I recently had a discussion with a friend of mine regarding the "Hipster" craze that is "sweeping the nation." (Note: that irony is a big tool of the hipster culture so there will be sarcasm abound in this post... "enjoy".) The conversation continued until it reached the point that we had decided that we were both hipsters in one way or another. He likes to listen to albums on vinyl records while wearing a vintage rock shirt. Occasionally we will have a "blue collar beer" night and bring the crappiest beers we can find and do blind taste tests. Why? Because it's fun with irony, thats why.
I too find myself in the hipster category. Some people say that my beard is ironic. While it may have started that way it turns out it just looks good so those people can shut it. However as I am writing this I am wearing a western shirt with a Cavs "trucker hat", ripped jeans, and a shirt that references the "California penal league" from the movie major league. On that basis alone I could be considered a hipster. However, I don't think of this as a bad word anymore. Hipsters are beginning to bring a lot to our culture through out this country and more specifically in Cleveland. To prove my point I present Exhibit A: Ohio City and Exhibit B: Tremont. 10 years ago you would not want to live in Ohio City and you could barely see Tremont as a cool place to live. Fast forward to today and they are by far the two "hottest" neighborhoods in town. You can feel the history as you walk around and you can also feel the sense that it is still a work in progress. But it's ok because people are committed to the idea of what this town can become and that is pretty "hip".
Now there are a few bad things about the "hipster invasion". My favorite bar ABC has become overrun with these ironic guys and gals and it makes it difficult to move around it. Don't get me wrong I am happy that my favorite bar is doing well and I don't think it has hurt their service at all but I feel that it's not as easy to get a seat at the bar as it once was and there is a bit of a line for the bowling machine on the weekends. At least it's not getting infested by the d-bag's from W. 6th.
Now with the drawbacks there are also some great "side effects" and one of those things are AMAZING food choices throughout this town. Places that preach eating locally and farm a lot of their own stuff. One of those places is called Lucky's Cafe and I must say it is one of the finest places for breakfast or lunch in town!
I went there on a beautiful fall day a few weeks ago with my girlfriend and I am pretty sure we made more "mmmmmmmmm" sounds than any other meal we have had together. Allie had gingerbread waffles with very fresh whipped cream and a side of warm cinnamon apples on the side. These were by no exaggeration the finest waffles I have ever put in my mouth and I'll be damned if I ever take back that statement. I would have eaten all of hers if not for the fact that I ordered the baked mac and cheese.
Now there are a few foods that I considerer myself a connoisseur of. The first are wings, I know wings better than most people and I know what makes a wing good and what makes a wing great. The second is creme brûlée. When I have room for desert and that is available it is what I am having 9 times out of 10. (The best by the way was at the river city cafe in NYC Thanksgiving day 1996.) The last thing is mac and cheese. Until recently there was never even a question as to where to find the best mac and cheese and that was Lola on E. 4th. The creamiest dish that was just rich enough to savor every bite but not to rich that you wouldn't be trying to lick the bowl when no one was looking. Add the chicken that is nicely roasted and seasoned perfectly to go in the sauce and you have yourself one of the finer dishes of mac and cheese in town.
I say this with my reputation as a connoisseur on the line but the mac and cheese at Lucky's cafe is better. Four cheeses go in to this not to mention cream and brioche bread crumbs (add the bacon if it's available). It WILL fill you up. There is no doubt about it. Unlike the lola mac and cheese if you are licking the plate after this meal you are a better person than me. Don't get me wrong no matter how full you think you are you will still finish this meal. It is that good. I swear two thirds through the meal I was full but my brain would not tell me to stop eating. I knew I was full but I didn't care. Not many dishes can make that claim in my book but that is one of them.
Oh and in case you were wondering we also had the bacon. It's local, pecan crusted with brown sugar on one side baked in an oven for 10 minutes and not at all greasy. It is wonderful. I honestly could go into another three paragraphs about how good this is and how much I would be willing to sell my soul and the souls of other respected individuals just to have a piece appear right in front of me. However, there are somethings that must be experienced and don't translate into words. This is one of those things.
So to all you hipsters out there in our fair city I thank you for making Cleveland your home and bringing your fine food culture with you. I look forward to trying more of your creations while wearing an ironic T-shirt about "dead mans curve".