Monday, February 28, 2011

Cleveland Rocks

This is an overdue post on a recent trip my husband and I had to his hometown of Cleveland.  We had a terrific time and enjoyed some great food.

2058 East 4th Street

Owned by Top Chef and local-boy-made-good Michael Symon, this is one of the hottest spots in town.  The menu changes regularly, but his signature dish is a hanger steak and fries.  Since it was my first time, that is what I ordered.  The steak was cooked exactly to order (really) and was very tender and flavorful.  The potatoes are fried in bacon fat and sprinkled with salt and a bit of rosemary.  They were the perfect consistency.  They have a balanced wine list with a range of prices (both bottle and glass) and both traditional and edgy pairings.  The wine list is maintained electronically, which I think is great and each table is provided with an IPad to see the selections.  A cool touch, but only if it is working.  We initially had a dud, and were delayed in ordering our drinks.  One more note...I had heard a number of negative things about the service there, so I was steeled for it, but it wasn't horrible.  The hostesses needed some more training, but our waiter was friendly if not super attentive, and the water steward kept my glass filled and our food was brought to us promptly and as ordered.  You do need reservations if you want to go, so plan ahead.

Velvet Tango Room
2095 Columbus Road

This is like no place else in Cleveland.  You must go to this bar if you want to the best cocktail in town. It was not obvious from the street and looked a bit dingy, but it was a different atmosphere inside.  We were greeted at the door and asked if we wanted a table and to check our coats.  We chose to sit at the bar to watch the bartenders work.  The place has great acoustics - you can hear the live jazz/blues music, but still have a quiet conversation with your companion.  The menu is a bit overwhelming with a lot of explanations and history for each drink, don't be deterred, though.  And, you can also just tell the bartender what you like (or don't) and they will mix up something special just for you.  I had a Bourbon Daisy (bourbon, lemon juice, grenadine, sugar with orange and cherry garnish) and a Sazerac.  My husband enjoyed a Sidecar and a glass of Scotch.  We were warned in advance of the prices (plan on $16 a drink), so the bill didn't ruin our good spirits when we ready to leave, and we found the splurge worth it.

West Side Market
Corner of West 25th and Lorain

Cleveland's oldest market is sure to have what you are looking for, and for the right price.

The market is full of ethnic diversity with items I've never seen anywhere else and there are a number of counters run by families who have been there for generations.  

It can get crowded on the weekends, especially in the morning, but I find it best to go earlier in the day before some vendors sell out of the best stuff.

Seven Roses Delicatessen
6301 Fleet Avenue

In the heart of Cleveland's Slavic Village, this neighborhood grocery store is worth the trip.  It is in a beautifully restored 19th century building with floor-to-ceiling wooden shelves, a pressed tin ceiling, and even lace curtains in the windows.  I love the perogis and we always bring back several dozen.  But, they have all kinds of other delicious Polish treats to take home or you can grab a table and eat there.  Don't be concerned if you are greeted in Polish or can't read the labels, the staff is friendly and willing to help.

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