Here’s to new food options in Avon Lake!

Avon Lake is a great place to call home. I am happy it is mine. If it has one shortcoming though, a lack of quality food options might be it. I find the restaurant options to be somewhat limited and lacking and, frankly, I think I’m being kind by putting it this way. There’s pizza, pizza and more pizza, a couple of Asian choices and then a smattering of other spots that I don’t hate but don’t love. A few spots easily qualify for an episode Gordon Ramsay’s  Kitchen Nightmares. The town has seen many cafes and restaurants come and go: Bar Symon, Atlanta Bread Company, Arabica and the list goes on. Not sure of the specifics around each closing but I assume it is the standard reason – patronage volumes that are lower than required to sustain the business.

Perhaps I’m a harsher critic as I have a handful of particulars to consider when selecting a restaurant: I’m vegetarian, my husband is a carnivore and we have a child under 2. I also want to mention that I’m a bit of a foodie who is also into natural and organic foods. Add to this that I’m also a big proponent of supporting local, independent resturants. Surely you can see that my finding qualified food options  falls just shy of a mini miracle.

The good news is that several new spots just opened or will be shortly within Avon Lake so I’ll have some new options and so will you!

Jenni Juggs (Now Open!)

http://avon-oh.patch.com/users/lori-e-switaj

Photo credit: Lori E. Switaj

The name is interesting and certainly memorable. One might interpret it for a different type of establishment (or at least this is the reaction I’ve received from most people when I share the name) but the truth is that it is billed as a quaint spot offering finger-lickin’ good Southern Comfort Food. This is certainly a new category to be represented in the far west side of Cleveland. The menu features the expected southern classics: chicken and waffles, cornmeal-crusted catfish, hush puppies, cole slaw and sweet tea. The “sides” menu is tempting enough for me to order just from it. Recent reviews that I’ve read report a cute and pleasant atmosphere, tasty mac ‘n’ cheese and cornbread and promises of return visits.

The location is on the eastern end of Avon Lake in the northern end of the Learwood Plaza (the Giant Eagle plaza, as locals refer to it) and is the fully renovated former home of an Italian restaurant (another example of an Avon Lake restaurant gone bye-bye). I’m tickled as this location is a five-minute bike ride from my house making it a great choice for a weekday dinner or a weekend brunch spot. With the addition of Jenni Juggs, the Learwood Plaza has become an even more enjoyable, diverse destination. You can get a pedicure at Luxury Nails, enjoy an order of fried green tomatoes at Jenni Juggs, browse a newly opened Goodwill location, stop by the Ron Zehel Guitar Center for a new set of strings, and finally grab a few groceries at Giant Eagle.

Hours: Tuesday- Thursday, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., Friday, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. and Sunday brunch, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. and regular service 2 p.m .- 9 p.m. Takeout is also available. 440-653-5255

Cafe Melissa (Coming November 2012!)

I recently enjoyed a veggie burger from Sweet Melissa at the 2012 Avon Lake Summer Market. I’ve also enjoyed their food at their Rocky River location over the last several years. While ordering my burger at the Summer Market, I overheard talk that they would be opening a location in Avon Lake come this November. I was thrilled at the news! (I was also thrilled when they gave me a Free Appetizer gift card for the new location.)

The Sweet Melissa location in Avon Lake will be called Cafe Melissa and will be open for breakfast every day starting at 9 a.m. The menu is to be announced although I’m hoping that at least most of my favorites from the Rocky River location will carry over. The Cafe Melissa location will be in the former Donatos building on Walker Road just West of Route 83/Avon Belden Road.

Hours: Monday – Sunday, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

A Mediterranean Restaurant (Coming soon!)

So, I have to say that I don’t have any confirmed info on this new food offering other than what I have heard through the grapevine around town but I want to believe it so I’m sharing! The story is that a new Mediterranean restaurant is opening in the former Tucky’s location (ah, yet another former Avon Lake restaurant and, wow, this one really didn’t last long). There are signs of work being started at the former Tucky’s location so there could be some validity to the rumors. Let’s hope so. Location-wise, it is literally a stone’s throw from the new Jenni Juggs. Hopefully, with two very different cuisines, the restaurants will complement versus threaten each other. I’ll be sure to share more on this one as news develop!

Let’s eat!

So for now, give Jenni Juggs a try and let me know what you think! I will be checking it out soon myself and using the $10 gift card that they gave to the Luxury Nails salon to distribute to its customers. (Kudos to both Jenni Juggs and Cafe Melissa for including an enticement in their grand opening promotional efforts. It works!)

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Vacuum breakdown.

Just a quick post to share that while a broken vacuum can be a real inconvenience, it can also be a blessing. It’s quite freeing to not spend your time thinking about how you should be vacuuming or actually vacuuming. Ours conked out on us late last week and I don’t really miss it. (Don’t get it twisted – we borrowed one from family and took it for a spin around the house yesterday. Between us and our white cat shedding, we’d be buried if we didn’t.)

It’s just been kinda nice without the vacuum being too readily close by guilting me. Just one less thing to think/worry/stress/obsess about. More time to think about stuff that matters.

The Summer Market.

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I’m looking forward to The Summer Market in Avon Lake next weekend. Friday and Saturday, July 27-28, 2012, to be exact. There will be plenty of quality vendors offering up their wares from furniture to jewelry, fresh produce to home decor and more. And some great food courtesy of Sweet Melissa, Sweet Basil, Sweet! ( a mobile cupcakery), Fahrenheit, Woolson Concessions and Humble Pie Bakery make the event even more irresistible. Extras include live music and a photographer to help you capture the moment. Oh, and did I mention the park is at the water’s edge of Lake Erie? Get there!

KEY INFO

Route 83 & Lake Road at Veterans Park, Avon Lake, OH

July 27: 5-9 pm

July 28: 9 am-4 pm

bike on.

it’s the time of year when a bike ride is a possibility each day due to ohio’s beautiful spring weather. my husband and i have been taking full advantage. we are lucky enough to live close to several nature trails and multiple parks.

the trick is leaving the park without a complete meltdown. lucy can never quite get enough of the slide or as she calls it, “whhheeeeeee”.

story time

my husband and i recently inherited a couch that we owned originally and had given to my husband’s brother a few years ago. he no longer needs it so…it’s back. there isn’t space in the house for it so we are going to add casters and use it as some pretty amazing patio furniture that we can easily wheel from the garage outside when the weather permits.

it’s a whole new take on curling up on the couch with my little lady for story time.

sunday in july.

if there is one thing that having a baby forces you to do that is live in the moment and take it one day at a time. so, here’s my post about today, a sunday in july.

the day started off playing with lucy and all of her toys on the living room floor. some bad dane cook movie on in the background. little lucy was still battling her ear infection that was diagnosed yesterday at the ER (a great way to start the weekend, by the way) and the subsequent fever. but i could tell she was beginning to pull out of it by her interest in her bevy of toys!

hubby and i worked up the energy to go check out made in the 216 down on 4th street. it felt a little like the day after the party with things picked over and a bit bare. the photo booth was fun though and we took full advantage of it. felt great to get out of the house and lucy was a trooper and hung in there while we stopped by target afterward to grab socks.

after being back at home for a bit, we decided it was pool time! we scored a super cute little whale-shaped pool at target a few weeks back and were excited to test it out. it was lucy’s first time wearing her yellow polka dot bikini too. and…probably her last as it is snug. (i bought it when she was maybe 2 weeks old and boy is kids’ clothing sizing terribly off. can someone fix that already?)

then lucy napped (hooray) and joe worked on his scooter and i worked on some new mini cake stands that will soon be for sale at salty not sweet (@saltycleveland).

and now, with ohio city four cheese ravioli in our stomachs and showers had, things are winding down. lucy is asleep but not so sure for how long with her not feeling well.

today felt like a bit of a marathon (especially with a sick kiddo) and i know that it’s not over yet (again, kiddo) but if i step back for a moment i can see that it was a good one. i think i just need to remember to step back more often.

Great Food in a Strip Mall.

You don’t expect to find a restaurant serving delicious, natural food in a strip mall set back from Bagley Road in Berea, Ohio. I drove past it the first time I was visitng. The strip mall features two businesses: a gym and Tree Hugger’s Cafe. The cafe which serves meat and meat-free (including vegan) food is tucked away and frankly I’m shocked it stays open with such an out-of-the-way location. (I’m a foodie and a long-time vegetarian and I had never heard of the place.) But nevertheless, I am happy it is there and to have found it.

I have to do a little sidebar here on the name of the cafe because it gets under my skin a bit. I take issue with anything that is healthy or natural needing to go to the hippie side of things. Why does a love for animals and planet need to go hand in hand with tie-dye? I don’t wear Birkenstocks. I don’t even like patchouli. I do enjoy amazing food that is also natural, locally produced and nutritious. And Tree Hugger’s uses almost 100% organic ingredients and buys its produce when in season from local farmers. They also purchase their bread, coffee and other items from local independent businesses.

But the good news is that…

…the delicious food options more than make up for the cafe’s name. My current addiction: the black cactus black bean patty burger. With the perfect touch of spicy flavor, the generous patty is piled high with lettuce, tomato, Swiss cheese, mango salsa and fresh avocado slices. And the bun it is all nested on doesn’t disappoint either. With the burger comes your choice of side. I always go for the dill coleslaw (vegan). I’ve never had a dill-flavored cole slaw but it is all I want from this point forward. It is a crunchy dish probably due to a lack of mayo that is not missed in the least. This is a large meal and I usually end up taking half of the sandwich home.

Another favorite is the hummus which comes with veggies and warm pita for dipping. I’m pretty picky about my hummus and this one is herby, creamy and scores major points. I would order it as my meal. And don’t miss out on the hand-cut fries. They are fresh-tasting and cooked to perfection.

Tree Hugger’s scores extra points with me for also offering the following:
– Kombucha: pretty tough to find in the Cleveland area. (The only two places I have been able to buy it so far are Nature’s Bin and Good ‘n’ Raw–both in Lakewood.)

– Chocolate Chip Cookies: as big as your head (Plus an array of other delicious desserts.)

– Drive thru window: perfect for calling ahead and picking up your order at lunch time

So get check out this hidden spot. You’ll enjoy some great food and leave feeling like you also did your body good.

Quick Links:
Menu
Map: 1330 Bagley Road, Berea OH 44017

Sunday at the Bakery.

Today, I had a lovely time kicking back with my husband and good friend. The three of us enjoyed coffee and pastry treats at the Blackbird Baking Company in Lakewood. I had a raspberry jammer. I would have shown you a photo of it with this post (because they are quite pretty) but I had polished it off by the time I remembered that I was supposed to take a photo. Hey–it happens. And that is testament to just how delicious it was.

If you haven’t checked out this spot on the borderline between Lakewood and Rocky River, you should. Hang out there with a friend or bring along your laptop. And make sure you take a fresh loaf of bread home with you as well. I’m going to enjoy one of their multigrain options as toast tomorrow morning.

Happy New Year. Happy New Baby.

2011 really will be a year full of HAPPY and NEW for me. Any day now, I will meet my little person who has been growing inside me (and kicking me with what feels like stilettos) for the past 8.5 months. Pregnancy is a wild, fascinating ride but it is these last few weeks that are the most intense both physically and emotionally. I am literally sitting around waiting to go through labor and delivery (not the easiest thing I hear) and to have my life change forever when I see my baby for the first time. It is…indescribable.

Every so often, my husband or I will abruptly announce to the other–“We’re going to have a baby”–as if it is new news. I just think that the human brain can’t grasp such a large concept. And yet I realize that people have babies every day.

So here is to a HAPPY first year for me, my husband and our little one, and our family and friends. May it be filled with sweet little grins and giggles.

An old rocking chair fixed up with cotton candy pink spray paint and Amy Butler fabric purchased at Stitch Cleveland

a different perspective on clutter.

clutter is the poetry of our homes. it is an intimate view that is not always perfect–a few dishes in the sink, books piled next to the bed. everything in its place may give a certain satisfaction, but a lived-in room exudes comfort and warmth.”

-mary randolph carter, author of “a perfectly kept house is the sign of a misspent life”

doesn’t this make you feel just a little better about things not always being in their place?