A busy downtown Warren was a nice sight Friday
Assorted ramblings from the world of entertainment:
l Last Friday felt like a glimpse at the future of downtown Warren.
My wife and I went to The Lime Tree for its post-Valentine’s Day small plates dinner. When your wife works for a florist, there’s no pre- or day-of-Valentine’s Day celebrating.
There wasn’t a parking space to be had around Courthouse Square. The restaurant was packed and the food was incredible.
Anyone who’s had one of Chef Travis Taylor’s burgers or his meatloaf knows the man’s skill with proteins, and we loved the Asian-style smoked confit and pan-seared chicken thighs.
But the menu was most inventive with its vegetarian offerings — a wildly colorful and flavorful beet risotto, a cassoulet in which the earthy taste of smoked portobello mushrooms were the star and, best of all, butternut squash gnocchi cooked with sage, brown butter, Parmesan and walnuts. Those handmade pasta pillows were extraordinary. I told co-owner Kristin McLennan it may have been the best thing I’ve ever had there.
We enjoyed the drinks (cherry vanilla old fashioned for me, strawberry basil mule for her), the music (Black Wolf and the Thief) and the atmosphere.
It was the kind of night out we’ve driven to Cleveland or Pittsburgh for in the past. It cost less to get there, I didn’t pay to park and the final tab probably was less, too.
After dinner, we walked over to Nova Coffee Co., which was hosting the Snow Down Throwdown. Area baristas showed off their skills creating art on the top of a mug in latte foam.
It was standing-room-only as the crowd watched the baristas work (either up close or on a large monitor) and nodded to the beat of the music a DJ was playing.
Along with the coffee, Adam Keck was pouring some of his Modern Methods brews, and its downtown taproom appears to be oh-so-close to opening its doors.
With my wife having to work Saturday morning, we didn’t stop into the Speakeasy Lounge for a nightcap, but I understand they were busy as well that night.
It was encouraging to see such a bustle of activity downtown, not caused by a single event or festival, but by the planning and creativity of newer businesses.
Imagine two years from now when the Robins Theatre renovation is completed and that crowd last Friday is joined by hundreds of others looking for something to do before or after a concert or a movie.
A lot of folks — new and established business owners, politicians, community leaders and volunteers — have been working to revitalize the city’s downtown. Friday was a reminder that their efforts are paying off.
l The Dave Grohl bobblehead the Mahoning Valley Scrappers gave away in 2016 proudly stands on my entertainment center. I made a point of getting tickets last summer when they gave away bobbleheads of shortstop Francisco Lindor, so I’m always excited when the bobblehead lineup is announced.
There are no rock stars bobblers for 2018, but the giveaways will include Cleveland Indians All-Star Jose Ramirez, top prospects Francisco Mejia and Triston McKenzie, and retired Major League Umpire John Hirschbeck, who lives in Poland.
The Scrappers have a ticket package that includes a seat for each bobblehead game (and opening day) and guarantees getting one of the limited edition (1,000 of each) figures.
l The forecast for Saturday is more like spring (50 degrees and rain), but Brite Winter returns to the the West Bank of the Flats in Cleveland this weekend.
Indoor venues and outdoor stages will feature more than 40 acts, from national headliner Atlas Genius to such northeast Ohio acts as Seafair, Obnox, Herzog, Freshproduce, The Jack Fords, DJ ESO, The Whiskey Hollow, Ray Flanagan & the Authorities and The Dreemers. Special art installations also be featured.
VIP Tickets are $45 but general admission is free for the fest, which starts at 3 p.m. Saturday and runs until after midnight. More information is available at www.britewinter.com.
Andy Gray is the entertainment writer for the Tribune Chronicle. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org