I was pretty confident that I was underdressed.
I was at Crocker Park in Westlake for a bit of light shopping and a movie, with time for dinner in between.
I really wanted to experience Wild Mango – not just because I had salivated in front of the sophisticated, Asian and European chef-owner Jia Wei, rich in seafood. dinner menu posted on its website, but because it has a sister location in Lyndhurst, which opened in 2019 at Legacy Village. With a restaurant on either side of town, I thought, a wide range of people might be interested in what this northeast Ohio-based operation has to offer due to its relative geographic convenience.
However, I was dressed for shopping and going to the movies, but maybe not for dinner at the potentially fancy Wild Mango. The plan: I would hop in hoping to see some upscale, laid-back decor, and then finalize the plans to meet a West Side friend, Erin, in about an hour.
As I walked through the doors that once gave access to the old Vieng’s Asian Bistro – my favorite eating spot whenever I was in Crocker Park – I found myself in a fully enclosed and beautifully decorated lobby, where a woman very well dressed was sitting at a desk. .
Not feeling that I could just go through her and walk through the doors to see the actual restaurant, I explained my dilemma. And encouraged me to come back.
I decided to do this, and Erin and I were shown into the restaurant. While perhaps not as striking as the entryway to the artwork (how could that be?), The decor is perhaps best described as “relatively upscale.” So be it.
White tablecloths are everywhere, to tables with uniquely shaped chairs and booths where plush, pillow-laden benches are a far cry from those at your favorite bar and grill. (By the way, had I thought to click on the “Lookbook” tab on the site, I would have had a clear idea of the stylish decor.) Plus light, relaxing music played at low volume, which I enjoyed.
According to Cleveland.com, Wei closed a store in North Olmsted Wild Mango in January before opening this one in August. Even if you assume some staff transfer, it is a bit early to judge this restaurant on how smoothly it operates, and you should also keep in mind the staffing issues of restaurants at this time when I am pointing out that the service was mixed.
After we were seated we were ignored for a while, until a woman who was not our server came up to ask if we had been helped. When she couldn’t find who was to serve us, she looked after us for the duration of our stay – and she did it with excellence. She offered helpful feedback and got our orders absolutely right.
Erin started off with one of five salads: Butter Lettuce ($ 14), which featured the cauliflower tempura and candied walnuts. (You can easily make a meal of any of the salads by adding a protein, ranging from $ 10 for the tofu to $ 18 for the steak.)
This left me to choose two first course items to share: the Fried Baby Squid ($ 14) and the Pepsi Shrimp ($ 14). The goat cheese ravioli ($ 12), the spicy tuna tartare ($ 16), and the seafood steamer ($ 18) also look very appealing.
The calamari excelled in the presentation, small fried treats served in a fried wonton tortilla and served with a mild chili sauce and cilantro oil. However, of everything I tasted that night, the squid was my least favorite because it was so heavily beaten. (Did I let the imbalance between batter and seafood keep me from eating more than my share? Of course not.)
On the other hand, the shrimp, stacked in a small dish and served with a ramekin of sweet and tangy sauce. The use of cola in the batter gave the good sized shrimp a sweet and distinct taste. It’s almost a must order if you are visiting.
Not the seafood lover that I am, Erin ordered grilled strip steak ($ 33), served with sautéed mushrooms, asparagus and caramelized onions and accompanied by sweet potato fries.
A bite of her steak turned out a bit harsh for my taste, but was helped by a bit of an unidentified side dish sauce, which didn’t do much for Erin but, in my opinion. , added real complexity to the bite. And at the risk of being hyperbolic, the sweet potato fries were from another world. I have never tasted sweet potato fries as light and tasty as these. The restaurant should offer them as an aperitif.
I was tempted by many selections of main courses, not to mention those listed under Rice pasta and noodles, like some of the great bran soups. But I landed on the Bouillabaisse ($ 35), assuming the mushrooms might be left out of the complex equation, with the Five-Spice Duck Breast ($ 28) as a probably delicious fallback choice.
Holding the Bouillabaisse mushroom – described as “Southeast Asian style” – mine consisted of crab legs, clams, mussels, shrimp, scallops and fish fillet in one. coconut curry broth with bean sprouts, baby bok choy and rice Pasta.
The crab legs and tailed shrimp made the big jug dish a bit more work than I was looking for, and I didn’t find the broth “spicy” as the menu promised.
Yet it was a magical meal for a lover of seafood and Asian cuisine. All the seafood was delicious, especially the large scallops, and I tried my best to eat it all as the 7pm screening approached.
On a future visit I will be better dressed and hopefully the restaurant will have a little more staff. On this one, even with a few flaws on both sides, it was a meal bordering on spectacular.
139, boul. Crocker park
Site: In Crocker Park, right in front of The Cheesecake Factory.
Type of catering: Relatively high end.
Hours: From 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday and Monday.
Liquor and wine: Full bar.
Food: Asian meets European.
Vegetarian: Aperitifs and salads; lots of seafood options.
Reservations: Accepted and recommended on weekends.
KId-friendly: Feels more like a place for adults.
Prices: On the high side but not unreasonable.
Notes (out of five):
A service: 4.
To note: Lyndhurst’s location is at 25385 Cedar Road in Legacy Village. Call 216-716-8001.