Under the blue umbrella sky we started our drive south and east; destination Cleveland. We love Cleveland, seriously, this town is highly underrated. Each time we visit we find more and more reasons to come back. Since we were here last, the Greater Cleveland Aquarium had opened, so that was the first place we went when we arrived in town. Located in the historic FirstEnergy Powerhouse on the west bank of the flats, they have even turned the old coal mining tunnels into underwater displays; what a cool way to re-use a 100-year-old building! We paid for our tickets and started to look around. The fish are all colorful; yellow angelfish, pink starfish, giant seahorses and clownfish with their whimsical stripes. Displays are eye-catching, the Coral Reef, amazing! With over 35 tanks the variety of fish runs the gamut from Ohio game fish to alligators, octopus and sharks and rays of the Florida Keys. One area features an 11,000 gallon “touch tank”; pet a horseshoe crab, sea urchin, sea cucumber, maybe even a shark or stingray. Then we made it to the Sea Tube, WOW, this is definitely the main attraction; an acrylic underwater tunnel that allows you a fascinating walk-through experience. Home to over 18 sharks, fish and sting rays, you are surrounded by sea life. The tunnel goes on for over 150 feet; sharks swim overhead and alongside as you walk, schools of fish seemingly avoid the shark’s path, stingrays look as if they are flying as opposed to swimming. It’s peaceful and relaxing, it’s the place folks tend to linger. With the temperatures rising outside it was a great respite inside, cool and refreshing , just like a dip in the ocean.
Cleveland is loaded with great districts, we ventured over to Ohio City for lunch. With many options available we selected La Petit Triangle Cafe; drawn in by its charming sidewalk seating we chose a table in the shade. This is one of those great neighborhood hang-outs; diners and staff all seem to know each other. Menu offerings are definitely French influenced, along with breakfast, lunch and dinner they also serve espresso, wine and other alcoholic beverages. We wanted something cool and refreshing, we chose the Triangle Salad; crisp greens, chevre, walnuts and dried cranberries topped off with a raspberry vinaigrette. For a sandwich the Pan Bagna had a winning combination of ham, swiss, tomato, artichoke, spinach and olive tapenade all piled atop a crisp and chewy French baguette, sounds good doesn’t it? It was! The iced tea of the day was a pomegranate green tea, so nice on a summer day. The funny thing was our waitress remembered us from last time we ate there, she said, aren’t you guys from Detroit? Now that’s some memory. She was actually headed to Detroit for the weekend….the electronic music festival, so we gave her a few tips and she did the same for us.
Just a short drive from the restaurant, we thought we’d check into our room next. As always, we booked a room at Stone Gables Bed and Breakfast; we have been coming here for years, our favorite place to stay in Cleveland. The accommodations and location suit us perfectly; just a couple of blocks from Lake Erie and close to Westside Market and good restaurants it’s no wonder we keep coming back. I read about a new ice cream place that opened recently in the Gordon Square Arts District, so we took a drive over. The district runs up and down Detroit Street from West 58th to West 73rd; home the Cleveland Public Theatre, the newly restored Capitol Theatre, public art, cafes and funky independent shops this area has really come to life. Before we did anything else we had to find Sweet Moses; named after the city’s founder Moses Cleaveland, we had heard only good things about it, now I know why…Walk in the door and you will find yourself in an old-time soda fountain and treat shop. The space has been completely transformed with an authentic Bastion-Blessings soda fountain; framed in 16 feet of Tennessee marble with bar stools and vintage tables with wrought iron chairs it is a step back in time. The ice cream is all homemade along with hot fudge and caramel toppings, toffee, fudge and nut brittle’s, it’s a sweet-lovers dream come true. We had a seat at the counter and ordered a double chocolate malt made with the Belgian Chocolate ice cream, you know what, it would be worth the drive to go get one right now…it’s that good. With a wonderful real chocolate taste it was the perfect proportion of ice cream and malted milk, blended until still thick but not lumpy; large enough to share, it was fantastic! Served with a topping of fresh whipped cream that came from a chrome-like nozzle that pulled out of the soda fountain itself, it was fun to watch them make up orders as we indulged in our malt. Along with sundaes, cones, malts and shakes they also do old-fashioned phosphates and sodas made with carbonated water…..they even make their own root beer. If I lived in Cleveland this would be a dangerous place for me. Time to walk off some of those calories; walking down Detroit we saw a sign on a corner directing us down a side street to a shop called Artful Living. Following the arrow we made our way in, what a great place; beautiful items for your home, jewelry, artwork and more. I found a pair of earrings I loved so I paid for them then immediately put them on. Little places like this seem to be popping up in the district. After a walk up and back ,taking our time to browse interesting shops, we went back to the room for a little rest and relaxation.
Tremont is located on a bluff that overlooks the bend in the Cuyahoga River and provides excellent views of downtown, oh, and it has tons of restaurants, really good restaurants. One fine example would be Lolita, which is where we had dinner. Located on Literary Ave, this is one of Michael Symons early restaurants. Always busy, we were lucky enough to get a table right away, one of the advantages of having a late dinner. Service has always been impeccable and this time was no different. We had an appetizer of roasted dates; bacon wrapped with almonds chiles and parsley, they were outstanding. For our entrée the Olive Pizza sounded good; olives, mozzarella, Fresno chiles and oregano it was a nice combo of salty and spicy. One of the days side dishes was a polenta, I’m thinking it was made with cream cheese, it was so good.
There was one more place we wanted to check out before the night was over; The Prosperity Social Club. Opened in 2005, the original barroom building has stood in this spot on Starkweather Ave since 1938. The decor is vintage; from the stunning Art Deco bar and chestnut walls to the super-cool beer light fixtures, all are welcome here. There’s a wood burning fireplace and a game room that features an old-fashioned bowling machine, pool table and vintage board games. Along with a full service bar they also serve micro-brews and a tavern-style food menu, it is truly a neighborhood gem. There were two open seats at the bar, perfect. We ordered our drinks then kicked back. We met a nice couple from the area and ended up chatting with them for a while, how nice. We have always found Clevelanders to be friendly and fun to talk to, afterall Detroit and Cleveland have shared many of the same ups and downs through the decades; looks to me like both places are on the ups.