Category Archives: Wine

Why? Urban Farmer!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Have you entered to win tickets to the Greater Cleveland Foodbank’s Taste of the Browns fundraiser? Check it out! Remember, you can tweet daily for additional entries.***

There’s a whole lot of buzz surrounding Cleveland’s newest steakhouse, Urban Farmer. Not that I don’t love a good steakhouse, but I was wondering what had everyone so excited about this one in particular. Well, having just dragged myself out of a decadent food coma that lasted from Monday night, I’m here to tell you that Urban Farmer is not just another steakhouse.

I was invited to attend Urban Farmer’s Blogger Round-Up and we were treated to the best that both the menu and Chef Brad Cecchi’s creativity have to offer. We started with a trifecta of c’s: charcuterie, cheese, and cocktails.

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Urban Farmer’s menu offers charcuterie and cheese selections, with many of the charcuterie choices and cheese accompaniments made in-house. The cocktails are truly an art form, with the highest quality ingredients and meticulous preparation and presentation. I recommend the Gin Gin Mule as a refreshing end-of-summer sipper.

After cocktails and nibbles on the patio, we headed inside to the semi-private dining room. This room boasts jars and jars of pickled vegetables, all made by the Urban Farmer chefs, as well as some of the most unique wallpaper and chandeliers I have ever seen. Urban Farmer’s decor is quirky and a good indication that the restaurant doesn’t take itself too seriously.

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Once ensconced beneath the glow of feathery chandeliers, we were treated to an amazing five-course tasting dinner, complete with wine pairings! Chef Cecchi is a level-two sommelier, so he and our server combined their knowledge to create perfect pairings.

Our first course was an item that can be found on Urban Farmer’s menu: beef tartare with deviled egg. This course was paired with a Charles & Charles Rose.

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I’ve always been take-it-or-leave-it when it comes to tartare, but I loved this dish and ate every last bite. The texture was appealing, the flavor delicious, and the deviled egg a fun play on the usual egg atop tartare.

Our second course was a chilled lobster salad with tomato, avocado, fennel, mint, and verjus sorbet. This salad is available on the Urban Farmer menu and was paired with Mayu Pedro Ximenez.

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Verjus sorbet, for those of you wondering, is sorbet made from ice wine from the Finger Lakes region. The sweetness of the sorbet, with the tart tomatoes and rich avocado and lobster made for a great summer dish.

Next up was the fish course, which was a seared scallop served with corn, candied bacon, and tomato, paired with Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc/Viognier.

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This dish is not available on the menu, but was Chef Cecchi’s way of presenting various menu items (creamed corn, candied bacon, scallops) in one dish. This plate featured both corn and bacon in two ways: creamed corn and corn fritters, as well as candied bacon and bacon jam. I loved every element individually and kept changing combinations of flavors in each bite.

Next, it was time for what Urban Famer does best: steak. The fourth course featured roasted 21 day dry-aged strip loin with boulangere potato and summer squash. It was paired with my favorite wine of the evening: Lock & Key Meritage.

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The steak was prepared sous vide and just melted in your mouth. Those little dollops on top the potatoes are whipped beef tallow. Urban Farmer is committed to using every part of the animal and so whips the tallow into what Chef Cecchi described as “beef butter” and finishes their steaks with it. Just let the wonder of beef butter sink in for a moment…

While this particular presentation is not available on the menu, Urban Farmer of course offers a wide variety of types and cuts of steak and even a steak tasting, which allows you to side-by-side compare grass-fed, corn-fed, and Ohio Proud 21 day dry-aged steak (and add Wagyu for an additional charge).

Finally, it was time to enjoy dessert: a Great Lakes malted barley custard with malt balls and honeycomb.

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The malted barley used to make the custard comes from Great Lakes Brewery‘s Dortmunder beer. Topped with house-made malt balls, malt powder, and house-made honeycomb, this dessert is a truly unique treat. For a girl who loves chocolate malts and Whoppers, this dessert was perfect! This is available on the menu and is not to be missed!

Thanks to Chef Brad Cecchi and the staff at Urban Farmer for a wonderful meal!

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Urban Farmer is a fantastic addition to the Cleveland steakhouse scene and is truly unique in its genre. The restaurant features classic steakhouse offerings, but adds playful and unique touches. Also, Urban Farmer’s commitment to local ingredients and transparency with regard to where menu items are sourced is admirable. I know I will be back and I hope to see you there, too!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend the Urban Farmer Blogger Round-Up, which featured a complimentary dinner described above. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Taste of the Browns Giveaway!

Clevelanders love two things for sure: football and food. So combining those two into a fundraiser for one of Cleveland’s best causes, the Greater Cleveland Foodbank, is a touchdown.

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On Monday, September 15, the 16th annual Taste of the Browns will turn First Energy Stadium into a Clevelanders dream mix of Browns players and fabulous food. Chefs such as Rocco Whalen, Jeff Jarrett, Eric Williams, and Zack Bruell will be on hand preparing tasting dishes to enjoy. There will also be the chance to mingle with current and former Browns players, including event co-chair Joe Haden.

There will be a silent auction packed with sports memorabilia and other fabulous prizes and a wine and craft beer pull (new this year). Last year’s event raised over $175,000 for the Greater Cleveland Foodbank, which equates to more than 700,000 meals distributed to those in need in Northeastern Ohio. This year’s totals hope to be even bigger and help even more people!

Need more proof this is a can’t-miss evening? Check out my recap of last year’s Taste of the Browns!

Tickets are $175 for general admission and $250 for VIP. Tickets can be purchased online. Or you can enter to win two general admission tickets right here! Here’s how to enter (you can do one, two, three, or all four entries, just leave a separate comment for each):

1. Check out the list of participating restaurants and leave a comment telling me which you’re most looking forward to trying.

2. Leave a comment if you like the Greater Cleveland Foodbank and Why CLE? on Facebook, letting me know you like both pages.

3. Follow @CleveFoodbank and @WhyCLE on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know you’re following both.

4. Tweet the following phrase and leave a comment letting me know you tweeted:

I want to help tackle hunger at @CleveFoodbank’s #TasteoftheBrowns. Win tickets from @WhyCLE: http://wp.me/p1fb9r-259

You can tweet once per day for additional entries, just leave a separate comment each time you tweet.

The giveaway will close on Sunday, August 31 at 11:59pm and the winner will be announced the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Taste of the Browns. In exchange, I will receive 2 general admission tickets for myself and 2 general admission tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

After surviving my first week back to work from maternity leave, this weekend provided a perfect combination of time at home with Jeffrey and time out with friends to relax. On Friday night, Matthew and I attended the Cleveland Zoological Society’s Date Night at the ZOOvies. This year’s event was sold out and it was great to see so many people out enjoying a nice evening at the zoo.

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When we arrived, the Australian Adventure and African Savanna areas were open to explore. There were also critters you could get up close and personal with, including a snake and an owl.

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There were heavy appetizers, wine, and Great Lakes beer to enjoy before the movie.

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Then during the show, there was a plethora of movie theater treats, like popcorn, hot pretzel sticks, and candy. Eating Reese’s Pieces while drinking red wine is what being a grown-up is all about, right?!

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The movie was “The Great Outdoors,” a fun 1980’s comedy with John Candy and Dan Aykroyd. We relaxed under the stars in the zoo’s amphitheater and enjoyed the show!

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Proceeds from Date Night at the ZOOview benefit the Cleveland Zoological Society. It’s a fun night out and it’s easy to see why the event is gaining popularity every year. Make sure to put it on your calendar for next summer!

Saturday evening, we went out to dinner to celebrate our dear friend Amanda‘s birthday.

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We went to one of my favorite spots: Spice Kitchen and Bar. A glass of Prosecco for me and a “Gin It to Win It” (gin, green chartreuse, celery syrup, lime, vermouth, and lemon bitters) for Matthew started the evening off right.

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Matthew and I shared the mushroom beignets (a must-order at Spice) and the pork & shiitake dumplings to start. For our entrees, I had the mushroom pappardelle, served with local mushrooms, fava beans and local chevre, in a light cream sauce. After our experience at the Spice Plated Landscape Dinner, we knew Chef Ben Bebenroth knew what he was doing with mushrooms and this dish proved no exception. Matthew also had pappardelle, but his was an evening special with rabbit.

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Spice prides itself on using the freshest, most local ingredients, which I love. Their dishes are creative, seasonal, and always delicious!

When in Gordon Square, it’s impossible to resist a stop at Sweet Moses. We ended the evening sweetly, with a chocolate turtle sundae for Matthew and triple berry pie a la mode for me.

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It was a great night celebrating a great friend! I hope this year brings you much happiness, Amanda!

How was your weekend? Did you attend one of the many sports events downtown on Saturday night?

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Cleveland Zoological Society to help promote Date Night at the ZOOvies. In exchange, I received two complimentary tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

After Friday at Twilight at the Zoo, it was a busy Saturday and Sunday with friends and family! On Saturday, my friend Jen spent the night at our house on her way back to DC from vacation in Michigan. We were happy to provide a spot for her to spend the night, since that meant we got time to catch up with her.

We went for a tasty, casual dinner at Mama Roberto’s. The food is solidly good traditional Italian fare and the portions are massive!

I had the Pasta Roberto, with linguine, marinara, sausage, and hot and bell peppers.

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Matthew chose a special with tortellini, grilled chicken, and red pepper pesto.

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Jen had one of Mama Roberto’s highly acclaimed pizzas. Throw in a bottle of chianti, as all bottles of wine were $15 that night, and you had three very full, happy people.

But of course we needed something sweet, so we headed to Malley’s for dessert. Jen created what is my new favorite sundae: the on-the-menu Raspberry Delight (vanilla ice cream, raspberry sauce, and chopped nuts) with the addition of Malley’s delicious hot fudge. So good!

On Sunday morning, Jen and I met up with Lane for brunch. I introduced Jen and Lane, as they are both photographers, and I’m so happy they hit it off and have even been able to work together!

We brunched at Original Pancake House. I love the Dutch Baby pancake, which is a sweet and citrus-y cross between a pancake and a crepe.

After Jen hit the road (an all-too-brief visit!), we headed to Matthew’s dad’s house for a celebration of all the family’s summer birthdays. A cookout, a secret family recipe cake, and lots of fun time for Jeffrey with his cousins made for the perfect end to the weekend.

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How was your weekend?

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Why? Weekends!

It was a double wedding weekend! On Friday night, we attended our friends Emilie and Mike’s wedding. It was held at the Grand Pacific Junction in Olmsted Falls. If you’ve never been, it’s an adorable area of shops, restaurants, a hotel, and more.

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Emilie and Mike had perfect weather for their outdoor ceremony! After the ceremony, we walked over to the Grand Pacific Junction Hotel for the reception. I got to catch up with a lot of my college sorority sisters, which always makes for a fun evening!

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While our conversations now tend to center around buying houses and having babies, it’s great that we can still stay close after all these years!

The dance floor at Emilie and Mike’s reception was one of the most packed I’ve seen in a long time! Everyone had a blast and you can tell how happy this couple is just by looking at them. Congrats, you guys!

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Saturday brought the second wedding of the weekend, as my roommate from freshman year in college, Sonia, married her Prince Charming, Chris.

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The ceremony was held at the Church of the Gesu, which is a beautiful church. I have fond memories of singing in their choir loft for some of the larger John Carroll University masses. Yes, this was another John Carroll wedding, but a completely different group of friends than Friday night’s affair.

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We all lived on the same floor in Dolan Hall in our freshman year. I can’t believe I met these girls 15 years ago!

The reception was held at Severance Hall, which is of course a gorgeous setting! We even got a brief break from the rain and enjoyed wine out on the terrace. What a lovely date night!

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I’m so happy for Sonia and Chris, especially since Chris is now an official resident of “the CLE,” as he likes to call it!

I say so often that John Carroll is a special place, but when you can spend time in one weekend with groups of friends you’ve known for 15 years and feel like no time has passed at all, you know the bonds you created there are truly something unique!

Part of our Sunday was spent stuffing ourselves at Flour Restaurant‘s brunch, but stay tuned tomorrow for more on that! Also on Sunday, Jeffrey turned two months old.

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The time is just flying! He is such a sweet little man: so happy and expressive! And we couldn’t love him more!

How was your weekend?

***Disclosure: I am a member of the board of the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

One of the things I missed the most while I was pregnant was practicing yoga. While I did prenatal yoga for a bit, I stayed away from my standard vinyasa flows. On Friday, I decided to get back on my mat at Evolution Yoga with my dear friends in tow, as Alicia was the teacher and Kimberly practiced next to me.

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Image Source – instagram.com/poiseinparma

Alicia’s Friday night “Sweet Heat Flow” was the perfect mix of strength, fun, and relaxation. It felt so nice to be back on my mat and I can’t wait to get my practice back to where it was pre-pregnancy.

After class, we treated ourselves to some hummus and hot sauce at Aladdin’s Eatery, along with something else I really missed while I was pregnant: a glass of red wine. This was my first girls’ night out since Jeffrey was born and I couldn’t have asked for a better one with yoga, wine, and two of my favorite ladies.

On Sunday, the entire Why CLE family went to one of the biggest summer festivals in Cleveland: Taste of Tremont.

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Our favorite spot for Taste of Tremont is always the parking lot at Dante, which has great food, beer and cocktails, and live music.

IMG_4340I loved the personal-sized pizzas straight out of Dante Next Door‘s oven, which were a very reasonable $5.

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Other favorites that our group grabbed included gyros from Dervish Grill, chorizo tacos from Barrio, and pork nachos from Porco Lounge & Tiki Room.

Taste of Tremont is always such a huge party and I love seeing how many people come out to eat, drink, and be merry in one of the best neighborhoods in Cleveland! We ended our day on a sweet note with a box of take-home chocolates from Lilly Handmade Chocolates. All three of us were exhausted from all the summer festival fun!

How was your weekend? Did you attend Taste of Tremont?

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Why? Veggie U Food and Wine Celebration!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulations to Jill (Lady Lazarus) (comment #6), randomly-selected winner of two tickets the Locavore fundraiser to benefit the MS Society’s Ohio Buckeye Chapter. Please check your email for further details. If you didn’t win, you can still purchase tickets online.***

Saturday night, we went on a world tour of cuisine without leaving Cleveland at the Veggie U Food and Wine Celebration.

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Each participating restaurant created a tasty treat representing a different country or region. Our favorite bites took us all over the globe: Mexico with carne asada from Urban Farmer Cleveland Steakhouse;

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India with crab pakora from University Hospitals and Sodexo; Asia with pork belly from Hodge’s served with edamame, five spice, and Asian pear;

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the Southern United States with chicken cracklins from Peachtree Southern Kitchen; our own backyard with Lake Erie perch with corn pudding from Bacchanalia Cleveland (I can’t wait for them to open!);

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and France with crepes with berries, whipped cream, and candied kumquat from Tri-C Hospitality Management & Culinary Arts.

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Wines from all over the world were available to compliment the dishes. Matthew and I really enjoyed the Vina Bujanda from Spain: a spicy, bold red.

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Craft beer was on tap from Rockmill Brewery and Townhall, too. There were also two different bands providing live entertainment while we ate and drank the night away.

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The evening benefited the Veggie U Classroom Gardens program, a five-week program available to elementary school and special needs classrooms. The program helps children learn about healthy eating and where their food comes from through a science-based curriculum, including growing their own veggies!

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I loved the focus on local restaurants and the downtown Cleveland location of this year’s revamped Food and Wine Celebration. A delicious trip around the world to help kids close to home? What a perfect evening!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Veggie U to help promote the Veggie U Food and Wine Celebration. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Locavore Giveaway!

Are you a locavore? I know I am! What is a locavore you ask? A locavore is a person who makes an effort to eat food that is grown, raised, or produced locally, usually within 100 miles from home.

Locavore is also a fundraising event to benefit the Ohio Buckeye Chapter of the National MS Society. The event celebrates locavores with food, wine, and chocolates from Northeast Ohio.

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Held at Windows on the River on Thursday, August 21 and sponsored by Ulmer & Berne, this is an event that any locavore won’t want to miss. You’ll sample foods from great local restaurants, including Momocho, Lago, and Urban Farmer Cleveland Steakhouse.

There will be wines from Ferrante Winery, Valley Vineyards, and M Cellars. Lilly Handmade Chocolates will provide sweet treats. And you can try your luck at raffles and blind wine pulls, which also benefit the MS Society, which provides support, advocacy, education, and research for those living with MS.

Event tickets are $60, which includes unlimited food and wine. Patron tickets are $80 and include an exclusive wine tasting, in addition to the unlimited food and wine. Tickets can be purchased online. Or you can enter to win two Event tickets right here!

Here’s how to enter (you can do one, two, three, or all four entries, just leave a separate comment for each):

1. Leave a comment telling me what you do to be a locavore (e.g., shopping at local farmers’ markets).

2. Leave a comment if you like the MS Society Ohio Buckeye Chapter and Why CLE? on Facebook, letting me know you like both pages.

3. Follow @nmssohiobuckeye and @WhyCLE on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know you’re following both.

4. Tweet the following phrase and leave a comment letting me know you tweeted:

I want to celebrate being a #Locavore thanks to @nmssohiobuckeye and @WhyCLE: http://wp.me/p1fb9r-21A

You can tweet once per day for additional entries, just leave a separate comment each time you tweet.

The giveaway will close on Sunday, July 20 at 11:59pm and the winner will be announced the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the MS Society Ohio Buckeye Chapter to help promote Locavore. In exchange, I will receive two complimentary Event tickets for myself and two Event tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Date Night at the ZOOvies Giveaway!

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is not just for kids and there are a host of events that prove just that! On Friday, August 22, Date Night at the ZOOvies is an adults-only evening of food, drinks, zoo critters, and an outdoor movie, which also raises money for the Cleveland Zoological Society.

From 7-8:30pm, you can enjoy the Australian Adventure and African Safari areas of the Zoo, along with beer, wine, and light appetizers.

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Then, at 8:30pm, head over to the Zoo Amphitheater to watch “Ghostbusters” under the stars and munch on movie snacks like hot pretzels and popcorn.

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Date Night at the ZOOvies is a very popular night out and is sold out for this year! But, no fear if you missed out because you can enter to win 2 tickets right here! Here’s how to enter (you can do one, two, three, or all four entries, just leave a separate comment for each):

1. Leave a comment telling me your favorite line or scene from “Ghostbusters.”

2. Leave a comment if you are fan of both the Cleveland Zoological Society and Why CLE? on Facebook, letting me know you are.

3. Follow both @CleveZooSociety and @WhyCLE on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know you’re following.

4. Tweet the following phrase and leave a comment letting me know you tweeted:

Who you gonna call? I want to win tickets to see Ghostbusters at @CleveZooSociety’s #DateNightattheZoovies from @WhyCLE: http://wp.me/p1fb9r-210

You can tweet once per day for additional entries, just leave a separate comment each time you tweet.

The giveaway will close at 11:59pm on Sunday, July 13 and the winner will be announced the following day. The winner and guest must be 21 or over to attend. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Cleveland Zoological Society to help promote Date Night at the Zoovies. In exchange, I will receive 2 complimentary tickets for myself and 2 tickets to give away. All images courtesy of the Cleveland Zoological Society. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Tri-C Jazz Fest!

This past Saturday was a picture-perfect Cleveland date night for Matthew and me. As I told you earlier in the week, we dined at the fabulous new Restaurant Trentina. But our date night kicked off on a swingin’ note at one of the many Tri-C Jazz Fest concerts.

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Ernie Krivda and the Fat Tuesday Big Band put on a high-energy show, focusing on the music of Oliver Nelson and Jimmy Smith, filled with lots of brass and some great improvisation.

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The Fat Tuesday Big Band is aptly-named, as the music made me feel like I was walking around New Orleans!

Ernie Krivda is a born-and-raised Clevelander who attended the Cleveland Institute of Music and is a legend in the Cleveland music scene. It was great to attend a show helmed by a local talent who was so enthusiastic about playing for a hometown crowd.

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This year’s Jazz Fest was held entirely at Playhouse Square, allowing festival-goers to easily make their way between shows, as well as taking in free concerts on Star Plaza. Personally, I think consolidating the festival into one weekend and one location was a smart move!

Another advantage to the Playhouse Square location? After the show, Matthew and I were able to grab a glass of wine at Bin 216, the newest restaurant from Driftwood Restaurant Group.

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Located in what used to be Sammy’s, Bin 216 has a great selection of wines, beers, and mixed drinks. The menu is divided into snacks, small plates, and desserts, all of which I want to try (we had the sweet and spicy nuts with rosemary, which were delicious).

Bin 216 offers happy hour from 4-7pm Tuesday through Friday and all day Sunday. There is also live jazz on Wednesday nights. The vibe is much more that of a lounge than of a restaurant and the interior is done in cream, grey, and gold, with armchairs and couches scattered throughout. This is an elegant spot for a pre- or post-theater cocktail and a nice addition to the restaurants at Playhouse Square.

A swingin’ concert and relaxing with a glass of wine with my favorite date? That’s what perfect Cleveland date nights are made of!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Tri-C Jazz Fest. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary tickets to the concert of my choice. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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