Chef Jonathon Sawyer, Cleveland, OH, Ohio, The Greenhouse Tavern, Noodlecat, Street Frites, SeeSaw Pretzel Shoppe, The Cleveland Browns, The Cavs, Sports Stadiums, Arenas, Quicken Loans Arena, FirstEnergy Stadium, Where to eat, Where to shop, Where to drink, Best Markets, Travel Guide, Chef’s Recs, Chef’s Guide, Chefs Feed, Where Chefs Eat, Best Restaurants in Cleveland, Best Chefs in Cleveland, Best Chef


Recommended By

- Chef Brad Farmerie

- Chef Paul Kahan


The Greenhouse Tavern

Photo Credit: Bridget M. Rehner

Q. Describe your restaurants.

A. The Greenhouse Tavern - it’s our flagship.  In my twisted romantic mind’s eye, it’s like a Parisian pub planted into the Cuyahoga Valley. We take inspiration and recipes and traditions that we love from our travels throughout France, as well as the books we enjoy. It’s French technique and inspiration using local produce. We’re not going buy Homard lobsters or Normandy apples, since we get great apples here in Ohio. We also have things like great smelts coming out of Lake Erie.

Ramen at Noodlecat

Photo Credit: Bridget M. Rehner

Noodlecat - in a similar fashion to The Greenhouse Tavern, we based the menu on things that we can get closest to us. It’s a bit of a stretch if you were to say a traditional Japanese ramen house, but we do traditional style noodles with ingredients that we can get locally grown. Ohio City Pasta, just over the bridge, is our partner in noodling. We’re actually on our third incarnation of noodle. We started initially with 100% alkaline noodle, but just this past year because we started doing a lot more lunch delivery and lunch catering, we changed it to be a 30% egg by weight noodle. If you add the egg, you add a little bit of elasticity and a little bit of shelf life to it.

In addition to the ramen, the three things definitely worth trying are Warm Yuba Noodle Salad, Crispy Beef Short Rib Char Sui, and the Brussels Sprouts with Dashi. The yuba salad we do with kabocha squash, garlic, yuzu, and a little bit of our Japanese vinegar that we make. The crispy beef short rib is a marinated, dried then fried, short rib that’s thinly sliced. It’s not braised, but it’s still super tender because of the cure that goes into it.

Street Frites - I’m a Clevelander and have been the majority of my life and I have always wanted to be in the local institutions like Brown Stadium (FirstEnergy Stadium). I started thinking in my head what would I enjoy eating at a game with my father and I immediately said, ‘French fries, of course Pommes Frites.’ And I thought about great draft beer and deep fried peanuts. Those are the cornerstone of Sawyer’s Street Frites. Now we have donuts that we do with an Ohio-made maple glaze and we have fish and chips with Lake Erie perch and brussels sprouts. It’s all just thinking about that football snack food.

SeeSaw Pretzel Shoppe - There is indoor hockey, basketball and tons of concerts at the arena. I just imagined what I would enjoy while watching these sports and for me it was pretty simple... pretzels. We just do six pretzels and and some Bavarian sausage with draft beers (The Greenhouse Tavern lager and the Greenhouse Tavern Session Style). Great beer, traditional lye-dipped pretzels, not out of the package, but true yeast loving lye-dipped pretzels.

Tavern Vinegar Co

Photo Credit: Bridget M. Rehner

Q. In addition to your restaurants you also have a vinegar company called the Tavern Vinegar Co.

A. For me, it was about bringing vinegar down to a level that is affordable for everybody, but also up to a quality that I don’t think people have taken it to before. We currently have nine vinegars on the market with our flagships being the barrel-aged, kosher-certified malt vinegar, the cocktail malt vinegar and the craft beer vinegar. They are for sale on our website,, and they are available at Revival Market in Houston, and Public and Quality Meats in Chicago.

We don’t pitch, chaptalize [add sugar] or oxidize any of our vinegars. We take a fermentable liquid and put it in a barrel or a carboy container or a fermenter and then let it turn to vinegar from this culture that I’ve developed over the past seven years. It is proprietary to us. It was a spontaneous fermentation the first time and basically from those first five barrels we’ve spawned all of our gallons.

Q. How do you recommend people use your vinegars?

A. I always look at it like the way you would look at any balancing agent. Where you would use lime or lemon, use vinegar even if it’s just a portion here and there. If you’re making a guacamole that calls for 2 tablespoons of  lime juice, use 1 tablespoon lime juice and 1 tablespoon real white wine vinegar and see what happens. If you’re making a bordelaise and they say to finish it with a splash of lemon juice to bring it back to life, try a little bit of red wine vinegar that’s real punchy.

Those are like the layman’s version, but if you’re talking about more advanced, think cocktails. Take your modern bartender a couple of bottles of this and see what they can do. There are a couple that I love with club soda.

Chef’s Recs | Cleveland

Find | Shops & Markets

West Side Market

Photograph courtesy of West Side Market

West Side Market

If you’re just starting to develop an affinity for the city of Cleveland or traveling through, I would say your one stop shop is the West Side Market. It is a bit of both of old and new. There are about 90 different Eastern European classically trained butchers, smokers and charcuterie makers. You’ve got to embrace what is going on here with the butchers. They have these rules they’ve been applying to themselves for 100 years and they keep the tradition. You’ve got to understand that Miklos over at Dohar Meats has four rules which you must follow, otherwise no meat for you. They’re our neighbors since Noodlecat has a kiosk in here too.

The Cheese Shop - I love this shop. Lisa is just a great cheesemonger. I’ve seen her develop over the past four years of running the stand, from just being another cheese source to actually sourcing out Austrian cheeses and bizarre Pacific Northwest cheeses. She really has an opinion that’s based on her palate and not what the public is demanding. You can go here with every intention of buying an Appenzeller and she may sell you on something else, just because that’s her sort of motif. She’s kind of pushy which I like.

Old Country Sausage - The family is in the third generation of procuring these phenomenal German salumi, like Weisswurst, Landjager and his Mettwurst is beautiful. Traditional Mettwurst is like the predecessor to andouille. It’s basically a raw sausage that is cured for 15 to 30 days, put in synthetic casing and mixed. There are only three different preparations. He does a fine (feine), grosse (course) and a smoked one. It’s a beautiful raw, slightly cured, sausage meat. Of course they have Leberwurst (liverwurst) and all that, but the really interesting things are these off the wall ones.

Urban Herbs- a great spice shop that’s got a little bit of everything when it comes to dried spices.

Kate’s Fish - they are also a blend of old and new. Kate’s son, Tom, runs the cutting half of the stand and Kate, who has run the stand for 20 years, still works here side by side with him. So you get a blend of the old traditional with some modern cutting techniques and sourcing. He uses Brown Trading Company and Sea to Table and some of these more progressive fishmongers, whereas she gets white bass right out of the lake and perch and all that beautiful stuff.

1979 W 25th Street, Cleveland, OH 44113

T: 1.216.664.3387 |

Asia Food Co in Asian Town Center

Photograph courtesy of Asian Town Center

Asian Town Center

It’s a good place to get anything. They organize all their condiments by country of origin. You can walk down the Japanese aisle, Chinese aisle, Korean aisle or Southeast Asian aisle and you can sort of buy everything that you’re looking for inside each one. As well as produce and a little bit of dine in foods.

3820 Superior Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44114

Eat | Restaurants

Miega Korean BBQ

Photograph courtesy of Miega Korean BBQ

Miega Korean BBQ

I love their Korean barbecue. It’s in the Asian Town Center. There’s been a real void of great Korean food here in Cleveland. This place is relatively new -- it opened about a year and a half ago. You start off the meal with banchan that you can tell are made in the back of a kitchen -- salt cured peanuts, cured tofu, kimchi, fermented radishes. It’s just so great to have something authentic. I’ve been back probably 30 times. I really like the bibimbap, kimchi cake, and sautéed rice cake. They also do the whole grill thing if that’s what you’re into. I don’t eat a ton of meat outside of the restaurant, so I mostly go for the vegetarian stuff. It’s pretty banging and authentic.  Plus they always play Korean TV over the speakers.

3820 Superior Avenue E, Cleveland, OH 44114

T: 1.216.432.9200 |

Superior Pho

I love their pho. Manh Nguyen is the owner and a great dude, super old school. He’s a stickler for product and he’s here six days a week. So he’s here for every bowl of noodles that come out of his restaurant.

3030 Superior Avenue E, Cleveland, OH 44114

T: 1.216.781.7462 |

Food Recipes

Vero Pizza Napoletana

Photograph courtesy of Vero Pizza Napoletana

Vero Pizza Napoletana

In my opinion, we finally have a pizza place that’s throwing modern pizzas. He’s doing a great job. He’s using an oven that he inherited and doing a phenomenal job with his dough. It’s Neapolitan style, but he does a really thin center and he’s super judicious with the toppings. That’s always been my complaint with pizza is that people don’t take their toppings seriously. There’s nothing worse than having like three artichokes in the center of a pie that just sags down.

12421 Cedar Road, Cleveland Heights, OH 44106

T: |


For brunch and veggies, I love to go to Tommy’s. It’s an old school place, not cutting edge at all. If you’re looking for grilled pita with aged cheddar and falafel on the inside, you’re not going to get a better one anywhere.

1824 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights, OH 44118

T: 1.216.321.7757 |



Photograph courtesy of Hodge’s


For downtown dining, if I get off of work early and I have time to eat before I get on my bike and go home. It’s funky fun Americana. I’d like to think that we’re concise with our menus and he just doesn’t really feel that same sort of constriction that we do. So, you can have a modern Pu-pu platter or you could have a riff on a soup dumpling with French onion soup inside of it or barbecue chicken livers.

668 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44114

T: 1.216.771.4000 (make a reservation) |


It’s New American done well. Chef Rocco Whalen has been around in Cleveland forever and he’s just a great ambassador for the food community.

2417 Professor Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44113

T: 1.216.781.8858 (make a reservation) |

Drink | Cocktails


Photograph courtesy of Lolita


I like to go Lolita for cocktails, it’s Michael Symon's place. They do a great job here and I like the vibe. I don’t get over the bridge into Tremont that often, so when I do I want to make it count. I really like the crispy chicken livers and polenta. It's just a combination of comfort food and junk food. He does a cornmeal breading on the outside with sautéed shiitakes and soft overly-buttered polenta. It’s just a really good combination. He's really been the bone marrow king for a long time in Cleveland. If you feel like digging into some grilled bread and bone marrow, this is the place to do it.

900 Literary Road, Cleveland, OH 44113

T: 1.216.771.5652 |

La Cave Du Vin

It’s where I love to drink wine and beer. Eric is the owner and proprietor extraordinaire. He's a great personal friend of ours, but he has the same addiction that I have when it comes to wine -- all things Hermitage. As much as I love Burgundy, I really love northern Rhone. He has a good list.

2785 Euclid Heights Boulevard, Cleveland, OH 44106

T: 1.216.932.6411 |

More Cleveland Recs

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The Greenhouse Tavern, Noodlecat, Street Frites, SeeSaw Pretzel Shoppe - Cleveland, OH

General Information

The Greenhouse Tavern


New American / French

2038 E 4th Street

Cleveland, OH 44115

T: 1.216.443.0511 (make a reservation)



Multiple Locations


Public Square

234 Euclid Avenue

Cleveland, OH 44114

T: 1.216.589.0007

West Side Market

Stand No. F-3
1979 West 25th Street
Cleveland, OH 44113

T: 1.216.589.9775


Sawyer’s Street Frites



FirstEnergy Stadium

100 Alfred Lerner Way

Cleveland, OH 44114


SeeSaw Pretzel Shoppe



Quicken Loans Arena

1 Center Court

Cleveland, OH 44115

Tavern Vinegar Co







Noodlecat (photo credit: Bridget M. Rehner) | Chef Jonathon Sawyer (photo credit: Billy Delfs) | The Greenhouse Tavern (photo credit: Bridget M. Rehner)


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This past May, James Beard nominated chef Jonathon Sawyer was hit by a Cleveland city bus while cycling to work. The local news reported the accident saying Sawyer was ok and recovering. “I am not recovering, I’m working.” tweeted Sawyer. “Cleveland Rocks!” Mario Batali tweeted back to him. It’s just this get-up-and-go, full steam ahead approach that has made Sawyer one of the most respected chefs in the country, especially amongst his peers.

Chef Sawyer was named one of Food & Wine Magazine’s Best New Chefs in 2010, nominated for the Best Chef: Great Lakes James Beard Award in 2013, and his Cleveland restaurant, The Greenhouse Tavern, was honored by Bon Appetit Magazine as one of the Best New Restaurants in the United States. Before he moved back to his hometown of Cleveland, he worked at The Biltmore Hotel in Miami and alongside chef Charlie Palmer at Kitchen 22 in New York. He was also the chef de cuisine for Michael Symon at Parea in Cleveland.

Chef Paul Kahan, of Publican, Blackbird and Avec in Chicago, recommends Sawyer’s cooking praising the whole roasted pig head dish at The Greenhouse Tavern.

We chatted with chef Sawyer about his goal of improving stadium food, why he’s passionate about vinegar and the best places to eat, drink and shop in his hometown, Cleveland.

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