Cleveland Again: Random Acts of Relaxation

22 Jun

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We began our day with a drive through the Rocky River Reservation, our favorite portion of the Emerald Necklace; a parkway linking together 16 parks encircling the City of Cleveland. The view is picturesque; the area dense with mature trees such as Willows, Sycamores and Cottonwoods. The road winds through the natural area mimicking the river’s path; massive shale cliffs provide a breathtaking background. Here in southeast Michigan the landscape is flat; the glaciers were much kinder to Cleveland, providing wonderful elevation changes and fantastic scenery. The road takes you through deep flood plains, forests and meadows, lovely bridges span the water and antique looking  overpasses rise overhead. At Berea we park the car and walk out to the Berea Falls scenic overlook, what a view! We found the trail that takes you right down to the water; huge rocks rise out of the riverbed, making it the perfect vantage point to take it all in.The reservation also includes a marina, stables, bridle trails, three golf courses and a nature center, which we popped into. It was hard to get back in the car, but we had so much more to do! We took the same route back the way we came, driving the leisurely speed limit that allows you to relax and enjoy the ride.

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Lunch time had arrived and we wanted to try a place we had driven by the day before in the Detroit Shoreway District. Stone Mad located on W 65th Street caught our eye; sitting in a residential neighborhood the Irish pub features an incredible stone patio. When I say stone, I mean everything is stone, tables, seats, fountain, you get the idea. I briefly poked my head inside the restaurant, it was very attractive; beautiful black walnut paneling covers the walls, archways behind the bar are light by Chihuly light fixtures, stained glass panels decorate the space above the door and between rooms. But, on such a pretty day one must sit outdoors! One thing we mid-westerners know how to do is enjoy the outdoors every chance we get, so, patio seating it is. Choosing the table closest to the fountain we looked over the menu, all your basics are there; sandwiches, salads, appetizers and burgers. Our friendly waitress recommended the special burger of the day so we followed her advice, we paired that with a house salad, and sat back and listened to the sound of the water cascading down the fountain. For a place not on the main street they had a good lunch crowd. Our salad arrived first, fresh baby spinach, goat cheese, pickled red onions, toasted almonds and a warm currant balsamic dressing, lots of good flavors piled on a plate. Burgers are big, two can easily share; ours was topped with bacon, sautéed onions, melted Gouda, lettuce, tomato, and onion, yum!

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Tremont is one of those places you could use as an example of “don’t judge a book by its cover”. The neighborhood resembles Hamtramck, but the restaurants, bars and boutiques would be perfectly at home in Birmingham. To top it off Tremont has one of the largest concentrations of architecturally notable churches to be found in any neighborhood in America. The original site of Cleveland University; it was only here from 1851 to 1853, but street names such as Literary, College, Professor and University serve as a reminder of the past.  We wandered the shops and galleries taking in the art and architecture of the area, some of our favorites: The Paul Duda Gallery with its striking images of the Cleveland skyline, The Eye Candy Gallery with an eclectic mix of art in multiple media and Deering Vintage (of course) with its cool mid-century items. As a tourist you’ve got to keep up your strength; Lilly Handmade Chocolates will do the trick, the only problem being the decision process. The pieces are gorgeous, the flavor combinations awesome! We have been coming here since the shop opened and have enjoyed watching them grow, they even serve wine now. When we got thirsty it was two iced coffees over at Loop; in addition to great coffee they also sell art and records. As you can see there are a bevy of things to see and do in the neighborhood.

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After a short rest at Stone Gables it was dinner in the Gordon Square Arts District. There is so much activity in this area now we wanted to see it in the evening. Part of the revamped streetscape included new lighting; our favorite part? Newly placed sidewalk benches are lit from below casting a red glow around them, very funky looking. When we were walking around the day before a few locals suggested we have a meal at  XYZ The Tavern, we did. It was a mild evening, the restaurant as a wall of doorways that open out onto a side patio, so again we took advantage of outdoor dining. They were doing a brisk business, I believe a couple of the theatres had shows going on. The bar specializes in whiskey and bourbon, the kitchen, in made from scratch selections. We weren’t terribly hungry; we ordered the Chicken and Waffles from the Small Plates section of the menu, when it arrived we thought it could easily be an entrée. The waffles were a perfect golden color, crisp and tender at the same time with a wonderful malty flavor, dipped in warm syrup they were delectable! The chicken was equally good, boneless chunks of breast meat; crispy outside, juicy inside, dip it in the side of gravy to really indulge. All of the flavors really work well together. We threw in a side of the cheesy grits which were excellent. Service was fast and friendly and prices reasonable, I can see why XYZ is so popular.

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Heading back to the bed and breakfast, we remembered another place we wanted to check out, so we decided to end the evening with drinks at the Tremont Tap House on Scranton Rd. The historic Italianate building has great curb appeal; inside exposed brick walls, hardwood floors and a 40ft concrete bar give the place an industrial feeling. We took a couple of seats at the bar and looked over the extensive beer menu; over 100 beers with 48 on draft! The Taphouse is Clevelands first gastropub; the food looked great, but we were just here for drinks. I chose a porter (which just happened to be from Michigan) and Kris a V O and Coke. The bartender delivered our drinks and started up conversation, ah ha, we found another person who likes Detroit, as a matter of fact he was heading to the D the following morning. Between waiting on patrons we asked Jay about his favorite Cleveland places and we told him our favorites back home. Another couple arrived, sitting a few seats away from us at the bar, they joined the conversation. We sat and sipped our drinks enjoying both the company and the atmosphere; at the end of the night we exchanged cards and emails, Jay and I exchanged lists of cool places to check out when in each other’s cities. We had found ourselves another place to come back to on our next visit.

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