|My dining companion takes a bite, smiles and declares the shepherd’s pie ($16.95) as good as the many, many ones she consumed while living in the United Kingdom. But the slow-roasted lamb and vegetables is hardly representative of this restaurant as a whole.
Perhaps because it is the only public dining establishment in all of Gates Mills, Sara’s Place is a jumble of cuisines. You can get a brick-oven-baked pizza ($12.95) or an order of mussels and clams ($12.95), rack of lamb ($27.95) or a Kobe beef burger ($12.95 on the lunch menu).
"We really wanted to make it where someone could come in on a daily basis and have a different experience every time,” explains chef Richard Cunningham. On a Friday night, a couple could split a $100 bottle of wine and dine on steak or a nice piece of fish. They could grab pasta with meatballs for carryout the next day and then return to meet friends for brunch Sunday.
Cunningham’s favorite entrées, though, are the ones he learned from his grandmother, such as stuffed cabbage and chicken pot pie (“A simple dish that tastes great,” he says).
David and Mary Gromelski, the owners of Gavi’s in Willoughby, opened the restaurant less than a year ago and named it for their 4-year-old daughter. But, while Gavi’s is fine dining, Sara’s Place is more laid-back bistro. Shorts are acceptable. The atmosphere is light, airy and clean — a suitable backdrop for brunch, lunch or dinner. Like the menu, it feels unpretentious. “We’re not trying to woo the in-crowd all the time,” Cunningham says. “We’ve got something for everyone.”