Friday, May 31, 2013

Lens Star

Photojournalist Harry Benson didn’t originally want to work with the Beatles. 

 When the London Daily Express called him late one night in 1964 telling him he was assigned to fly out of the country with the rock group the next morning, Benson said no. He wanted to go to Africa and cover hard news. But when he heard them play at a local joint in Paris the next day, he had a change of heart.

“I leave the hall to go back to my car to get another piece of equipment, and I’m coming back and the Beatles are starting,” says Benson. “I hear ‘Close your eyes and I’ll kiss you.’ I think, God, I’m on the right story. This is the story. They were terrific. You could feel Beatlemania breaking out.”

Benson traveled with the Beatles on and off for two years, capturing intimate, behind-the-scenes photographs of the group during their prime in America. His new book, The Beatles: On the Road 1964-1966, showcases these photos and celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first U.S. tour.

The Contessa Gallery on Cedar Road will be hosting an exhibition of Benson’s work, Lens of a Legend: Harry Benson Photographs May 31-July 7. While there will be a heavy emphasis on the Beatles, photographs of Frank Sinatra, Andy Warhol and Jack Nicholson will also be hung. Benson will be at the gallery opening Friday and Saturday to talk about his work from 6-9 p.m. He gave us a preview of some of his favorites.

Right after the group was told they were the No. 1 band in America, and they were going to New York City to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show

“Paul was drinking with his back turned to the door, and John slips out and comes back in with a pillow and hits him in the back of the head with it," Benson says. "And that was the pillow fight. It went on for about 25 minutes. I’ve never seen anything like that from a rock group.”

 Arrival in New York City on Feb. 7, 1964

“It was only just a few months after Jack Kennedy’s death, and I think the Beatles helped to give America a big shot in the arm. They cheered it up a lot. Because you could see Beatlemania everywhere, hear people talking about it, newspaper people came from all over America.”

Meeting Muhammad Ali in Miami Beach in 1964

“He completely dwarfed them. He told them to do this. He completely ran it; he ran the show. And afterwards John said, ‘He made us look like bloody fools, and it was your fault Benson,’ and the Beatles were pretty upset. They didn’t talk to me on the way back, because they were always the funny ones and they had control of things.”

Berlin Kiss 1996

“Intensity was going on in front of me in a bar and I said hell, 'I’m going to photograph this couple.' I just slipped under the bar and took it from the bar side. Afterwards, someone told them I had photographed them, and we talked. They were a nice couple.”

At the Harrow School in England, 1964

“I would have liked to photograph [Winston] Churchill during the war, when he was at his best. ... When I photographed Churchill, it was about two years before he died, and what makes the picture is he’s leaving his old school. A bunch of students are cheering him, so it gives the picture power because of the energy of the youth and the old man who had obviously done so much.” 

Jack Nicholson is included in the gallery because of the Indians hat, but Benson says there’s also an odd mystery with this photograph. “Look at it very closely," he teases. "It’s very interesting.”

All Photos Copyright Harry Benson. For more information, visit

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Hatching New Plans and Players

     There's no arguing with the fact that the local food scene is lively, dynamic and exciting. From new restaurants to urban farms, increased numbers of  CSA's  (community supported agriculture) and the spread of farmers market in neighborhoods all around the city- the availability of good fresh, sustainably produced food grown, raised and made in this region is on the rise. And things are about to get even more interesting thanks to the  Cleveland Culinary Launch & Kitchen. It's meant to be a home base and blast off place for entrepreneurial spirits with a dream to stir up something delicious and sellable.

   Meant to be both a business incubator and a shared workspace, the kitchen, which officially opened its doors in April, provides fully licensed commercial space and equipment for rent plus support services to established food product producers and startups. It's 3,600 square feet of storage, prep and cooking facilities: all the standard stuff-stoves, sinks, stainless steel tables and counters,  plus rolling racks, two walk-in coolers and a freezer, convection oven, 25-gallon steam kettle, a floor mixer, tools, pots and pans of every size and description. It could function as a commissary for food truck operators and caterers, serve chefs and growers who want to preserve seasonal fruits and vegetables, and be a production facility for all kinds of edibles.

  Once would-be tenants have applied and been approved, they can lease space, by the hour on a regular or as needed basis. Dry, cold, and frozen shelf space is also for rent. There's even a small meeting and conference room. Currently they're operating only 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  but soon hope to be be running 24/7.

 The building, located at 28th Street and Euclid Avenue, is owned by J&M Real Estate Advisors. Carolyn Priemer, who handles marketing and administration for the firm  is the driving force behind the project along with her father, company President Gordon Priemer.  They've partnered with Hospitality Sales and Marketing and the Economic and Community Development Institute, both tenants there, to provide the kind of help essential for success, business plan development, microloans, and mentorship. The first 9-week Business Incubator Program for 10 selected entrepreneurs begins Monday, July 8. Applications are due by June 3.

  Carolyn Priemer, brimming with energy and ideas, gave me a guided tour earlier this month, explaining that the kitchen was previously used by Cleveland State University's catering operation. When they moved out she saw an opportunity. "I knew other cities were doing this with great success," she says,  "This was a moment when everything came together. We had the right place, the right people, and I knew it was the right time. There's a synergy here."

 We walk as she talks. I meet Patrick Candor, he's the facility manager and a caterer, and a woman mixing up a batch of vegan ginger cookies for the Cleveland Baking Company, a wholesale operation that is providing employment and second chances to people just out of prison. A few minutes later I'm chatting with founder and CEO James Levin. That's another thing about this place. It will foster all kinds of networking, cross-pollination and collaboration, says Priemer.  A hands-on leader, she proudly points to a big used fridge they recently purchased and says, "I spent Saturday scrubbing it from top to bottom."  In another room, she points to the spot where they plan to put a machine for filling jars and bottles.

  This isn't for everybody with a recipe. Applicants need to have more than just an idea to find out what's required, and get more information about the kitchen, Carolyn suggests interested people call her and set up a time to come in for a tour and a talk: 216-314-7196.

  This is a for profit venture with great promise and possibility. Something like this has long been needed here. I applaud all the participants for their vision and their efforts. And I'm so looking forward to tasting and writing about the good things that come from it.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Get Your Game On

   Tomorrow, Thursday May 23, I launch my new career as game show host. This could be a break through night for me. My co-author Marilou Suszko and I have created a trivia competition based on our vast knowledge about the West Side Market (gathered during the three year process of researching and writing the definitive book on that subject, Cleveland's West Side Market: 100 Years & Still Cooking). We're unveiling it at Sterle's Country House with an event called Market Smarts . If you think you know a thing or two about the place, its history, its vendors- past and present- and the vast array of ethnic foods to be found there, then join us to Test Your West Side Market IQ. Or just come for a good time and the chance to learn the difference between kapusta, krakowska, and kolache.

   Selected  guests will team up to compete. There will be multiple rounds and even audience members get a chance to chime in.We expect much head-scratching, labored thinking, flashes of brilliance, tense tie-breaking moments, expressions of joy, and good sportsmanship from the losers. Even if none of that happens, I feel fairly secure in saying there will be lots of laughs. And beer. Throwing of kielbasa, pierogies and schnitzel is not allowed but eating them is encouraged.

   The show's free. You buy your own food and drink. Come to play or just to watch.  Great prizes from the West Side Market  await the lucky winners. The fun starts at 7PM.
  Marilou has claimed the Don Pardo role. This is my Regis Phlibin-Pat Sajak-Bob Barker moment, my chance to quip like Peter Sagal, vamp like Vanna White and be as clever as Alex Trebek. Be there to cheer us on.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

May Dinner in the Dark is an Amp 150 Homecoming

May’s Dinner in the Dark at Amp 150 featured dishes from Rocco Whalen, Michael Lyons and Matt Danko, pastry chef at The Greenhouse Tavern. But the big reveal was the homecoming of Dean Max, the Florida chef who opened Amp 150 in 2009.

Tempura Soft-Shell Crab

Max brought a little taste of Florida in the form of soft-shell crabs that he dipped in tempura batter and served with pickled vegetables, a puree of local ramps and asparagus, and a spicy Korean-inspired sauce on the side. The tempura batter added a welcomed crunch to the delicate crab and the puree was refreshing along with the pickled vegetables. 

Slow-Roasted Lamb Belly

After a blueberry acai sorbet palette cleanser from Jeff Jarrett, the Amp 150 chef who co-founded Dinner in the Dark, diners were treated Michael Lyons’ dish. He prepared lamb belly that was marinated for two days and then slow roasted and served with pureed sunchokes and a spring salad. 

Rehydrated Rye Bread Cake and Caramelized White Chocolate

Danko’s dessert was a rehydrated rye bread cake, caramelized white chocolate, an amoretti and honey crumble and sweet soy sauce. The rye bread cake was surprisingly moist and the sweetness of the white chocolate was offset by the soy sauce. It was a delectable ending to the evening’s menu.

Nate Fagnilli of Crosswinds Grille and Dan Hawrylak of Amp 150 also served up delicious dishes.

Ticket proceeds from this Dinner in the Dark will go to the Butterfly Memorial Gardens in Stow. For more information, visit their Facebook page.

Keep an eye on Dinner in the Dark's website for information on June’s event.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Healthy and Happy Harouvis Style

   Chef Anna Harouvis radiates a bright positive spirit and has a nurturing way about her. She smiles often,  lighting up her face and the room. And she has a passion. So when she starts talking about the benefits of  fresh fruits and veggies; vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free diets; and the raw food ethos you can't help but be drawn in. Whether you actually ascribe to any of those ideas or have any desire to give up animal products or your junk food fetish doesn't matter. You want her to take care of you, cook for you, root for you. At least that was my experience sitting across the table from her recently at her  little breakfast/lunch cafe, Good to Go, in the IMG Building downtown. I felt as though she really truly cared about me and my well being. She was delighted that I raved about her tomato basil bisque, rich tasting even though she used no heavy cream. She wanted me to enjoy my "raw-dical" burger, kale chips, and pad thai made with sea kelp noodles, not because it affirmed her skills in the kitchen but because I'd be better for eating it. Her excitement was contagious.

   Those qualities make Harouvis the ideal spokesperson for her line of cleansing and revitalizing juices, Anna in the Raw. Made from organic fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, they're meant to be drunk in a specific order through the day and are sold in numbered bottles. Chefs, who have notoriously poor eating habits, are fans, among them Rocco Whalen of Fahrenheit and Chris Hodgson of Hodges. Melissa Khoury, who womans the stove at Washington Place Bistro told me she did a three day cleanse and loved it.  "I did it as a way to reset and kick start a new way of eating for myself," says Khoury. "I felt great, had more energy and am still doing a daily juice in the morning."
   Juices can be ordered online. The regimen isn't cheap, but if you can afford it, the price is fair considering the quality of the ingredients and the potential payback. If you go pick them up, arrive hungry and place an order for vegan stuffed grape leaves, a free range chicken and pineapple salsa wrap, mock tuna salad or one of her other creations.
  Speaking of going, Harvouvis and Diana Maiola Cirino, President of Italian Tours and Travel by Diana, have put together a Wellness and Detox trip to Italy for October. Days will include excursions to picturesque cities around the Puglia, Basilicata, Molise and Umbria regions; pilates, yoga and meditation classes: a spa visit; cooking lessons; and of course much feasting on local specialties and wines. Reservations are being accepted now. More information online.  One of the best things to recommend it is that you'll be spending time with Anna  and I have no doubt she will be an inspirational and delightful traveling companion.
  And more thing. Anna celebrates her Hellenic heritage tomorrow (Thursday).  It's Greek Day at Good to Go and this kitchen goddess is preparing spanakopita (and a non-traditional version with ramps), pastitio, grape leaves and tzaki pita, gyros, roasted leg of lamb with rosemary, lemony potatoes and avgolemono soup. Or she says, "Try a little of each in a Grecian Platter." This is not to be missed!

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Cleveland Orchestra at Home in Gordon Square

Cleveland Orchestra Musicians Miho Hashizume and Shachar Israel at Sweet Moses in Gordon Square. Photo by Roger Mastroianni.
For two years, Cleveland Orchestra musicians have been stepping out of Severance Hall and into the Happy Dog for intimate, informal concerts — and audiences love it. Now, the Cleveland Orchestra is settling into the Gordon Square Arts District for a week packed with free events, the orchestra's first neighborhood residency in Northeast Ohio.

From May 11 to 17, audiences can attend pop-up concerts, educational programs for students and chamber ensemble performances in locations where you never thought you’d see a violin.

“It’s an exciting time for artistic revival in Cleveland,” says Ana Papakhian, communications director for the Cleveland Orchestra. Musical entertainment is not the only benefit, though. “Events like this increase foot traffic,” she says.

The At Home series kicks off Saturday with an oboe duet at Gypsy Beans & Baking Co. It culminates Thursday, May 16, when the Cleveland Orchestra performs at St. Colman Catholic Church. The full orchestra concert marks the first time in more than 30 years that the Orchestra has performed on Cleveland's West Side. Tickets are available now at multiple locations.

The events encourage untraditional interactions between orchestra musicians and the public. The musicians, who are consistently eager to get involved in neighborhood benefits, offered an overwhelming number of suggestions for the Gordon Square events.

“They are very passionate about growing their art form,” says Papahkian. 

Other events include numerous appearances by the Cleveland Orchestra chamber ensemble, a musical collaboration with Cleveland Public Theatre, a screening at the Capitol Theater of the "Orchestra’s Bruckner Symphony No. 4" performance in Austria, and a panel discussion held by the City Club of Cleveland on the impact of arts and culture on neighborhood development.

Papakhian hopes people will make plans to go, and that others will be surprised.

“Some people will walk in to get coffee or shop and encounter the musicians by accident,” she says. “That’s the magic of it.”

For a full schedule of events, visit

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

“No evidence” against Pedro, Onil Castro; women left house only twice in 10 years

“How much of the early Cleveland reporting is wrong?” Reuters press critic Jack Shafer tweeted last night. We’re starting to find out.

We’re down to one suspect, not three, in the kidnapping and captivity of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight. And those wild stories from Seymour Avenue neighbors, reported yesterday by out-of-town press, are looking really fishy.

Ariel Castro was charged today with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape. But Pedro and Onil Castro, arrested with their brother Monday night, will face no charges in the case.

“There is nothing that leads us to believe that they were involved or had any knowledge of this,” deputy police chief Ed Tomba said at a press conference at Public Hall.

Ariel Castro and the three women have all told police that Pedro and Onil weren’t involved, Tomba said.

So why were they arrested? “They were with their brother. It was an investigative stop. You can only imagine the chaos,” Tomba said.

“We had enough probable cause to bring them into custody,” the deputy chief asserted. But in two days’ investigation, “we found no facts to link them to the crime.”

Instead, the two brothers will appear in court tomorrow because of outstanding misdemeanor warrants in unrelated cases.

Berry, DeJesus and Knight also told police that Ariel Castro only let them out of his Seymour Avenue house twice in 10 years. They never left the property. Instead, he took them to his garage in disguises.

That casts serious doubt on the tales a few Seymour Avenue neighbors told reporters yesterday, that people saw a naked woman or women in restraints in Castro’s back yard and called the cops.

City officials have said they have no record of calls about the house. “Our position has been confirmed by the victims themselves,” safety director Martin Flask said to me today.

Most local news outlets, notably The Plain Dealer, look good today for not publishing the neighbors’ tales. Amid competitive pressure to match bigger news outlets, they trusted their own skepticism.

Police don’t expect to discover any other Castro victims, Tomba added. They questioned the three Castro brothers about Ashley Summers, another young woman who went missing on the West Side years ago, but got no new information. (The fourth kidnapping charge concerns Berry’s six-year-old daughter, who was also in the house.)

Tomba said the three women felt they had no chance to escape the house until Monday. “They were not in one room, but they did know each other and know each other [were] there,” he added.

The 5 p.m. press conference reflected the worldwide interest in Berry, DeJesus, and Knight’s escape. About 50 journalists gathered on Public Hall's main auditorium floor. Reporters from CNN, Fox News and the Los Angeles Times lined up with local journalists to ask questions.

I chatted with a reporter for the French newspaper le Parisien, who’s flown in from Paris to report from Seymour Avenue. He says the case reminds Europeans of a kidnapping in France and the Austrian case of Josef Fritzl, who imprisoned his daughter for 24 years.

Tried, True and Terrific

photo by Barney Taxel, Taxel Image Group

The husband and I had a date to have dinner with a friend last Saturday night. We decided to eat at Bistro 185 in the up-and-coming Collinwood area. We’ve been regulars since it opened in 2006 and, like many of their customers, have a friendly relationship with owners Marc and Ruth Levine. We love talking curing and smoking with Marc, and I appreciate his savvy (and recommendations) when it comes to wine and beer. Ruth is a culinary powerhouse and someone I admire. She's knowledgeable, skilled and imaginative when it comes to cooking but without ego or pretension, (always giving credit to her crack kitchen team, especially chef Todd Mueller), and she seems to possess  the energy and endurance of  two.

This small restaurant is among the select group of places we choose to go when I’m not on the job. We were talking about this recently, dissecting what we like about it. First there's the look and feel: tavern casual, cozy, and unpretentious with some charming retro touches in the decor like roomy wooden booths with game boards integrated into the table tops. The service is friendly, the prices affordable. The bar is well stocked with interesting stuff. Though some dishes show up often because they're popular, the menu changes daily so it never gets boring. And there are always ample choices: meat, poultry, fish, vegetarian — options from light to hearty. Ruth's not wedded to a single theme, a concept more defined by quality and deliciousness than style. Comfort food, Asian flavors, classic sauces, American contemporary, French technique — any of it might show up on a given night.

photo by Barney Taxel, Taxel Image Group

But most of all, the husband and I agreed that we’d never, not ever, had a bad meal there. Sure, we’ve liked some dishes more than others, however neither of us have ever felt the need to send back a plate or complain. The dishes coming out of this kitchen are consistently well executed and invariably tasty. The leftovers, — and there are usually take home bags, both because the portions are sizable and we can't resist her appetizers and salads — are never tossed and always a source of enjoyment. We keep coming here, and bring family, friends and out-of-towners because we can depend on having a fine night out. And Saturday was no exception. The entree selection included steak oscar, veal scaloppini, chicken schnitzel, boeuf bourguignon, panko-and-almond crusted cod, lobster ravioli, 1/2 a duck roasted in orange ginger sauce ...

We had a luscious bacon and goat cheese flatbread featuring spinach, mounds of caramelized onions, Parmesan and balsamic glaze. The warm wild mushroom salad with field greens and raspberry vinaigrette was excellent as usual. The husband went with Coquille St. Jacques (a starter big enough for a main), a bubbling crock of scallops and shrimp in an alfredo cream with parmesan crust. Our friend chose the house-cured gravlax on potato pancakes, one of our favorites. The high point of my evening was the Mediterranean seafood nicoise, a truly outstanding bouillabaisse. The bronzini tomato broth was thick with shrimp, mussels, salmon, cod, and cobia; three kinds of olives; fennel, leeks, onions, capers and chunks of carrot; and white and purple fingerling potatoes. Crunchy slices of toasted baguette slathered with garlic aioli were great for dipping.

Smoked and Grilled Tofu
Glazed with a Sweet and Spicy Pineapple Bar-B-Que Sauce
Grilled Corn and Edamame Succotash
Roasted Sweet Potato
Jalapeno Corn Bread

If I have not yet succeeded in motivating you to visit the restaurant, then let me add another incentive. There are monthly dinners for wine aficionados and vegans (or anyone who wants to explore this approach). The next  wine dinner dubbed "Off the Beaten Path" happens May 22.  A three-course, prix-fixe Vegan Tex Mex  is scheduled for May 23. Reservations are required for both.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Shades of Sowell in Seymour Avenue horror house

How can a man make a house a prison for 10 years with no one noticing? That’s the question Cleveland faces today, even as it celebrates Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight’s breakout from captivity.

#miracleinCLE,” everyone's tweeting, joyful that the city’s two most famous missing persons of the 2000s have survived, that DeJesus and Berry have reunited with their families. But that sunny local-news slogan may keep us from seeing the story clearly.

Ariel Castro’s home now appears to be another Cleveland house of horror, second only to Anthony Sowell’s. It’s another house where women were held in captivity and assaulted, where crimes went on for years without anyone detecting them. The difference is, Sowell murdered. Berry, DeJesus and Knight were likely held captive under the threat of murder.

Cleveland faced a lot of questions after Sowell’s serial murders on Imperial Avenue, and the Seymour Avenue story asks them again. Did the neighbors fail the women inside the house? Did the police?

Neighbors are asking themselves why they didn’t see the signs. Meanwhile, rescuer Charles Ramsey’s interviews are flashing around the world, but I haven’t seen anyone quote this part of his Fox 8 interview, about the house where no lights were ever on:

Me and Anthony talked about this last year. But he told me I was paranoid. ‘Cause I just moved onto the street. And I told him something’s wrong with that house. And he said, ‘Just leave it alone, chill.’

So far, police have found no record of any calls or complaints about the house, they said this morning. “At this point, we have no indications that any of the neighbors, bystanders, witnesses or anyone else has ever called,” safety director Martin Flask reported at the morning press conference.

But today, neighbors are telling reporters about a naked woman crawling out of the house and back in, and pounding on the doors from inside the house. (The naked woman story isn't a firsthand account. See these reports from WKYC TV3 and The Guardian.)

The neighbors claim police either didn’t respond, or responded but didn’t enter the house. (Without a warrant, they probably couldn’t.)

{Update, 11:15 pm:  Police say they got no calls about a naked woman outside the home. Plain Dealer reporter Rachel Dissell tweeted skeptically to me tonight about some neighbors' claims: "Lots of attention seeking on Seymour Avenue the further out from last night. By this morning, wholly unreliable."}

{Update, 5/8: The women have told police they only went outside the house twice in 10 years, when Ariel Castro took them into the garage in disguises. See our new post. Also, "captors" is changed to "captor" below. Police have said Castro's brothers, arrested Monday, were not involved.}

Last night, at least, a squad car responded to Berry’s frantic call within two minutes -- but only after she pressed the 9-1-1 dispatcher to move faster.

“We’re going to send them as soon as we get a car open,” the dispatcher said.

“No, I need them now, before he gets back!” Berry insisted.

Three women, not two, emerged from the Seymour Avenue house last night. The fact that Michelle Knight wasn’t famously missing -- we haven’t even seen a picture of her yet -- revives another vexing issue from Imperial Avenue: We treat missing adult women very differently from missing teens. Knight was 20 when she disappeared, and everyone from police to most of her family believed she’d run off. Only her mother felt she’d been abducted.

But despite all the haunting questions the city faces today, it’s also achieved a victory. For ten years, Berry and DeJesus’s families, the police, the media, and the public all kept watching for the two women.

Even in their prison, whether because of their captor or in spite of him, word of the search got to Berry and DeJesus. It must have given them hope to know they weren’t forgotten.

“I’m Amanda Berry,” she said in the 911 call. “I’ve been on the news for the last 10 years.”

Monday, May 6, 2013

Mother-approved Meals

Luxe offers Mother's Day Brunch until 3 p.m.
In exchange for 364 days of spoiling you, mom gets one day all to herself. So treat her right and make it special. There are a number of offerings around Cleveland on May 12. From brunches to dinners and even sporting events the night before, mom is bound to enjoy one of these.


Cleveland Gladiators vs. Chicago Rush
Quicken Loans Arena, 1 Center Court, Cleveland, 216-420-2000,; $10-$85, moms free at box office; Saturday, 7 p.m. 
If your mom is into sports, then join the Cleveland Gladiators on May 11 as they host the Chicago Rush. All moms get in free (available at the box office only) and receive a free flower. First 500 moms get a certificate for a free haircut from Legacy Hair Salon.

House of Blues
308 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, 216-523-2583,; $38, seniors $29, children (6-12) $18, children under 6 free; 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Get in touch with your southern roots with a buffet inspired by southern-style cooking. Chicken and waffles and cornbread muffins are just some of the offerings, complete with a bloody mary bar.

1515 W. Third St., Cleveland, 216-902-5255,; $50, children $20; 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Muse is honoring moms with a special four-course prix fixe menu capped with a dessert buffet. Choose between three appetizing entrees: a braised short rib, Chilean sea bass or Cornish game hen galantine. Reservations required.

Pickwick and Frolic
2035 E. Fourth St., Cleveland, 216-241-7425,; $36.95, children (4-14) $16.95, children 3 and under free; 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
If quantity is what you seek, Pickwick and Frolic is putting together a brunch of more than 50 food selections. In addition to all the breakfast staples, guests can enjoy a chocolate fountain and banana fosters made from vanilla ice cream and a choice of sauces.

The Ritz-Carlton
1515 W. Third St., Cleveland, 216-902-5255,; $65, children $24; 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Before spoiling mom to a lavish buffet ranging from eggs and omelets to smoked salmon and sushi, design her a bouquet from the many fresh flowers at a build-your-own-bouquet station. Reservations required.

Sans Souci
24 Public Square, Cleveland, 216-902-4095,; $40 prix fixe; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. A special Mother’s Day menu allows guests to choose from a variety of starters, mains and desserts. Open with a lobster bisque or a boneless beef short rib among other selections. Enjoy a lemon sorbet while waiting for a braised lamb shank or a variety of other entrees. Top the meal off with a key lime pie, trio chocolate mousse or a creme brulee cheesecake.


Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
28869 Chagrin Blvd., Woodmere, 216-896-9000,; $36.95, children (5-12) $17.95; 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
Build a meal at Fleming’s from three appetizers, including lobster bisque with sherry cream and lobster garnish. Fleming’s signature eggs benedict with either sliced filet mignon or smoked salmon on top of a toasted English muffin headlines four choices of entrees. Then indulge in your choice of white-chocolate bread pudding, creme brulee or a walnut turtle pie. All moms receive a $25 dining card for a future visit.

Grovewood Tavern
17105 Grovewood Ave., Cleveland, 216-531-4900,; $22, $10 children (10 and under); 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Egg lovers, this brunch is for you. Choose between a number of egg-themed dishes such as omelets, eggs tenderloin with a cut of filet, poached eggs with cheddar, guacamole and salsa on an English muffin or the classic steak and eggs. French toast, seared salmon, shrimp/chicken and grits and steak frites are also available. Complete your entree from a number of buffet sidecars including salads, assorted pastries and other desserts. Reservations required.

InterContinental Hotel
9801 Carnegie Ave., Cleveland, 216-707-4167,; $42, children (6-10) $17, children 5 and under free; 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
Zack Bruell and Tom Schrenk join forces for a special Mother’s Day buffet. Feast on made-to-order waffles and omelets, crepes and entrees such as chicken and truffle fettuccini alfredo or eggs benedict with hollandaise sauce.

The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake
4888 N. Broadway, Geneva-on-the-Lake, 440-466-7100,; $29.99, children (6-12) $14.99, children 5 and under free; 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Explore Geneva State Park after feasting on favorites such as waffles, pancakes and omelets. Lunch offerings include pork loin and peppercorn-seared sirloin in addition to a variety of cakes and pies at the dessert table.


100th Bomb Group
20920 Brookpark Road, Cleveland, 216-267-1010,; $39.99, children (5-12) $15.99, children under 5 free; 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
See airplanes up close and take in relics from World War II while treating mom to a great buffet. Guests will enjoy a seafood display highlighted by smoked salmon, shrimp and crabs in addition to other classic brunch items. Reservations recommended.

Cleveland Airport Marriott
4277 W. 150th St., Cleveland, 216-252-5333; $32.95, seniors $25.95, children (3-12) $13.95, children under 3 free; 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Enjoy a savory selection of favorites such as roasted porkloin, fried brussel sprouts and Grand Marnier French toast. Assorted desserts, pastries, breakfast breads and pies will also be available. Reservations recommended.

Luxe Kitchen & Lounge
6605 Detroit Ave., Cleveland, 216-920-0600,; Prices vary; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. If you happened to visit Luxe for Easter Sunday, then one of the popular items will be making a return for Mother’s Day — a baked strawberry cassata ($10). The French toast-style cassata is served with almonds, whipped cream and strawberry syrup. Or try the Lobster Scramble ($17) with tomato and asparagus. Regular dinner menu also available. Reservations recommended.


Blue Canyon Kitchen and Tavern
8960 Wilcox Drive, Twinsburg, 330-486-2583,; $36.95, children (8-12) $15.95, children (3-7) $9.95, children 2 and under free; 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Venture out to Blue Canyon and find a buffet packed with savory seafood specialties such as oysters, shrimp cocktail and trout. Land lovers need not worry, there are also three meat-carving stations offering prime rib, ham and turkey breast among numerous buffet staples. Reservations required.

8001 Rockside Road, Valley View, 216-524-9404,; Prices varies; brunch 10 a.m.-2 p.m., dinner 2 p.m.-8 p.m.
A special menu for a special mom, Lockkeepers is offering up special brunch offerings until 2 p.m. Eggs benedict served atop a crab cake with asparagus and French toast with strawberry mascarpone filling and applewood-smoked bacon are two possible choices on this diverse menu. Reservations recommended.

Thyme 2
113 W. Smith Road, Medina, 330-764-4114,; $29.95, children (under 12) $14.95; 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Make time for classic favorites — such as prime rib and omelets — on Mother’s Day. Stuffed French toast and eggs benedict are just a few of the many Thyme staples being offered during brunch.

— Chris Sweeney

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Downtown Cool

Take 5 Rhythm and Jazz Tapas Lounge is black, white and cool. Those three words describe the clientele, the decor, and the atmosphere. It opened this February downtown in the Warehouse District to serve a sophisticated (and grown-up) multicultural crowd looking for top shelf  food, drink and live music.  The last place to do this was the original Club Isabella, which had its heyday in 1990's and closed its doors back in 2007.
   Partners and childhood pals Claude Carson and Brian Gresham, who also operate Opus Restaurant in Shaker Heights and Harvard Wine and Grill,  revived the tired old space on West Superior Avenue that once was House of Cues and then Prime Rib Steakhouse. The makeover is impressive and includes a stage for the local, regional, and national performers, a long gorgeous bar featuring gold leaf under glass, seating at white cloth covered tables for 96, a raised area for larger groups and those wanting a chefs table experience, and a private VIP room.
  The kitchen, in contrast, has some limitations in terms of size and equipment. That fact combined with the tapas concept, and the club-like nature of the venue shaped Executive Chef Jeremy Rolen's menu. Everything on it is meant for grazing and sharing. You can order a few dishes to start the evening, more when the band takes a break, and one last bite to go with the night's final round."Small plates means everyone can try lots of different things," Rolen says, "get a real sense of what the chef is all about. They also let you take your time, and have a leisurely meal while you socialize and enjoy the show." Take 5 is one of four new spots featured in our May issue that are emphasizing small plates. One problem I've often encountered with this style of dining is that tables aren't big enough to accommodate the spread. They've tackled that issue head on here and come up with a truly elegant solution:  the serving pieces come in various shapes and sizes that fit together like the parts of a puzzle.

Jaco Pastorius' Naan Pizza
   The offerings, named after famous jazz artists, run the gamut from upscale bar food and familiar fine dining favorites-- shrimp cocktail, beef sliders, and  crisp fried wings-- to those aimed at foodies looking for something different-- Cajun chicken rolls, vegetarian bruschetta with lentil spread and feta, lobster tempura, and scallops with grilled pineapple and avocado emulsion. I had the excellent Ella Fitzgerald (she is my all time favorite singer): four scampi served on a bed of grilled romaine with basil aioli.
   Good sounds as well as good eats are part of the mix. Among the musical groups scheduled for May (Thursdays through Sundays) are jazz vocalist Sherena Wynn, the Laura Varcho Quartet, and pianist Skip Gibson.
  I'm glad Gresham and Carson have decided to invest in Cleveland and contribute to our downtown entertainment scene.