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A trip to Tremont

Noah Swartz

Issue date: 11/12/10 Section: Focus
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Sokolowski's University Inn has been serving what many consider Cleveland's best Polish cuisine since 1925.
Sokolowski's University Inn has been serving what many consider Cleveland's best Polish cuisine since 1925.
[Click to enlarge]
This sign outside Edison's Bar humorously advertises events like Atari Tuesdays and Funday.
This sign outside Edison's Bar humorously advertises events like Atari Tuesdays and Funday.
[Click to enlarge]
For most Case Western Reserve University students, weekends resemble a collage of cram sessions and all-nighters rather than the whirlwind of socially lubricated parties that the mainstream media would have me believe comprises college life. As such, when there does happen to be that elusive window in one's calendar, we find ourselves searching for that distinct note of elegance that campus life is the antithesis of.

Tremont is the dash of class that campus life is so noticeably and often lacking. Occasionally mocked for its density of fixed-gear riding hipsters while at the same time lauded for its diverse slew of restaurants, Tremont is a paradox in and of itself. That said, its diverse characteristics neatly cater to a wide range of interests.

Located catty-corner to Ohio City, Tremont plays host to an arrangement of both gastronomic hot spots and businesses that cater to auditory and visual aesthetics. Of course, the former is most likely to coax us college students out of our ivory towers, which is how I got my introduction to the area.

It was through Sokolowski's University Inn, a cafeteria-style eatery that serves some of the heartiest Polish dishes in Ohio, where I first ventured into the friendly confines of this eclectic neighborhood. Passed down through the same family since 1927, it lies on the outskirts of Tremont proper, catering to both Tremont locals as well as a wide array of regulars from all over the Cleveland area. They are most well known for their Kielbasa, Chicken Paprikash, and pierogis which Micheal Symon of Lola fame claims to be the best he's ever eaten. Serving lunch during the week and dinner over the weekends the flavors will wow you, and the portions will leave full for days.

Speaking of Symon, Lola's sister restaurant, Lolita, lies in the heart of Tremont. Serving smaller and more affordable portions than its namesake, it is just one of the many fine dining experiences here. Within sight of its front door are similarly highbrow establishments Lago, Farenheit, Ty Fun Bistro, and Parallax.

The Treehouse, The Flying Monkey Pub, the Velvet Tango Room, and Edison's are just a few of its watering holes, meaning that when the paltry array of speakeasy's on campus brings you down, it's comforting to know that a wonderland of microbrews on tap and topshelf cocktails waits for you just past the Flats. The Velvet Tango Room is renowned for its elegance and attention to detail, and is modeled after a Prohibition-era speakeasy. Using solely house-made syrups and bitters, the artisans behind the bar serve the denizens of the area what are possibly the finest and definitely the most expensive cocktails in all of Cleveland to the soundtrack of live jazz.

If your preferences tend toward a hangover-clearing brunch rather than a classy date night, Lucky's Café has you covered with what has been repeatedly acclaimed as one of the best breakfasts in Cleveland, not only by local periodicals but also by Food Network's Guy Fiari. Another café, which barely opened its doors a year ago, is Loop, which not only serves a fine morning brew but is also host to local artworks and one of the finest collections of records and CDs, spanning a variety of genres, for sale in the area. Those with a sweet tooth to satisfy can do so at acclaimed shops like Lilly's Homemade Chocolates and Cookie and a Cupcake.

Food is not the only thing that draws people to its lattice of criss-crossing streets and unassuming storefronts; Tremont has become famous for its density of record stores and art galleries. This has led to the creation of the monthly Tremont Art Walk, where these stores bring the streets to life by showcasing the work of artists who frequent the district on the oft-barren Tremont sidewalks. The Art Walk takes place on the second Friday of every month, and this month's is tonight from 6 to 10 p.m. It provides a great opportunity to see the area as well as the art that Cleveland has to offer, while at the same time taking advantage of some of the bars that call Tremont home.

Another recent addition to Tremont's burgeoning art scene is Visible Voice, recently named "Best Bookstore Gathering Place" in Cleveland Scene. This shop, whose vast selection of books is enough of a draw, also serves as a wine bar and small performance venue for readings and open-mic sessions.

All in all, Tremont offers a little something for everyone. If your tastes tend towards the finer things, in both food and art, you'll be happy to have found a new locale to spend your dime and time. If not, people-watching those who do from the plethora of corner cafés is also a fine option. Whichever way your pleasures tend, ignoring such a unique area of Cleveland during your college stay would be remiss.
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Issue Summary


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