Cleveland Road Trip: Dinner @ the fabulous Lola, R&RHOF & Bucks shoot down Toledo Rockets

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Picturesque Cleveland Browns Stadium--no longer the Mistake on the Lake

I loved the giant "inverted electric fan" windmill outside of their COSI-like Great Lakes Science Center

I stayed at a super-convenient Radisson Gateway within easy walking proximity to the stadium plus some newish restaurants and bars I was interested in also. The rad Radisson was just a short hop from several other "tourist" stops, too (yes, even in C-burg, & stop laughing!). The special package I purchased for abt. $135 (which came with a great adjustable "sleep number" king-sized bed + free breakfast for two + free in & out valet parking) included gratis tix to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The high modernist building was designed by famed architect I.M.Pei, who riffs heavily on the glass pyramid entranceway he created for the Louvre in the '90s as well as (when seen from the right angle) the tone arm and platter system of a turntable. Some highlights inside: John Lennon's handwritten and illustrated satirical high school "newsletter"; a purple Lincoln Continental Mark IV the size of a yacht with special Elvis-ordered detailing (it was one of 13 he bought and gave away in a single day -- and that includes casually tossing one off to a woman he'd never met before who was lucky enough to be window shopping for cars while Elvis, "in a giving mood" a la Richard III ,was there too); the realization that I've had drinks with at least two people commemorated in the hall (David Ellison of Columbus' own RC Mob & Greg Dulli of the Afghan Whigs) and have been served a drink by another--Handsome Dick Manitoba of the seminal slob-punk (and proto Beastie Boy band) The Dictators when at HDM's terrific dive bar, Manitoba's in NYC; & the intentionally smashed drum kit that once belonged to Nick Knox (another Ohio native) of the sleazecore band, The Cramps. Two especially memorable Rock artifacts of other famous Ohioans I enjoyed ogling @ the Hall were: seven heavily grease-srained, empty buckets of extra crispy fried chicken that served as a pre-gig snack for Crocus Behemoth aka Dave Thomas (of the great punk-art group, Pere Ubu) and a preserved pile of Stiv Bators' extra chunky, neon green vomit (ok, I made those last 2 up).

Johnny Cash pooped here! Parked outside of the Hall was Cash's cramped, vintage late '70's tour bus & this was its daunting commode

I went to Happy Hour @ Zocalo, owned by celebrity chef (and main player in the Food Network's imponderable "Chefs in the City" show), Aaron Sanchez

Zocalo's nice & crispy pig-filled fried empanadas--$5 at Happy Hour, as are margaritas & other Mexi-snacks

Lola Bistro, owned by Iron Chef & Cleveland native Michael Symon, is easily one of the best restaurants on the North Shore and I plan to write about sometime in Alive. Though they look messy here, these beef-cheek filled pierogi were off the charts!

Lovely lobster w/ a nifty salad and an aggressively citric yuzu sauce


Hanger steak that caused diners to make Homer Simpson noises when digging in

This "Cleveland clambake" came w/ pan-seared walleye and was one of the best preparations of that Lake Erie caught fish I've tried (and I've devoured a lot)

My tablemates and I were having too much fun by this time to remember to document our dessert--but it was called "The 6 a.m. Special" -- and was a brilliant take on breakfast made with French toast, maple-bacon ice cream and caramelized apples. You're better off not actually looking it, because it might cause you to make an irrationally conceived immediate trip to Cleveland.

This was supposed to be a "home" game for the hapless Rockets--who couldn't get off the ground all day long

Our band did Toledo better than Toledo

One big bonus of seeing the Bucks in Cleveland...BEER! OK, $6.75 beers, but still

No trip to Northeast Ohio would be complete without a burger stop at the hallowed Akron car-hop grounds of the incomparable (OK, it's pretty much just like Akron's Swenson's) Sky-Way