Cooking with Caitlin started off as a catering business more than a decade ago. You may have seen co-owners and sisters Caitlin and Kelly on local TV food segments, at various pop-up restaurant events or at company and private gatherings. Last year, they opened "CWC, the Restaurant," their first brick-and-mortar location.
CWC is located in Wyoming, Ohio, abutting the Kwik & Kold drive-thru. With the exception of a once-a-month pop-up event, the restaurant is open only on weekends: for dinner Friday and Saturday and for brunch on Sunday. The pop-up style event is held on the third Thursday of every month, with limited seating and by registration only.
The restaurant features an ample but frequently packed parking lot, with a soft gray-blue exterior and a playful mural sporting a clutch of sunny-side up eggs. The dining room seats about 50 people and reservations aren't typically taken for anything but large parties, although they do offer a "call-ahead" arrangement.
The owners are bubbly, enthusiastic and outgoing, often making the rounds, speaking with everyone and ensuring patrons are having a good time. Introverts may find CWC and its ambiance somewhat taxing, so be prepared to tap into your social reserves. Indeed, the layout is all about engagement: the open kitchen resides along the north wall of the dining room surrounded by bar stools so that selected guests may watch and chat with Caitlin as she works. And no matter how busy and raucous the dining room gets, patrons can still hear Kelly's boisterous, disarming belly laugh reverberating above the din as she greets and serves them.
We managed to grab a table for two on a busy Friday evening. CWC's menu is seasonal, with a short, one-page list of small plates, starters, entrees and desserts. The restaurant also offers a kids' menu and is generally very child-friendly, although none of the children there were particularly rowdy and the dining room is already quite loud and bustling.
We started off with the Besse Rolls ($6), whipped bleu cheese tightly rolled up in cigars of hot soppressata and topped with aged balsamic and basil-walnut honey. They didn't really look like much when they arrived, yet we found them to be so overwhelmingly delicious that we about fell out of our seats in sheer giddiness. The combination was quite explosive: the spiciness of the soppressata, cooled by the sharp bleu cheese and finished with the sweet and acidic honey-vinegar combo was easily one of our favorite appetizers in recent years.
For her main entree, my girlfriend chose the Potato Pizza ($14), a 10-inch personal pizza with a leek cream sauce base, thinly sliced potatoes, rosemary and mounds of balsamic-dressed arugula. I selected the lemon-buttered fillet of sole ($14) with roasted broccolini and smashed, fried herbed potatoes.
The pizza's crust was a gold brown and featured a pleasingly chewy texture that we've come to expect from good gas or wood-fired ovens. The thinly-sliced potatoes and leeks coupled with the peppery arugula made for a satisfying, hearty bite that was surprisingly not overpowered by the rosemary, as we'd feared.
My fish was perfectly cooked, flaky and tender. The naturally bitter flavor of the broccolini is much milder than its broccoli cousin, pairing well with the miniature potatoes and mild fish.
For dessert, we eagerly opted for the homemade Oreos, three palm-sized cream-filled chocolate cookies accompanied by a small glass of whole milk ($6). Each cookie was semi-soft, chewy and intensely chocolatey, like an elevated version of those Little Debbie cream pies I used to subsist on in college.
CWC was a spur-of-the moment dinner that far exceeded our expectations. We look forward to trying out next season's menu.