The Harp, $11.99
Some people argue meatloaf is boring. We think of each version like a snowflake — basic ingredients that all end up a little bit different on their journey from the mixing bowl to your plate. And since The Harp has kept our bellies pleasantly full of Irish boxty and fish and chips over the years, it was time to try its cooked-with-love spin on BBQ meatloaf. We were delighted to find a hulking slab swabbed with mellow, spicy sauce over a bed of rightfully lumpy homemade mashed potatoes. But here’s what’ll bring a tear to mom’s eye: The loaf crumbles apart with the tap of a fork, and there’s not a dry bit to be found. Oh yeah, in case your sides weren’t already splitting, batter-dipped onion rings and a chef’s choice vegetable round out the dish.
Comfort Level: By the time you’re finished, that morning spent digging your car out of a snowdrift will be a distant thought.
4408 Detroit Ave., Cleveland, (216) 939-0200, www.the-harp.com
Boulevard Blue, $6
In grade school cafeterias, it was always cause for celebration when tater tots appearing on the line. Compared to the inauspicious mystery meats and questionable Jell-O, tater tots represented truth, justice and the American Way — or, at least, a way to eat “vegetables” in a thoroughly enjoyable fashion. Boulevard Blue has taken our fondness for the childhood favorite to a new level with its lobster tater tots. About 10 appear still steaming on a platter, looking like fresh, mini beignets. Bite into one, and you’ll sink deeper into your chair with happiness. The smooth potato mix, reminiscent of a Southern hush puppy in texture, is sprinkled liberally with buttery morsels of fresh lobster. The pleasing inside is surrounded, in the matter of the best of tots, with a perfectly crispy exterior. Slather on some of the accompanying avocado crème fraiche, and just like when you were a kid, you might not feel like sharing.
Comfort Level: Makes you feel family-reunion-in-Maine happy
12718 Larchmere Blvd., Cleveland (216) 721-5500, www.boulevardblue.com
Rocky River Brewing Co., $7.99
Remember the mashed potato volcano you used to make on Thanksgiving — gravy pooled in the middle just waiting to be released with your first forkful? Yeah, these pierogies are like that. Gooey molten American cheese tops a mound of potato filling and oozes out when you get through the crisped doughy dumpling. With caramelized onion and grilled bratwurst (and a pint of Cooper’s Gold Kolsch ale), it’s something to be thankful for. Comfort Level: Green Bay vs. Detroit on Thanksgiving Day
21290 Center Ridge Road, Rocky River, (440) 895-2739, www.rockyriverbrewingco.com
Check back Nov. 1 for the 67 other dishes we sampled.