Cleveland is seeing a revival
By Jennifer Ceaser
October 1, 2013 | 6:29am
Transformer Station and Rising Star Coffee featured as part of another “up-and-coming” neighborhood in Ohio City
With 100-plus vendors, the historic West Side Market draws crowds to the Ohio City neighborhood.
Photo: www.positivelycleveland.com/Jeff Greenberg
If you were an Ohioan back in the early ’80s, you might remember “New York’s the Big Apple, but Cleveland’s a Plum,” an ad campaign to rebrand the failing Rust Belt town. Though it never stuck, today’s Cleveland is earning laurels for its homegrown talent, like Iron Chef Michael Symon, along with farm-to-table eateries, award-winning craft breweries and cool art spaces. Here’s where to find them.
The West Side’s Ohio City was a blighted place whenGreat Lakes Brewing Companyopened a microbrewery and pub there in 1988. Its success spurred all sorts of improvements, from repaving Market Avenue with quaint cobblestones to renovating the landmark 1912West Side Market. The neoclassical building, with its distinctive clock tower, houses 100-plus vendors; many reflect Cleveland’s Eastern European heritage, so expect lots of sausage and strudel. But don’t skip the BBQ Ohio pork steamed buns ($3 each) at the Noodlecat stand.
The surrounding blocks are known as the Market District; here you’ll find two of the city’s foremost farm-to-table restaurants, the Flying Fig and Crop Bistro & Bar, plus Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” winner Bonbon Pastry & Cafe and two newer brewpubs, Market Garden Brewery and Distillery and Nano Brew Cleveland. (A fourth Slovenian-style brewery/pub project recently broke ground.) Among the smattering of galleries in the area, a pioneer is the Glass Bubble Project — a workshop/gallery dedicated to the art of blown glass. Pop in to see a demonstration, peruse the delicate wares and meet the resident chicken, Monty.
Walk north about 10 minutes to another up-and-coming part of Ohio City, thanks to the Transformer Station, a 1924 railway substation recently converted into an airy 3,500-square-foot contemporary art gallery. Across the street, fuel up with some java at Rising Star Coffee, set in an old firehouse. This small-batch roaster favors the pour-over method — be patient, it’s worth it.
Ohio City’s sister neighborhood is dominated by the iconic St. Theodosius Russian Orthodox Cathedral — you might recognize the ornate, spired church from the wedding sequence in “The Deer Hunter.” But Tremont’s true religion is food: There’s Michael Symon’s Lolita; from Rocco Whalen, Fahrenheit; and Dante, from Robert De Niro’s onetime personal chef Dante Boccuzzi. For breakfast or lunch, try Lucky’s Cafe, which harvests many ingredients from its next-door garden; other products are sourced from local farmers. A couple doors down is Lilly Handmade Chocolates, with gorgeous artisanal truffles like PB Monster, a gourmet take on the peanut butter cup; pair your sweets with a selection of wine and craft beers.
This square-mile East Side hood is where you’ll find many of Cleveland’s top cultural attractions, including Severance Hall (home to the esteemed Cleveland Orchestra) and the venerable Cleveland Museum of Art — inside which is Provenance, a resto/cafe whose menu takes inspiration from the CMA’s current exhibition. The buzziest of the city’s eateries, set inside a historic carriage house, is L’Albatros. You’ll find plenty to enjoy on Zachary Bruell’s brasserie-style menu, but be sure to save room for the absolutely unskippable and ever-changing cheese board. After dinner, it’s just a couple minutes’ walk to the Glidden House, your best bet for a boutique stay (from $139). Mornings, line up for cappuccino and tasty pastries (and the best sfogliatelle outside of Italy) at Presti’s, in the nearby Little Italy neighborhood.