I remember seeing Sterle’s Country House
in Cleveland on an episode of Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and
Dives” a few years ago and, recalling the place from my childhood,
thinking that it was none of those.
It’s not, but it’s not exactly the place from my childhood, either.
Frank Sterle opened what used to be known as Frank Sterle’s Slovenian
Country House on East 55 Street in 1954. If you have Slovenian roots and
have lived in Cleveland at any time since then, you’ve probably been to
the place. Sterle died in 1986, and the restaurant was operated by new
partners from then until 2012, when Rick Semersky bought it.
It’s still going to be known simply as “Sterle’s” (ster-LEES) by most of
its longstanding clientele, so the tweak to the name isn’t a big deal. A
bigger deal is that there’s now an outdoor bier garden, waitresses in
black T-shirts instead of the traditional dirndl, and some items on the
menu that Frank Sterle didn’t serve.
We went on a recent Saturday, doing Sterle’s the way it is best
experienced: in a large group and when there’s live polka music. This is
what hasn’t changed from the years gone by – families dance while
accordions loudly pump out songs that everybody present has heard a
thousand times. The band the night of our visit started at 6, and by 7
the large dining hall inside the Alpine ski-lodge-styled old building
was nearly full.
Read more from Correspondent Mark Koestner at Dining Out: Cleveland Slovenian fixture boasts uneven food but a fun time for families, polka fans
Labels: Cleveland, Dining Out, Slovenian food