Spice Kitchen + Bar | Cleveland, OH

Valentine’s Day, for us, translates to an entirely justified excuse to splurge on a fantastic meal.  Several weeks before the big day, I was starting my search for the perfect restaurant. Requirements: somewhere we’ve never been, sexy and modern atmosphere, and obviously, really delicious food from an innovative menu.  V-Day also gives us (me) an excuse to drive excessive distances to achieve said requirements.  So after a week or so of hemming and hawing between a few various spots on my Urbanspoon wishlist, we decided on Spice Kitchen & Bar, on Detroit Ave in the Gordon Square neighborhood just west of Cleveland.

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DBA | Akron, OH

I’ve always tried to take extra good care of my parents – after all, I owe them.  There is nothing they wouldn’t give (or give up) for me; they’ve lovingly supported me in every possible way over the years.  After losing my dad to cancer last September, suddenly I feel compelled to spoil my mom.  Holidays are still particularly difficult for us both; I find it helps to completely distract myself with new experiences.  So when I saw (in an email blast) that DBA (Dante Boccuzzi Akron) was hosting a Mothers Day Celebration, I jumped at the opportunity and made a reservation.  My mom hadn’t been to the spot since Vegeteranian had closed.  DZ and I had enjoyed one phenomenal meal there soon after DBA debuted.  It was an experience that just had to be shared with my mom.

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The Greenhouse Tavern | Cleveland, Ohio

We recently had the privilege to dine at The Greenhouse Tavern, Jonathon Sawyer’s green “gastropub” on East 4th Street in downtown Cleveland, focusing on sustainability and the farm-to-plate movement.  It was downtown Cleveland restaurant week, so I decided it was about time to see what all the hype was about.  Let’s get to the point, I’ve been talking about GHT since we had dinner there two months ago.  And frankly the only reason I haven’t blogged sooner is that I was afraid I wouldn’t do it justice.  Chef Sawyer, if you’re reading this, please forgive me for butchering descriptions, it’s going to happen.  All I can say is it was a lot to take in; plus, I think I slipped into a food-induced “high” of sorts about midway through the meal.

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Grinders | Canton, Ohio

Sometimes it takes a while to discover a perfectly great restaurant that’s right under your nose.  Such was the case with Grinders Above and Beyond, a local chain of six family restaurants in Stark County and surrounding areas.  While the term “family restaurant” often conjures unpleasant imagery of tired menu offerings, old people, and a general lack of culinary creativity or “scene”, Grinders goes above and beyond all that (ha) and manages to stay pretty cool.  This post is centered around the North Canton location, which I find to have a comfortable and visually-interesting dining room, a better-than-average patio, excellent servers, and a bustling crowd pretty much every time I visit.  But it wasn’t until last summer at a company luncheon, catered by Grinder’s, when I finally became a fan of their cuisine.  It was the Key West salad that sucked me in.

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Reddstone | Cleveland, Ohio

In an exciting part two of NEO Food Tours’ Battle for Battery Park, we continued to the next competitor, only a block away from Battery Park Wine Bar. Reddstone is a “watering hole and grub hub” with a great outdoor patio that’s a blast in the summer.  It’s completely hidden from the street, which I love.  Of course in February, we weren’t going to the patio.  The evening’s events were hosted upstairs in a dimly lit private room with its own bar and stage.  With probably around forty people on the tour, plus the hosts for the evening, Ramon Rivas and Todd Gauman, and another half dozen or so guest judges, the room was pretty packed.  The lack of lighting was great for atmosphere, but made it tough to really appreciate the beauty of the food.  So I had to use the flash for the pictures, which I hate doing…but you can get the idea.

The space was much more intimate than Battery Park Wine Bar, but that wasn’t such a bad thing.  There was a small raised stage to the side, which allowed the comedians to be right next to the audience.  There’s a possibility they were a bit too close – story to follow.

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Battery Park Wine Bar | Cleveland, Ohio

It was a random Monday night in February when two Canton foodies headed to Cleveland, in anxious anticipation of their first NEO Food tour.  The event: Battle for Battery Park, where two neighborhood restaurants, Battery Park Wine Bar and Reddstone, were to duke it out in “Cleveland’s First Ever Comedy Food Fight.”

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The West Side Bakery | Akron, Ohio

You may have noticed that the frequency of new blog posts has diminished a bit over the last few months.  More astute readers may already know the reason for this, but for the rest of you, please know that there are many more great posts in the works, but there’s been a little personal “distraction” that’s prevented me from blogging to my full potential.  That distraction started last fall when Dave proposed to me at Falling Water.  In a matter of weeks, I went from being an abnormal female who didn’t like weddings, to the girl who’s borderline obsessed with planning a perfect one.  Funny how that works!  So lately we’ve been spending a lot of our free time planning, researching, saving, meeting, shopping, and spending….all the things that go along with preparing for the big day. Continue reading