The Red Chimney is located in the Slavic Village area of Cleveland or as I like to call it, an oasis in a desert of horrible fast food joints.
When I first came back to Cleveland, I took a job in Slavic Village. When I left Cleveland 20 years ago, the area was still Slavic and I imagined that little church ladies were going door to door selling their pierogies. I remember the hesitation in my soon to be boss' voice when she asked if I knew where the position was located. With a bounce in my voice, I happily proclaimed that it was in Slavic Village. I could hear her shaking her head at me over the phone.
The area now is rough around the edges. Slavic Village is known more for shootings and car jackings than church ladies.
There is The Red Chimney.
While the area is less than desirable, I have never felt unsafe there. As my cousin who thinks she is a Klingon would say, it is in the Neutral Zone. I have been there on lunch hours with a wanna be gang banger at the counter, the Cleveland gang unit at a table, and various politicos chattering away as a table of grandmas chomped down their stuffed cabbage.
The food here is comfort food. Not hipster comfort food, but meals that your grandma would make for you when you came to visit.
My first day of work, my co-workers took me there and gushed about the pierogies. We got along great. With the pierogies (potato and cheese) you get a choice of salad, apple sauce or soup. If you learn nothing else from me, always pick the chicken noodle soup.
The chicken noodle soup is made with the little noodles, hunks of chicken and pieces of carrot. I think the carrot is what makes it tasty.
They also have great breakfast food all day (I love the ham and cheese omelet) but I usually steer to the pierogies.
The pierogies come with butter, sour cream and onions, but I hate onions so those never show up on my plate.
The service is quick and the servers are friendly. At lunch, you can always get a seat but the parking lot fills up. The day I showed up there was a Crime Scene van in the parking lot...those guys have to eat too.
I love supporting local restaurants, especially the ones with a history and connection to the neighborhood. The Red Chimney isn't a fad or flash in the pan. Long after the next new thing is shuttered on East 4th, the Red Chimney will still be on Fleet flipping burgers and serving pierogies.
Give them a try. You might be surprised.
If you do visit, make sure you bring cash. They don't take cards, so use that paper stuff you get in birthday cards from your Aunt Rose.