot at the Happy Hour. And if you have one you’d like to recommend, please email our sales and marketing manager Barbara Gantous at Barbara.gantous@sagerestaurantgroup.com

Why We Value Local Partnerships

It’s trendy and popular now to shop local, support local and source local.

We think that’s great because that’s been a value of ours from the start.

At Urban Farmer, we build our menus around great local, farm-to-table food and appreciate our strong partnerships with local farmers, businesses and organizations.

We couldn’t provide the fresh, delicious, innovative food we serve without our local partners.

So as Spring approaches this month and we begin to usher in growing season, we want to recognize our wonderful local partners and talk about why we work with them. They include:

We’re proud to work with all of them because they reflect the same high standards, high quality and commitment to local that we do. In addition, their products stand up to the high expectations we have.

Take Ohio City Farm, Cleveland’s largest Urban Farm that is just two miles from our restaurant. We love this partnership not only for the fresh, local, healthy food it provides, but also because it is largely operated by the Refugee Response (TRR), which employs a team of newly-resettled refugees who work the farmland.

Tiger Mushroom Farm is another terrific partner with an amazing story: It was started by a young Cub Scout near Columbus, who wondered about how to grow things in the Ohio winter. His parents bought him a mushroom kit and his passion, ahem, has mushroomed into a growing business.

In addition, Ohio Wagyu is a great local source that provides hearty steak features on our menu. Currently, we offer a Sakura wagyu, wagyu-angus 14 oz ribeye and a 12-ouce Sakura-wagyu, waygu-angus New York Strip Steak.

We hope you come and support local and enjoy the freshest Ohio has to offer.

 

Come in from the Cold and Enjoy

When it’s cold outside, there’s nothing better than some warm food in a cozy setting.

On our new winter menu this month, we’re featuring Lamb Pot Pie filled with locally sourced lamb, baby carrots, pearl onions, potatoes, mushrooms and more. It’s a hearty dish that will warm you up on a cold day.

We also have our popular mainstay French Onion Soup with braised beef shank as an appetizer. This steamy delight, served au gratin, is perfect with a salad or sandwich. Topped with warm, melted gruyere cheese and sourdough croutons, it also can be a meal in itself for lighter eaters.

For dessert, we have our Baked Alaska that arrives flaming at your seat. It’s made with chiffon sponge cake – yellow cake lightened with meringue – layered with a Zabaione rum gelato, strawberry filling and roasted strawberry gelato. Its covered in meringue, toasted and garnished with cotton candy and flambéed to order, using watershed vodka, and served with strawberry compote. The flame is a welcome sight when it’s chilly outside.

Our delicious Baked Alaska Cassata with strawberry compote and a swirl of cotton candy on top goes up in flames to our guests delight.

Guests who earned Farm Dollars in November and December can use them toward these dishes or any other in January and February.

Knowing our guests are well-fed and well-cared for warms our hearts.

Our delicious Baked Alaska Cassata with strawberry compote and a swirl of cotton candy on top goes up in flames to our guests delight.

Guests who earned Farm Dollars in November and December can use them toward these dishes or any other in January and February.

Knowing our guests are well-fed and well-cared for warms our hearts.