We recently had an opportunity to eat at Edwin’s, a newly opened spot on Shaker Square. Edwin’s specializes in fine French cuisine, which is something I haven’t had much of, and has a diverse menu, incorporating some ingredients you don’t often see in America.
However, what really makes this restaurant unique is the fact that it’s operated as a sort of work-release program. They give formerly incarcerated adults an opportunity to learn job skills, network (with many of the finest chefs Cleveland has to offer), and really, just get themselves back on their feet. Anyone who’s seen the stats knows that many people released from jail will end up back there in a matter of a few years, so this program is designed to give some of them a leg up, while be a fully-operational fine dining restaurant. Really cool idea, and one that we were glad to support.
On to the food.
We started with a duck terrine (roughly chopped meat forced into a mold) made with dried cherries and pistachios, served with crostini, pickled onions, and a nice grainy mustard. The terrine was a nice combination of flavors, with the richness of the duck punctuated by the sweet cherry nuggets. Nice dish, and it was on the happy hour menu.
For an entree, S opted for the seared scallops, complete with Duchess potatoes, duck fat, tomato, and basil. The scallops were cooked to perfection, and the flavors were a nice change of pace, because scallops are often served in a cream sauce. The tomato and basil is a classic combination, and the potatoes were creamy with a little crunch.
I tried a braised rabbit, served with whole almonds and a sweet potato puree. The rabbit was succulent, and could have passed for a nice chicken thigh. Does everything really taste like chicken, or does chicken taste like rabbit? I don’t know, but it was really good. The sweet potatoes were unlike any we’d ever had, and we forcefully pried the ingredients out of the staff to learn that they were made with apple, banana, and raspberry vinegar. Sounds like an odd combination, but it worked, and worked very well.
For dessert, we tried a chocolate duo (it was a good night for some rich chocolatey goodness) consisting of a flourless chocolate cake and a mousse. Very good.
The verdict: Edwin’s earns 5 1/2 stars out of seven, but we’ll throw in an extra half-star because of their mission. The food was very well-prepared, prices were a little on the high side of average for this type of dining (most entrees $23-32), and service was pleasant. If you’re looking for a nice spot for a date, stop out and support them sometime!