If you’re like me you enjoy good food, and if you’re like me, you also enjoy going out to lunch for that good food every now and then – and not going out just anywhere, but going out to exceptional establishments that create scrumptious food and present that food with flair.
If you’re like me you enjoy ambiance, a setting that’s beautiful in some way, a setting that lifts you up. So when I’m choosing a restaurant I always look for a place that offers its diners some form of beauty. The restaurant might be situated in a lovely natural setting or it might be in the middle of an exciting city aglow with bright lights and activity. I might choose a restaurant with European flair or historic significance, but whatever sort of place it is I expect it to ooze beauty in some way. Beauty is important to me and yes, I’m particular, but I think we all should be particular. Going out for food is not just about the food.
And if you’re like me, though you’re perfectly capable of dining out all on your own or taking a “dead friend” along via a book, you may also know the pleasure of dining out with a good friend or two or three.
So, because I love good food, lovely friends and places of beauty, I have designed certain Country Inn Days to combine these three elements creating a “triple treat day”. I call these days of delight Country Inn Lunch Out Days. Variety is the spice of life you know, so each of my Country Inn Days has its own special focus and today that focus is “lunch out”. Yum!
I hop into my car and drive 45 minutes northwest, venturing into the city of Cleveland. There, just west of downtown, in a neighborhood called Ohio City, exists one of my very favorite restaurants, The Crop Bistro.
This restaurant is in a building which was constructed in 1924 and opened in 1925 as the United Bank Building. It was designed by Cleveland’s foremost architectural firm, Walker and Weeks, men who attended The Massachusetts Institute of Technology studying a form of academic neoclassical architecture called Beaux-Arts. Their work progressed from neoclassical styles, through Italian Renaissance, and ultimately ended in Art Deco/Moderne.
This was the bank of industrialists John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie. It is no wonder the building has a feeling of prosperity and splendor.
Every detail in this building is beautiful, a work of art, from its opulent coffered ceiling
to its massive marble pillars
to its generous windows and wall fresco.
It’s no wonder Chef Steve Schimoler admired this building and decided to restore it, converting it into his own very special restaurant. He designed the Crop Bistro in a minimalist fashion in order to maintain its integrity and beauty. The restaurant’s dramatic setting takes diners back to an era of pure grandeur and there’s nothing like a little (or a lot) of grandeur on my Country Inn Days.
I arrive at the Crop and take my place. It’s a taste treat just to imagine all the entrees that are offered.
A few minutes later Sarah comes on the scene to serve me. She is just the nicest gal with a warm, sincere smile and a lovely manner. A nice restaurant can be spoiled if the employees aren’t nice too. Sarah earns a gold star from me.
A few minutes later my luncheon companion arrives and here we are. Meet my friend Connie. We’ve known each other since high school days and aren’t old friends just the best? We order a bottle of wine today because this “Country Inn Lunch Out Day” is a day to celebrate life. Of course every day is a day to celebrate life, but perhaps not always with a bottle of wine.
We talk, Sarah serves us our delicious lunch and then she suggests we take a little tour of what’s down below the dining room. Connie and I are surprised there’s anything down below which we are encouraged to see, but Sarah being an excellent employee, promotes all that the Crop Bistro offers its clientele.
Sarah point us to Chris Romero who is the restaurant manager and he takes us down below to what was the basement of the United Bank Building, but is now a kitchen and area for private parties. Steve is very nice too, which again speaks so well for The Crop Bistro.
And here we are in the kitchen. Such fun! It’s like going behind stage at a Broadway play.
We meet Chris. Guess what he’s making in his big jumbo pot? He’s making soup, and he tells us the soup here is extra delicious because there’s a water purifying system in the building (Kinetico) which chef Schimoler installed so that all his food would be the very purest and the best! Chris is a very nice guy too. I think The Crop Bistro must insist all their employees are nice and friendly people and I like this policy very much.
We see the vaults where all the money was kept in the old days,
yes, actually vaults (plural)
because Rockefeller and Carnegie obviously had a great deal of money to store in this bank.
We were also taken to the private closet-like rooms where bank customers of days gone by would study the contents of their safety deposit boxes.
And we saw the board room of this historic bank. It was fun and easy to imagine that we were standing in this room way back in the 1920’s.
I expected Country Inn Lunch Out Day to be a delicious treat with a nice friend in a lovely place, but I didn’t expect it to also be An ADVENTURE DAY, but AN ADVENTURE DAY it truly was. Now I’m thinking I need to go to a library and pick up a book about the Industrial revolution so I can read all about Rockefeller and Carnegie because these two men are now on my mind.
But that’s a Country Inn Days for you. Country Inn Days take me out of my usual daily routines. They help me discover new places and new things. They inspire new thoughts. They refresh my mind, body and spirit. Every Country Inn Day is a little different. And another one is coming up soon.
What will it be? An “In” Day, an “Outing Day”, a “Dinner Party Day”? You’ll just have to wait and see. But whatever kind of day it will be I know it will be a day of delight. I hope you are having your own delightful days because life is short and we must all seize the magic!
So till next time then… Take Joy, and remember,
Sharing doubles the joy!