Last night was the February Meetup for the Ohio Blogging Association‘s Cleveland chapter. Alicia of Poise in Parma did an excellent job in selecting this month’s location — AMP 150, a restaurant that quickly gained recognition both in Cleveland and on the national stage since its opening a little over a year ago.
Located at the Cleveland Airport Marriott, A(merica’s) M(odern) P(alette) 150 has a frequently changing menu that uses fresh, seasonal and unique ingredients from the on-property garden to local markets and farms. Chef Ellis and his team are also conscious of cost. In addition to their larger entrees, AMP 150 offers very reasonably priced small plates so that you can experiment without too much financial risk.
This creates an environment that is welcoming of all diners who want to branch out and eat well-prepared and sometimes adventurous food. Most recently, AMP 150 and Chef Ellis Cooley were recognized for these accomplishments on yesterday’s ”Marriott on the Move,” the blog of Marriott International’s CEO, Bill Marriott.
I was not just looking forward to visiting AMP 150 because of the accolades, but also because AMP 150’s catering of the Jump Back Ball pre-party is the primary reason why I sprung for the VIP ticket. I was very excited to get a preview of the quality of talent from Chef Ellis and his team that I can expect at tomorrow’s event.
The blogger meetup was a laidback affair where we enjoyed a nice happy hour from 5:30 to 7:30. Once everyone settled in, Alicia introduced Chef Ellis who spoke about the mission behind AMP 150 and how it can be seen in the items currently on their menu. Personable and excited to talk food, he was the perfect host. He started out by sharing the realization he made after moving to Cleveland about building relationships with the city’s unique and vocal blogger community.
He also spoke about how happy he is that the restaurant community is just that – a community. This can not just be seen in the collective spirit of how Chef Ellis runs his restaurant – allowing staff members to work together and develop ideas into new plates, but also within the larger community of the city’s restaurants. A community of chefs who work with one another, creating joint events, bouncing ideas off one another, and welcoming new chefs into the pack. As a restaurant-goer, this is something I’ve observed but it was nice getting confirmation from an active member of the community that Cleveland has such a thriving network of restaurants unlike what I’ve witnessed in other cities.
Chef Ellis even came back out towards the end of the evening to sit down and talk with a few of us before heading off to another event downtown. I enjoyed the insight he provided into his process – from sharing stories about the search for the key ingredient in the Hunters Sausage Risotto (blood, by the way) to the challenges present in and creativity needed to continually reshape a menu around what ingredients are available (or not available, as happens frequently in the middle of an icy winter).
This conversation really helped complement the food that Chef Ellis, our server Scott and the other members of the AMP 150 team brought out to the table. This included a couple different flat breads, wings, their housemade chips, and duck confit. My two favorite dishes were the mushroom flat bread and the cauliflower plate.
The flat bread featured killbuck valley oyster mushrooms, goat cheese, and celery leaves. And the cauliflower (or white broccoli as our server Scott joked) featured goat cheese, pine nuts and a beet vinaigerette. As a cheese lover, Chef Ellis’ usage of goat cheese on dishes was amazing. And although I’m a fan of meat, these non-meat dishes were so complex and delicious that I contemplated how realistic it was to go vegetarian. Then I tried the Duck Confit plate I ordered to go and quickly returned to the dark side.
AMP 150’s cocktail list was extremely tempting; however, I ended up sticking with beer. I enjoyed trying the Thirsty Dog’s Rasberry Ale, as I’ve loved their Blueberry Ale before. I now prefer the Rasberry Ale because it wasn’t as sweet as the Blueberry. Next time I go back, I look forward to trying their blood orange or grapefruit cocktails.
In addition to sampling AMP 150’s fare, I also had the chance to finally meet a lot of the other Cleveland bloggers face to face. A few of the now familiar faces included:
- Poise in Parma / @PoiseinParma
- WhyCLE / @WhyCLE
- Hungry in CLE / @HungryinCLE
- A Slice of Kiwi / @KimiKay
- The Chubby Cook / @thechubbycook
- Twestival Cleveland / @KaseyCrabtree
- Cleveland Food and Brews / @CLEFoodandBrews
- At Home in CLE / @HomeinCLE
- Happiness is a hot pierogi / @ClevelandChick
After a round of introductions, @KaseyCrabtree had a chance to say a few words about a project we’re working on — TwestivalCLE. I’ll be shortly posting more specific details about this Cleveland Twitter Festival coming up on March 24th. 100% of the proceeds from the event will go to benefit a local Cleveland charity.
The deadline for Twestival charity nominations is today (Friday) at 5pm — so tweet @TwestivalCLE or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a local nonprofit in mind. You can keep track of all of TwestivalCLE’s announcements on Twitter and at http://cleveland.twestival.com.
We also heard about upcoming projects from Poise in Parma and Home in CLE, as well as a few post-happy hour events that HungryinCLE and CLEFoodandBrews invited bloggers to support such as Ladies Bite Out. While I wanted to go out afterwards, I also wanted to get home before the bad weather hit.
If you’re a blogger in the Ohio area, I highly recommend the Ohio Blogging Association. Having only joined a little under a month ago, I’ve already met a lot of area bloggers who are great resources to share ideas and interests with. Both Cleveland and Columbus sponsor in-person meetups to socialize face-to-face, and if you can’t make it in person, the Tweetchats are a great way to virtually mingle.
The next Tweetchat is Monday night (Feb. 28). Follow #OBASH hashtag on Twitter and @OHBlogging for more info. And Cleveland’s next in-person meetup is a Blogger Volunteer Night at the Cleveland Foodbank. Hope to meet more bloggers at these events!
AMP 150 411:
Ohio Blogging Association 411: