Monday, February 25, 2008

Weekend in Cleveland, the Under-rated City

Two weeks of part-time employment has been just so overwhelmingly exhausting that I was forced to take a vacation out of sheer restorative necessity...

Just kidding. We're back from a little weekend visit to Cleveland, Ohio. It all started with a Canadian band called Bedouin Soundclash, that has been a bit of a recent obsession for D. When I found out they were coming to Cleveland, I got tickets for D's birthday and had some fun planning a weekend around it. It seemed like a good time to fit in some tourism (particularly given how often we say, 'we should really check out Cleveland sometime'). And, given my recent obsession with Anthony Bourdain, who visited Cleveland on an episode of No Reservations, it was not surprising that our trip largely consisted of the places he visited on the show. What a nerd, I know.

Built in 1890, the Arcade was one of America's first indoor shopping malls

As far as smaller cities go, Cleveland was awesome. We really liked it, and both think that Cleveland is way, way under-rated (or perhaps it's just the people we've talked to). I had been given the impression that it was a really lame town where uncool tourists went to see dorky attractions and eat at the Hard Rock Cafe in a bland version of a city-chic vacation. Was I wrong! Yes, there's the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and yes, there are probably lots of other theme museums, but... RnR was actually really cool and interesting. We only saw a tiny fraction of the attractions. And architecturally, Cleveland was kind of pretty with all the bridges criss-crossing over one another and beautiful historic buildings in the downtown district.

Cleveland Public Square

Friday we went to the Westside Market for breakfast and explored the aisles and aisles of fresh goodies. There was so much good-looking food it took me forever to choose something to eat. Finally, after I settled on a cheese pastry (D bought a massive apple turnover), as soon as I turned the corner, there was (of course) something even tastier looking. So, I went for a ham and cheese crepe...mmm... and saved the pastry for later.

Sharing my crepe Le Complet with D

From the market balcony

We looked around Tower City Center and the Erieview Galleria (which, shopping-wise, can't compete with those big lifestyle malls that are popping up in suburbs - but the architecture was beautiful) and in the evening went to nearby Coventry Village for the show (at the Grogg Shop). Coventry Village was basically one strip of shops and restaurants which reminded me much of the Annex in Toronto: cozy coffee shops, secondhand bookstores, pubs, family-style diners, trinket shops, etc. This probably contributed to my positive experience in Cleveland.

Tower City Center

Inside the Galleria at Erieview

Saturday, aside from the valet parking people losing our car keys (luckily we had an extra set), it was a pretty perfect day. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Marengo Spa Institute (if you go now they have some good promotions on),

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

and then dinner at Lola Bistro, which has received a lot of hype since Chef Michael Symon won The Next Iron Chef (and no, we didn't see him that night). Lola definitely lives up to the hype. The restaurant was packed. It was incredibly stylish and swanky - lit marble surfaces, paneled glass, high ceilings, a huge open kitchen. I felt like I had left Ohio for the next 3 hours and was somewhere in NYC. A man at the bar claimed that he had eaten the best shrimp appetizer of his life that night. Our dinner was delicious - between us, we ordered oysters on the half shell, beef-cheek pierogies, brook trout with butternut squash, smoked pork chop with cheesy polenta and barbequed onions, and ended the meal with 'beer and pretzels', a Guinness ice cream with chocolate-covered pretzel chunks and preserved cherries. I could have eaten anything on the menu, it all sounded so good. And the bill was incredibly reasonable - not a cheap meal, but far less than some of the swanky places we have been to in Toronto. It's definitely worth visiting.

And there you have it, my Cleveland review. What? Where are the crafts, you ask? I did start knitting the Shetland Triangle with the grey laceweight while in Cleveland...

My apologies for the lack of crafting news, but as far as new routines go, it takes me a little while to get back into the swing of things. So I blame the new job. That, and eating copious amounts of delicious food and watching too many episodes of Lost and Project Runway.

1 comment:

zarafa said...

i really like bedouin soundclash! i didn't know they were in cleveland. how was the show?

sounds like you two had a good time. i once saw a really awesome photography exhibit on the bridges of the flats in cleveland. it made me want to go check the area out but i never have... its like its so close we never think to go or something.