#CLEfood: a Sunday Funday at Punch Bowl Social

When I heard Punch Bowl Social was on its way to the revived East Bank of the Flats, it sounded like a huge kids-of-all-ages playground was about to grace Cleveland. Between the promises of good food, bowling, darts, billiards, marbles, ping-pong, vintage arcade games and more all under one roof, it almost sounded too good to be true. I didn’t get to experience all that the entertainment venue has to offer at a holiday networking event, so when Punch Bowl Social offered me the opportunity to come do just that, I grabbed my game-loving husband and headed downtown for a Sunday Funday.

punch bowl social cleveland sign

After a quick tour of the facility, we sat at our table where we were introduced to our server, Taylor. Knowledgeable and kind-hearted, she helped us make some important decisions during our three-hour-plus stay, including:

punch bowl social bloody mary bar

The importance of starting any Sunday brunch with a Bloody Mary Bar like Punch Bowl’s. Seriously, I couldn’t imagine any toppings they were missing, made even better with local Pope’s Kitchen bloody mary mix. Hans’ drink looked more like a heavy appetizer course!

punch bowl social brunch

How to narrow down what to eat from a solid menu. To go with Hans’ meal drink, we ordered:

  • a Blueberry Lemonade, made with house made blueberry syrup and fresh lemon juice — super tart and bright, just the way I like it!
  • Spicy Mango Jalapeño Quesadilla with mango, jalapeño, cilantro, queso oaxaca, cotija, leeks and pork carnitas — easily enough for a meal in itself
  • Breakfast Tacos for my entree — with scrambled eggs, chorizo, crema, radish, onion, salsa verde, roasted jalapeño and cilantro all on corn tortillas; served with frijoles charros and breakfast potatoes — I reached Brunch Club gold status when I started dipping the tacos in the beans…
  • and Chicken & Waffles for Hans: panko breaded chicken breast on a malted waffle smothered in a chipotle pecan maple syrup, strawberries and candied walnuts — completely taken down by my bottomless pit of a hubby. Nice work, Hans…

I’d fall in love with one bite of food, to be lured back to another dish, or another side, or a taste of that strawberry jam with the breakfast biscuits…

punch bowl social karaoke

What beverages best wet your whistle for optimal karaoke performances. Turns out their Bourbon Smash — with buffalo trace bourbon, muddled blueberry and lemon, & house made blueberry syrup –paired perfectly with Whitney Houston, Phil Collins, ABBA, Hall & Oates, REO Speedwagon and Toto. The hour we spent in the private karaoke rooms FLEW by — we could have spent the afternoon there, I’m sure!

punch bowl social games

How we need our very own life-size Scrabble board in our house. Our original plans including bowling (hello, we’re from Parma, of course that was the plan), but when we walked by the Scrabble board mounted on the wall of the second floor, I knew what Hans had his heart set on — beating me in yet another round of this board game classic. Too bad for him we ran out of time and the game ended in a tie — a perfect ending to our time there!

LONG STORY SHORT: If it wasn’t for a last minute (as we were karaoke singing) invitation to the Cavs game that same afternoon, I’m sure we would have spent our entire Sunday at Punch Bowl Social.  There is something for everyone, and better yet it’s all under one roof. Pay to park your car once, have a great meal, enjoy an array of entertainment options — why would anyone ever want to leave?!

Thanks again to the Punch Bowl Social – Cleveland’s entire team for making our Sunday Funday a possibility and an incredible experience! Keep an eye on their social media feeds at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to be in the know about their upcoming events and specials.

Disclosure: Hans and I were invited by Punch Bowl Social as guests to enjoy their brunch and activities at their Cleveland location. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

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#CLEfood: Brunch at Dante Next Door

WARNING: Shameless plug ahead!  You might have heard about these YOGA/BRUNCH sessions I’ve recently started up after taking a brief hiatus from teaching yoga. (More on that on Thursday, folks.) The first session was this past Saturday and I will provide a bit of a spoiler: it felt so right to be teaching again.

dante next door sign

After a sold out 60 minute class filled with probably too many food references, we headed downstairs to Dante Next Door to enjoy the second (and some would argue more important part) of the YOGA/BRUNCH combo. I was lucky to have long time friends and students attend the class, and I caught up with a few of them — my gals Abby and Lisa, plus my husband Hans — during brunch. After a round of complimentary mimosas made available to all yoga class participants care of the Dante Next Door team was served, we placed our order for brunch…

Hans started with the Greek Yogurt with honey and berries, then for his entree enjoyed the Blueberry Pancakes with candied lemon zest and toasted almonds:

dante granola and pancakes

Always a member of the clean plate club, Hans enjoyed brunch to the fullest. A fan of Greek Yogurt myself, I couldn’t help but grab a bite of his “appetizer” —- so rich and flavorful.

Abby made my day and scored major points for ordering the Cinnamon Bread French Toast with apple compote and vanilla cream — it sounded divine!

dante french toast

All four of us might have celebrated when the dish was set down and we discovered that French Toast Crunch cereal was a topping of this decadent breakfast dish. Abby was a fan!

Lisa (of @Lisasands1 Twitter fame) went with a dish I almost ordered myself — the “Occhio di Bue” (Bullseye) with tomato braised eggs, ceci beans, braised greens and focaccia:

dante bullseye

I wish I could remember Lisa’s words exactly, but it was something about how content she was in selecting her meal. This is definitely on my list for next brunch session.

As for me, I decided to treat myself with the Margherita Pizza with tomato sauce, mozzarella, basil, fresh tomatoes and pecorino cheese:

dante next door pizza

Gluten free eaters rejoice: Dante Next Door offers a gluten free pizza crust that is 1) delicious and 2) doesn’t taste like cardboard. It’s been nearly a year since I’ve ordered pizza out, so I happily ate half, saving the other half for leftovers for Sunday… which I had to share.

dante next door pizza box

LONG STORY SHORT: A lovely sunny, Saturday morning with yoga and great food — hard to top that as an enjoyable way to start a weekend day! And the best part — I get to repeat it every other Saturday! The next YOGA/BRUNCH session is schedule for Saturday, March 26th. Class starts at 9:30am and all yoga participants receive a complimentary mimosa for brunch that morning. The first session sold out, so I encourage you to learn more and register in advance at the Eventbrite page.  Again, many thanks to the Dante Next Door team for their partnership and great food!

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#CLEfood: an Old Fashioned evening with Watershed Distillery at The Black Pig

Considering I regularly use the hashtag #alwaysbecelebrating and work in the events industry, you know I’m the type always ready for a social gathering. But even less than a third of the way through December, I craved something more chill, more kicked-back and more relaxed then the holiday soirees I had been to already this month. Thankfully, fellow CLE blogger Charity from i heart cleveland had just the shindig planned — and perfectly scheduled with the perfect beverage and food pairings.

the black pig

My mom and I joined Charity and other local influencers at The Black Pig last night to get to know Watershed Distillery, a beverage company “committed to producing small batches of artisan-quality spirits” here in the Buckeye State. While they are based in Columbus, they’ve been spending time spreading the good news about their products in the Cleveland and Cincinnati markets recently. While Watershead produces items like vodka, gin and bourbon, they just released a new mix — an Old Fashioned, that we had the pleasure of being welcomed with as we arrived at the restaurant.

Watershed Hearts CLE

I’ll admit — the blend of their bourbon, orange, bitters, cane sugar and cherry juice went down easy. Almost too easy! What a sipper we all enjoyed as we nibbled on The Black Pig’s food offerings, caught up with familiar faces and got to know the Watershed team better.

I take for granted that I was an early Watershed Distillery adopter, so getting to reconnect with co-founder Dave Rigo was a special treat of the evening for me. The company kindly supported some of my previous food and wine events right after their founding in 2010, so I’ve known about their high quality spirits for awhile now. I’m sure their gin was the first I ever had (after a long day of event coordinating on May day a few years back!) and it’s one I always keep in mind when purchasing for Hans’ at-home cocktail cravings.

Watershed

After a night full of beverages, tasty cuisine, party games (such a nice touch, Charity!!) and presents to take home, we left with more than a bottle of Watershed’s Old Fashioned and a tray to make adorable, heart-shaped ice cubed. That sense of contentment after a few warming beverages and the opportunity to catch up with old friends is always at the top of my to-do list — and one of my favorite things to celebrate.

Want to get to know Watershed better? Visit them at watersheddistillery.com, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter and Instagram… and order their offerings next time you’re out at your favorite restaurant or bar!

Need some holiday cocktail inspiration? Watershed’s website has a whole cocktail recipe section to mix up your routine.

Disclosure: I was invited to this Watershed Distillery influencers event at The Black Pig. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

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