Autumn 2021: Cleveland really does rock

When I was 21 years old, I moved from Long Island to Las Vegas. I took an epic cross country drive and my first stop was Cleveland, Ohio. I stayed at some random Holiday Inn and don’t even remember exploring the city. I was tired and scared and excited and beyond ready to leave the northeast behind. Fast forward whole lotta years and Cleveland has been on the radar to return to – although, admittedly not very high on the radar.

I devised a quick getaway weekend so we could explore the town. I was thinking October near the great lakes would be perfect weather to bundle up a bit, see the leaves & walk around. Instead, I had to bundle up A LOT – it was so blustery and cold I even had some wintery mix fall on me. But, it was a great visit.

I first stayed out in the ‘burbs, near public transportation. The first night I beelined it to Ohio City and enjoyed a brew at Nano Brew, dinner at Phnom Penh, and drinks at the Velvet Tango Room. I had hoped that the Tango Room was going to be more like Japps, a Cincy favorite which is an approachable craft cocktail joint. Instead, this was far more upscale and pricey, although still neat to see a house turned into a bar and they still let me in the door soaked and wearing jeans!

One of the first stops Saturday morning was the Rock and Roll Museum and Hall of Fame. I wandered around there for a few hours, enjoying the memorabilia (and a break from that lake Erie wind). My favorite exhibit was Herb Ritts photography and I especially enjoyed the call sheets and pictures of Madonna. Back in the day, one of those photos even graced my kid’s bedroom.

The weather sidelined me into having a long, leisurely lunch at Mallorca after walking around some more and the bartender was kind. It’s been a while since I’ve had a martini lunch but it was a rather nice way to spend the afternoon, chatting with a local bartender.

The next day I picked up a car and did a little driving around town. My childhood was spent growing up near Lake Ontario and after some searching, I found a local joint called Bearden’s that reminded me very much of Schaller’s which was a childhood summer staple. The burger and rings and chili fries were quite good and filled me up for a long drive through Lake View cemetery. Playing ingress I find ourselves in cemeteries more than we ever have before due to the portal density, but this cemetery was also done in the Victorian garden style which makes it a rather beautiful drive, especially in the fall.

It was also a treat to go inside President Garfield’s memorial and tomb. The workmanship and detail were impressive and the guide had a wealth of information.
For lunch one day I went to Lola, a Michael Symon restaurant, and was, unfortunately, a tad underwhelmed. I also managed to catch a happy hour at a place called the Nauti Mermaid. I love that a place like this exists: Cold wine, cheap food, and local jazz made my night.
I also met up with an old friend at the Great Lakes Brewing Company for lunch on Tuesday. It was still nice to catch up (aka me talking his poor ear off) and have a brew.

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