So, I’ll admit that some CLE suburbs are a mystery to me. For a long time, I didn’t venture east of Beachwood. Then, I discovered all the great bars and restaurants in downtown Willoughby. In the spirit of expanding my horizons, a couple CLEfriends offered to take CLEguy and me on a tour of Painesville. I was a little skeptical at first, but I ended up impressed by the variety of restaurants and bars and what a fun evening it turned out to be.
We decided our tour would be a “progressive dinner,” only including places within the Painesville city limits. Two of our “tour guides” are long-time Painesville residents, who have been involved with and know the community very well. Our tour began at Your Vine or Mine.
Your Vine or Mine is a micro-winery that makes their own wines. Customers can also create their own blend and bottle their own personal wine, which is definitely something I’ll be back to try. The decor reminds you of being in someone’s living room, with couches, antique lamps, and pictures on the walls. Overall, a very comfortable spot to relax with a glass of wine. I tried the raspberry wine and was delighted to find a red wine that was light and summery. We also had appetizers at Your Vine or Mine, including a cheese and meat plate and spinach and artichoke dip served in a hollowed-out baguette loaf. Yum!
From there, we headed to Silvestro’s Depot Cafe for dinner.
Silvestro’s has a relaxed, family restaurant feel. My one piece of advice: go there hungry! Everyone ended up with extra food to take home, including CLEguy (I think that’s the first time I’ve ever seen that happen). For my dinner, I chose one of the evening’s specials: Peppers Parmagiana. Hungarian hot peppers were stuffed with veal sausage, covered with marinara and cheese, and served on a bed of spaghetti. Mama Mia, that was good! My mouth is watering just thinking about it. While Silvestro’s has a lot of great Italian offerings, they also have steaks, pork chops, and chicken dishes. This is a restaurant where everyone can find something to enjoy.
Despite being completely stuffed, we soldiered on, as there were still 3 stops left on our tour. For dessert and after-dinner drinks, we went to Bistro 70.
The atmosphere at Bistro 70 rivals anything you’d find in Tremont or Ohio City. The restaurant is dimly lit, with gorgeous lighting fixtures and a unique bar. And if the drinks and dessert are any indication, the food is of the same caliber. We started with a round of chocolate martinis, which happened to be 1/2 off that night. Then to dessert…I chose the pineapple upside down cake. The cake was light and sweet and the pineapple added just the right amount of tartness. Cover the whole thing in ice cream and you have one delicious dessert. The plates also all came out with different patterns made with creme anglaise, chocolate sauce, and caramel sauce, making the desserts as pretty as they were tasty.
I definitely can’t wait to try Bistro 70 for an entire meal!
From the upscale to the dive bar, we next found ourselves at Jackie’s Sports Bar and Grill. Jackie’s has an ample bar and seating area, a pool table, and a jukebox with some great selections. But my favorite was the Lobster Claw Game. For $2 you got a chance to try to pick up a lobster with the claw. If you do, you get a lobster dinner made out of your winnings. Despite the fact that I had zero room for food, I decided to play (maybe I was trying to win a pet for CLEpup?). At any rate, I almost won. Really. Witness my excitement:
However, in what was probably the best result for all parties (especially the lobster), he slipped back into the tank.
Then, it was onto our last stop: Nemeth’s Lounge.
I love the atmosphere at Nemeth’s…it reminds me a lot of ABC Tavern. A rockin’ jukebox, a cool pop culture mural behind the bar, pinball (love!), and a great bartender made this a perfect final stop.
Also, Nemeth’s selection of craft bottled beers will impress even the craftiest of beer lovers. I actually had a hard time deciding which Belgian-style beer I’d be drinking. I happily enjoyed an Ommegang Witte and mused the expanding my horizons east was a pretty great thing to do.
I encourage you to do the same…check out an area you don’t know much about. Find a friend or two that lives there and get them to show you around. You’ll probably end up with a new must-return place or two. Hopefully you’ll be as impressed as I was by my tour of Painesville and maybe you’ll even shake off some stereotypes you had about the area. And if you ever want a tour of Painesville, I’m pretty sure I’m a certified tour guide now. I’ll even win you a lobster.
What new areas of CLE have you explored? Where do you want to learn more about?