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Who wants to cook? Let’s go out to eat. See where News-Herald staff members dined and where they go to unwind in our area. You might just find a new treasure in your own neighborhood.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Hold The Coffee @ The Root Cafe

EDITOR’S NOTE: To read the latest posts on Simon’s coffee shop adventures, visit his blog at

This post was updated 5:34 p.m. Monday, Feb. 10, to replace an unsettling verb with the more conventional verb of "wussed out."

This week's blog post is focused on a Lakewood coffee and vegan destination that probably should keep a sign outside informing patrons to leave all hoity-toity parts of themselves at the door.

Diana and Andrew were good sports on being models.
The Root Cafe, located on Detroit Avenue between Andrews and Gladys avenues, is a hot spot I've been asked to visit and review. But like so many great coffee shops, it's a 30-minute drive across Cleveland from where I live.

Fortunately, I was heading over to Lakewood for a small 1990s-themed party this past Friday, and figured to head to Root beforehand for some caffeine pre-gaming. It's a good thing I did because I didn't get home until 3:30 a.m. (My friends wouldn't stop playing Cards Against Humanity.)

News-Herald colleague Andrew Cass and Lakewood coffee connoisseur Diana Szelagowski joined me Friday for some chit-chat and caffeine.

Friday had some great comics, but the self-proclaimed
fat vegetarian stole the show. "If you're a vegetarian and
not fat, you're not doing it right," I remember him saying.
Location: I am sure even if you've never visited Lakewood, you've heard of Detroit Avenue. The street, along with most of Lakewood, is a destination for young, artsy, sometimes gay, youth to hang out and live. Root sits along a very vibrant portion of Detroit Avenue--with bars, stores and restaurants along both sides of the street. (A Peet's Coffee even sits across from Root, ironically enough.) There's hardly a vacant storefront to be found.

Like most of Detroit Avenue, Root's storefront is up against the curb, and relies mostly on-street parking for commuters. Quite fittingly, the coffee shop is shrouded by two trees outside.

Despite all of the bars nearby, Root was hopping with activity late Friday evening. I'm sure plenty of it had to do with its open-mic comedy night that we didn't expect to see. I was pressured to perform, but ultimately wussed out. Maybe I'll perform at its next comedy night, Feb. 21.

Hmmm... that cookie was delish!
Food and Beverage: Although short on food when Andrew, Diana and I visited Friday, Root offers a unique range of baked goods and vegan dishes. On Friday, however, I only ordered a 16-ounce coffee and cinnamon sugar cookie to keep me company.

Despite that I am a proud meat eater, I have no problem narrowing my food options to help animals. What I do have a problem, however, is narrowing my sweetener options. As I've discussed in previous blog posts, I only drink coffee diluted and sweetened until it is coffee no more--preferably using 1 percent milk and Stevia. Nevertheless, I can always manage with whatever sweetener and unlabeled white fluid a coffee shop has on hand. Well... except when the only option for sweetener "unbleached sugar."  When did sugar started getting bleached, anyway? And more importantly, why does the sweetener at Root look like uncooked brown rice? Is that its natural form?

Unbleached sugar? What's next, unleaded sugar?
I poured some into my coffee Friday, and then 4 minutes later, after being unsatisfied with the sweetness level, I came back and poured some more. It was only until I reached the lower third end of my coffee did I taste a crazy amount of sweetness. Upon nearly finishing it, I found a pile of shards sitting at the bottom of my cup.

Apparently this stuff doesn't dissolve as quickly as the artificial stuff. I'll remember next time to bring my own sweetener.

Space and Atmosphere: Root's wood-tile flooring and abundance of wooden furniture aligns well with it's name. But aside from the framed artwork and earth-toned colors, what really separates Root from other coffee shop's is its L-shaped seating space and the
I hate when my coffee shops are packed. Go home, people!
cut-out Cleveland skyline that lines up along one of the walls. The layers of green, yellow and blue shapes are something to write home about.

Root deserves major praise for its bathroom. Its purple- and cyan-painted walls with sketches of what I can only assume are famous hipsters possibly makes it the most creative public bathroom I've ever visited. What's more is the ancient-greek-style sink. First time I have seen something like that and I would definitely like to see more of it.

I feel like I should at least one of these faces.
It's nomadic, yet sophisticated.
P.S.: I have to applaud Root's staff on being thoughtful samaritans. On Friday, my personal cell phone slipped out of my coat pocket and into a pile of snow outside the coffee shop. (I was too busy shooting a low-angle of the storefront at the time, as you can imagine.) I panicked all night and morning about it until Diana told me she got a text from my phone telling her to tell the phone owner he can pick it up at Root Saturday. What a breath of relief that was for me.

Again, if you have suggestions of a coffee shop for a future entry, send it to me via on Twitter at @SimonSaysNH.

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Blogger Unknown said...

Simon I enjoyed reading your article, you truly have a passion for writing.

February 10, 2014 at 8:45 PM 

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