Tag Archives: Cleveland Ohio

CLEVELAND: Fun & Festive

18 Dec

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We awoke to a chilly November morning; rooftops had a light dusting of snow, downstairs Richard was busy making chocolate waffles for breakfast. Breakfast at Stone Gables is always scrumptious. Saturday was no exception, the waffles and homemade chocolate sauce were sinfully delicious. We had much to see, and new-found energy from the morning dose of sugar and caffeine to do it with. First stop: the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (MOCA) located in the Uptown District. This is one of those new, funky-cool buildings; designed by Farshid Moussavi it is both her first US commission and her first museum. The building is 4 stories, the base is hexagonal and shoots up 60 feet to a square top. The exterior is a mirror-finish black  Rimex stainless steel, you can see yourself as you approach the entrance. The main floor is home to the lobby, cafe and museum store; as you look around the shape of the building is apparent, one of the main features is a gigantic stairway to the upper floors. There are four floors in all and each can be used for either exhibit space or public programs. The museum was bustling with visitors, it’s nice to see people excited about this recently opened venue. We climbed the stairs to check out the exhibits; gallery after gallery we viewed large paintings and sculptures, some life-like, some abstract. Each floor has windows that allow you a glimpse of the city completing the urban feel. The gallery has no permanent collection so the exhibits are never the same, always making you want to come back and see what’s new.

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We were motoring down Martin Luther King Jr drive near University Circle when our attention was drawn to a magnificent church. The door was open and people were going in and out, so we thought we see if we could take a peek. Just inside the door we were greeted by volunteers gathered to put up the Christmas decorations; they invited us in to have a look around, what luck! Eppworth Euclid United Methodist Church was designed by local architect Bertram Goodhue, his design included a towering steeple affectionately known as the “Holy Oil Can”. Built in 1928 is has many of the wonderful features found in churches back in the day; stained glass windows, granite exterior and stunning woodwork. 

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Back in the Jeep we continued down MLK  to the Rockefeller Greenhouse. Built in 1905 it was originally used to grow plants that would later be planted in the city’s parks, still used as a greenhouse it now includes display gardens. I love stopping in at different times of year to see the seasonal displays; I was anticipating rows of pots filled with Poinsettia’s in multiple colors, Christmas decorations and maybe a Cyclamen or two. Instead we found the seasonal beds full of round indentations, the Poinsettia’s waiting patiently in another area to be installed… bummer. Still the greenhouse was quite lovely with its fern grotto, mum display, fountains and a multitude of other greenery. The sun had come out inviting us to stroll the outdoor gardens. A very unique feature to the grounds is the Betty Ott Talking Garden For The Blind. A cement walkway leads through the garden, recorded messages play at certain points describing surrounding flora. A bronze statue of Helen Keller kneeling at a water pump is a main focal point, visitors can even operate the pump. Admission is free, well worth a look.

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Our stomachs reminded us that it was time for lunch, we drove back to Ohio City to eat at Johnny Mango World Cafe and Bar. Anytime we are in Cleveland we stop here for a meal, the food is excellent. As soon as we were seated Kris ordered a lemonade, they make it on the spot with fresh squeezed lemons and just the right amount of sugar. We knew what we were going to have before we even got here: the veggie quesadilla big plate, it comes with happy beans, grain of the day, Yucatan slaw and a grilled banana. The food arrived without delay, we divided it onto two plates and dug in. The quesadilla is loaded with sautéed veggies, the grain today is Jasmine rice and it is cooked perfectly, the Happy Beans are a red variety and quite tasty as was the slaw, the grilled banana is a sweet finish to the meal. Did I mention the fried tofu? Yum! We are just around the corner from the bed and breakfast, so we head back to relax before the evenings activities.

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Rested and ready to go we head downtown, tonight is the tree lighting and Winterfest. As we get closer to the activities the streets become increasingly busier with both automobile and pedestrian traffic. As we look for parking the fireworks show begins, before long we find ourselves standing street side with a wonderful view. The surrounding trees are strung with thousands of lights, high in the night sky fireworks burst into color, the crowd cheers, children laugh and the tiny dog near my feet looks for cover. When the finale has ended we decide to seek warmth in nearby historic buildings, Cleveland’s downtown has fantastic architecture.

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We follow the crowd to Tower City, once Cleveland’s train station, it is now a shopping mall. Fortunately the building has maintained its architectural integrity, it is stunning, ceilings are coffered and highly detailed. The place is packed, so we go over to the historic Renaissance Cleveland Hotel.…wow! Opened in 1918 this place is gorgeous! The lobby is grand and dripping with early 20th century finery, the place was jammed with people so we just got a quick look and moved on.

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Further on, we stopped in at the Arcade on Euclid, if you ever get to Cleveland, this is one place you shouldn’t miss seeing. Once inside we realized a wedding reception was taking place on the first floor, what a fantastic place to have it. Businesses were closed and just a few hotel guests lingered about as we quietly walked around. A beautifully decorated Christmas tree stood at the top of the stairway, lights were dimmed creating an elegant atmosphere. Even in the low light the fine Romanesque details of the building stand out, just stunning.

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We had been walking around downtown for a while now in 21 degree weather, our hands were cold and we were hungry. There’s a great little district on East 4th Street that has lots of restaurants and bars to choose from, so that was our destination.  Like the rest of downtown this district was all dressed up for the holidays, people were milling about coming and going from dinner or a show. We found ourselves in front of Saigon, the thought of Vietnamese food was appealing, so we went in. Feeling a bit overwhelmed by the enormous menu we asked our waiter for advice on ordering. He pointed out a few selections, we nodded our heads and that was that. First to arrive was Pho Tai (a sort of soup with rare beef) followed by Ga Xe (lettuce wrapped chicken) and for a main course Bun Xao Chay (vegetarian curry vermicelli). With all the food in front of us, it was clear we had over-ordered, but it sure was fun trying everything! The service was great and each dish tasty and unique.

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Walking back to the car we noticed a shop on the corner of 4th and Euclid called CLE Clothing; it was still open and busy with customers, so we went in to check it out. This is the store for all things Cleveland: t-shirts, hoodies, books, art, you name it. All kinds of goods showing pride in their home town. Appealing to both locals and visitors alike they were doing a brisk business tonight, after all the holiday shopping season had officially begun.

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Like Detroit, Cleveland has seen some tough times, but continues to reinvent and endure, c’mon, take a look.

On The Road To Cleveland……

11 Dec

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 There’s something really fun about traveling on Thanksgiving weekend as folks slip into holiday mode; towns are lit up with thousands of miniature lights, children line up to ask Santa Claus for that special gift, eggnog flows freely and Christmas carols become the music of choice. Through the years we have been as far north as Milwaukee and as far south as the Gulf, nobody celebrates the holidays with more enthusiasm than mid-westerners. We were due for a roadtrip, so we loaded up the Jeep and headed for Cleveland. When it comes to decorating for Christmas, this city goes all out. 

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By freeway you can make it from Detroit to Cleveland in just under three hours, but what fun is that? There is much to see and do along the way, for example, the Rutherford B Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont Ohio. Can’t say that we knew much of anything about our 19th President, funny how much more interesting history is to us now than back when we were in school, so we thought we’d stop in. The Hayes estate, named Spiegel Grove is an impressive 31 room mansion and sits adjacent to the Presidential Library and Museum. We arrived just in time for a tour. The home is quite  lovely, I was surprised by its size; the exterior is red brick, most notable is the wrap around veranda and rooftop lantern. Inside, the home remains just as it was when Rutherford and Lucy lived there; books, furniture, paintings, light fixtures, even dishes give you a peek into the private life of the man who was an attorney, served in the military, was a US Congressman, served 3 terms as the Governor of Ohio and one term as President of the United States.

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Rutherford was born about two months after his father passed away, he was raised by his mother and her bachelor brother Sardis Birchard.  Uncle Sardis was himself an attorney, he had the means to provide Rutherford a top-notch education, which included Harvard Law School. Uncle Sardis built his home in Fremont in 1859, he made it large enough for Rutherford and his young family to spend their summers in northern Ohio. Through the years as the family grew so did the home. It was here at Spiegel Grove that Rutherford lived when he was elected as President and the place he returned to after his years in the White House. After his presidency there was a huge addition including a library, reception room, and even indoor plumbing (Lucy must have been so happy!). A gorgeous 4-story walnut and butternut staircase was added, it leads all the way up to the rooftop lantern where you are treated to a 360 degree view of the property. It’s fascinating to see all of their things, and amazing that they all remained in the home. Much of the home has been restored; woodwork is handsome, wallpapers are covered with busy patterns so popular at the time, and lots of color. Everything in the home is accessible to visitors; there are no ropes or plastic runners, unfortunately photos are not allowed to be taken in the home,ugh. Gifts given to Rutherford during his political years are all on view, he brought back a painting of himself that was so large they had to raise the ceiling in the library. Rutherford and Lucy raised 8 children in the home, both passed away at home and are buried on the grounds. Fortunately the home stayed in the family, eventually the Hayes children deeded Spiegel Grove and all of its holdings to the state of Ohio. In 1912 ground was broken for the first presidential library and museum in the country, it opened in 1916 and is just a short walk from the estate.

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The museum is two floors of exhibit galleries and a research library. Here just under 2,000 artifacts are on permanent display, most enclosed in glass cases. They say they have 19,000 artifacts that tell about Rutherford, his family and Ohio history. He was highly respected as a leader and as a man; throughout his life he was concerned with minorities and the poor. He believed all people deserved an education and with it they could achieve better lives. He was active in both local and veterans affairs, they say his policies made business and industry stronger. We also learned Mrs. Hayes was the first president’s wife to be called the “First Lady”, she was also the first wife of a president to graduate from college. President Hayes began the “Easter Egg Roll” in 1878, which still continues today. This was such a great find, I’m so glad we came.

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As usual we were running way behind, we needed to stop for lunch. Luckily we were not far from the Quarry Hill Winery in Berlin Heights. Kris is very familiar with this part of the state and he knows a great route. The temperature had continued to drop and it was now snowing, fitting for the day after Thanksgiving. The wine bar at Quarry Hill sits smack dab in the middle of the vineyard and orchards,  surrounded in glass a fireplace anchors the back wall, there’s not a bad view to be found. It was mid-afternoon so the only food available was a meat and a cheese plate, which was ok with us, add a glass of apple wine and we’re happy. As we sat and ate in the large open room people began to drift in. We made quick work of finishing off the chunks of cheese, baguette, olives and meat, but lingered over the wine. The snow was coming down harder, it was time to continue our journey eastward. The miles pass quickly through the countryside; roads wind around curves and rise and fall over hillsides, every once in a while we pass a home decked out in Christmas attire.

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At last we arrived in Cleveland, first stop: Stone Gables Bed and Breakfast to check in, unload and freshen up. On our last visit we were impressed with the revitalization going on in the Gordon Square Arts District, Kris had checked the movie listings and found Life of Pi was playing at the Capitol Theatre, we had a plan….The schedule worked perfectly, we could have dinner first, then catch the movie (we might have snuck in an ice cream at Sweet Moses….). Detroit St has lots of places to choose from, we had heard good things about LUXE, with any luck we could get in. To our delight there was a high-top table open right in front of the window, we took our seats and scanned the menu as our waiter brought us water and told us the specials of the night. The selection includes something for everyone; we settled on pizza and salad. As we waited for our dinner to arrive, facing the window I noticed all the quotes posted on the glass; from the Dalai Lama and Lord Byron to Alfred Tennyson and Louis Armstrong their words give us food for thought. My reading is interrupted by laughter from a nearby table, I turn and take in the room for the first time; crystal chandeliers hang above, walls are exposed brick, a large antique Art Deco bar leans against the right side wall. Tables are filled with large groups tonight, people are laughing and making toasts, yes, the holidays are here. Our food arrives, we dig right in. The salad is a mix of butter lettuce, chick peas, olives and pickled onion topped with roasted cauliflower and drizzled with a raisin-sherry vinaigrette, it’s wonderful. The De-LUXE pizza is topped with a roasted red pepper sauce, chorizo, black olives, spinach and Manchego cheese, a perfect combination of salty and spicy, yum!

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The Capitol Theatre is a few blocks down from the restaurant, snow continues to fall but fails to accumulate, it’s cold, colder than it’s been in a long time. Detroit St. sparkles with the glow of Christmas lights, storefronts are decked out in holiday splendor. We arrive at the theatre and purchase tickets for The Life of Pi, the cashier hands us our 3-D glasses. We enter the main theatre and have a look around; built in 1923 and vacant for over 20 years, it has recently been restored and upgraded to all digital projection and 3-D capabilities. Once one big space, it is now divided into 3, the original main floor being the largest and most decorative. The ceiling is very ornate, the eclectic chandelier hangs from a large medallion in the center, decorative patterns please the eyes, along each side curtains hang in arches separated by flat plaster columns. What was once home to vaudeville stage shows now welcomes 21st century movie-goers. The lights dim, after the coming attractions have finished we all don our funky glasses and get ready for the main attraction. Time to relax.

Cleveland Day III : Museums & More…..

27 Jun

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It was our last day in Cleveland and we still had a list of things we wanted to do. The day promised to be a warm one, so we thought we’d check out a few museums in air-conditioned comfort. The University Circle district is home to more than a dozen museum and cultural institutions; anchored by hospitals and universities this part of town has lots going on. We began with a visit to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. The building is laid out in a way that leads you from gallery to gallery; teaching us about all aspects of nature from prehistoric times to the present. We had just begun to walk around the lobby area when Kris noticed a man walking around holding a skunk; getting ready to do a lecture, the speaker paused for a while to let anyone interested pet the animal. Getting a closer look at the black and white critter, she is really very cute. I stroked her back and the top of her head, the fur is stiff and somewhat bristly. Keeping with the wildlife theme we went outdoors to the Wildlife Center and Woods Garden; just over 2 acres of plants and animals native to the area. Shaded by large trees we saw owls, Bald Eagles (Wow are they big!), fox, bobcats and a deer. The museum itself is a mix of old and new;  a large open space from floor to ceiling, displays divide the galleries. The Kirtland Hall of prehistoric life features a full size replica of a T. Rex and a Triceratops; why is it children are afraid of Santa Claus but the sight of a gigantic skeletal figure with huge teeth is fun? Check out the Dunkleosteus Terrelli…it’s a fossil fish that was found in the shale around Cleveland, don’t think I’ve ever seen one of those before. Follow the formation of the universe, feel the rumble of an earthquake, touch a volcanic rock, a stalagmite and a stalactite. I really liked the section of gems and minerals; colored diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and a large display of mineral eggs, beautiful!

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Next up, the Cleveland Museum Of Art; opened in 1916 the Beaux Arts style building was designed by local architects Benjamin Hubbell and Dominick Benes. Originally two wings flanking a central rotunda, it has undergone many changes and additions throughout the years, its beautiful white Georgian marble facade has remained.  Each time we enter an art museum we are offered a map, we prefer to wander aimlessly and discover things on our own. The interior is elegant; marble columns, exquisite sconces, architectural details everywhere, it feels light and airy. Currently undergoing yet another expansion and renovation, there is still plenty to see; African, Medieval, Greek and Roman art. Decorative art and design showcases incredible items such as furniture, clocks and other household type things that are opulent and magnificent. Hard to believe people actually used such pretty things. The vibrant colors and amazing details of European paintings from 1500-1800 are amazing, the sculpture always fascinates me too. Internationally renowned for its collection of Ancient Egyptian Art, the gallery is impressive. I can’t wait to come back and see the museum when renovations are complete.

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Just a hop and a skip from Little Italy, lunch was close at hand. With more than a dozen restaurants to choose from parking would dictate where we ate. With an open space directly in front of Etna Restaurant, we took it as a sign. Cute cafe tables sit on the sidewalk under a kelly green awning; with the threat of rain looming we chose to dine inside. Traditional in decor with white tablecloths the space is charming. Our server arrived quickly to greet us and recite the specials of the day. When he arrived to take our order he brought along a basket of delicious, fresh, crunchy crust, chewy middle, Italian bread with plenty of butter.  Our Caprese salad arrived first; fresh mozzarella and slices of vine-ripe tomatoes laid across a bed of mixed greens. Drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and torn basil leaves it was seriously good. They were nice enough to divide the ravioli among two plates; tender pasta pillows with a spinach and ricotta filling, covered in a cream sauce that had a hint of tomato sauce….scrumptious!

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We began the drive back westward; before setting out on the journey home we stopped in the neighboring city of Lakewood. We thought it would be nice to take a walk and burn off some calories. The homes in the area are fantastic! Of course the closer you are to the lake, the more incredible they become. Like Detroit, the Clevelanders of the industrial age had money to burn, and what better way to show off than with a grand home. We parked the car on Lake Ave; the street is tree-lined, ornate old apartment buildings are intermixed with distinct homes varying in size from modest to very large. Houses wear tile roofs and sport lush green lawns and professional landscapes. We took a perpendicular street over one street closer to Lake Erie, Edgewater; here the houses grow larger and can be referred to as estates. Usually made of brick or stone it is not uncommon to see a turret, elaborate doorways, large urns and stone statues, window boxes overflow with colorful annuals. Many of the houses are historic and were built by the finest craftsmen of the day.  The neighborhood sits upon a high bluff overlooking Lake Erie; these homes have a picturesque view of the smallest of the Great Lakes right out their back door. It is absolutely wonderful to wander through, I like to  imagine what the homes look like inside. 

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Heading back to Detroit we continue to follow the lake through Lakewood, Rocky River and Bay Village enjoying a lake view until just east of Lorain. Here we drop south to Amherst and continue westward through Ohio farm country, finally going north to the mitten state. Our time in Cleveland was a blast; we revisited old favorites and found new ones. By freeway it takes under three hours  from here to there, making it a perfect weekend getaway. Go see for yourself!

Roadtrip Cleveland: The Greater Cleveland Aquarium

16 Jun


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Roadtrip: Cleveland Ohio, West Side Market, University Circle, Little Italy & Tremont

9 Jul

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It had been too long since our last visit to Cleveland; Saturday morning I could hardly wait to head over to West Side Market. While Detroit’s Eastern Market is spectacular, Cleveland’s  is the best indoor market in the Midwest, hands down . The extraordinary yellow brick market-house  was dedicated in 1912 and is a feast for the eyes and the appetite. With 180 indoor and outdoor stands there is something for everybody. Traverse the aisles of artisan breads, cheeses, applewood smoked meat and spices; grab yourself a crepe and a cup of French roast coffee. How about a piece of Guiness Stout Chocolate cake? Enough cookies, cannoli, cheesecake and brownies to satisfy any sweet tooth. From tamales to hummus to perogi and fresh fish, they’ve got it all. Rows of brightly colored fruits and vegetables line the adjacent corridors, samples of cantaloupe, mango, and watermelon are plentiful. The market was jammed with people picking up things for their weekend Bbq’s, others seemed to be there to just take it all in with their camera, we came just for the pleasure  of it.

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 Off we go to the East side of the city.

Most of you have heard  of Cleveland’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but you may not know of an area called University Circle. This is Cleveland’s Cultural district, the Art, Natural History and Auto Avaition Museums are all within it’s boundaries; So too is Wade Oval, the Botanical Gardens and Severance Hall. Even the symphony plays here !

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Today we’ll take you to  the Cleveland Botanical GardensBy now you’re starting to wonder if we ever do anything but go to markets and gardens, the answer of course is yes! This time of year a Michigander has to soak up as much of the bounty of summertime as possible. Come January we’ll all be wishing for days like this!

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A world of beauty awaits you in the 18,000 sq ft conservatory; you can trek across continents from the desert to the lush rain forest with 50 varieties of butterflies. Climb the stairs to the lookout and get a birds eye view of the canopy. Tiny brightly colored birds stand out among plants as they eat, drawing attention from visitors. Journey outdoors to one of the many themed gardens, the Rose Garden shows off 50 varieties of Roses or take time for a little respite in the Japanese Garden. Fountains and waterfalls add a sense of serenity, find a secluded spot to sit and take it all in. The Hydrangeas were in full bloom, branches sagging with the weight of large pink and periwinkle flowers, tall Astilbe with their fluffy plumes reach toward the blue sky. Kids will love playing in the Children’s Garden; there’s a playhouse with a garden on the roof, brightly colored flowers in beds have name tags that teach you what they are, and garden tools invite youngsters to dig in. Of all the conservatories we visit, I think Cleveland has the best outdoor gardens, they are absolutely breath taking.

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The Crawford Auto Aviation Museum is just a short walk from CBG and was our next stop. The museum is home to a great many cars, both elegant and cool, old and really old. Large spoke wheels and tons of chrome remind you of days gone by. Nothing quite defines an era like an automobile; the earliest of cars resembled carriages, fins and chrome of the 50’s, bright colors and stripes of the 70’s, there’s a little of everything here, and Kris likes it all. There are planes and a personal helicopter to see, the lower floor features and old fashioned street scene from Cleveland’s past; Large historic photos of the city hang on the wall with autos from the appropriate year parked alongside.Carousel horses are scattered here and there and add a touch of whimsy. Just inside the main entry doors is a giant neon Cleveland Indian mounted on the wall; it seems to be a favorite spot to take photos, well, unless you are a Tiger fan! The historic Bingham-Hanna house is also part of the museum complex and can be reached through the CAAM. Now serving as part of the History Museum you can tour the main level and check out the elaborate decor and architecture, it is included in the admission price. There are changing exhibits; currently a display of vintage flags is available for your viewing pleasure.The Crawford Museum is about to undergo a major renovation, several areas were closed when we were there, so please check the progress before visiting.

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Little Italy is just a hop from University Circle, and is where we wanted to have lunch. Outdoor eating is a priority here and is offered at most establishments, but the heat drove us inside for lunch. We have eaten at several different cafes, we return most often toTratorria on the Hill on Mayfield. Big menu, big portions, everything is delicious here! We ordered the Antipasto Platter, Oh My……mounds of roasted eggplant, strips of red peppers, calamari salad, olives and Italian cheese. Then there was the Gnocchi Al Burro, delicate potato dumplings smothered in a creamy red sauce, a house specialty, all so tasty. 

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 This charming enclave is the center of Italian culture in northeast Ohio, and one of our favorite areas, this is a must visit when in Cleveland. Mayfield and Murray Hill Roads are the main hubs of activity; Restaurants, shops, galleries and merchants line the two lane streets; Parking can be a chore, but it’s well worth the effort. Now we needed to walk off at least some of the bread we ate, Little Italy is the perfect place for a stroll. We wandered in and out of shops and galleries, grateful for the air conditioning each time we entered. The selection of goods in this area is fantastic, whether it’s handmade art, wine or imported ceramics from Italy, I always bring something home.

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Back to the Bed & Breakfast to relax for bit before heading to Tremont for dinner and a nightcap. Tremont is a bit of a hidden hot spot south of downtown. Located in a somewhat elevated area of the city, there are some great views of the metropolitan area. This neighborhood is home to many incredible restaurants, bars, and galleries; usually a little more on the high end side. The warm evening put us in the mood for something cold to eat; Parallax is known for their seafood and fish dishes, and exceptional Sushi. We were  happy  to be seated right away as we were hungry. The interior is modern decor with high ceilings and exposed brick walls, very nice. Candles flicker on wooden tables, you may need the assistance of candlelight to read the menu as the lighting is dim; our server was friendly and helpful. After perusing the menu we made our Sushi selections and waited for the food to arrive. Everything was delicious, great flavor combinations, the Sushi was fresh and had that soft texture. We had heard a lot of good things about this restaurant and it lived up to its reputation. 

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The last stop for the evening was Dante, also in Tremont. The outside of the building is intriguing, originally a bank it has been restored and converted to Chef Dante Boccuzzi’s signature restaurant. The interior features designs and art by local artists, bright orange walls contrast nicely with the dark wood, fabulous lighting extends down from the recessed decorative ceiling. There are tables and bar seating, but we got the best seats in the house; the safe! Yep, the safe door is permanently open and a single table sits in the middle, it’s a great space! They had $10 martini’s that night, so we each ordered a different one ; Kris had a White Chocolate and I had a Cosmopolitan, both were very good, so good in fact Kris had another one, this time a Chocolate Martini. It was really nice to just kick back and relax, and enjoy our drinks in such an unusual setting. Our waiter was great too, in fact he gets to Detroit frequently so we had a nice conversation with him. It seems there is always something new in Tremont and we continually enjoy our visits.

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