I think it's fair to say that this blog has basically been reduced to the hardest of hardcore readers. We're talking one...maybe two hits a day, and that's only because I check my own page's blog roll for updates every once in a while.
Am I exaggerating a little? Sure. (Okay, maybe a lot.) The truth is I have an affinity for the underdog. As such I have a much lower success rate than those who continually add notches to their dining belts as they scurry to the latest newly opened restaurant.
The hidden, top secret spot is probably the most prized food destination in cities like New York and San Francisco. As soon as word has made its way through the social media channels, and traditional media has administered last rites, locals pronounce it dead and move on to the next secret place that no one knows about. (You have to admit, the idea of ordering barbecue out the back of a barber shop in Oakland has a certain illegal excitement to it. It's almost like being a total maverick and drinking raw milk in front of the cops.)
Here in Cleveland things seem to work a little differently. More often than not, it's a fascination with the new (as in just opened 2 hours ago) than with unknown (ie, I've never heard of anyone associated with this establishment, let alone its very existence). If a well known chef is involved with the production, then word seems to make its way around in short order. But for whatever reason, if it isn't in one of the city's dining hot spots, these places struggle to get people in their doors. People tend to take a "you try it first and let me know how it is" kind of approach.
Between now and Sunday I'm going to outline some places I think warrant recognition as being the real deal. One has been gaining steam recently, and for the most part people will have heard of. Some of the other spots I'm going to talk about will most likely be relative unknowns to those live outside their respective communities or places people have meant to go, but never made it.
Admittedly, I don't read many of the Cleveland blogs anymore because much of it is the same stuff over and over. I'm quite certain they don't read mine because they're sick of reading about pizza. In any case, I think that Tom over at Exploring Food My Way and Doug Trattner at Scene Magazine do the best job of digging up hidden gems in Cleveland. I think its their desire to champion what the smaller places are up to that really adds to the city's culinary tapestry.
In the end I think the Cleveland food scene as a whole would be best served people if people did more to uncover these unsung heroes. After all, if Guy "Fee-eddy" has been there, does it really need to be written about anymore?