Friday, August 30, 2013

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Following breakfast at Kleifeld’s in Willoughby Ohio, our day with the boys…David II, David III and Emmett Lee…continued on to the first of 2 museums that were on the schedule.

This is Cleveland’s Museum of Natural History… I learned that Cleveland's first collection of natural history was established in the 1830s.  It was in a small, wooden building, located in Cleveland’s public square, and it was named "the Ark." The Cleveland Museum of Natural History was founded by Cyrus S. Eaton in 1920.  Its objectives were and are to perform research, educate the public and to develop collections in the fields of anthropology, archaeology, astronomy, botany, geology, paleontology, wildlife biology, and zoology. 
Today, The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is considered by many to be one of the finest natural history museums in North America.  The facility and staff have placed and ongoing emphasis on scientific research, conservation and education.  To learn more about Cyrus Eaton…an interesting character and multimillionaire…just go to

This is a diorama of the Australian outback… I’m sure that one of the reasons that David II likes this museum is because he loves…always has loved dioramas.  We certainly have that trait in common.

As in many natural history museums, there are lots of mounted heads and full sized animals ‘preserved’ through the art of taxidermy.  Although I realize that many people would never see what a significant number of these animals look like if they weren’t represented in a museum, I still find these presentations a little disquieting. (Bass Pro and Cabela’s presentations impact me even more than a museum does…)  

This is a Leopard…although its spots look more like what I’d expect on a Jaguar.  Leopards are much leaner than the heavier framed Jaguars…
Note: The Cleveland Museum of Natural History’s collections total more than four million items and include specimens of paleontology, zoology, archeology, mineralogy, ornithology, and a variety of other scientific subjects.

Another wildlife diorama…this time it shows life on the African veldt. 

This diorama shows what the Great Plains of the United States might have looked like back in the days before we killed off almost all of the herds of Buffalo. 

The dioramas at the museum aren’t limited to depictions of wildlife.  There are a number of displays that show what life in pre-history America was like.  This one is all about Indians living in the southwestern USA.

Life wasn’t easy for those early American’s!

Many of the dioramas, that depict life in America before the white man, are juxtaposed among items from everyday life…skillfully crafted by Native Americans.  We have a few baskets and pots at home.  We really appreciated the art and skill involved in creating these items…  

These Indian artifacts are from the Northwestern United States, plus Alaska and British Columbia. 
Note: Are you more interested in the stars than in earthly pursuits?  In 2002, a new planetarium was built near the entrance to the museum.  It contains displays on the planets in the Solar System as well as historical instruments of exploration such as compasses and astrolabes.

Balto is perhaps the most famous Siberian Husky that ever lived… Balto led his team of sled dogs on the final leg of the 1925 serum run to Nome Alaska.  Diphtheria antitoxin was transported from Anchorage, Alaska, to Nenana, Alaska, by train and then to Nome by dog sled to combat an outbreak of the disease.  The run is commemorated by the annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
Note: A statue of Balto can also be found in New York City’s Central Park.  For more about Balto, go to

This is a Triceratops… It has a large bony frill and three horns on its very large four-legged body and it sort of mentally suggest similarities with today’s rhinoceros, Triceratops is one of the most recognizable of all dinosaurs.  A full grown Triceratops might have weighed as much as 13 tons!

This is a Haplocanthosaurus, a ‘small’ member of the sauropod family.  This group of dinosaurs had very long necks, long tails and small heads relative to the rest of their body.  They also had thick, pillar-like legs. They are notable for the enormous sizes attained by some species. (Some weighed up to 110 tons!) This group includes the largest animals to have ever lived on land.
I’ve just touched the surface as regards the many exhibits at this museum.  There is an extensive collection of monkey, ape and 3,100 human skeletons.  One section of the museum houses an extensive mineralogy collection including a moon rock and a very impressive gem collection.  There are also multiple mastodon and mammoth specimens plus a collection of 30,000 plant fossils.  If this isn’t enough, adjoining the museum there is The Ralph Perkins II Wildlife Center and Woods Garden which displays living native animals and plants. Visitors can see Bald Eagles, owls, deer, foxes, bobcats, hawks and other creatures in enclosures designed to resemble their natural habitats…all set beneath a canopy of tulip, oak, beech and maple trees.
This is the most important exhibit of all... It's 'da boys!  David II, David III and Emmett Lee... We are lucky to have them all! 

Our family really enjoyed our visit to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History!  Be sure and check it out if your travels take you to northern Ohio.  The museum is open 7 days a week.  Admission is $12 for adults and $10 for youth over 3 as well as for seniors.  The museum is located at 1 Wade Oval Drive, University Circle, Cleveland Ohio.  Phone: 216-231-4600.  Website:
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them… (Laurie played the role of photo editor for this addition to her normal copy editing)
Thanks for joining us on this educational adventure!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Breakfast with the ‘Boys’ – Willoughby Ohio

Back in late July, we drove up to the Cleveland area to visit with David II, Amy and our grandsons.  David and Amy had our visit planned out and we were busy sightseeing and dining out much of the time that we were in town.

Unfortunately Amy had to work during the first day of our visit…so David II took David III, Emmett Lee, plus Laurie and I out for breakfast…just to start our day out right.  This is Kleifeld’s, a local diner style restaurant located in downtown Willoughby Ohio.  The restaurant occupies space in the old Kleiling Building that was built ca. 1888.  I couldn’t find out how long Kleifeld’s Restaurant has been in business but I did determine that an earlier iteration of this restaurant in this same location was destroyed by fire back in 1952.

Kleifeld’s is not exactly a big place… We love the old counter and stools.  This photo is very much a visual definition of an old working town diner! 

Here’s another view of the counter area… Now here’s a little bit about Willoughby.
This suburb of Cleveland was first settled in 1798.  In 1835, the village was permanently named "Willoughby" in honor of Dr. Westel Willoughby, Jr., a public health official that the founders of the ‘Medical College’, which was based in the city, hoped to attract to the area.  This medical college would later merge with Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, OH and would eventually become Western Reserve University, the predecessor to Cleveland's Case Western Reserve University.
Factoid: Willoughby OH is the only town in the USA that, at one time or another, has belonged to 6 different counties.

This is a photo of my namesake, David II with our grandson, David III.

And here we are…Laurie (aka Nana), Emmett Lee, and David (aka Papa).
Factoid: Comedian Tim Conway is from Willoughby...

Time for breakfast!  Laurie’s two eggs easy-over with Bacon, fried potatoes, toast and coffee was one of the daily specials…at only $4.25!  It was a very nice breakfast.

Emmett Lee went with the Blueberry Pancakes. ($3.99) They sure didn’t scrimp on the blueberries!

At 12 going on 13, David III’s palate has continued to expand.  He had an order of French Toast with a side of Kielbasa. ($6.54)  

Sorry about the ketchup!  I slathered my huge portion of fried potatoes with Tabasco and ketchup before Laurie could take the photo.  I had the Country Fried Steak smothered in sausage gravy with two eggs over easy, potatoes and toast. ($6.29) This was a very satisfying way to start out our busy day!

David II went with one of his favorite breakfasts… Hash and Eggs, with the eggs scrambled, accompanied by a nice order of those great country fried potatoes and toast. ($6.29)
Kleifeld’s Restaurant is located at 4048 Erie Street, (Erie and 3rd Street), in Willoughby Ohio…not too far east of Cleveland.  Trip Advisor ranks it 7th out of 95 restaurants in the area…a solid 5 out of 5!  Yelp gives it 4.5 out of 5… This is a great little breakfast place!  Did I mention the great prices?!  Phone: 440-942-7646.  I couldn’t find a website or Facebook page for Kleifeld’s…
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for stopping by for breakfast with us!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Fine Dining in Maryville Tennessee!

Over the past couple of years we’d heard several positive comments regarding an upscale restaurant located in Maryville Tennessee.  On more than one occasion we’d been told that it was the best restaurant in the Knoxville metropolitan area.  When friends Lynn and George suggested that we get together and then we could judge for ourselves, we jumped at the opportunity… 

Foothills Milling Company is located just a couple of blocks from the center of Maryville Tennessee in a sort of non-descript red brick building.  This is a definite proof that you should never judge a restaurant by the building it’s in… The entry on the other hand, is quite inviting.

The family that owns this restaurant, states that their goal is to “provide fine dining in an elegant yet casual setting”.  

I must admit that although the dining area is simple, it is very tasteful.  The white tablecloths, the spacing between tables and the lighting all contribute to a casual and attractive dining room…

Lynn and George know fine dining!  A few months ago, at their suggestion we checked out another upscale restaurant in the south Knoxville area.  To learn what we thought about that experience, you can go to my blog site at

Our waiter…who was quite competent and pleasant…started us out with these tasting spoons containing a bit of gazpacho just to wake up our taste buds.  This was a nice touch indeed…

Then he delivered the bread basket.  We all thought that this was perhaps the best bread that any of us had eaten in a restaurant since we’ve been in East Tennessee.  There were 2 types of bread in the basket… One was potato bread and the other was herbal bread.  Both of us couples asked if we could purchase a loaf of the herbal bread…and as it turned out, the chef/baker was able to sell both of us a big slab of the bread for only $5.00!

For an appetizer, Lynn and George shared the Georgia Quail and Biscuit. ($10.00) This consisted of a cheddar cheese biscuit, fried quail, sourwood honey, peach chutney and a smear of sriracha.  Not only was it well presented, it was very nice indeed!
Among other appetizers I noted the following: Salmon Flatbread, ($10.00), with dill cured salmon, shaved red onion, capers and dill mascarpone on fresh baked flatbread and; a Charcuterie Sampler, ($10.00), with bockwurst, currywurst, brown sugar bologna, Amish aged cheddar pimento cheese and toast accompanied by pickles and whole grain mustard.    

Lynn and George had the Baby Spinach Salad with warm bacon Dijon dressing, Benton’s bacon, goat cheese, grape tomatoes, onion and crispy black eyed peas. ($7.00) Nice salad!!

Laurie and I went with the Foothills Caesar Salad. ($6.00) It consisted of romaine lettuce, Caesar dressing and asiago cheese with cornbread croutons.  There was just enough anchovy taste to make this salad pop…very satisfying…

Nothing like a little raspberry sorbet to clean the palate!

I ordered the Cedar Planked Salmon…a salmon filet marinated and roasted on a cedar plank with mashed potatoes and asparagus. ($27.00) It was very very good!

George ordered the Duck and Pork entrée. ($25.00) It consisted of a confit duck leg, knackwurst, smoked pork shoulder and spaetzle with horseradish cream sauce, Benton’s bacon, Brussels’ sprouts and honey mustard vinaigrette.  I got a taste of the duck and it was very good.  As for the knackwurst…well, George reported that it was a decent knackwurst…not special…

Both Lynn and Laurie ordered the Flatiron Steak. ($28.00) This was a prime flatiron steak cooked to medium rare, with spicy grilled shrimp, a masa harina crepe, roasted problano, chorizo, Amish white cheddar cheese and cilantro.  Both of the ladies really enjoyed their dinner!
Other entrée options included: Steak and Potatoes, a center cut Angus filet cooked sous vide to medium, with peppercorn brandy sauce, a loaded potato cake and wild mushroom gratin ($35.00); Horseradish Crusted Amberjack, an amberjack filet with herbed panko crust, crispy herb roasted potatoes and asparagus with green onion remoulade ($26.00), and; Cornmeal Tempura Lobster Tails, Maine lobster tails in crispy cornmeal tempura with jasmine rice, sesame roasted mushrooms, sourwood honey sriracha aioli and sweet chile sauce. ($35.00)

Lynn and George shared this brownie with home-made ice cream, raspberries, nuts plus whipped cream with lots of chocolate sauce. ($8.00) It was very good…the plate was so clean when they were done, that it almost didn’t have to be washed!

Laurie and I finished our dinner with this berry cobbler with ice cream and some terrific caramel sauce. ($8.00) It was very good…indeed it was tough to share!

This is the restaurant’s sign on the side of the building facing the parking lot…
Did I mention that Wednesday is half price wine night?!!  Laurie and I enjoyed a bottle of Meridian Pinot Grigio for only $12.50!  Foothills Milling Company is truly a fine dining destination… While we won’t be showing up for dinner on a regular basis, this is a great restaurant for us to visit for our anniversary, birthdays, or when out of town guests grace our doorstep.
Foothills Milling Company is located at 315 South Washington Street in Maryville Tennessee.  Reservations are definitely recommended.  The restaurant is open from 5 PM until closing Tuesday through Saturday.  Phone: 865-977-8434.  The menu changes fairly but it is posted on-line. The restaurant’s website is 
As per Trip Advisor, Foothills Milling Company is ranked #1 out of 107 restaurants in Maryville.  In 2013, the restaurant was awarded a Certificate of Excellence.  When I checked, Trip Advisor had recorded 119 Excellent or Very Good Ratings…and 0 Average, Poor or Terrible reviews!  Check out some of the reviews at
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for stopping by and checking out a quality restaurant with us!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, August 23, 2013

New Italian Restaurant – Loudon Tennessee

We had watched with interest as construction proceeded on a new Italian restaurant on TN Hwy. 72 in Loudon.  Since there aren’t any decent Italian restaurants within 25 or 30 minutes of our home, we hoped that this new dining establishment would provide us with a dining alternative…

Vittorino’s Italian Restaurant is located at one end of a new Food City strip center not far from the intersection of I-75 and TN Hwy. 72. (Exit 72) As you can see, even though the strip center sits well back from the highway, with the yellow background and the red lettering it is hard to miss Vittorino’s!

This is one photo of the interior of Vittorino’s.  It’s a bit of a bar atmosphere and I know that some people favor those high tables and chairs.
Some of the early on-line comments we saw on the internet were positive and others were more upbeat.  There were even some snarky comments about Mexicans operating an Italian restaurant… It turns out that the family’s heritage includes both cultures!

In addition to the high tables and chairs, booths and tables are available for Vittorino’s clientele.  Patio dining is also available.  The restaurant was clean and with windows on 2 sides, it was nice and sunny.

We started with this pizza ‘bread’ with parmesan cheese and a red marinara sauce.  I thought that it was nondescript but Laurie thought that it was pretty good…

Yet another problem with a skewed photo transfer from my files to the blog!  Sorry... I haven't come up with a solution yet.  Any suggestions??
Laurie ordered our pizza favorite…a large pie with sausage and pepperoni.  The idea was to have enough for me to taste it and then still have enough to take home for lunch the following day.  It was very reasonably priced at $14.75…
The ingredients were very nice indeed…lots of flavorful sausage and pepperoni, with plenty of cheese and the pizza had just the right amount of tomato sauce for us.  The crust was very good around the edges but it was too soggy/limp in the middle.  Perhaps it started out too thin or maybe it needed a couple more moments in the oven…  Still, all in all, it was a pretty decent pizza pie!

Since the menu included other Italian items such as Calzones, Pasta, Baked Pasta, Vegetarian options and Seafood dishes, I decided that I’d order something else in order to get a better feel for the restaurant. (Besides…I could always eat the leftover pizza for lunch the next day!)
I ordered the Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo… ($9.95) It came with a lot of chicken, no scrimping that’s for sure.  The Alfredo sauce was a little thinner than expected, not quite as rich as I’ve normally experienced…but it grew on me and I decided that I really liked it prepared like this. 
We will return to try other items on the menu at Vittorino’s.  At least for our initial visit, the food is better and more reasonably priced than we have experienced at Classico Italian Pizza and Pasta in Loudon.  Vittorino’s Italian Restaurant is located at 2761 Hwy. 72 in Loudon Tennessee.  Phone: 865-408-2422.  Apparently Vittorino’s doesn’t have a website, but they can be found on Facebook.  For more information and some great photos of their food, just go to
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for stopping by and exploring a new restaurant with us!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Breakfast in Wears Valley/Sevierville Tennessee

As anyone knows who reads my blog, Laurie and I love a good breakfast…especially if we don’t have to cook it!  We are always on the lookout for a new and improved restaurant that fulfills our ‘need’! 

A couple of friends had tried a new place over near Sevierville Tennessee in Wears Valley off of US Hwy. 321.  The reviews were quite favorable, so despite the fact that it is about an hour away from our house, we decided to give it a try… What the heck…we’re retired and anyway, it was a nice day for a drive!

Elvira’s Café is situated along side Mountain Brothers General Store in Wears Valley.  This provides a shopping opportunity for those who stop at Elvira’s to have a meal.  The General Store is a cut above average.  One other positive about the location is that US Hwy. 321 in Wears Valley is a little off the normal tourist route in the Sevierville/Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area.  While there’s enough traffic to support retailing and restaurants, Elvira’s Café is not located on one of the traffic clogged stop and go highways in this popular tourist destination…    

This is Elvira’s Café… It’s located in a large inviting building and it’s obvious that the owners have spent quite a bit of money to get their business up and running.

The chalk board lists some of the dinner items served at Elvira’s Café.  At the time of our visit, they only served dinner on Fridays and Saturdays…when tourist traffic in the area peaks. 

The interior of the restaurant is spacious, with lots of space between tables.  As you can see, it is modestly decorated but bright and cheerful.  One positive is that there was a bottle of Tabasco on every table!
The restaurant has gained some positive notoriety in the area.  It received an upbeat review from ‘Grub Spouse’, the restaurant reviewer who is regularly published in the Knoxville News Sentinel.  You can check out his comments by clicking on    

We like the open kitchen concept.  The food preparation process can easily be viewed by the Elvira’s customers.  We’ve been told that the owner of this center of ‘down home country cooking’ is a Russian emigrant.  Go figure!  Well, we are after all, the Land of Opportunity!

Now it’s time for breakfast!  This is Laurie’s meal…2 eggs over easy, hash browns and bacon.  An order of toast was on the side.  Everything was well prepared and the bacon was good…but the portions of bacon, (2 strips), and the hash browns were on the small side.

Sorry about this sideways photo... It looks right in my album but when I entered it into the blog it appeared like this and I couldn't figure out how to reorient it.  In any case, I ordered my usual…sausage patties, 2 eggs over easy, toast and hash browns.  No complaints although I would have liked a few more hash browns.  The sausage had a nice flavor…

Because our friend Larry, (aka. had given us a very favorable review of Elvira’s biscuits and sausage gravy, Laurie and I split this side dish.  We have to concur with Larry’s input… This was the best biscuit and gravy we’ve had since moving to East Tennessee!
Trip Advisor’s reviewers have provided very positive feedback regarding Elvira’s Café.  At my last reading, there were 60 Excellent or Very Good Reviews vs. 4 Poor and 0 Terrible Reviews.  I always look for a ‘positive to negative ratio’ of around 10:1, and Elvira’s more than meets that criteria.
We did think that the prices at Elvira’s were a bit high for what we ordered.  Some Trip Advisor contributors thought so too… The food was good and the service was OK too.  Elvira’s Café is located at 4743 Wears Valley Road, (US Hwy. 321), near Sevierville Tennessee.  Phone: 865-366-2263.  They are closed on Sundays.
To check out Trip Advisor’s reviews for Elvira’s Café, just go to Elvira’s Café is also on Facebook at:, as well as Twitter at:  We will return for the biscuits and gravy!!
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave