Making Waves: Alley Cat

I had heard a lot of buzz from multiple sources about Alley Cat, and seeing as how they specialize in seafood, it was a no-brainer for this feature. This Zack Bruell’s 8th restaurant! They are all in the Cleveland area too. He is quite the restaurateur!


I recently had the opportunity to check out Alley Cat in the Flats before heading to the Melanie Martinez show at the House of Blues and hanging out with all the cute little crazy fan girls!


Don’t judge. We all have guilty pleasures. The show was awesome.

But I digress, what were we talking about? Oh yeah oysters or something…

So Alley Cat is mainly known for their oyster bar, but they offer a full menu of upscale coastal cuisine. It was beautiful out so we sat at the awesome patio.


This may surprise some of you, but I actually am not a fan of oysters. In fact, it’s really the only seafood I can think of that I don’t like (unless you count jellyfish which was pretty gnarly on both occasions I’ve tried it.)

Oysters are ok cooked, but they don’t sing any special tune when fried. I once had these huge fresh grilled oysters on an island in Japan that everyone around me absolutely loved, and I was kinda like “ehhhh”. It’s possible I was unlucky in that every one I tried was gritty, but I decided that day that it must just be me and I don’t like oysters. Whenever I’ve had them raw, I feel nauseous for about an hour since they make me gag on the way down… yeah not pleasant.

I must say. I FINALLY met an oyster that I enjoyed.

Admittedly, I didn’t get the name of which types of oysters we had…

…since I was off enjoying the amazing view when they arrived at the table.


This restaurant across the river is called Shooters on the Lake. I have never been here as an adult, and I think I was there once or twice as a child. I think it was my parents’ favorite anniversary spot. I definitely need to go check this place out in the near future.


Now, I might not be able to give too much credit to the oysters for winning me over since I kind of doused mine in leftover juice from our ceviche. Also I cut mine into smaller bites. Don’t judge. At least I don’t stab sushi with chopsticks and douse it in soy sauce.

Speaking of ceviche, it was on point.


I believe it consisted of salmon, tuna, and shrimp. Sorry this was nearly a month ago, my memory is getting hazy; it’s been a crazy summer!

Moving on to entrees.


We just had to order the grilled octopus since it’s one of our favorite proteins. I do this really awesome braised octopus that I’m going to have to feature on the blog soon. I haven’t met an octopus in a restaurant that tops it, and this one was no exception. To their credit, I’m not sure how they got such an amazing texture from grilling it. It didn’t appear to have been marinated, so I’m not sure what the secret was; I wish I would’ve asked. On the downside, however, there was a distinctively strong char taste that was a little off-putting; not a deal-breaker, but a note I could’ve done without. And although we enjoyed the bits of hominy in the dish, we also felt the dish was missing something.


We also ordered the salmon which was described as coming with a ratatouille. That was the main reason I wanted to try it, because I was literally one day away from rolling out our new menu and we had a ratatouille on it as a vegan entree. I’m always a sucker for comparing. Sorry about it.


The skin was nice and crispy and the fish was delicious, albeit a little small for my liking. This dish was also lacking something as well, like a rice or quinoa element of some sort. The ratatouille for me, was unimpressive. it was just a couple of stewed summer vegetables thrown in. I didn’t think it was appropriate to call it a ratatouille, especially when you compare it to our version, which our customers have been loving. I’m gonna do a ratatouille post coming up soon so I can share my version which I’ve been very happy with.


Alley Cat delivered about what I expected across the board. It was good, but not amazing for the price. As a chef myself, I’m spoiled, and always end up complaining that I could do better for far less cost; I have to remind myself though, that at least I’m not working! The only surprise to me here, was that I actually enjoyed oysters for once! I would definitely recommend you go check it out!

We didn’t have time for dessert since the show was about to start (at least according to the tickets…but even though we were late, we weren’t late at all…) We made up for dessert later though that’s for sure.

After the show, we stopped at Colossal Cupcakes with some of the fan girls! (one of which actually looked like a colossal cupcake). Darn, I should’ve got a picture. That was the best way possible to ruin my workout from earlier!

Until next time,

May the fish (and the fan girls) be with you!

~Maki Zavelli



Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant

“Love at first bite!”

My best friend and I have been talking about going to an Ethiopian restaurant for a few years now. I had often exclaimed about how it was one of the most amazing ethnic foods I had ever tried, and she really wanted to try it too. Problem is there isn’t one anywhere near us. As her graduation approached, I figured we should finally make the trek out to Ann Arbor, where the closest Ethiopian restaurant resides.

The restaurant is called Blue Nile. Not to be confused with the West Nile, of course.

If you’ve never had Ethiopian food, well, you should probably change that. It is one of the most delicious, healthy, and interesting cuisines around. It centers around injera, which is a light airy bread which could only really be compared to a crepe. Instead of utensils, you generally just use injera to grab the various stewed meats and vegetables and eat with your hands. Injera can also be fried, and served like pita chips.

Four of us went to the restaurant, and it was everyone’s (except me) first time with Ethiopian food.

We ordered two appetizers, and we all ordered Ethiopian iced tea which resembled chai tea. I learned on that day, that it is never necessary to order appetizers at an Ethiopian restaurant. I am known for having a large appetite, but I was full to the point of moaning for hours after devouring every last bite on my plate.

This was a trio of dips consisting of a hummus, azifa lentil salad, and timmatim salad. These were all super yummy served with both fried injera and soft injera.

We also ordered what was called a begolo cake.

I loved this appetizer and it was really interesting to see that African American cooking has roots in Ethiopian food. This was a corn cake served with stewed greens and a light cheese.  It was crunchy, sweet, and satisfying.

Each entree comes with a stewed meat of your choice, and two vegetable sides chosen from various options. These three stews come served on a plate covered in injera bread. There are also vegetarian options. I ordered lamb dish called yebeg alecha, Abe got a chicken dish called doro wat, Nicky and Amber both ordered the beef zizil wat. Everything was great, and although maybe not as amazing as the first time I had it years ago in Cleveland at Empress Taytu, I have to give Blue Nile two big makizavellian thumbs up.

I read on their site that there is an Ethiopian custom of feeding one’s partner as a sign of affection. I brought this up and everyone thought I was just making things up, so I asked for back-up from the server who just left me out to dry. So this direct link from their site goes out to all you haters:  “It is considered a gesture of affection, called gursha, to offer bites to your partner.”

Until next time,

May the fish be with you, young rainbow trout!

~Maki Zavelli, over and out <(^_^<)