Showing posts with label Ohio. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ohio. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Quick Trip to Columbus, Ohio

I go to New York every few months to visit family and friends. I almost always fly, but my friend Lynn suggest she drive back with me and spend some time in Illinois.

I had recently received an invite to check out the new Hotel LeVeque in Columbus, Ohio, and decided it was a perfect place to stop.

Hotel LeVeque, part of the Marriott Autograph Collection, was opened in the Leveque Lincoln Tower in downtown Columbus.

The history of the 100-year-old building has been preserved, and even improved since the opening added additional artwork to the marbled historic building.

We arrived late in the evening. The hotel does not have a full restaurant open yet, but we decided to check out The Keep Liquor Bar.

It’s a very welcoming area, with leather couches and soft lighting. It has delicate touches with go perfectly with the hotel’s décor.

They don’t have a full menu, but the bar menu was inviting. 

We decided to share the Watermelon Goat Cheese Arugula Salad, a cheese charcuterie plate, and burrata with tomatoes.

The dishes were all fresh and delicious, and went perfectly with a glass of Sauvion Vouvray from Loire, a very light white wine with just a hint of sweetness.

We were pretty tired and headed up to our room at Hotel LeVeque right after we ate. It was quite luxurious, but also equipped with modern touches, such as the outlets by the bed and the television ready to sync with our cell phones for live streaming.

The beds were also extremely comfortable and we slept quite well, with a “starry night display” on the ceiling.

In the morning, we enjoyed the hotel’s European style breakfast buffet, which included eggs, pastries, bagels, oatmeal, and fresh fruit.

We took some time to look around before heading over to Bicentennial Park and lunch at Milestone 229.

The park has an open, modern feel, with plenty of fountains for kids to cool off on hot days. It was especially hot when we were there and a few grownups were also enjoying the chance to cool off.

The drink menus at Milestone 229 was very interesting and included a lot of local spirits, wine, and beer.

It seemed like a relaxing day to enjoy one before lunch and two caught my eye:

Royal Peach, with Crown Royal Vanilla , peach syrup, and Peach Schnapps, and 229 Cosmo, a blend of Pineapple Infused Finlandia Vodka, Cointreau (Use code DRIZLYFIVE to save $5 with these links at Drizly liquor delivery) , cranberry juice, and lime.

The warm pretzel bread with house made whole grain butter was a perfect starter with the cocktails.

For an entrée, I had Try the Baked Vegetable Croquette with Baba Ghanoush.

It sounded unique and wonderful, and it was.

Lynn had the roasted chicken with side of macaroni and cheese, which she really enjoyed.

After lunch, we hit the road and headed to one of my favorite stores, the Eddie Bauer Warehouse. 

I happen to come across this place about 10 years ago and I always stop when I am in Columbus.

The bargains are unbelievable, with specials every day, in addition to the 30-50% off on everything, every day.

On this day, the deal was $12.99 for all dresses, which originally cost up to $100.

Lynn bought me a couple of birthday presents, as well as a few things for herself, and we hit the road. 

We had a bought six hours to go before we were in Champaign

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Welcome to Cleveland with Westin Downtown

After a major renovation, The Westin Downtown Cleveland offered to flew me to the Ohio city to write about the hotel.

It had been years since I had even been there, and I was anxious to see what the city was doing in preparation for the 2016 Republican National Convention, so it didn’t take me long to accept the opportunity.

It was my first time flying into Cleveland and I quickly learned that this town has its priorities straight. It’s all about the food and the music, with top chefs producing the former and music’s most famous museum hosting the latter.

A sign greeted me the minute I walked out the door of the airport announcing the 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Exhibit. (The 2016 Exhibit will be up soon and I look forward to seeing it.)

As much as I would have loved to go straight there, I was waiting for my ride from Christopher Moore of the Cleveland Tourism Board.

I made a quick stop at The Westin Cleveland Downtown to check into my room. The hotel is indeed impressive, with over 1,500 works of art added during its $20 million renovation.

My one-bedroom suite was also magnificent and offered breathtaking views of the Cleveland waterfront.

The living room was modern and well-equipped for business or pleasure.

The only thing I didn’t like was something I’m seeing all too often in hotels – the lack of a bathtub. I will never get used to this trend.

I had a little while to unpack before Christopher picked me up for lunch.

I had hoped to get in touch with Michael Symon, who had told me to come visit Lola when I interviewed him, but he was not available and Christopher suggested I might like Greenhouse Tavern. He was not wrong.

Greenhouse Tavern was, ironically, right next to Lola on East 4th street. This pedestrian-friendly street is closed to traffic and open to outdoor seating for fun restaurants, music, and comedy clubs.

Jonathon Sawyer had won a James Beard award for Greenhouse Tavern, with indoor and outdoor seating and a very relaxing feel.

A cocktail seemed appropriate to start and I made a great choice ordering the Pineapple-Chili Margarita. It was flavorful, but not overly spicy.

Everything on the menu looked wonderful and I took some ques from my host.

For an appetizer, we shared orders of the Crispy Chicken Wings Confit, a beet salad, and Pomme Frites, both of which were excellent. Then it was on to the main dish.

The Pulled Barbecue Mushroom sandwich has been recognized throughout the country by vegans and vegetarians. With the barbecue sauce and Carolina coleslaw is sounded amazing.

I did keep it out of the vegan category by adding some cheddar, but it’s hard for me to turn down cheese on anything.

After lunch, I decided to walk back to the hotel so I could explore the area a bit.

I really liked East 4th Street and knew I’d like to come back some time to enjoy a night of exploring the Martini Bar, Lolas, and a show or two.

I took a walk through The Arcade. At first I thought it was some type of entertainment venue, but I soon learned it was more of a mall, with shops and restaurants, in a historic building.

I then went through the 5th Street Arcade, where I enjoyed browsing through the smaller shops – and picking up some treats at Colossal Cupcakes.

My chocolate with cream cheese frosting cupcake didn’t last long when I got back to the room.

I got some work done and then headed down to the Urban Farmer, the restaurant at The Westin Cleveland Downtown dedicated to locally sourced food.

I often sit at the bar when dining alone and this one was very friendly. I was overwhelmed with choices, starting with the cocktail menu, but I didn’t have to drive and I had nowhere to go, so I figured I’d take my time.

My first libation was the “Devil in a Blue Dress.” It is made with infused Mount Gay Rum with blueberries, lavender, simple syrup, and soda. I loved the fruit and floral combination.

There were so many things on the menu that sounded delicious I decided to order a few small things rather than a full dinner.

I didn’t realize my “small” dishes weren’t quite so tiny, but I did my best not to leave too much.

The vegetable salad was a fresh, unusual, and tasty start. It was followed by a creamy mac and cheese, and a cheesy broccoli kohlrabi au gratin.  
It’s rare that I turn down dessert, but I was just too full. Besides, I had another chance to eat at Urban Farmer the next day.

I went up to my room and watched a bit of television before dozing off to sleep in my Westin Heavenly Bed®. It wasn’t easy as I was quite excited about my upcoming private tour of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tasting Life on Lake Erie Shores

I had a preview on day one of Sandusky, Ohio, with my friend Lisa, but it was nothing compared to day two. Chad and Ryan Whaley of Green Door Media had prepared quite a full day for us on Lake Erie Shores and Islands.

We woke up to a beautiful day and enjoyed coffee overlooking the boat dock on Sandusky Bay. Chad and Ryan picked us up and took us Common Grounds in Port Clinton, where we picked up some more coffee and snacks from this wonderful place that employs people with developmental disabilities and teaches them skills they can use in future employment.

Our next stop was at The Kitchen Bounty, where we met owner Terri Bergman and got a preview into her world of gourmet food and dining experiences (we were going to actually experience one for dinner). Lisa and I couldn’t believe all the products she had created and knew we were in for quite a treat, but first we were off to the islands.

I have to admit, my expectations of “islands” in Ohio were not very high. I was certainly surprised. We took the car on Miller’s Ferry to Put-in-Bay. It was a short, calm ride and I was excited as we approached the island.

The main attraction here is Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial, which honors those who fought in the War of 1812’s Battle of Lake Erie. We climbed the steep staircase and took the elevator up to the top, where I had my first glimpse of the breathtaking islands of Lake Erie Shores.

Lisa and I were interested in trying some local wine so we stopped at Heineman Winery for some Pink Catawba. It was a bit sweet, but rather refreshing.

From there we drove downtown and walked around the Islander Inn. It was the end of the season, but there was still plenty of activity at the swim-up bar at the Islander Inn. Part of me wanted to put on my bathing suit and jump in, but I knew there was a lot more to see – and eat.

Lunch was at The Goat, a popular Put-in-Bay spot famous for food and drinks. The latter specialty was the Basil Mojito and it was as good as Chad and Ryan had said. We also feasted on Perch Tacos, Ruebens (in appetizer balls and sandwiches) and Pierogies.

After lunch, we walked around the island. We stopped at a few shops and at the Roundhouse Bar, where we saw their infamous “bucket of beer.” I was more interested in the Mojitos, and there were plenty more to be had here.

We headed to Mojito Bay and sat back on the swings (instead of Bar Stools) and tried out some of the Mojitos.  They had every flavor imaginable and the only one I really didn’t like was the one I ordered – pineapple.

We were back on Miller’s Ferry from Put-in-Bay in time to have a rest at the house before Chad and Ryan came back and took us to our magical dinner. Terri Bergman and her staff had prepared a fun, casual and extremely delicious dinner for us in her magnificent Hilltop home.

Terri was kind enough to write out the menu for me. I have to admit that I was having so much fun I didn’t take any notes. The whole thing was such a great experience and Terri actually does this regularly, in her home and around country. What a fun, unique and scrumptious way to spend an evening!

Rocking a Latino-French Fusion…food with attitude!

Gazpacho Shots with Avocado Crème Fraiche
Pita Chips with Beet Hummus;
Tortilla chips with Peach Guacamole

A Bursting Summer Salad, fresh lettuces, Fruits  and Honey Poppy Seed Vinaigrette

Shish kabob…with Garden Veggies and Fruited and Spicy Sausage.
French Safari Paella

Roasted Peaches with Cream Cheese and Honey Brie Toppings
Lemon Lavender Ice Cream
Chocolate Tray

our treat….let the flavors continue at home!

Mini Heats, Mini Tequilas, Mini Tabasco’s

C2 Cocktail
Wine Selection

Chad and Ryan dropped us off at our house and Sandusky Bay. As much as we had done in two days, I felt like I had only seen a small portion of Lake Erie Shores. I vowed to return next spring and check out the rest … as long as they promised me some time at the swim-up bar with a mojito. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Intro to Lake Erie Shores, Ohio

When I received an email inviting me to Lake Erie Shores, Ohio, I have to admit I was a bit apprehensive. I write mostly about luxury travel, or areas with a lot of great food and wine. I wasn’t sure there would be enough in this area for me to cover.

I began to rethink the destination after visiting Buffalo and Niagara Falls. I couldn’t help but to wonder about what was on the other side of Lake Erie. I contacted Chad Whaley, who handles PR for Lake Erie Shores & Islands.

My schedule was pretty full, but we came up with a three day introduction to the area that he was sure would be enough to make me come back for more.

My friend Lisa and I drove to Sandusky, Ohio, the center of Lake Erie Shores. It took about seven hours and the ride became more scenic as we continued. I loved the weeping willows welcoming us just as we entered the city.

We were given a house on the bay side (Lake Erie is on one side and Sandusky Bay on the other) that was just perfect for our short getaway. It was one of many available to rent in this area. This one had three bedrooms, a large kitchen, a dining room with sliding doors for a view of the bay, an enclosed porch and a deck outside. We also had our own dock.

Lisa and I each picked our bedrooms upstairs. I chose a rather large one with a closet that stretched the whole room, a sitting area and a private bath. We were relaxing a bit before dinner when I received a call from Chad. “Would it be alright if we picked you up by boat?” he asked. My answer was “of course,” and I excitingly went to tell Lisa the news.

Chad and his brother/partner Ryan at our dock a few minutes later in a beautiful boat. It was a warm and clear night and we enjoyed the ride and the scenery. We had even had a nice view of Cedar Point Amusement Park as we made our way to the dock in downtown Sandusky about 20 minutes later.

We walked from the boat dock to Crush Wine Bar & Kitchen Bar. Chad and Ryan had recommended it as the menu was international and they also had lots of small plates, wine by the glass and brews. The dishes by Chef Cesarre also have an emphasis on using local products whenever possible, in a menu that changes seasonally.

As we enjoyed some wine, I looked over the menu. There was so much on it that sounded wonderful and it was hard to narrow down my choices. Fortunately the others felt the same way and we decided to do a lot of sharing.

First came the small plates. We ordered the Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Beet Salad, Bacon Wrapped Dates and Shoestring Poutine. I don’t know if I can tell you which I enjoyed more, but I can say the Poutine was the best I’ve ever had.

My dinner was the Parpadelle, served with three types of mushrooms and roasted garlic. It was full of flavor and much more than I could finish since I also had some of Ryan’s fabulous Macaroni & Cheese, the Crush version with chicken and penne in a sauce filled with cheese.

Lisa loved her Fruitti di Mare, with scallops, shrimp, calamari and white wine on linguine and Chad got the same dish as me with salmon added.

We were just about to say “no” to having room for dessert when presented with the possibility of the Chocoholics Anonymous. As a true chocoholic, there was no way I could say “no.” Ryan was with me and we both indulged in the richest, most chocolatey dessert I’d ever have. It was so incredible that I don’t even remember looking at the plate to see what Chad and Lisa had!

It was getting dark so we drove back to the house. We went by Cedar Point Amusement Park, which was all lit up and about to close. We had a very full day planned as we were taking the ferry to one of the islands (Put-in-Bay) before a very special dinner. Lisa and I chatted a bit before going to our bedrooms for the night.