Blogs > Date Nights Around Cleveland

News-Herald City Editor John Bertosa lets you know what options await in the 216 and beyond for those looking to get out of the house.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Progressive Field once again hosts World Series

That’s right, the home field of the Cleveland Indians will once again host the World Series... of Wine, of course. What did you think I meant?
The two-day event which takes place Nov. 2-3 is ripe with date night potentials, but you’ll want to get your tickets now.
The highlight of the event is the Grand Tastings held at the Terrace Club on both nights as well as that Saturday afternoon. For $75 a ticket, a person can take three hours to sample from 450 wines, nibble on gourmet appetizers, and wistfully  look through the giant glass windows at the perfectly manicured playing field and wonder “what if?”
So, with 450 different wines, you would have your pick of strategies. You can go all whites or all reds, or you can be more refined and just limit yourself to Rieslings, or Chardonnays or Merlots. And all the while you can become a wine expert by chatting up the distributors that are pouring their wines.
Jeannene and I have been to this event twice before but I am particularly looking forward to this year because of this date night’s potential. Why? Because this is the first year that the neighboring Horseshoe Casino will be open! It’ll be like a relief pitcher warming up in the bullpen and then running to the mound in the ninth inning!
Notice the continuation of the baseball theme?
But, seriously, you will want to plan something after the tasting that will give you time to sober up. Hmm, East Fourth Street perhaps?
Now, if going back to Progressive Field is your idea of a buzz kill, the World Series of Wine offers options in other downtown sites. Want to hone your wine knowledge even more? Try one of the seminars being held at the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Cleveland. And, there’s a holiday pairing seminar being held at the Cowell & Hubbard restaurant by Playhouse Square.
Speaking of Cowell & Hubbard, Jeannene and I will be at the Zack Bruell restaurant Saturday night before making our way to the Hanna Theater for “The Imaginery Invalid.”
So, see you around town.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Playhouse Square: Broadway in Cleveland

OK, so a couple of posts ago I was talking up the wonderful non-musical options over at the Hanna Theatre, but there are some great options for those who would like to include a rousing bout of singing in their date nights.
And leading the way is KeyBank’s Broadway Series at Playhouse Square.
The seven-play series kicks off next week with “Anything Goes” and will be followed by a mix of vintage revivals, newcomers and endearing favorites. Next comes “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” in November then “Priscilla,” “Sister Act,” War Horse,” and “Guys and Dolls.”
It will then be capped off next spring by the funniest/raunchiest play I’ve ever seen -- “The Book of Mormon.” So, I’m not totally against musicals. And there is something old-school romance about getting dressed up and going to the Playhouse theaters that were built in the 1920s at the height of Cleveland’s greatness. There’s the giant murals, classic European designs and the lush carpet walkways to hush the footfalls. You won’t find anything like it between New York and Chicago.
And, if there are other events going on at the theater complex year-round that you can use as a reason to hit the town, from concerts to comedy shows to intellectual talks.
Ahh, but “Mormon” isn’t until June. So, as for this weekend Jeannene and I will be checking out the Great Lakes Theatre production of The Winter’s Tale at the Hanna and before that we’re going to drop by the Encore! Restaurant and Blue Bar at the Wyndham and see what’s going on over there.
I wish I didn’t have to get up so early on Saturday otherwise I’d be sure to check out the Cosmic Cocktails event at Liquid/Suite SIXX/Ultra in the warehouse district. notes that starting at 9 p.m. attendees can try inventive cocktails and complimentary dishes all for $35.

See you around town.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Date Night --- Southern style

Hey all, just wanted to do a quick post on the restaurant Jeannene and I got to on Saturday - SOHO Kitchen and Bar on W. 25th Street in Cleveland
We’ve been eying the place for some time but it seemed like we always found ourselves at one of the other great restaurants on that strip. But now we’re already planning a return stop.
SOHO specializes in upscale southern cuisine -- there’s fried chicken, grits, collard greens, BBQ pork and pecan pie but these plates are far from the stereotypical truck stop or diner food that us Northerners imagine.
Instead of greasy and fatty meat smothered in thick gravies SOHO’s food is all fresh and cooked to perfection and the seasoning shows boldness and creativity.
We started off with the pan-seared crawfish fritters, which were more of a crabcake but with crawfish. The crawfish was extremely fresh and the bread was light, at least as far as crabcakes go. And instead of something like bottled cocktail sauce you might find in a Southern diner, at SOHO it came with a mango chow chow and poblano pesto to add a tanginess.
I then went with the slow-roasted pork po’ boy with chips. The pork was very delicate and it had mostly soaked up the bbq sauce instead of swimming in it. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough flavor, it was topped of by a jalapeno-bacon jam and redeye cole slaw. And the thick bun never become too mushy from all those succulent juices.

I will definitely order it again... after I try the crispy catfish po’ boy. It looked huge and had a hot pepper remoulade dripping off it!
Jeannene went with the Evenin’-style fried chicken. She was especially happy to see the breast and thigh pieces were already removed from the bone so she didn’t have to “work.” It also came with mashed sweet potatoes that were quite creamy and collard greens that were kicked up a notch by being cooked in some kind of pepper broth or tobasco sauce.

And in case you're wondering, their Mornin’-style fried chicken is the traditional chicken and waffles with syrup.
Our dessert was a pecan pie with cinnamon ice cream, and as with the other dishes, it was greatly elevated above what you might get a store or diner.
Prices also were more than you would spend at a roadside truck stop but, really, not by that much. Appetizers were $9, po’ boys were $12, fried chicken meals were $16 and other meals were $17.
The inside of the restaurant gave off a comfy vibe but we decided to take advantage of the nice weather and sit out in the patio. That is off one of the side streets so we could enjoy the buzz of foot and auto traffic on W. 25th without being overwhelmed.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Waiting for the curtain to rise

The new phone book's here! The new phone book's here!
That classic line from “The Jerk” starring Steve Martin (before he was taking himself too seriously) popped in my head this week when I brought in the mail. The pile of various charity requests and advertisements included a thick envelope with our tickets for this season’s lineup by Great Lakes Theater.
Yes! The new tickets are here! The new tickets are here!
Nah, not quite the same.
Anyways, Great Lakes Theater is actually the name of a top-notch acting company, not a place. In fact, they perform at the Hanna Theater in the PlayhouseSquare District in downtown Cleveland.
The highly experienced troupe puts on five to six plays from fall through spring -- usually including at least two Shakespeare productions and  “A Christmas Carol.”
Almost all the plays have no singing whatsoever and the seating is right up close to where all the action is. And the production staff does a highly creative job of providing new and modern twists to these classics while respecting the source material.
Such an experience is a perfect highlight of a date, especially if you’re looking for something different from yet another movie or TV Night.
And those who are going to PlayhouseSquare are finding more (and better) dining options to compliment the theater experience. The always-popular Bricco with its huge and varied drink and dining menus has been joined by a Corks Wine Bar and the Zach Bruell restaurant Cowell & Hubbard.
There are also several bars and other eateries for quick bites before a play or lingering drinks afterward.
As for this season’s Great Lakes Theater line-up, get ready for Shakespeare’s “The WinterTale from Sept. 28 through Nov. 4;  “The Imaginary Invalid” by Moliere from Oct. 5 through Nov. 3; Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” Nov. 30 through Dec. 23; “Blithe Spirit” by Coward from Feb. 22 through March 10; and Shakespeare’s “Much Ado about Nothing” March 29 through April 14.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Saying goodbye to summer

Ahhh, it’s Labor Day Weekend. What to do, what to do?
Well, since it’s a three-day weekend everyone should work in at least one cook out as a way to say goodbye to summer. But what else should you consider?
For those who want to say a longer farewell to the warm weather, then you’ll probably want to mix in some more outdoor activities into your time together. Tops on that list, especially if the guys get to pick what to do this weekend, is the Cleveland National Air Show which is going on all three days at Burke Lakefront Airport. You should then find a restaurant though I wouldn’t recommend a downtown establishment unless you feel like walking. After all, you already paid for parking at the show so you don’t want to spend more at a garage or a lot.
And when you pick a restaurant, think about continuing the outdoor-theme with one that has a good patio. Headed west? Try The Harp. South? The South Side. East? Lure Bistro.
But what if it ends up raining all weekend or you’re like me and you’re sick of 90-plus degrees? Tops on my Indoor list is checking out the newly opened atrium at the Cleveland Museum of Art. The world-class collection is slowly but surely being put back on display in its newly renovated sections and the atrium looks like it will be one of the high points of a visit.
Other interesting-looking options this weekend: Seether takes the stage at the House of Blues on E. 4th Street on Friday; Thunderlips Improv! performs Saturday at the Big Dog Theater (2781 Euclid Heights Blvd.); and Cleveland Labor Day Oktoberfest goes all three days at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The obligatory introduction entry

Hey there -- John here. After more than 15 years hanging out around Cleveland with my wife, Jeannene,  I figured we should start letting others know all the interesting things to see and do in this underrated city.

So much to do, so much to write about. There's the amazing restaurants and bars that range from cool and swanky to energetic and bustling. And you've got the world-class cultural icons around University Circle as well as the budding new artists popping up everywhere. Playhouse Square, Beck Center, Beachland Ballroom., etc. 

And I'll need your help keeping track of all the possibilities that are constantly popping up. So please follow me/drop me a line on Twitter at @jbertosa and you can also email me at

See you around!