Last weekend Michael and I visited Cleveland with my Dad and Judi. We ate beef cheek pierogis, drank microbrews, caught AC Newman perform with his Canadian cronies and watched football on the shores of Lake Erie. It was a jam-packed 48 hours. Perhaps understandably, not everyone recognizes Cleveland as a premier travel destination, but it’s genuinely a fun town. A little background – my Dad is a lifelong Cleveland sports fan and we planned the trip around a Browns game.
Our first stop was Great Lakes Brewing Company in the Ohio City neighborhood. We shared a sausage plate with braised red cabbage and spicy mustards. I’ve been on a bit of a beer kick lately and I really enjoyed the Edmund Fitzgerald Porter. Also worth noting, my Dad described his Pretzel-crusted Chicken as, ‘superb’.
After lunch we walked down the street to the Westside Market, which is an incredible indoor public market with over 100 food stalls. The building itself is beautiful with a clock tower at the main entrance and a gorgeous tile vaulted ceiling. I was tempted to buy groceries, but short of storing short ribs in the hotel mini-fridge, my options were fairly limited. Fortunately, we had terrific plans for dinner. A few Summers ago we went to Cleveland for a weekend with my Dad and my brother Jon to take-in an Indians game. The second night we were there Michael and I wandered into a downtown spot for a bite. Half-way through our sweetbreads and bone marrow we realized we had stumbled upon Michael Symon’s Lola. It was a fantastic and highly memorable meal. When we were planning this return trip, the first thing I did was make a reservation at Lola. The pierogis were delicious, as were the Negronis, rosemary french fries, hanger steak and brown sugar panna cotta.
After dinner Michael noticed The New Pornographers were playing right around the corner. We grabbed tickets at the box office and the band played a lot of material from their new album. Let’s face it kids, it’s not everyday you find yourself in a position to extemporaneously see a supergroup from Vancouver play in Northeast Ohio. Am I right?
Sunday morning we headed over to West 6th Street for brunch. It was exciting to see the city get ready for the game. It was a really colorful scene. We saw one guy walking down the street selling orange feather boas and watched a high school band march by as we sipped Bloody Marys and noshed on tater tots. We made our way to the stadium and the atmosphere was terrific; it was a cold afternoon, we had excellent seats and my Dad was having a blast bantering with the locals.
I’d love to tell you the Browns beat the Texans in glorious fashion, but that’s not how it went down. Cleveland lost and the season ticket holder behind us almost punched out a visiting Houston fan. We had a great time, though and we definitely experienced an authentic day in the life of a Cleveland sports fan.
Make no mistake about it, Cleveland Rocks!