I’m not a very good bicycle rider and it’s been quite a while since I even tried. In fact, there was even a time I ran into a mailbox on my bike, but despite my periodic imbalances and inability to brake, there’s something wonderful about the wind blowing through your hair and the opportunity to go wherever your legs can take you. Combine this feeling with coffee, beer and unique gathering locations for family and friends, and even the bicycle-challenged such as myself can enjoy a spring day exploring local districts, restaurants and parks. This Saturday, May 14, kicks off Cleveland Bicycle Week 2011 with the Bikespresso event sponsored by local artisan coffee company Phoenix Coffee.
The event begins at 3:30pm at Phoenix Coffee on West Ninth Street in the historical warehouse district. Then, at 5:30 the group travels (by bike of course) to Edgewater Park to enjoy Umami Moto and Tasty Treat food trucks. Later, riders can enjoy coffee with local and organic baked goods from Root Café in Lakewood, followed by burgers and beer at Beer Engine. The evening concludes at 11pm at XYZ the Tavern in Detroit Shoreway.
It happens like clockwork. The end of January rolls around and I am literally itching for something to do. Call it the winter blues, call it cabin fever, call it whatever you want; it’s a problem, a very expensive problem. I ultimately start planning an elaborate long weekend getaway that I can’t afford so soon after the holidays. Well this year I can’t, just can’t get away right now. But does this mean I have to spend another weekend fine tuning the body imprint on the couch, scanning the latest new releases on Netflix? After some thought and research, I discovered no, there is plenty to do in my hometown of Cleveland in the winter; lately I’ve just been too lazy to get out and do it.
So this weekend I’ve planned a vacation for my husband and I to get away. Sure, it’s only 20 miles away from our humble abode but there are plenty of things to do and places to eat that often we complain we “never have time” to experience. Well, this weekend is our chance. The only rule is that we can’t go somewhere where we have been before, just as if we were on vacation in a different location.The weekend will start after work on Friday (no need to waste precious vacation time on travel, perk numero uno.) While I love the Westside neighborhoods of Tremont and Ohio City for a post-work happy hour or weekend dinner, rules state we can’t go to the norm. So, guess we’ll have to go some other time to Momocho, Bier Market and Prosperity. What better way to warm the winter chills than some hearty Italian drinks and dining? Our first stop will be Gusto! (www.gustolittleitaly.com; 216.791.9900) in Little Italy, only 5 miles outside of downtown Cleveland. With a happy hour until 8pm which includes $5 house wines, half priced cocktails and $5 appetizers such as calamari della liguria, prosciutto w/cantaloupe and gusto pizza, this charming restaurant is just the place to get the weekend started.
After some wine, we will hop on a bus to the Cleveland Museum of Art (www.clevelandart.org; 216.421.7350), less than a mile away in University Circle. In the process of a massive renovation, the museum reopened some galleries this past summer, bringing back more than 900 pieces, many of which have been out of the public’s eye for the past five years. With more than 40 galleries still open during the renovation there is plenty to see and the best part is admission to the permanent collections is free and open until 9pm on Fridays.For a late dinner, the plan is to head to Guarino’s Restaurant (www.guarinoscleveland.com; 216.231.3100). Italian traditions like the lasagna and manicotti get rave reviews at the oldest Italian restaurant in the neighborhood, opened in 1918. Hopefully, we’ll have time to swing by Presti’s Bakery (www.prestisbakery.com; 216.421.3060) before dinner and pick up some dessert. With freshly made baked goods, the doughnuts, cookies and cannoli’s would make for the perfect treat to end the evening.
To save money, Friday evening we’ll stay at home. To keep with the vacationing spirit though, no early morning Saturday workout for me. Instead we’ll rise and shine bright and early for skiing and snow tubing at Boston Mills/Brandywine (www.bmbw.com; 800.875.4241). Then, we’ll get in a workout by cross country skiing at Lake Metroparks (www.lakemetroparks.com; 440.358.7275). Hey, if we’ve got this much snow, we might as well enjoy it.While out on the east side of town, we’ll head out to Debonne Vineyards (www.debonne.com; 440.466.3485) for dinner and delicious Ohio wine. In addition to tours and tastings during regular business hours, Ohio’s largest estate winery features European style wines including Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Cabernet and Riesling. The worst part will be only choosing one.
After a quick change to prepare for a night on the town, we’re heading to the Kennedy’s Theater at PlayhouseSquare (www.playhousesquare.org; 216.771.8403) to check out Flanagan’s Wake. According to reviews the performance is half scripted, half improvisation as the audience is transported to Ireland. The audiences then participate with the villagers in the telling of tales, singing of songs, and mourn the passing of one of their own, Flanagan. Sounds like something worth the low cost of admission, around $20.
The best part about winter vacations? Hotel rooms at way discounted rates. The Radisson Gateway actually has a “red hot deal” online for only $59! Other hotel properties such as the Wyndham have deals based on the temperature outside. For special hotel packages, click here.Since we’re staying downtown for the night, what better way to finish off the evening than with a nightcap? While both East 4th Street and the Warehouse District are home to a variety of restaurants and bars, to stick to the rules we’ll try the Champagne Bar at Pickwick and Frolic (www.pickwickandfrolic.com;216.241.7425). Known for their comedy club and martinis, Pickwick added the Champagne Bar devoted to bubbles, featuring 50 bottles of champagne and sparkling wines. If we’re ambitious we may also check out the Lobby Lounge at the Ritz Carlton to celebrate our Cleveland vacation with a Rocktail.
Sunday morning we’ll finish off the weekend with brunch at Lucky’s Café (www.luckyscafe.com; 216.622.7773) in Tremont. (You can always try one of these brunch options as well) and head home with a new stash of vacation memories and a bank account still on budget.
For more vacation ideas, hotel information and restaurant listings visit www.positivelycleveland.com.
– Submitted by A.I.
You may have noticed what appears to be a new restaurant located on the corner of West Sixth Street and St. Clair Avenue in the Warehouse District – Metro Bar + Kitchen. This trendy new restaurant is the product of a facelift and updated dining concept from its predecessor, The Metropolitan Café. So my ultra-foodie friend, Jessica joined me for the pre-opening practice run.*
Recognizing that it was time to reflect the urban vibe of its neighborhood and to fit the ever-changing preferences of today’s socially sophisticated diner, the owners of the landmark restaurant embarked on a culinary and aesthetic overhaul. Ultimately, they sought to create a place that focused on dining as an event, with classic American cuisine and affordable menu pricing. More than $500,000 later, the result is absolutely fabulous – and incredibly delicious.
The new restaurant features a unique, two-level island bar with seven plasma flat screen televisions, a fireplace and perfect people-watching window views of the always-buzzing downtown district. If you ever visited in the past, you will notice that the renovated location has a much larger bar, oversized linen chandeliers, cherry wood table tops accompanied by red velvet-adorned chairs, Hollywood-style booth seating and an uber-trendy feeling. And, this May, expect to see a rather unique outdoor seating set-up.
But enough with the formalities . . . let’s talk food.
The Doubletree Hotel in downtown Cleveland recently underwent a full renovation (and flag change to become a Doubletree–it was a Holiday Inn) and I must admit I like their style. A new layout in the lobby opens things up and makes room for Starbucks. Dark wood floors and comfortable furniture fill the lobby offering a nice setting for travelers to check email, read or relax. Other hotel amenities include an indoor pool, free wi-fi throughout, an attached sports bar/restaurant, covered parking, workout facility, meeting rooms and a large ballroom.
The Doubletree is in walking distance to many downtown attractions like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, PlayhouseSquare, Browns Stadium and the Great Lakes Science Center, as well as examples of Cleveland’s flourishing culinary scene in the Warehouse District and along East Fourth Street. The Doubletree also offers shuttle service within the downtown area. (Oh, and warm, delicious chocolate chip cookies for its arriving guests!)
So, whether you’re on a family vacation or traveling for business, the Doubletree will accommodate your needs. And all of this comes with an incredible view of Lake Erie.
Recently I had the opportunity to visit Brasa Grill Steakhouse in the Warehouse District for a surprising and enjoyable evening dinner. In addition to the great food, the dining experience was unique, making for quite a memorable evening.
After being seated at a cozy table, we noticed the “Brasa Card” on the table which we first mistook for a either a really nice coaster or oversized business card. Our pleasant and attentive server then explained the card is used to control the tempo of your meal. By placing the card with the green side facing up, the servers know you are ready for the prepared meats. The table is approached by the servers (I’ve since learned are technically called Brazilian Gauchos) with large skewers holding a wide variety of meats. They shave off as much or as little as you would like and carry on to the next table. These servers come to the table almost regularly, so the plate fills up in just a few minutes. To make sure you have some time to eat the food on your plate, the Brasa Card is then flipped to the red side, indicating that there is no longer a need for meat to be carved at the table. (Then, as soon as you’re ready for more, the card is turned back over to green.)
Although it was hard to say “no,” with more than 16 different types of meat being served (including steaks, ribs, pork, lamb chops, chicken and turkey) it became important that we did. It was quite a challenge to balance trying everything and saving room for seconds of my personal favorites. I’m glad we were warned to not fill up at the salad bar and save room for the dinner itself. And, after witnessing the pasta, fish, oysters, crab legs and greens that constituted the “salad bar” it is easy to understand why there is a “salad bar only” option ($25) for dinner.
If you live in Cleveland Plus, you’re very aware that summertime equates to time spent outside. It’s a fact of life, and for many of us, an addiction. We’re a region of people that bust out our shorts on an unseasonably warm 65-degree day in March, and squeeze every last remnant of warm weather out of a weekend in September.
I’m pretty much the most un-athletic person I know and all my friends and family would probably agree (last gym class: May 27, 1999 = happiest day of my life). But there’s a certain something about a bike ride that helps phys. ed. haters feel special. And for those of us who love the area, City Bikes is a dream come true.
My husband and I took the opportunity to experience City Bikes on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in July. Situated next to Zocalo on East 4th Street, the bike station is manned by one of the Downtown Cleveland Alliance’s ambassadors. For $15 (they only accept credit/debit) you get a two-hour bike rental, helmet and bike lock. For kids, the same goes for $12. (Head to the Cleveland Plus Visitors Center to pick up a buy one get one free coupon.) After paying, you’re asked to sign a waiver and off you go.
My Sunday started off earlier than usual this past weekend with a short drive to “the Flats” area of Cleveland to take a walking tour. When we arrived at the meeting spot–the Settler’s Landing RTA Station the east bank of the Cuyahoga River–there were already nearly 100 people waiting for the tour to begin. Now through September 6th, the “Take-A-Hike” free guided walking tours run on Thursdays at 6pm and Saturdays or Sundays at 10am.
The two–hour guided walk passed through and around the Flats’ many bridges, factories and warehouses. Highlights of the tour included the old Superior Viaduct and the Veterans Memorial Bridge. It was interesting to see how the old Viaduct was integrated into a neighborhood now filled with many new condos and offices. I also really enjoyed walking underneath the large bridges such as the Veterans Memorial and along the many swinging and moveable bridges on the Cuyahoga River like the Center Street Bridge. While we listened to our tour guide speak about historical Cleveland characters like Lorenzo Carter and John D. Rockefeller, a women portraying Mrs. Alfred Kelley walked up to our group and spoke about her husband. It turns out Kelley was the first president of the then Village of Cleveland, member of the Ohio House of Representatives, state senator and president of several railroad companies.
I had the good fortune of being asked to go to the Eastern Conference opener, Cavs versus Pistons.
Outside it was sunny and in the mid-70s on Saturday, which added to the already high energy around Quickens Loan Arena. East Fourth Street and the Gateway District were filled with exuberant fans sporting Cavs gear–spilling out from the bars out on to the patios that line the streets around the stadium. Inside, game-goers were spraying their hair in wine and navy, creating posters proclaiming “No ‘MO’ Pistons,” “A King Beats a Prince” and “Get that Weak Stuff Out of Here” and generally getting carried away in the merriment.
We had seats mid-court on the Detroit bench side about 11 rows up . . . the perfect place to catch the big game one win. The back of each chair had a complimentary “One Goal” tee, making for a wine-colored sea of cheering fans waving white towels.
The excitement in town is palpable. Whether you’re going to watch the game at “The Q” or in a sports bar watch party around town, it’s great to get in on the action. Check out the schedule and the rest of the fun here. –AK
After the documentaries. After the dramas. After the animated shorts and the experimental puzzlers. What’s a movie buff at the 33rd Cleveland International Film Festival (March 19-29, 2009) to do?
Good and plenty, with many options under one roof.
Every spring, the festival takes over Tower City Center, a downtown mall filled with shopping and restaurants. Those who tire of popcorn and Milk Duds can find everything from burgers and beer at Hard Rock Cafe, to regional organic cuisine at Muse, and steaks at Morton’s or Hyde Park.
To celebrate my birthday last week my friends and went to dinner at Touch Supper Club just off West 25th on Lorain Avenue in the neighborhood of Ohio City. While Touch sort of resembles a steel-barred prison cell from the outside, once inside we quickly recognized that this intimate lounge, restaurant and club was full of life and hungry patrons. We had a round table in their back room that was in a library-style setting. The light was dimmed low and books filled the wall cases. Couches with comfy pillows were on one side of the table followed by sleek chairs on the other.