The former Ohio City location of Halite has been given a new life. Ilona Simon, proprietress of the wine and martini bar Budapest Blonde in Independence, has opened Budapest Blue in the Clinton Avenue spot. The serene space, decorated in seven shades of blue, offers an extensive domestic and imported beer list as well as martinis, mixed drinks and wines. Simon’s kids, Vera and Nick Durejko, will be the primary operators. “It’s great when you have a favorite bar. When you go in somewhere and know the bartender, know the staff, know the owner. That’s kind of the feel those two want to give to Budapest Blue,” Simon says. Simon has also been shadowing in the kitchen at Fat Cats to brush up her cooking skills — Budapest Blue offers a bar menu that includes wings, calamari and homemade spinach dip.
Two Asian eateries are expanding farther east from their respective Coventry digs. The owners of Mint Café, a popular Thai restaurant, have opened the quaintly named Peppermint Thai Cuisine in Pepper Pike. It features a similar menu to Mint Café and will be open for lunch and dinner. Peppermint Thai Cuisine is located at 30769 Pinetree Road (216-464-5432). Meanwhile, Pacific East, a Coventry mainstay for sushi, Japanese and Malaysian cuisine, is set to open a second location at Eton Chagrin in Woodmere this month, sharing the former Bossa Nova space with Latin comfort food newcomer Paladar.
Penzeys Spices, a national chain of retail and mail-order seasonings, is also expected to open this month at Eton Chagrin Boulevard. It will be the company’s first shop in Cleveland. Owner Bill Penzey says he chose the location based on a strong mail-order customer base from the area, which he attributes to the freshness and quality of his products. The store will carry a full line of spices, herbs and more than 100 proprietary blended mixes, available in a variety of sizes. “We make it easy for the first-time customer to use it that night,” Penzey says. “The spices make such a difference in cooking, they add such great flavor. You don’t have to be a chef to have great flavor at home.” Penzeys Spices is located at 28859 Chagrin Blvd. in Woodmere. The store will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. most days and until 9 p.m. Thursdays.
Prepare your wallet for another little black book — the Cleveland Independents restaurants are offering a slim pocket guide to all their fellow member locations. Each free booklet contains information on patios, children’s menus and takeout to help you support locally owned restaurants.
With the opening of Northeast Ohio’s first location for McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant, at Beachwood Place, comes the migration of a popular annual promotion: On Nov. 11, Veterans Day, all retired military personnel with proper ID are entitled to one free entrée. For reservations, call (216) 831-8100.
Matsu Japanese Restaurant on Chagrin Boulevard has closed, but fans of its sushi shouldn’t despair. A new location, called SASA Matsu, is located in nearby Shaker Square at the spot formerly held by Sushi on the Square.
Dante, 8001 Rockside Road, (216) 524-9404
Dave’s Cosmic Subs, 14813 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, (216) 221-1080
Sean’s Place, 11100 Clifton Blvd., Cleveland