Thursday, June 20, 2013

Destinations: A Photo Tour of Cleveland

I mentioned in a previous post that Cleveland holds a special place in my heart. It's where my husband was born and raised. Our family still lives in Cleveland and we have a lot of close friends there, too. In the past my visits to Cleveland revolved friends and family activities. We'd spend most of our time in the eastern suburbs, which are beautiful - tall trees, fresh air, DEER!

Over the years I've been reading the stories of downtown Cleveland's redevelopment with eager eyes. So when we visited for my father-in-law's birthday in April, I made sure to fly in a few days early to check out the scene myself. And here's what I discovered: Cleveland has a lot of good food. A lot. And in a few years, Cleveland will grow into a major Midwest destination. (Oh, it's also a cool place to shop.)

Pomme Frites with raw garlic, rosemary and aioli at Greenhouse Tavern.
Photo by Stjepan Alaupovic
Lunch at Greenhouse Tavern on East 4th Street was the perfect midday treat. Jonathon Sawyer is a Cleveland-born chef who moved back to the area from New York City to open this restaurant, where you'll find only farm-fresh goods celebrating the slow food movement. Greenhouse Tavern is Ohio's first certified green restaurant and the decor is made of recycled and re-purposed goods. Above is a drool-worthy snapshot of the pomme frites with raw garlic, rosemary, and aioli for dipping.

Left to right: Chef Sawyer's grilled Ohio lamb burger is an NYC Burger Bash Award Winner.
Snap peas that are too good to be vegetables.
Photo by Stjepan Alaupovic
Desserts at Greenhouse Tavern are the perfect size for sharing, so you can try a few different kinds!
Photo by: Stjepan Alaupovic
Crop Bistro's Cherry Bomb: plum tomatoes stuffed with chorizo, jack cheese and corn wrapped in a fried wonton.
Photo by Stjepan Alaupovic
Crop Bistro was another favorite food stop on our tour de Cleveland. The restaurant itself is pretty massive, so it can feel empty on a slower day. The building is impressive, though. It's an old 1920s-era bank with vaulted ceilings and gold trappings. I couldn't stop staring at the intricate ceiling and towering emerald-colored columns. Food at Crop Bistro changes as the "crop" shifts through the seasons. Not pictured in this photo tour but still must-visits: Cleveland's West Side Market and Michael Symon's Lolita restaurant in Tremot. Oh! And Sokolowski's University Inn for a taste of history and pierogis.

Balsamic popcorn appetizer at Crop Bistro.
Photo by Stjepan Alaupovic
Clockwise from left: Hyatt at The Arcade, Historic walking tour with Take a Hike!,
AT&T Huron Road Building aka The Daily Planet.
Photo by Stjepan Alaupovic
We spent a rainy day touring downtown Cleveland with Take a Hike!, learning about famous Clevelanders like John D. Rockefeller and Alan Freed. Downtown is where most of the re-development is happening, but I was interested in hearing more about its history.

Higbee's Department Store, built in the 1800s and featured in A Christmas Story, is now a casino. East 4th Street, a major dining and nightlife district, was once called Sheriff's Street because of its sketchy early years. And Euclid Avenue, a main downtown Cleveland thoroughfare, was comparable to New York City's 5th Avenue in the 1920s. It will be interesting to see how the city holds on to its historic roots as it shapes itself into a travel destination.

One thing I was really struck by was downtown Cleveland's impressive architecture. Everywhere we looked, buildings begged to be photographed. The AT&T Huron Road building pictured above is Cleveland's oldest Art Deco building and believed to be the inspiration for Superman's Daily Planet.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
Photo by Stjepan Alaupovic
Touring the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In the 8+ years that I had been visiting Cleveland, I had yet to step foot inside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum until this trip. Actually, a lot of the locals I spoke with had never been! That's a shame because it was really a cool trip through music's history. One of my favorite displays? Jay-Z's sneakers. I know, I know.

Want more Cleveland photos? Mosey on over to the Style Jaunt Facebook album.

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