While a restaurant with the philosophy of instilling happiness in its customers doesn’t seem like the ideal recipe for success to many, A Phiner Bistro has the perfect elements to give other small restaurant owners a run for their money.
Owner Phiner Dike (pronounced feena deekay) places just as much emphasis on her customers as she does creating delicious cuisine.
The Bistro, located on Lee Road 10 minutes from John Carroll’s campus, opened in January 2011 in an effort to draw more people from the Cedar Lee Theater and surrounding venues.
It was established in 2006 in Avon, Ohio where it developed a following of loyal customers who now travel the 40 minutes to the east side for weekly visits.
The atmosphere is an intimate setting brightened by the sunshine yellow walls and snapshots of vibrant flowers on canvas.
Each item on the menu is served on lead-free formal chinaware. It’s a fitting environment for the menu designed by Dike, which she describes as “eclectic, young and fresh.”
“It’s honest food,” Dike said. “We custom make everything, using organic meat and produce while avoiding the creation of anything breaded or deep-fried.”
Dike emphasized her desire to give customers the real taste of food. A native Nigerian from Lagos, Nigeria, Dike’s passion for making others healthy is a direct result of her native region’s natural, nutritious diet.
The menu offers a long list of unique options that range from authentic Nigerian to other types of dishes such as Italian, French and Mediterranean. Customers won’t find sides of French fries or onion rings; each entrée comes with rice, sautéed vegetables and salad.
Meals are not enhanced with preservatives or artificial flavors, and ocean sea salt is substituted for standard white salt.
For an appetizer, try the hummus with grilled pita chips. It’s a delicious start and won’t leave you feeling too full to finish your main course. Another starter on the menu is the chicken garlic soup made from scratch, a light and flavorsome choice for a cold afternoon in Cleveland.
As for the salads, none of the dressings are cream based; each salad dressing is fruit based, made with real mangos, strawberries and other fruit selections.
Main entrées, such as the boneless chicken breast dinner come with coconut rice and peanut sauce certain to make tastebuds turn their heads from the fried and greasy side dishes they once loved.
The menu accommodates for vegetarians, and offers beans and gluten-free organic brown rice for vegans.
To finish the meal, the restaurant offers a vast variety of desserts ranging from the “Pie-Tini” to vanilla ice cream wrapped in roasted pecans and melted caramel. Each of the options go well with their freshly ground coffee and delicious almond cream.
A Phiner Bistro offers a few unique touches that set it apart from other local independent restaurants. One of the most distinctive elements is their fresh juice menu, offering organic, anti-oxidant rich juices made from real fruits and vegetables.
Owner Dike first became popular with the publication of “Juicing for Your Soul,” a book that focuses on a simple approach to healthy eating to achieve physical enrichment.
Aside from ordering various juices from the menu, Dike teaches “juicing classes” at the Bistro, educating others on proper fruit combinations for attaining the proper nourishment. There is also a “Bring your own beer, wine or vodka” policy, in which customers can bring their own alcohol for a small charge of $4.
A Phiner Bistro does not serve alcohol but allows customers to take advantage of the BYOB policy.
What most likely is the motive to keep people coming back is the menu’s flexibility, as it rotates on a weekly basis. Dike explained that if customers don’t see something on the menu, they can ask the chef if he/she can make it.
It’s this type of service that makes each customer’s experience personal with Chef Dike, which serves as a great incentive for many to return. The menu and the service are proven factors that show A Phiner Bistro masters the art of healthy food and hospitality.
“I’ve learned that people are happy when they’re healthy and when the world is happy, it is a better place,” Dike said.
A Phiner Bistro is located at 2199 Lee Rd. and is open Tuesday-Thursday 11:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 4 p.m. until 10 p.m.