This summer, my husband and I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary in 3 of our favorite Coastal Cleveland towns - Vermilion, Sandusky and Catawba Island/Port Clinton.
We had a 4 day weekend to take in the beauty of the lake, get on our Lyman with friends and celebrate at 3 of our favorite restaurants - located in towns along Lake Erie.
I am a creature of habit. I have my favorite dishes and when I go out, it is pretty common that I order the same thing. Last fall we spent a week in Italy and every single night I ordered pasta and clams. Different restaurants, different flavors, different presentation...and I loved every single one!
For our anniversary, I did the exact same thing, but for this weekend, I chose to order the pan seared sea scallops and not one of these 3 restaurants disappointed!
THE WINE VAULT
5581 Liberty Avenue
I fell in love with the Wine Vault the moment I stepped foot in it a few years ago. It is a narrow, beautifully decorated bar, flanked by a handful of tables for dining. Intimate, cozy and so very good!
One of my favorite times to visit is in the summer because the menu gets a few new seasonal options and the patio is open! This year, the owners added a tent over the patio to allow for additional tables and social distancing options in the event there is inclement weather.
No one loves a fresh, summer Caprese Salad more than myself and I will tell you that I LOVE...and I mean LOVE the Wine Vault's version. From the beautiful presentation, to the giant basil leaves, perfectly ripened tomatoes and the abundant topping of salt and freshly ground pepper. It is PERFECTION.
Tonight, we both started with this star dish.
WINE VAULT'S SCALLOP DISH
potato gnocchi, wilted arugula, crispy oyster mushrooms, sage brown butter
I just love this dish because it is so different than any other scallop dish I have ever had. It is a beautiful blend of textures and flavors with the potato gnocchi offering a heavy richness to this light dish. It is perfect for an autumn afternoon or a summer evening on the patio. The combination of the crispy oyster mushrooms and sage brown butter takes this dish to a whole different level. A must try.
***This dish comes with 2 scallops. Don't be afraid to order another scallop or 2 if you are super hungry!
Brian went light on his dinner and ordered the mussels.
One of the things I love most about this restaurant is the neighborhood feel. Especially in the summer when you are out on the patio. A lot of the locals make their way to the patio or you see people passing by on their way to another establishment. On this night, we saw an old classmate of mine walking by, so we called him over for drinks and conversation!
And one of my bestest friends Micah, owner of Erie and Anchor was dining with girlfriends at the table across from us!
The other Anniversary Party crasher that was our youngest daughter Emilie - she LOVES good food and she LOVES the Wine Vault! (and has very similar tastes as her mother!)
And last but not least, the dynamic duo - owners Josh and Maggie Frey.
It's been so hard for me to watch my most favorite restaurants try to navigate the Coronavirus pandemic and I've been cheering on this little treasure since they had to close during the shutdown.
I was so incredibly happy to be on their patio this summer. Tables were spaced nicely and it was these two that were doing all the running and serving. I love that! Small business in action...
If you haven't eaten here before, I highly recommend it!
And please think of them for gift cards at Christmas. Being a small establishment, the winter months and limited indoor seating will be challenging for them during this pandemic.
215 East Water Street
The cool thing about Zinc is they have 3 separate dining areas. The first is a casual laid back bar with high top tables, the second is a tiny pub and the third is a more formal dining room. We have sat in all three areas during our visits, but on this night we sat in the Pub area.
*Fun Fact: we usually celebrate New Years Eve here and if we're lucky, we catch the fireworks over the lake!
Here I am, wine in hand, but not a Sauv Blanc (which is my favorite). This was an imported white wine that was crisp, refreshing and had similar notes to an SB. Our waitress recommended it. Delicious.
We always start our dinners with a salad and will sometimes grab an appetizer if we're in the mood. So, raw oysters it was tonight!
I am in love with Zinc's Green Salad that comes wrapped in an English cucumber and order it every time I'm there. I love the presentation and mixture of flavors. The blue cheese crumbles add a little tartness to the sweet dressing. Brian went for the Caesar Salad
ZINC'S SCALLOP DISH
BLACKENED JUMBO DAY BOAT SCALLOPS
sweet corn risotto, tomato-corn relish, hericots verts
I love this medley of colors, flavors and textures, but particularly love the pops of fresh corn that burst in your mouth with each bite! The addition of tomatoes and beans is a nice balance to the richness of the risotto.
We ate inside the restaurant at Zinc. The owner and staff were all wearing masks and they kept guests socially distanced. I was so pleased to see the restaurant bustling during this difficult time for restaurants.
If you haven't been here before, I highly recommend it.
We ended our night with a sunset cruise on our 1965 vintage Lyman. This picture was taken in our boathouse just before taking off to pick up our friends in Marblehead. A perfect start to our weekend celebration.
ORCHARD BAR & TABLE
3266 NE Catawba Road
Port Clinton, Ohio 43452
Oh Orchard, let me count the ways in which I love this place.
Brian and I have been to Orchard Bar & Table every year since they opened about 6 years ago. We originally found it when we were staying at a friend's cottage for the week and we wanted to find a nice place to celebrate our anniversary. We have actually celebrated a few anniversaries here, so to be here for another seemed appropriate!
There was something different about this year though. This time we walked out the back door and experienced the patio and orchard. The first words out of Brian's mouth - "How have we never been out here?!?" The truth is, it is usually 95 degrees out or snowing when we are there, so we never even considered checking out the back yard.
The patio was beautiful, the weather was perfect and there was live music in the air.
I usually order a Sauv Blanc with dinner, but this beautiful summer night called for something different. I ordered the Cucumber & Cilantro Margarita.
Tequila, fresh cucumber & cilantro, agave nectar, fresh squeezed lime juice, chili powder rim
This drink is refreshing and DELICIOUS! Especially when you get a little cilantro piece in your sip...
We started off with two salads.
The first was the Burrata Caprese. I. LOVE. BURRATA
I first discovered this creamy, perfect cheese at Salt in Lakewood a few years ago and every time I see it on a menu I order it.
We also had Orchard's signature salad - Grilled Peach Salad
Grilled local peaches, fresh basil, chili honey, sunflower seeds, prosciutto, feta
Both of these salads were light, fresh and perfect for a summer night on the patio!
corn-bacon risotto, crispy brussels
I absolutely love the mixture of flavors and textures in this dish. The lightness of the scallops is paired perfectly with this rich and creamy risotto. My favorite part? The chunks of bacon in the risotto. Every bite in this scallop dish has this soft, creamy texture and then you get this flavorful bite of bacon...it's so good.
And then to pair it with crispy brussels? Perfection. The tangy, acidic addition of these sprouts gives a full range of flavors.
Orchard Bar and Table was a wonderful place to visit during this pandemic. They are fortunate to have a spacious and abundant outdoor dining area. The landscape was full of guests dining at beautifully spaced tables throughout the yard.
This favorite spot of ours was thriving and I was so happy!
If you haven't been here before, I highly recommend it.
It's been 21 years with this guy and 2 of our 4 daughters are finishing up high school in the next two years. We're ready for the next chapter and are considering a move to somewhere along the Lake Erie coast - west of Avon Lake. Every time we make our travels down the shore we drive through neighborhoods, check out restaurants and shops and try to picture ourselves in a new home.
There is so much to love about each town and we have so much fun every summer exploring all our favorite places.
Thank you for traveling with us on our anniversary weekend! If you get the chance, all three of these restaurants are really worth the visit. If you have any questions about them, you can email me at email@example.com
Until next time...
OUR MOST POPULAR SUMMER TEE - SHOP COASTAL CLEVELAND