Restaurant review

Sage Karma Kitchen in Willoughby strikes a healthy and enjoyable balance

I don’t know why I was surprised.

Sage Karma Kitchen was opened in mid-2021 by husband-and-wife managing partners Teanna and Dan Vitantonio, and I was already quite familiar with their other restaurant business, Tavern Six in Kirtland.

I’ve never had anything but enjoyable meals at the popular Route 6 establishment, but I wasn’t prepared to the level I’d be enticed by Sage.

I mean, wow.

While Tavern Six offers a menu filled with accessible and flavorful dishes, Sage opts more for this chef-prepared approach to its culinary creations, which on a visit in January proved to be complex, delicious and beautifully presented. exquisite.

My dining buddy Cassandra and I arrived at Sage early on a Friday evening to find the space that previously housed Nickleby’s Roundbar quite busy. We were more than happy to grab a pair of seats at the circular bar – an obvious and welcome holdover from Nickleby’s days.

Overall, Sage has undergone a slight facelift to better reflect the healthy vibe of the menu, which offers gluten-free and vegan choices to accompany carnivore-friendly dishes. (Between the two of them, the Vitantonios are a combination of vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free, and they wanted to create a restaurant that catered more to people like them.)

You will see the 12 Laws of Karma on a wall and you may notice the smell of burning sage. Fairly large TVs are set up above the bar, but you come here more for the food than to catch a game.

Starting with drinks, we quickly focused on specialty cocktails despite Sage’s strong beer and wine offerings.

No matter how hard I tried, I was powerless to avoid my typical pro-old fashioned inclinations, especially given the wonderful sounding Blood Orange Old Fashioned ($10) from Sage. Made with Maker’s Mark bourbon, orange, Amarena cherries, a roughly cut sugar cube, and blood orange bitters, it was the perfect blend of sweet and bitter. If not perfect, it was damn close.

Sage Karma Kitchen’s Blood Orange Old Fashioned is full of flavor but not overly sweet. (Mark Meszoros – The News-Herald)

Likewise, Cassandra loved The Shiva ($12), a clever combination of Casamigos tequila, agave nectar, lime, coconut milk and brown sugar, with a hint of nutmeg. (It seemed sweet enough that I wanted it after dinner, not before.)

The Beginnings section of the menu tempted us with the Hummus ($12), Shishito Peppers ($10) and Pretzel Sticks ($9), but we found ourselves fairly quickly on the Sweet Potato Skins appetizers ($12 $) and Avocado ($12). The former tops the skins with cheddar cheese, bacon, green onions and sour cream, while the latter combines two tempura-breaded avocado halves with corn salsa and salsa roja.

Before going further, know that you will not be filled with at least these two applications; the portions are not generous which was a little disappointing. But that’s mostly because both were simply fantastic, with each creation offering memorable taste and texture combinations.

Avocado is such a fun departure from the usual appetizer it’s used for, guacamole – not that we’re here to hate guac, mind you.

Hopefully the Avocado Appetizer will be back on the menu at Sage as soon as it becomes easier to get good whole avocados. (Mark Meszoros – The News-Herald)

The three sweet potato skins were more in line with what I expected from the other starter, but it still made it a sweet and savory treat.

On a future visit, perhaps for an impromptu lunch, I’ll try one of Sage’s mouth-watering bowls, probably the Thai Dye Bowl ($12), which brings together spicy jasmine rice with vegetables and peanut sauce. Protein and other additions can be made to a bowl for $4 to $12.

In fact, Cassandra chose the Karma Bowl ($12) – made with brown rice, cauliflower, sweet potato, mushrooms, spinach and flax – and added Faroese salmon to it for $12. what’s more. She was delighted with the dish and the bite I had of the fish was deeply complex and delicious.

I focused on entrees, landing fairly quickly on the Grass Fed Steak ($26), dressed in homemade chimichurri and served over sweet potato hash. Prepared medium-rare, as requested, but with a nice color on the outside, the steak was close to perfection.

Sorry, steak lovers – this grass-fed steak entree at Sage Karma Kitchen has for now been replaced by a similar short rib dish. (Mark Meszoros – The News-Herald)

OK, so here’s the bad news in case my mouth is watering based on what we ordered: Sage’s menu changes regularly and since our visit, with the current seasonal menu featuring fed ribs with grass ($26), instead of steak; Similar-sounding Sweet Potato Bites ($12), instead of skins; and no avocado based app because it’s not the right time of year.

I was told that each of these elements is likely to resurface later, and I was happy to hear it.

Another disappointment, though also understandable: while Sage, like Tavern Six, offers a unique cupcake of the day, none were available that day due to unavoidable circumstances.

I plan to come back soon for a bowl or a sandwich, like the Chickpea Patty ($12), the Black Bean Patty ($12) or, more likely for a carnivore like me, the Sage Chicken ($11) or the Grass Fed Burger ($14). ).

Or maybe I’m visiting for the relatively new Sunday brunch offering, which at the moment offers breakfast bowls, pancakes, Huevos Rancheros, and other enticing choices.

Either way, rest assured I’ll get my cupcake.

Reviews are based on an anonymous visit to a restaurant.

Kitchen Sage Karma

4051 Erie Street

Willoughby

440-946-2399

SageKarmaKitchens.com

Location: On the east side of Erie Street, just south of Third Street.

Type of restoration: Health conscious bar and grill.

Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday

Alcohol and wine: Wine and beer.

Disabled facilities: Yes.

Credit card: All adults

Food: Eclectic.

Vegetarian: Many options

Special diets: Vegan and gluten-free and dairy-free options; talk to your server about special requests.

Suitable for children: High chairs, booster seats and children’s menu.

Outdoor dining: Patio.

Dress code: Casual

Reservations: No.

Wireless: Yes.

Delivery: No.

Prices: Moderate, with apps around $10, sandwiches and bowls around $10, entrees ranging from $14-$26.

Assess: Good.

Scores (out of five):

Food: 4.5

Atmosphere: 3.5

Service: 4.