Lunch buffet on the Nautica Queen

August 28, 2016

When the weather is beautiful there is nothing better than taking a river or lake cruise in Cleveland. Whether it’s the Goodtime III or the Nautica Queen it is definitely something special that always makes me happy.


I recently went on an afternoon cruise on the Nautica Queen with my local translators group. The dock is located next to the Powerhouse and Cleveland Aquarium. We shared the boat with several groups, including a wedding party and a family reunion. For $24.95 we were treated to some great views of the Flats, the lake and the Cleveland skyline as well as a buffet lunch and gratuity. Tea, coffee and iced tea were included with the price. Soft drinks and alcoholic beverages were extra. They did not have any bottled water.


The food isn’t going to win any awards, but it was pretty good. We were ushered to the buffet by table and after filling our salad plates with some rather fresh salad fixings the plates were taken from us and deposited at our seats, freeing our hands up for the larger plate. The salad bar was actually pretty good. I managed to make a very nice salad from the mixed greens and side salads, including a pasta salad and an antipasta salad. The dressing choices included ranch, poppyseed and I believe a vinaigrette of some sort.


The choices that day included roast beef, chicken breast, fish and a rigatoni pasta with tomato sauce as well as mixed vegetables and mashed potatoes. I’m told the entrees and sides can vary. I particularly enjoyed the fish and the mashed potatoes. The roast beef was a little fatty, but it was moist and tender. The pasta and chicken breast were a little dry, but I don’t expect anything less from a buffet like this.


After clearing our plates the waitress brought us a lemon cake with raspberry drizzle. It was a little dry but palatable.


After we ate we watched the newlyweds dance their first dance (she sang to him the whole time – it was very touching), and then went up a level to the roof to enjoy the skyline and the sunshine. We left the dock at 11 and returned at 1. It was an enjoyable two hours spent on the lake. If you are looking for a fun thing to do with guests I can recommend this. The price doesn’t break the bank, and it is a relaxing couple of hours spent on our beautiful waterways. They also offer a dinner buffet, which I have been told is better than the lunch buffet, as well as a brunch buffet.


They also cater wedding receptions, because I attended a wedding reception on the Nautica Queen about 12 or 13 years ago. I remember enjoying the dancing and the nighttime view of the Cleveland skyline.

Contact info:

Nautica Queen
1153 Main Ave
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 696-8888

The summer of ice cream

August 17, 2016

bananaIt’s been a while since I’ve posted here. Money has been tight, and I have been eating at home a lot. However, there is always room for ice cream. I’ve spent the summer exploring some of Cleveland’s oldest and most popular ice cream establishments. I was on a mission to find old-fashioned ice cream stands.

It all started out with a stop at Strickland’s of Streetsboro on Route 14 about a mile from the intersection with Route 43. I ordered their Banana Bowl ($4.25 including tip), which features one scoop of vanilla custard, 1/2 a banana, one topping (I chose butterscotch), peanuts and a cherry. TPhotoGrid_1471467709431he flavor combination was awesome, and I decided I needed many butterscotch sundaes in my life this summer. Unfortunately I have never managed to scrape up the nerve to ask them to add a banana to the butterscotch sundaes.

My next stop was Dairy King on Mayfield Road in South Euclid. I’m not sure if it is associated with the Dairy King in North Olmsted I used to visit as a high schooler, but it is awesome no matter what. I ordered a medium butterscotch PhotoGrid_1471467618514sundae for $2.75 and got a large because she “accidentally made a large.” It was huge, and I couldn’t finish it. But I kept coming back all summer. I also really like their peanut butter cup parfait ($4.75) – and where else can you buy a “mini” banana split for $1.35? They also sell hot dogs and fries.

Sandy’s Frozen Whip on Lake Shore Boulevard in Euclid also managed to get on my radar. I made a special trip there, and since I was craving a root beer float that is what IPhotoGrid_1471467568141 ordered. A root beer float and a foot-long chili dog with everything definitely brightened my day. The person working the counter (I think it might have been Sandy herself) was extremely friendly and helpful. She made a strawberry shortcake sundae while I was waiting for my chili dog that looked tempting for next time (sub ice cream for whipped cream on top).

I then went to the Apple Cart, one of Cleveland’s oldest ice cream stands on Superior Road. I ordered a butterscotch sundae for $2.50 (keep the change). The woman behind the counter asked if I wanted whipped cream and nutsIMAG6495 – of course. It definitely hit the spot. I had to chuckle driving home and seeing all the workers walking back to work with their ice cream cones. I’m going back soon for a cherry-dipped cone.

Two outliers I wanted to talk about are Snow Brothers Shavery and Koko Bakery’s shaved ice. They aren’t ice cream per se, but they are a cold treat on a hot day. Snow IMAG3132Brothers is a food truck that you can find at Night Market and various other festivals around the area. They shave their flavored ice to make “snow” and top it with condensed milk and various toppings. I chose the milk-flavored snow and topped it with blueberries and strawberries, but you can also choose mochi, red bean paste, Captain Crunch and a few other toppings. Koko Bakery also sells shaved ice. They sell Korean and Taiwanese shaved ice. I prefer the Taiwanese shaved ice. The price includes 3 toppings IMAG6162of your choice, and you can add additional toppings for an additional $0.90. I am a creature of habit and always choose lychee, kiwi and mango.

And of course no Cleveland ice cream post is complete without mention of Mitchell’s. Mitchell’s fresh strawberry ice cream was a divine pleasure when the strawberries were in season. I hear fresh peach ice cream is in season right now. Mitchell’s is always a treat, but this scoop of strawberry really stands out in my memory this summer. They unveiled a few flavors for the RNC and Cavs championship win. You’ve got to love a hometown favorite that is just as passionate about their hometown as well.

What’s your favorite old-fashioned local ice cream stand?

Contact info:

Strickland’s of Streetsboro
9070 Cleveland – East Liverpool Road (Route 14)
Streetsboro, OH 44241

Dairy King
4325 Mayfield Road
South Euclid, OH 44121

Sandy’s Frozen Whip
17635 Lakeshore Blvd
Cleveland, OH 44119

Apple Cart
4313 Superior Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44103

Mitchell’s Ice Cream
Various locations

Koko Bakery
3710 Payne Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44114

Taj India Palace

July 10, 2016

IMAG6218This little unassuming restaurant in a strip mall by Richmond Square Center blew us away the other night. I chose to eat there because it had ample parking close to the restaurant (I’m currently on crutches). I’m so glad I did, because the food was absolutely delicious. They serve both south and north Indian dishes, and there are lots of choices (both veg and non-veg) to choose from.

We started out ordering some appetizers. My friends ordered the Vegetarian Platter, which features samosa and potato, cauliflower and eggplant pakoras. I jokingly referred to it as the big plate of fried stuff. Well, they certainly fry things well. My IMAG6221friends raved about the vegetable samosa, so I ended up ordering a serving and eating one and taking one home. They also let me try a pakora, and it was lightly fried and not at all greasy. It had a crisp exterior and a light and fluffy interior.

I ordered the Garlic Naan, and my friend’s husband ordered the Peshwari Naan. He enjoyed it, but I can’t say anything about it since I didn’t try it. I was all about my Garlic Naan. The bread was fried light and thin and was very garlicky. I went home reeking of garlic and had plenty left over for the next day.

IMAG6222While looking at the menu online I noticed they had my favorite, Chicken Saag, on the menu, so I knew what I would be ordering. I liked the saag, which is chicken cooked with spinach. It was billed as medium hot, but there was no spice to it at all. I think I will ask for them to bring it up one notch next time. It was kind of bland and boring without any spice.

However, I was also in the mood for a mushroom dish and was dining with some friends who are vegetarians, so I decided to also order the Peas and Mushrooms, which are fresh IMAG6219peas and mushrooms in a “mildly spiced creamy sauce.” I am so glad I did, because this particular dish was mouthwateringly good even without the spice. My friend kept sneaking spoonfuls of it because she liked it as well. In return, I was able to get a bite of her Bombay Potatoes and try the sauce from her husband’s Malai Kotta (which was slightly sweet and very creamy).

We were hell bent on leftovers, so my friend also ordered the Masala Dosa. Honestly I have never been a fan of dosa. I have several friends who are crazy for them so I’ve had them before at several places. I have found the crepe to be somewhat dry and the filling quite meager in the Indian IMG_20160620_192542restaurants that serve them here. I now understand the love for Masala Dosa, because this dosa was so delicious. The potato and onion filling was plentiful and extended almost all the way through the dosa. The filling was also extremely buttery in flavor, with the onion almost carmelized and sweet. The bite I had was moist and delicious, and I was thrilled to learn they serve them along with the lunch buffet.

I don’t know what spices they use, but everything was extremely delicious. My friends, who love Indian food, were extremely impressed with the place, and so was I. I was so excited about the leftovers that I ended up eating them forIMG_20160623_134717 breakfast the next day and enjoyed every single bite.

They also offer a lunch buffet for $8.99, which I went back for several days later. The lunch buffet on the day I went there included tandoori chicken, butter chicken, a peas and saag dish, chana masala, utthapam (the pancake-looking bread), a cabbage dish (hidden under the utthapam and naan) that I very much enjoyed, naan, rice, some yogurt-based salads, a delicious rice pudding (kheer) and several other options. They also have a Grand Buffet for $10.99 on the weekend.

So if you are on the east side and are looking for some good Indian food, definitely be sure to check this place out!

Contact info:

Taj India Palace
5156 Wilson Mills Road
Cleveland, OH 44143
(440) 461-3737

Bialy’s Bagels

June 27, 2016

IMAG5986Bialy’s Bagels is a little circle of NYC heaven right here in Cleveland. Located in an unassuming strip mall on the corner of Silsby and Warrensville Heights Roads in University Heights, Bialy’s has been pumping out bagels and bialys for over 30 years. It is a grab and go place. Go in, buy a half dozen or dozen bagels, and head home to stuff your face with carby goodness. There are no tables. There are IMAG5985no cutesy bagel sandwiches. There are no schmears. Just bagels. If you need cream cheese or smoked salmon they have it in coolers, but bring your own knife to assemble it in your car.

The bagels are available in a variety of flavors, from plain, egg, poppy seed to Mish Mosh (everything) and everything in between. I think I remember seeing IMAG5983cinnamon and blueberry as well. Obviously the fresher the better, but they just keep making bagels all day so they are fresh no matter what. If you are lucky you’ll catch a batch right as they come out. When that happens they have a warm outer crust with a chewy inside. You won’t be able to not eat one in the car. Even when they are warm the bagels are nice and chewy – just as a bagel should be. There is some debate as to whether a bagel should be toasted. New Yorkers say only bad bagels should be toasted. IMG_20160513_183628These bagels are great untoasted.

If you are wondering what the difference between a bialy and a bagel is, bialys are round with a depressed middle filled with cooked onions and sometimes poppy seeds and then baked. The outside of a bialy is therefore matte, not shiny. Bagels are boiled, then baked. The bialys are only available in onion, garlic, and mish mosh flavors. They also sell longer salt sticks, but I usually stick with my mish mosh and sesame seed bagels.

Also, please note that they don’t take credit cards, so be sure to bring cash with you. That said, your order won’t break the bank. Plan on about $1 a bagel.

Contact info:

Bialy’s Bagels
2267 Warrensville Center Road
University Heights, OH 44118
(216) 371-1088



June 17, 2016

IMAG6081Anyone who has paid attention to this blog knows that I am a German translator. I lived in Austria for a year and Germany for six years, so I am very critical when it comes to German/Austrian food. I was really excited to hear about the Hofbräuhaus opening and was there on the first day it opened (standing in line with everyone else). Unfortunately they still had a bunch of kinks to work out, and there was a limited menu at the time. We still enjoyed our pretzels and Obatzda, beer and Schnitzel. I just wasn’t super impressed. IIMAG1307‘ve been to the real Hofbräuhaus in Munich several times as well as the ones in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati (technically Covington, Kentucky). Obviously nothing compares to the real Hofbräuhaus. It is five floors of beer halls and has outstanding food and service. The beer gardens in Cincinnati was also a really good time, and the food was a welcome respite in Pittsburgh. So I was confident that the Hofbräuhaus would find its footing, and it has. I am pleased to report that they brew their beer on-site.

It should be noted that this incantation has absolutely nothing to do with the old Hofbrau Haus at E. 55th and St. Clair, which closed in 2000. The Hofbrau Haus, run by German immigrant Steve Bencic, imported Hofbräu beer but never produced it on-site. It also had no official ties to Munich. This is an official franchise of the 427-year old Hofbräuhaus (the “ducal brewery” in German) in Munich. It was founded in 1589 to serve beer to the Duke of Bavaria and eventually the people of Munich. They have a tent at the Munich Oktoberfest, and you can smell it from a mile away. Lots of drunken idiots.IMAG1312 I always avoided it. The current Hofbräuhaus is part of a franchise chain, which started in 2003, but not in the sense that they are everywhere. They seem to be particular about where they open a location.

On my first visit I was so excited for the Jägerschnitzel that I was absolutely crushed when I was told they didn’t have it available yet. I ordered the cordon blue Schnitzel and the roasted potatoes (I hate German potato salad in the States. It shouldn’t be sweet).IMAG1299 I was underwhelmed by the meal. I am used to Austrian schnitzel that is pounded super thin and hangs off the plate. The schnitzel here was a little greasy and smaller than I am used to (and I suspect that it was food service schnitzel), but from the photos on Yelp it appears that was just opening week. The schnitzels look less uniform now, as they should.

Obatzda, which is a fave of mine, is a cheese mixture of brie or camembert (they use brie), cream cheese, butter, onion, seasonings like paprika or caraway, and some beer. It is usually servedIMAG1306 with bread or pretzels. The Hofbräuhaus’ version was just as good as I had hoped it would be. The pretzels were delicious and were a great accompaniment to the Obatzda. They were fluffy with just the right amount of crust and salt.

I was thrilled to be able to order a Radler, which is a mixture of soda and beer (a shandy). I drink fairly slowly so a liter is wasted on me as it warms up. I prefer the half liters so I can drink them cold. The Radler was the perfect size for me, and came with a lemon and a lime garnish, which was honestly a little weird. You drink Kristallweizen with lemon – not a shandy. But hey, it’s Cleveland, not Germany, and I’ll cut them some slack. I’m happy to report that my mostIMAG6077 recent Radler was not served with any garnish.

Flash forward to now. One of the people I follow on Instagram posted a photo of the Currywurst the other day. I love Currywurst, which is a Frankfurter or brat that is fried, sliced and doused in curry powder and a curry sauce. It is a German fast food delight when you’ve been drinking and comes accompanied with fries. I went there the next day for lunch to order one. It was as good as I had hoped. I was thrilled. The Wurst had a nice snap to it from the casing, the curry powder was present and the sauce was a nice accompaniment to the Wurst and the fries. I finished all the Wurst and half the fries. I think the true lunch portion would be perfect, since it only uses one sausage. Two and a IMAG6075mess of fries was a bit much.

Since I’m not a total glutton I ordered a side salad as well. It was a nice mix of fresh mixed greens accompanied by a red pepper ring, a couple cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices and croutons. I ordered the hot bacon dressing and was very happy I did. It was nice and warm with a sweet creaminess that was a nice topping to the salad.

I wish parking wasn’t so difficult, but that’s the way things are in downtown Cleveland. I’ve managed to find street parking and walk a few blocks to the restaurant. There are lots of parking lots in the area, IMAG1303but they can be quite pricey. And they offer valet service, but I have no idea what that costs. If you are going to drink and not have a designated driver you can hop on a bus or call Uber. In any event, I definitely enjoyed the lunch time ambiance better than the party ambiance of the evenings. There was no live band, everyone was low key, no one was dancing on the tables, and there were no shot skis being shared. But if you are in the mood for a lively evening the Hofbrauhaus is the place for you.

I’ll be back to try some more of the entrees. If you want to be adventurous I suggest you order the Schweinshaxe or Leberkäse. If you want something lighter go for the Wurstsalat. I had it at a German Cultural Garden event, and it was quite good. Vegetarians will love the Käsespätzle. They also have a vegetarian schnitzel.

In any case, Mahlzeit und Prost!


Contact info:

Hofbräuhaus Cleveland
1550 Chester Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44114
216-621-BEER (2337)

Boiling Seafood Crawfish on Lee Road

June 6, 2016

IMAG6092Boiling Seafood Crawfish opened on Lee Road last fall to little fanfare. One of my friends drove past and noticed it, which is how it got on my radar. I’ve been trying to get there since I heard about it. It is located on the east side of Lee next to Two Brothers (straight across from Dewey’s Pizza). Due to the road improvements, on-street parking is not available, so plan to park behind the strip in the Cedar-Lee parking lot/garage. Bring lots of quarters. We were there for an hour and a half, and my meter had just run out a few minutes before I got to my car. Luckily I didn’t get a parking ticket, which is a miracle in Cleveland Heights. One of my friends had to run out and feed the meter while in the middle of eating,IMAG6091 so be sure to be generous with your time estimate. Better to spend an extra quarter than pay a $10 or $15 parking ticket.

Unless you can pound down several pounds of seafood in one go this is definitely a place for a group. The seafood is boiled in a flavorful broth, tossed in a seasoned spice mixture of your choosing and heat level, and delivered to the table in clear plastic bags. The seasoning options are Juicy Cajun, Garlic Butter, Lemon Pepper or Homemade Juicy (which is IMAG6096a combination of all four seasoning) and four spice levels ranging from Baby Spice (which has almost no heat) to Spicy (five chili peppers).

Note: this is not a “first date” kind of place. You get messy and it’s hard to look dainty when you are tearing off shells and pulling off heads or cracking crab legs. This is a place to dress down and be prepared to get covered head to toe in seasoning and juice – especially from your neighbor. They do give you plastic bibs and plastic gloves though. I was happy for the bib since I tend to wear my food even at the most gentile places, but found the glove only got in the way. IMAG6100I ended up going Michael Jackson-style and wearing only one glove, leaving my right hand more control of the cracking and picking out of meat. Guests can pour the contents out onto the white-paper table toppers or eat straight out of the sack. We chose to eat ours out of the bags, but I accidentally let one side down and a river of red seasoning suddenly ran down the table towards my friend and her white pants. We were able to avert disaster with lots of paper towels, which are conveniently available on the table.

I ordered the corn fritters as an IMAG6094appetizer for the table and an order of Hawaiian sweet rolls to mop up the sauce. The corn fritters were creamy and perfectly fried with a nice dipping sauce. I had to force myself to stop eating them to save room for the seafood. As for the sweet rolls, they added a nice sweetness to the sauce and I’m glad I ordered them. They came three to an order, so we IMAG6099shared them as well.

The Handful ($31) features a pound of shrimp, a pound of crawfish, a half pound of clams, a handful of andouille sausage slices, two ears of corn and two new potatoes, so it’s perfect to share between two people. My friends who can stand some heat ordered this between them and ordered it Medium. They really enjoyed it. I tried one of the shrimp, which wasn’t as spicy since they are boiled in the shell and the seasoning doesn’t penetrate. It’s best to peel or unearth the seafood and dip it in the sauce.

IMAG6106Diners can also build their own experience by ordering seafood by the pound and add-ons like corn and potatoes. I chose to go with that option since I wasn’t sharing. I ordered a whole lobster and snow crab legs with Baby Spice and Homemade Juicy. It had a really nice flavor to it, but no heat at all. I would probably get the Mild option next time. I had ordered a half pound of shrimp as well, but that hadn’t printed out in the kitchen. I was glad it didn’t because I was comfortably full when I finished. The shrimp probably would have taken me to the side of “too stuffed to move.” The lobster ended up to be a little over a pound, but one of the claws was deformed, so I ended up payingIMAG6095 $7 for one claw on top of the $25 for the lobster tail. I’d probably opt for the tail by itself next time.

One of my friends ordered a shrimp Po’Boy, and it definitely looked delicious. She said it was very flavorful with a nice remoulade sauce and chopped green peppers, onion, tomato, and lettuce. I will definitely be trying that next time as perhaps a carry out order with some etouffee. IMAG6110The Po’Boys feature shrimp, crawfish, catfish, cajun chicken, soft shell crab, fried oysters and lobster. They come with or without fries.

Since we met for lunch on Sunday we ordered no alcohol, but they do have a small list of alcoholic beverages to quench your thirst. I was happy with my lemonade, which came in a large styrofoam cup and was happily refilled. The server was friendly and attentive. He removed the shrimp from my order in the computer without complaint when it was pointed out to him that the order hadn’t come with any. He had offered to have them make some, but at that point I had realized that I had just the perfect amount.

But look at the size of that crawdad!


Contact info:

Boiling Seafood Crawfish
2201 Lee Road
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118
(216) 459-7777


May 26, 2016

PhotoGrid_1464213269307Grilling is a pastime loved all over the world. I enjoyed many a summer evening grilling in my backyard or along the Rhine when I lived in Germany. I grilled this year for the first time last night. It felt so great to roll the grill out of the garage and fire it up. My mother grilled all the time growing up (and still does). She primarily grills the meat and serves side dishes out of the kitchen. Since I grill much less than she does it is more of a production. I cut up potatoes, onions and peppers coated in olive oil and seasoning and wrapped in foil along with a couple of chicken breasts, asparagus with garlic and soy sauce (also in foil) and pineapple slice. Of course I forgot to throw the corn on, which was the whole reason I decided to grill out in the first place.

But we Ohioans are hardy folk and some grill all year.



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