The Standard - Cleveland, OH
The Standard is a great place to take a large group of people, especially during happy hour. It's upscale all-American flare has such a great vibe with the dark wood and brick throughout. I also loved that you can order a smaller appetizer size entree so you can try as many different items on the menu as possible, like I did on my visit.
Let me start by saying that I take my responsibilities seriously if I happen to be in charge of dinner plans. Not that I don't take those dinner planning seriously when I'm not in charge. But when my official/unofficial standing as the resident foodie is on the line, the stakes are even higher. That's why I knew I had to deliver when I volunteered to organize a group dinner for my co-workers while we were all in town for training. Enter The Standard.
I picked The Standard for two reasons. The first was it's location. Since lot of my co-workers are from out town, some of us stayed downtown and some in the 'burbs. I wanted to find a place that was in the middle so no one had to drive too far on the way home or or haggle with finding parking. The Standard is in East Cleveland off 185th St., right on the border to Euclid so it was fairly convenient spot.
The second and really the most important reason I picked The Standard was that you can select what size of entree you wanted to eat. They have a fairly wide range of "snacks" to choose from, but you can also order most any entree as an appetizer size. The prices are fairly decent too if you do opt for a smaller portion.
My table for 12 took no time ordering snacks to share along with drinks and we all had a great time hanging out and trying different things. Here's what I had on my end of the table.
I started out with the Grilled Halloumi cheese that was served over fresh greens with picked peppers. Halloumi is a type of hard cheese that can actually be grilled right on an open flame and it doesn't melt. I had never had this type of cheese before and I'm so glad I tried it. It was delicious. The cheese itself had great grill marks on it and was served warm. It had a nice salty and firm bite to it that was complimented by the pickled peppers. It was a perfect starter snack.
These risotto balls were thankfully ordered by someone on the other end of the table. They were deliciously fried and crunchy on the outside while being soft and warm on the inside. The risotto had a nice firm bite to it without being overcooked. The marina sauce it was served with was refreshing and was the perfect sauce for dipping. The shaved parmesan on top also added a nice saltiness to that perfect risotto bite.
For my appetizer-sized entree I had the short rib stroganoff. It was made with braised short ribs, mushrooms and onions served with egg noodle. The short ribs were very tender. Unfortunately it was lacking some flavor. After eating all the delicious appetizers I was hoping for more. But I will say that after eating all the appetizers I was glad to have the option of ordering a smaller size. I probably wouldn't have finished it anyway because it was just a lot of food.
I also nibbled on, but don't have pictures of, chicken livers which were fried southern style and Slovenian sausage which was rather tasty. Overall I loved all the appetizers I was able to share and sample. The happy hour is definitely worth the trip because it saved us about 10% off the final bill.
Oh, and let me not forget the best part of dinner and it wasn't even mine...just LOOK at that mac and cheese! It was made with gruyere and was just sinfully delightful. You can even order it with bacon. I will say that this is one of the entrees that you can only order one size, but would you really want to order a smaller version of this goodness in a bowl? I would go back just to have this and only this because it was that deliciously cheesy.
Although my main entree was a little lacking in the flavor department, all the other good tastings more than made up for it. I would recommend making a reservation, especially for a large party. We were a party of 12 and on the way out we saw at least two more groups that were as big if not bigger. Go during happy hour to take advantage of the great deals they offer on snacks and drinks. And, as Julia Child would say, "above all have fun"!