We were home from our trip just long enough to do some laundry, put the clothes away, and give Bentley, our boxer, a bath before we were off again. This time to Cleveland. Not really a place that you think about when planning a vacation, but this was not a vacation. My wife Amy is an intellectual property attorney (read: she helps individuals and businesses protect their trademarks and copyrights). This year, her law firm planned a firm-wide retreat in Cleveland, the firm’s home base. I have to say, it was a pretty impressive feat — invite all 175 lawyers and support staff, and their significant others, to Cleveland for a big party. Although the itinerary was pretty booked (it is a convention of lawyers after all) there would be some time for us to explore the city.
I have to admit that I did not know much about Cleveland except that it is where the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is located and there is a bar on South Beach named after people from Cleveland — the Clevelander. I was curious about the Cleveland food scene, and after some on-line searches and tweeting with some chef friends, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. Armed with my winter coat, winter boots, a flask of rye and some foodie recommendations, we dropped Isabela off at her grandparents, boarded a plane and headed out to hang with the suits.
On a side note, I have to mention that this was the first time letting our little angel out of our sights for more than an hour or so. We were both a bit of a wreck the entire trip, but the constant texts from Grandma, photos, FaceTime chats and bourbon made the separation a bit more bearable.
I figured Cleveland would be chilly, but I was not ready for the raw, rainy and windy weather that greeted us. Amy went to college in upstate New York- Go ‘Cuse – and warned me about lake-effect weather (Cleveland is located on the banks of Lake Erie). However, I did not expect this type of bone chilling cold. Needless to say, I immediately wanted something to warm me up. A chef friend suggested The Greenhouse Tavern. As we were scheduled to attend a reception that night, a big meal was not in the cards. Instead I just wanted a quick bite. Realizing that Jonathon Sawyer’s other restaurant, Noodle Cat, was around the corner, a bowl of hot ramen, micro beer and a few pork buns sounded spectacular. Our shared dishes were –
The Butcher’s Bun w/ West Side Market Meats & Yum
BBQ Pulled Pork with Pickled Onions, Slaw & Scallions
Gyoza with Chickpeas and Root Vegetable Dumplings
Drunken Clams with Sapporo, Miso, Butter and Bonito, Takahachi Ramen with Garlic Pork Broth, Roasted Pork, Dashi, 6 Minute Egg
“Roscoe’s” Fried Chicken & Ramen with Butter, Hot Sauce, Maple Syrup and Fried Chicken Broth
Yes, I said Fried Chicken Broth! Fucking – Genius!
We finished our ramen and headed over to the law firm reception. Due to the attorney/client privilege and work product doctrine, I cannot disclose the rest of our evening. Let’s just say that after a night with 100 plus lawyers, an open bar, conversations about some poor guy’s litigation and inter office drama, the Horseshoe Casino around the corner was calling my name.
The next day, Amy had an early morning seminar. This gave me the chance to sleep in for the first time since the arrival of Isabela. When she returned around noon, we headed out to explore the city. We all know the burger king Michael Symon hails from Cleveland and we could not leave without sampling the burger that won best burger at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival for three consecutive years. Chef Symon’s burger joint B Spot is located inside the Horseshoe Casino *(Bingo). We found it on the second floor and ordered our lunch. Amy had the cheeseburger with lettuce tomato, onion, and cheddar cheese. I tried the “Old School” fried bologna with pickles, mustard and American cheese. A friend had the “Chick Magnet,” a crispy chicken sandwich with avocado, arugula, tomato and mayo, and another ordered the chili cheese fries with scallions and cheddar. We all shared some onion rings. One thing I learned was that lawyers are always lawyers and are prepared to argue their point at any given time. On this particular occasion, the counselor wanted a refill of his fountain soda. The “plaintiff” said, “no refills were a policy of B-Spot.” Another 20 minutes later, hands are moving, body language is shaking and the “defendant” came back with an empty cup. Fast food joint – 1, high paid attorney – 0.
After lunch we headed over to the Rock and Roll hall of fame. Anyone who knows me, knows that music plays a huge part of my life. I like all types of music but have a particular affinity towards hip hop, classic rock and alternative music. Seeing memorabilia such as hand written lyrics, stage costumes, vintage merchandise, and even cars driven by rock legends up close and personal gave me chills. If you are a true music fan you must make a pilgrimage to this music landmark. Stones, Beatles, JayZ, Run DMC, Beasties, Jimi, Bowie, Miles, Coltrane – man you can spend all day in this place. And don’t miss the Grateful Dead exhibit, it’s well worth the climb.
The finale of our trip was the law firm party at a local Cleveland establishment called Pickwick and Frolic. I knew chefs could drink but lawyers can definitely give them a run for their money. It must be necessary to forget all of the cases lost at local fast food establishments when asking for a free refills…
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