Why? Twilight at the Zoo!

One of the biggest parties of the summer is coming to Cleveland Metroparks Zoo on Friday, August 4. Of course I’m talking about Twilight at the Zoo!

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Twilight at the Zoo brings together a wide array of local bands scattered throughout the Zoo for a wild good time! From Disco Inferno to Abby Normal and the Detroit Lean to Funkology to CRAIC, the bands cover lots of different genres of music and will all get you dancing through the night.

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Also, new this year is Club Twilight, featuring a DJ and dance floor!

All of the fun is for a good cause, too! Proceeds from Twilight at the Zoo benefit the Cleveland Zoological Society and their work caring for not only the animals in the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, but also their educational and conservation programs.

Tickets for Twilight at the Zoo are now on sale online. General admission tickets are $75 in May, $80 in June, and $85 in July and August. Zoo members can save an additional $5 off tickets in May only! General admission runs from 7pm-12am and includes all bands, small bites, and complimentary Samuel Adams beer, wine, and soda.

VIP tickets are $150 and include all of the above, plus priority parking, open bar, and food samples from Bonefish Grill, Café 200, Carrabba’s, House of Blues Cleveland, Inca Tea and Texas de Brazil. The VIP party runs from 6-9pm and you can join the general admission fun anytime after 7pm.

You don’t want to miss the roaring good time!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Cleveland Zoological Society to help promote Twilight at the Zoo. In exchange, I will receive 2 complimentary VIP tickets for the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

We had a really fun weekend! On Saturday, we did one of our favorite things to do: had friends over for dinner. Especially when the weather is nice, there’s nothing like being outside on the patio, watching the kids play in the yard, and enjoying some great company!

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My friend Maria (we met in our freshman year in college!), her husband, and their adorable daughter recently moved back to Cleveland and I couldn’t be happier to have them nearby! And I think Jeffrey is pretty happy about it too, given how sweet the kiddos were together!

I made one of my favorite summer dishes: chicken kebabs with tons of fresh veggies (bell peppers in lots of colors, zucchini, mushrooms, and pearl onions). I used this recipe for the marinade and it was as easy as it was tasty!

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And rose season is in full swing over here!

On Sunday morning, Matthew, Jeffrey, and I went to Day Out with Thomas put on by the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

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I’m so impressed with the events put on by the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad! They are fun and well-organized and the volunteers are just the sweetest!

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The Day out with Thomas includes a half-hour train ride, photo opps with Thomas and friends, an Imagination Station with train tables and coloring, model trains, and lots more!

Day Out with Thomas also happens this coming weekend, May 26-28, and tickets are still available online. This is a magical family time not to be missed!

Sunday evening, we took a stroll up to the Downtown Willoughby Rib Burn Off. It’s amazing how this event has grown to feature tons of bands, BBQ restaurants, and fun!

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We enjoyed ribs from two Downtown Willoughby favorites: Olivor Twist and Nickleby’s Roundbar. Both were finger-lickin’ good!

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I love how many fun events and great restaurants are in Downtown Willoughby! We always have such a great time there!

So, that was our weekend! How was yours?

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Why? Grapes and Ale!

Friday night was chilly and rainy, but luckily we had lots of delicious barbecue and wine to keep us warm. Matthew and I attended Our Lady of the Wayside‘s Grapes and Ale fundraiser at Progressive Field.

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From Strip Steakhouse‘s lobster mac ‘n cheese to The Cutting Board‘s braised chicken and mac ‘n cheese to the pulled pork slider and mac ‘n cheese from Smokin’ Rock and Roll (OK, so maybe I just really love mac ‘n cheese), the food was great!

We were also impressed by Garden Grille & Bar‘s scallop and rib offerings in the VIP room, as well as Cupcake Cravings‘ yummy mini sweets.

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Of course, there was lots of wine and craft beer to pair with all this food. I always can find old favorites and new wines I love, with over 300 different wines to sample, all of which are conveniently available at Giant Eagle.

Of course, being at Progressive Field led to some fun photo opps and a generally summery, festive atmosphere (despite the weather!)

Our Lady of the Wayside is celebrating it’s 50th year of providing needed services to those with developmental disabilities. Proceeds from tickets, auctions, and raffles at Grapes and Ale benefit this mission, including the new home being built in Summit County. It was a great night for a great cause!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Our Lady of the Wayside to help promote Grapes and Ale. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary VIP tickets for myself and 2 general admission tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Punch Bowl Social Rooftop!

There’s a new hot spot in town that combines everything Clevelanders want in the summertime: water and city views, great drinks, yummy food, and lots of fun!

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Punch Bowl Social hosted a VIP opening party for their brand new rooftop patio bar yesterday, showcasing this awesome new space. The rooftop wraps around Punch Bowl’s expansive front, giving you views of the lake, the river, and the city all in one location.

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From picnic tables to hightops to bar seating to cozy couches, there’s the perfect lounging spot for everyone up here. The bar features Punch Bowl’s selection of yummy punches and cocktails, as well as wines and tons of local, seasonal craft brews (Grandes Lagos on draft!)

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We got to nibble on a selection of Punch Bowl favorites, including the fried bologna sandwich, the Alabama chicken sandwich (my favorite of the evening), the toasted Western sandwich, and the black eyed pea hummus.

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Beyond just great food and drinks, there’s Punch Bowl’s signature fun up on the roof, with cornhole boards, Jenga, and more interactive elements.

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Punch Bowl Social’s rooftop opens to the public today. It is open Monday through Thursday from 3pm-12am; Fridays from 3pm-2am; Saturdays from 11am-2am; and Sundays from 11am-12am. Enjoy summer in Cleveland at one of it’s newest sure-to-be hot spots!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend the VIP opening of the Punch Bowl Social rooftop with a guest. We received complimentary food, drink, games, and swag items. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.**

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Why? Weekends!

What a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend! We kicked things off on Friday with a family overnight stay at Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky.

Jeffrey loves water parks and it’s always so fun to see as he grows that he’s able to enjoy more and more at the park. Great Wolf Lodge’s water park is great for toddlers, with several slides, a lazy river, and a splash pool that are all perfect for his size.

Our room was the family log cabin, which let Jeffrey have his own private section of the room, which was not only fun but functional.

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Aside from the water park, we also spent time at the Northern Lights Arcade. Jeffrey had a blast playing the games and winning lots of tickets! This was a great place to go after dinner or before the water park opened the next day.

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Speaking of dinner, we had both of our meals at the Gitchigoomie Grill, which offers a nice menu of family-friendly favorites. Jeffrey enjoyed the grilled cheese and cheeseburger. Matthew’s and my favorites were the mac ‘n cheese with smoked sausage and bacon and the brisket sandwich with onion straws and horseradish sauce.

And while you’re at it, stop by Baskets to get some fruity blender drinks while the kiddos enjoy the water!

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Great Wolf Lodge is really great for family’s with younger kids. From accessible food menus to a water park with lots of age-appropriate fun to tons of extra activities like story time, dance parties, and kids yoga to wolf ears at check-in, the entire experience was a great time for all of us!

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On Sunday, Matthew surprised me with a decadent Mother’s Day brunch at Fahrenheit. Since Fahrenheit began brunch service in March, I’ve been dying to try this new menu at one of my favorite restaurants.

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First, let’s discuss the amazing cocktail line-up, from several varieties of mimosas and bellinis to creative Bloody Marys. I had the Grand Cava, with Grand Marnier, Cava, and fresh raspberry.

Next up, the Marcona almond sticky buns. Holy layers of breakfast sweet goodness!

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We also shared the chicken sausage with roasted apples, which added a nice touch of savory to all the sweet!

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For my brunch, there was no doubt what I was going to order: the jumbo Cap’N Crunch pancakes with vanilla milk reduction and maple syrup.

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I am a cereal fiend and the combination of this breakfast classic cereal with light fluffy pancakes and that milk reduction…perfection!

What was even sweeter was sharing the day (and the entire weekend) with my wonderful family and feeling surrounded by love and happiness (and Cap’n Crunch and Cava.)

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Why? Silver Spoon Awards Party!

On Wednesday night, Matthew and I attended the Cleveland Magazine Silver Spoon Awards Party. There is no shortage of great food in Cleveland and this party celebrates the winners of Cleveland Magazine’s Silver Spoon Awards in style, with plenty of food, wine, and fun.

I thought I’d share my own version of Silver Spoon Awards, based on some of our favorites from the evening:

Most Creative (Plating): Trentina‘s mushroom terrarium was such an interesting way to present a dish with lots of textures and fresh spring flavors. And it seriously looks just like a terrarium!

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Most Creative (Food): Graffiti Social Kitchen’s soft pretzel bread pudding with stadium mustard ice cream, beer caramel, and house “cracker jacks.” It was baseball in dessert form, with sweet and sour elements that complimented each other perfectly!

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Best Use of a Cleveland Classic (Original Form): Jack’s Deli and Restaurant went as Cleveland as it comes with corned beef and pickles. And everyone LOVED it!

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Best Use of a Cleveland Classic (Elevated Form): Pier W‘s lobster pierogi took this classic Polish dish to a lobster-packed new level of delicious!

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Best Not Serving What You’d Expect Them to Serve: Red, the Steakhouse brought Korean BBQ ribs topped with rice noodle salad in a steamed bun. Proving steak is not the only trick up their sleeve.

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Best Serving Exactly What You’d Expect Them to Serve: Mabel’s BBQ brought pork spare ribs with CLE kraut and CLE pickles. YES!

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Best Combo Platter:  Around the Corner and Georgetown teamed up black pepper chicken wings and bacon truffle mac ‘n cheese for honestly one of my favorite plates of the night! Bar food meets haute cuisine beautifully!

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Best Flourish (Food): Washington Place Bistro & Inn‘s creative “W” and “P” basil oil atop the delicious red pepper and crab bisque.

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Best Flourish (Cocktail): Mabel’s BBQ‘s bartender had a dramatic finish to his VIP cocktail competition drink.

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Best Cinco de Mayo Prep: Nuevo Modern Mexican‘s ceviche with scallops, passion fruit, strawberries, and habanero got my palate all charged up for Mexican flavors!

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Congratulations to all the Silver Spoon Award winners! Keep making Cleveland’s food scene diverse and delicious!

***I was asked by the Arthritis Foundation Ohio to help promote the Silver Spoon Awards Party. In exchange, I received two complimentary VIP tickets for myself and two general admission tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? The Lakehouse Inn!

When you get invited to a “VIP Food and Wine Tour,” including an overnight stay at a lovely inn, spa time, and more food and wine than you thought anyone could possibly fit into two days, you do whatever you can to attend. Which is exactly what I did the last couple of days at The Lakehouse Inn in Geneva on the Lake.

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With beautiful views of Lake Erie, cozy patios, and comfortable guest rooms, I immediately felt at home and relaxed there!

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My experience started on Sunday evening with a delicious coursed wine-pairing meal at Crosswinds Grille, the restaurant attached to The Lakehouse Inn. I had dined at Crosswinds last summer and was excited to try a broader selection from their ever-changing menu.

The menu at Crosswinds is the height of seasonal deliciousness and will change as often as 6 times per year to keep up with the freshest bounty provided by local farmers. Crosswinds doesn’t just talk the farm-to-table talk. They continually source the freshest and most local produce and meats they can find. Two of Crosswinds farm suppliers were on hand at the dinner (from Red Basket Farm and Miller Grass Fed Farms), showcasing their products and the restaurant’s commitment to locally-sourced, quality food.

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Our first course was a wilted kale salad with grilled onions, poached egg, and vinaigrette.

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Chef Nate added some asparagus in to the salad at the last minute because it arrived fresh and was a perfect addition. Of note, all the items at our dinner are available in some form on Crosswinds current menu.

Next up, shrimp and grits with nduja and a bit of Chardonnay.

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Salty, creamy, sweet, and delicious! I love me some shrimp and grits! Every course was paired with a Lakehouse Inn wine, my favorites of the bunch being the Riesling, the reserve Pinot Noir, and the Cabarnet Sauvignon. And the Pinot Rose will be perfect for hot summer days.

Our next course was grilled pork tenderloin with jasmine rice and mustard cream. Chef Nate told us he focuses more on food than on plating, but every dish not only tasted great, but looked lovely too!

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Not realizing another meat course was on it’s way, I devoured every bite of this tender pork and then had to find room for the rich beef navel (think pork belly texture, but beef) served with potatoes and collard greens.

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There were simply grunts of happiness all around the table with this dish!

Our dessert was the creatively-named Heavenly Kathy Joe, a scoop of house-made maple ice cream over a cocktail of Seven Brothers whiskey and maple. I’ve always thought I didn’t like whiskey, but this was delicious and I drank/scooped every drop!

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After a restful night’s sleep, we were back to the hard work of eating and exploring The Lakehouse Inn, with breakfast at Crosswinds (the housemade sausage is to die for)…

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…and then spa time!

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My toes are now ready for spring/summer open-toed shoes! And I’m supremely relaxed!

From there, we took a little field trip to Na*Kyrsie Meats, run by Chef Nate of Crosswinds Grille. Chef Nate taught himself how to butcher and brings in beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, and pigs for his cuts of meat and charcuterie.

We got to sample a variety of charcuterie and it was hard to pick a favorite, although I do confess I brought some of the lamb salumi home with me.

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Na*Kyrsie meats are of course used at Crosswinds Grille, but you can also stop in at their retail monthly meat sale (where you can enjoy Lakehouse Inn wines too). 

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And you can also find Na*Kyrsie this season at the Tremont Farmers Market.

With a restaurant, spa, inn, winery, and tons of gracious hospitality all in one spot, you hardly need to go anywhere but The Lakehouse Inn any time of the year! That said, the entire area is rich with wineries, the Harbor with lots of shops and restaurants, The Lodge which is building a canopy tour experience to be completed by the end of the summer, and lots more to explore and enjoy.

The thing that impresses me the most about The Lakehouse Inn is there commitment to local products. From Crosswinds Grille’s sourcing of local meats and produce to the cocktail menu featuring local distilleries…

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to the gift shop with tons of local items…

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…supporting local businesses is not just a byline here. It’s a focus and you can tell how much respect and admiration these businesses have for each other. When you support local businesses that support each other, you do something amazing right in your own backyard! And you’ll likely have a fabulous, delicious, relaxing time doing it!

The next time you need a romantic getaway, a girls weekend, a family fun weekend, or maybe just a sip of wine and a delicious dinner, you can’t do better than The Lakehouse Inn.

***Disclosure: I was invited to a VIP Food and Wine Tour at The Lakehouse Inn. I declined part of the Sunday experience due to scheduling conflicts. My lodging, food, drink, and spa services were complimentary. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Grapes and Ale Giveaway!

Progressive Field is the hottest place to be this summer and not just because of our fabulous Cleveland Indians and some pretty awesome concerts set to play there. The stadium will also host to Our Lady of the Wayside‘s Grapes and Ale fundraiser.

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Our Lady of the Wayside is celebrating its 50th Anniversary of supporting children and adults with developmental disabilities. All proceeds from Grapes and Ale benefit this amazing organization, which is expanding services into Summit County to help even more people!

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Progressive Field will once again host this fabulous evening on Friday, May 19. You’ll get to sample BBQ bites from some of Cleveland’s sauciest restaurants, including Smokin’ Rock & Roll, Melt, The Aurora Inn, 100th Bomb Group, and more.

There will also be over 300 international wines to sample included with your admission, as well as craft beer samples available for purchase at The Corner. Your hosts for all this food and fun will be Kenny Crumpton from Fox 8 News, Chip Kullik from Majic 105.7, Jeremiah from Q104, and Marc Bona from cleveland.com.

General admission tickets to Grapes and Ale are $50 and include unlimited wine and food samples, access to The Corner to purchase craft beer samples, a souvenir glass, entertainment by The Ace Molar Band featuring Todd Meany from Fox 8 News, and access to take your chance to win fabulous Chinese auction prizes.

You can also upgrade to VIP tickets, which are $125 and include all of the above plus access to a private Majic VIP area with featured wines, beers, and Tito’s Vodka cocktails, plus hors d’oeuvres from The Garden Grille & Bar and desserts from Cupcake Cravings.

You can purchase tickets online now. Or you can head over to my Instagram page at @whycle for details on how to enter to win two general admission tickets to the event!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Our Lady of the Wayside to help promote Grapes and Ale. In exchange, I will receive 2 complimentary VIP tickets for myself and 2 general admission tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Grapes Under Glass!

What happens when Heinen’s – Downtown Cleveland and The 9 Cleveland combine to put on an event? You get Grapes Under Glass: An Unprecedented Wine Tasting Event.

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All events will take place in the stunning Cleveland Trust Rotunda, a truly unique and beautiful place to enjoy a glass (or two or three) of wine. You will have access to wines from wineries such as Duckhorn, Cline Cellars, Moet Hennessy, Robert Mondavi Winery, and many more.

You’ll also nibble on food paired specifically to the wines, created by The 9’s Executive Chef, Nelly Buleje, as well as Heinen’s culinary team and Chefs Matt Mytro and Paul Minnillo of Flour Restaurant.

On Friday, April 28, there will be a Napa Blue Chip Wine Tasting, with a who’s who of Cabarnet-Sauvignon based wines. On Saturday, April 29, you can participate in various themed Wine Seminars. Then, that evening is the Main Tasting Event, with 23 wineries represented, along with food pairings. The fun caps off on Sunday, April 30 with a Bubbles Brunch (YES!).

Tickets can be purchased for individual events or in an event package, which can include overnight stays at The 9 Cleveland. Click here for more information, including pricing on events and packages, and to purchase tickets.

The Cleveland Trust Rotunda has quickly become a symbol of downtown Cleveland’s renaissance and the perfect place for a high-class event. Grapes Under Glass will be quite the event, so raise a toast!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend the Grapes Under Glass Main Tasting Event with a guest. Due to scheduling conflicts, I declined my tickets. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Silver Spoon Awards Party Giveaway!

Cleveland loves good food and loves a party! So, a party designed to celebrate all the great food in Cleveland is bound to be an amazing evening!

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Cleveland Magazine‘s 23rd annual Silver Spoon Awards Party  to benefit the Arthritis Foundation, Northeastern Ohio is happening Wednesday, May 3 at the Crawford Auto Aviation Museum at the Cleveland History Center.

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You can enjoy delicious small bites from Cleveland’s top restaurants, unlimited wine samples, silent auctions and raffles, and the chance to check out pieces of Cleveland history all in one place!

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There is also an exclusive VIP lounge with additional small bites, specialty cocktails from Brown-Forman, and a late-night after party.

Tickets are currently on sale for $100 for general admission and $150 for VIP admission. You can purchase tickets online and can save 10% by using promo code WHYCLE at checkout.

Or you can enter to win two general admission tickets to the Silver Spoon Awards Party right here! Here’s how to enter (you can do one, two, three, four, or all five entries, just leave a separate comment here for each):

1.Leave a comment here telling me which participating restaurant you’re most looking forward to sampling.

2. Visit Cleveland Magazine’s Silver Spoon Awards Party and Why CLE? on Facebook and leave a comment here letting me know you visited both pages.

3. Follow @silverspooncle and @whycle on Instagram and leave a comment here letting me know you’re following both.

4. Follow @SilverSpoonCLE and @WhyCLE on Twitter and leave a comment here letting me know you’re following both.

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

I want to attend @SilverSpoonCLE thanks to @WhyCLE: https://whycle.com/2017/04/12/why-silver-spoon-awards-party-giveaway-4 #giveaway

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

The giveaway will close on Monday, April 17 at 11:59pm and the winner will be notified the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote the Silver Spoon Awards Party. In exchange, I will receive 2 complimentary VIP tickets for myself and 2 complimentary general admission tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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