Tag Archives: Tremont

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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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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