Sunday, January 31, 2010

Naps and Dogs

I wasn't really into the local music scene when I lived in Columbus, and I hadn't really even heard of half of the bands I currently listen to. Over the series of several shows however, I have become friends with Leia Hohenfeld, singer/keyboardist of Afternoon Naps.

Afternoon Naps, the "Too Twee to live in this world" band hailing from Cleveland, Ohio plays happy, upbeat music that you can't help but (at the very least) bounce around to, in a way reminiscent of the awkward "dancing" at a middle school dance. They're awesome. Leia and Co. may have served you brunch at the Beachland Ballroom, but if you've never seen them play, you're missing out.

I got to have my first Afternoon Naps full show experience and hot dogs from Happy Dog on Friday. Let me say that it was very packed. We didn't get to sit down for a while, but once I got past the hunger pangs I was okay! A packed restaurant usually means that the food is good and also that people are there to listen to some great local music. I am not sure who the guy was that covered Cherub Rock, but it was unforgivable! The Naps had some sound issues at first, but played a very nice set.

The hot dogs were very tasty, and very large. I loved the toppings though one of the dogs was completely missing one of the toppings I had requested. Overall, I'd say they did pretty well with such a packed house, but I did miss the kimchi. Columbus has a similar place called Dirty Frank's which I have to admit, I like a little better. The hot dogs are a little smaller and the topping list isn't quite as vast, but what they do have is great (check out the Cowboy Curtis). I can't help but be a little biased towards a place that serves Jeni's ice cream, anyway! (That reminds me, I'd like to make it to Bar Cento sometime...).

Happy Dog gives you unlimited dipping sauces with your fries or tater tots. The grape jelly chile sauce and the chimichurri were amazing. We'd like to go back when it's not packed quite as badly. It was an interesting scene, to be sure. My first reaction, admittedly was to send a text message to a good friend that read; "Trapped in hipster bar, send help!". I'm glad we went though, for the music and the food.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hidden Gems

"Good news, everyone!"
- Professor H J Farnsworth

At long last, I was finally able to score a $50 gift certificate to Light Bistro, courtesy of Cleveland Independents. We always forgot about the sales and really missed out on the deals. I caught a forums post (by a troll, no less) about buying a certificate and snatched up the last LB certificate.

I don't think I'd call Light Bistro a hidden gem, though. I'd say it's pretty scintillating on its own. If you just want to get your feet wet with Chef Matt's cuisine, visit Light during their reverse happy hour. It's way too easy to have several small plates and a few cocktails on the cheap.

I'm hardly one to know about any significant number of Cleveland's hidden gems, but I have discovered a few that are (in my opinion) really worth checking out, and not discussed all that much.

Mekong River -1918 Lee Road, Cleveland Hts, OH
Don't let the lackluster storefront fool you, inside is an extensive Thai and Cambodian menu with 14 levels of spice available to you. The pineapple fried rice (at level 3) is amazing. Try it with a thick version of bubble tea.

Thai Kitchen - 12210 Madison Ave, Lakewood, OH (Okay not technically Cleveland...)
I admit, I walked out of this place for a moment based on its aesthetics. It's not a fancy place, but when you sit down to a plate of pad thai (authentic; not the fluorescent red/orange kind) you actually feel like you're being served an amazing Thai meal in someone's house.

Aoeshi Cafe - 2175 Lee Road, Cleveland Hts, OH
Aoeshi is another one of these places that doesn't look the best in decor, but the sushi is amazing. I've discussed this restaurant before. Catch a movie at the Cedar-Lee and have some sushi afterwards. Go for the futon, it's faboo.

Tom's Seafood Restaurant - 3040 Saint Clair Ave. NE, Cleveland, OH
Maybe I'm just new to dim sum and have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about, but all-you-can-eat dim sum for $8.99 is a great way to get your (chicken) feet wet without a big financial commitment. The ladies with the carts are a little persistent at times, and absent at others - but free oolong tea and AMAZING char siu bao are worth it.

Tell me what you think are truly hidden gems in Cleveland dining. Have you been to the restaurants I listed? What did you think?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

What makes a blogger stop posting?

I've wondered this again and again over the past several months. When did I stop posting and why? My posts slowed and eventually stopped right around the time that Jeff moved in. Is it his fault? No. He even started his own blog and has been posting in it. Spending weekends and evenings completely blissed out on cohabiting. I've been falling in love like it's going out of style, seriously. Deeper and deeper, I guess I could say - high on delta brain waves.

But perhaps a more interesting question is, what make a blogger start posting again? The answer to this is less cloying and more... Porky.

The answer is Michael Symon. We work out in Beachwood and realized it was only a short drive to Woodmere to B Spot. Since neither of us had actually been to a Michael Symon restaurant, we decided to go for a post-spin lunch. Before last Saturday I don't think you would have ever caught me saying that eating a hamburger could equate to having a meaningful religious experience - but I think I can safely say with every blasphemous keystroke that I now know why people are smitten with this man's culinary creations.

I had the Lola Burger and Lola Fries, and we shared a basket of the lime-cilantro wings. I also had a milkshake that was less like a shake and more like a half-melted pint of Mitchell's ice cream. There's not one bad thing I could possibly say about the entire meal, or the staff. I mean, the man got me to eat onions, and I hate onions with a passion.

We definitely want to go back, and we also want to try the other restaurants. I even mentioned to Jeff that if we visited friends in Detroit that we could go to Roast.

We could however, get to go to Lola (and other fine Cleveland restaurants) just for donating to a good cause. You've heard of this, haven't you? By donating a minimum of $5 to Veggie U, you will be entered to win over $1800 in gift cards. For you coupled people, that's a lot of date nights. GOOD date nights. For you singles, that's just plain old good food and boo-on-you for keeping it all to yourself.

To quote Michelle over at Cleveland Foodie:

If you donate $5 to Veggie U, you will automatically be entered to win more than $1,800 worth of gift cards to all your favorite eateries and shops. Want to increase your odds? Donate $10, $25, $50 or more (I promise you won’t miss $25). For every $5 you donate, you will earn another entry into the drawing. The more you donate, the greater your chance of winning. You have until February 13 to donate and be entered. It’s easy – just call 419.499.7500; you must reference Cleveland Foodie.

And she's right, we don't miss that $25. It's for a great cause and who doesn't like good food? If you haven't and you've got at least $5 to spare, please donate. (In the name of SCIENCE!!!)

In music news, Shearwater is coming back to Cleveland. We went to the show last year and feared that due to the low attendance, they might not want to come back. Please, if you have never listened to Shearwater - do it now. Tell your friends, buy a ticket or three and be prepared to be blown away by some amazing music/vocals.

As for this particular moment, I am listening to Baroque music and it makes me feel like I want to drink tea and watch Dangerous Liaisons.