Dinner at Coffee Creek
Special occasion dining in Northeast Ohio has achieved a new dimension with the Jan. 23 debut of the Estate on Coffee Creek.
I was among the 22 lucky people seated in three intimate dining rooms by white jacketed butlers in order to feast on a nine-course chef's dinner there. After being welcomed with a flute of champagne, we toured the first floor of the 1880s home which Chef Nick and sommelier Giovanna Kustala have so lovingly restored on Route 45 in Austinburg Township. It's the realization of their dream to offer in their home a special occasion dining venue and teaching kitchen for cooking classes. They're in the middle of Ohio wine country and have lots of great ideas for a farmers market and other attractions on the 10 acres around their home this summer.
The Friday and Saturday of Valentine's Day weekend will be the next chance to dine there.
The candlelit room in which I dined had a plexiglas floor through which the wine cellar beneath it could be viewed, complete with its original stone foundation. Nick's lobster bisque,— a menu mainstay when he had Lure Bistro in Willoughby,—came to the tables as the first course in exquisite china cups from Gianni Versace. (see the cups at the far right of the photo above showing Giovanna at the bar) To the side was a slice of buttered lobster atop a tarragon shortbread round next to a tiny white spoon with truffle oil.
Lure aficionados — several of whom were on hand for the Kustalas' opening — also recognized the wall of salt water aquariums in the billiards room-turned-bar and some of the art works the couple has brought back from Puerto Vallarta.
Each small and beautifully executed course was described on a bound menu presented to guests as they were seated. Wines selected by Giovanna could be paired with four, six or nine courses. Some guests stayed in the nearby Hampton Inn at Route 45 and I-90 rather than drive home after the feast. The Kustalas have negotiated a discount rate with the inn for their dinner guests.
Nick, who celebrated his 37th birthday that night, outdid himself with the menu. Some course descriptions didn't seem like they would work. But, like the snakeskin patterned wallcovering in the dining area where I ate, they did. Case in point was Course Four: diver scallops atop braised pork belly with crunchy chicken livers and Cabernet gelee napped by a 50-year old balsamic vinegar.
Giovanna poured a lovely Oregon pinot noir with that course — which also worked beautifully.
This dinner was priced at $125 a person with wines for an extra $35, $55 and $75 depending on the number of courses with which they were paired. The maximum number of dinner guests at any one time is 22, so it will always be an intimate experience.
Hands-on cooking classes are given in the kitchen each Wednesday.
Nick and Giovanna Kustala will answer questions and accept reservations at (216) 392-3663 or (440) 275-5022. Their Estate on Coffee Creek is at 1591 State Route 45 in Austinburg.