Sunday, September 18, 2011


You may wonder what those numbers stand for? Go ahead and google it, I'll wait here.

Pretty cool huh? Anyway, on to why these numbers are important. (Or more importantly why one of those numbers is important.)

Throughout history there have been many rivalries. The English vs. the French, North Korea vs. South, Ohio State vs. Michigan, Cleveland vs. Pittsburgh, and Congress vs... well Congress. Great divisions occur due to these conflicts. This is not one of those but it is very important to how we view the landscape of this fine town. 81.693679 is the longitude that separates the East and West side of Cleveland and although it might not carry the weight of a massive rivalry but there is certainly a division.

I grew up in Shaker Heights. If you're not familiar with the Cleveland suburbs it is located on the east side and is, for the most part, one of the more affluent neighborhoods surrounding downtown. While growing up I didn't know too much about the west side of Cleveland. In fact I can only recall a handful of times that I ventured further than the west bank of the flats until I was out of high school and had access to a car. I will not lie, growing up in Shaker we turned our noses at the west side. For me Shaker was the epicenter of my universe and nothing would change my mind about that. I generally thought that people from the west side, their culture, and their food were not worth the time of day. So did a lot of people from Shaker. So we stayed on the east side and did not bother to see what was beyond 81.693679 longitude.

When I returned from college I had a new appreciation for people and life in general. So when it came time for me to find a job I started working on the west side of town at a shoe store in Strongsville. While there I found that the disdain that us eastsiders had towards the westsiders was mutually met. They considered us elitist and stuck up, which was not too far from the truth, and did not care to venture to our side of town either.

However, something strange happened... I made friends. And once I made friends, they introduced me to their side of town and the endless amounts of culture that are available. This experience left me very conflicted. I grew up thinking that the east side was the "the side" to be on. But I realized that in reality we are all the same no matter what side we are on. I also realized why we were led to believe such things in the first place. It takes a REALLY long time to get there.

When Shaker Heights was developed it was built on the idea that mass transit would be the solution and that people would simply take the train into work downtown. The result was some of the most confusing streets in northeast Ohio. What's more the idea of a highway anywhere near the east side's largest suburbs was, for some reason, frowned upon. The result is it takes anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes to get to a highway. Then once on that highway it takes another 25 to 35 minutes to get to the major west side suburbs. So the two sides are segregated from each other not by different ideals or cultures but just by the fact that it takes too long to get to one another.

So I propose an idea. Ignore the fact that it might take you an hour to get to where your going and simply go. And while you're going, why not go to a place that deserves your attention...

The other day my girlfriend (who lives in Parma thank you very much) turned to me and asked the ever important question: "Where do you want to go to dinner?" I gave it a few moments thought and simply stated "Fathead's." She quickly looked back at me and said, "That's EXACTLY what I was thinking." Proving two things. One, my girlfriend and I are truly on the same wavelength and two, this place is so good it can transmit its awesomeness to our subconscious at the exact same time. So off we went.

Fathead's not only has the distinction of being the first restaurant that I am talking about on this blog which is located outside the city limits but it is also the first (and possibly only) not to be headquartered in the state of Ohio. In fact its first location was Pittsburgh, PA (boo) and I went to it on the suggestion of old roommate (and former chef at Lola) Aaron. We had spent the previous night catching up and drinking ourselves stupid. So when I did finally start eating it was not so much to enjoy the food as it was to recover from the massive hangover I had developed from too many Yuengling's. Needless to say the experience was less than memorable and although he tried to convince me of this restaurant's greatness I was not blown away. Granted at the time Wendy's would have seemed like a four star meal so this clearly was not the moment to judge it. I do however remember the "headwiches" were quite large.

Flash forward a few years and my boss mentions to me this place that opened near his house in North Olmsted. So upon his recommendation I traveled with my girlfriend and had an amazing experience. The beer is about as good as a small micro brewery can be. Honestly I could probably waste another 1,000 or so words just describing the various styles that are offered but instead I will let their awards speak for themselves. Honestly they had me at "cask conditioned beer," but the options are wonderful. Plus on top of what they brew themselves your are always guaranteed a wide variety of unique micro brews on their guest list that can put a lot of bars to shame.
But wait there's more!!! The food is wonderful. It's standard bar food... ON STEROIDS! Seriously the portions are giant, and you will find yourself full halfway through only to find you're still eating because it's that good. The "headwiches" are massive and unique as the name they are called. They even have one that was named "one of the top 5 sandwiches in the USA." But I don't care. For me there is only one thing on the menu that I want... Smoke house wings.

I will refer you to earlier in my blog when I mentioned that I will be naming some of the "best in Cleveland" things, the smoke house wings are one of those. In fact I am pretty damn sure that if these wings were in a competition for best wings in the country they would probably win. First, they are absolutely giant. They don't separate the wing so you get the whole thing, I think it has something to do with flavor. Speaking of flavor, they slow smoke them for an unbelievable flavor. The meat pretty much just falls off the bone and is just melt-in-your-mouth awesome. Then you get the sauces. There are plenty to choose from but for me I only have eyes for the hot buffalo sauce. It's just the right amount of flavor and heat. If there is a downside they are unbelievably messy, but quite frankly I could care less. Perfect in every meaning of the word and I will eat my own shoe before I take away that distinction.

So is there a downside to this experience? Yeah. Obviously this place can get VERY busy. When we went last Friday the wait was over an hour for a table for two. Now granted that was during peak times on a Friday and fortunately we found a nice couple who gave us their bar seat so we only waited about 10 minutes. The music is a little bland but that is hardly a major complaint. And it's far (unless you live in North Olmsted then you're right there). But is it worth it? ABSOLUTELY!

So westsiders and eastsiders unite! We have so much to offer each other as long as we are willing to take the time to travel. After all we are all Clevelanders no matter which side of 81.693679 we are on.

No comments:

Post a Comment