i heart cleveland (news, reviews and events)

A funny thing happened on the way to the Indians game this past Thursday. I’m told it was an awesome game and that fireworks were set to Michael Jackson (which we did catch thanks to the deck at Pete & Deweys, er, Thirsty Parrot). Maybe this has happened to you? You set out to go to the game, and than the lure of East 4 sucks you in and end up catching the highlights (or lowlights as they seem to be lately) the next day.

With every intention of going to the game with our neighbors and their friends, we decided to stop at Lola first for a drink and a few appetizers. Luckily, and I’m assuming since it was rather early, the chef’s table was open. This is such a fun place to sit because you can watch executive chef Derek Clayton and company masterfully and meticulously prepare each dish for the restaurant.

We decided to split several orders of each of the appetizers. Obviously, the beef cheek pierogis were a hit. But for me personally, I loved the braised Berkshire “bacon” (pork belly) and cured tuna with grapefruit and fennel the best followed by the charcuterie plate which I grazed on most of the evening until there was nothing left. These apps couldn’t be more different from each other and were truly outstanding.

Sometimes I much rather share an assortment of appetizers than have dinner. It’s not that Lola doesn’t offer some very tempting dinner options, obviously they do, but this is a fun, tasty way to try wide-variety of items.

After enjoying probably one too many cocktails at the chef’s table, we the heading to the patio for dessert. I was not-so-secretly hoping everyone would bail on the game and could continue to take advantage of the great Cleveland evening and crowd watching on E 4th. I got my wish.

All the restaurants were filled and people were overflowing from the individual patios onto the street. Lining the street were beautiful planters with oversized colorful flowers. It’s truly a site to see and take in. My hope now is that other areas within Cleveland take note of its success. We can enjoy more than one great neighborhood at once.

And Clevelanders aren’t the only ones impressed with E 4th. The New York Times just wrote a feature on the area’s rebirth, which includes mentions of Lola, of course, The Greenhouse Tavern, La Strada, Pickwick and Zocalo – which surprisingly the reporter cited as one of the best Mexican restaurants in Ohio. While I’m excited for the article, I’d have to greatly disagree with that statement (that nod goes to Momocho).

And speaking of positive national exposure for our small but mighty city, Daily Candy, something else I heart, just did a quick write-up on their recent visit. While I agree we desperately need more shopping, the writer’s tour guide missed a big opportunity by not taking her to Room Service, Duo Home and Banyan Tree, among others.

A must-attend event
Cleveland Food Rocks presents a Rock ‘n’ Roll BBQ Throwdown
On Sunday, July 26 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., at the Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland Food Rocks will be hosting a ginormous BBQ with many of our area chefs in an effort to raise funds for this initiative.

Participating restaurants include: Bar Cento, Beachland Ballroom, Blue Canyon Kitchen, Blue Point, Brother’s Lounge, Crop, Dante, Fahrenheit, Flying Fig, Greenhouse Tavern, Grotto Wine Bar, Gusto, Happy Dog, Johnny’s Downtown, Local Crop, Lago, Luxe, Melange, Momocho, Moxie, Prosperity Social Club, Sarava, Southside and Sky Larae’s Culinary Services.

Rain or shine, come enjoy what you just know is going to be some seriously good eats for $25 ($30 day of) plus live music. And it’s family-friendly! You can purchase tickets here.

Started by chef Steve Schimoler of Crop, Cleveland Food Rocks is a non-profit collaborative of dozens of Cleveland-area restaurants and food-service operations, dedicated to promoting and encouraging a vigorous local dining scene by forging a link between great food and live music. The group hopes to serve as a grassroots model, representing the power of social interconnectivity as a catalyst for strengthening the Greater Cleveland Community.


  1. kakaty
    Posted July 8, 2009 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    I just had an impromptu dinner last night with a friend in down from SanFran…he was staying at the Hyatt and we suggested we meet him on E 4th and grab dinner. I was thinking Zocalo or Corner Alley since we had the kid with us but once he realized that Lola was there that's what he picked. Having a kid with us was interesting and boy did we get some LOOKS but she was very well behaved and we got some awesome food. My hub and I split all our courses and our server was great about it- no split fee and bringing us our own beautifully plated servings. Man I love that place! Also, when the girl got a bit active I simply took her outside for a quick walk up and down the street – all the flowers and lights and people (and bikes! with bells!) were enough to get her ready to settle into her dinner. I so love E 4th!

  2. danielle
    Posted July 8, 2009 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    great post! and you know, not just because i OWN room service but i too, as a proud Clevelander was disappointed by the Daily Candy piece…i thought it was great up until the comment on no shopping, because even before i opened my store, i was proud of places like banyan tree, stash style, brigade and more…then of course, as the owner of a boutique i was doubly irritated by it!

  3. Cara
    Posted July 9, 2009 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    This sounds awesome! I wish they'd post the bands though!

  4. Anonymous
    Posted July 11, 2009 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    I have to say that Lola is one of the best resturants in cleveland. Zocalo leaves much to be desired. My husband and I dined there curius about Aaron Sanchez'z cuisine. The food was terribly underseasoned, lacking basics such as salt. I have travelled extensively in Mexico and I am quite familiar with the cuisine. When I told the waiter that they food might be lacking seasoning, he proceeded to make excuses for the chefs taling about how food is different in various parts of Mexico. We smiled and nodded and resolved amongst ourselves that we would not return.
    All 3 courses were average. The food is overpriced for the quality. I would save my money and go to momocho.

  5. michelle v
    Posted July 13, 2009 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    I love Statsh Style – we juts bought Natalie the coolest mirror there last week. Lots of great finds.

    For all those that have e-mailed me on kids' pricing for the BBQ, kids 5 & under are free.

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    Posted July 21, 2009 at 7:13 am | Permalink

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