Monday, May 16, 2011

Back to the Future @ Sweet Moses

Two and a half years ago, at a marketing trend conference in the very trendy Miami, I had the unique pleasure of personally meeting chef-star Anthony Bourdain. His discussion, on the history of food, and his overall presence – no PowerPoint, no show and tell, just the man, fully in the moment – left a life-long impression with me. Anthony’s secret to success, both culinary and in life, lies primarily in his authenticity. The man on TV is the man in person. This food artist speaks about his craft with the same vivre that Leonard Cohen recites his poetry. And, when one of the many consumer good product managers in the audience raised her hand and asked Bourdain the needed yet, simultaneously, eye-rolling question of “Where are food trends headed?” Bourdain, calm and confident, surprised the corporate client, as well as the rest of us, by saying, “We will be eating the food of our grandparents.”

His quote has lingered in my mind like a bell tower, ringing daily at noon. The reason? Ever since, everywhere I turn, I see the world operating in some sort of anachronistic vacuum. Like a series of micro time machines – in food, in media and in culture – people are looking back, unapologetically: Black and white photography. Mad Men. Boardwalk Empire. Vinyl records. Millinery shops. Sewing clubs. Knitting circles. Fish heads. Head cheese. Barber shops. Bowling leagues. Mumford and Sons. Betty White. The list goes on. Is it truly a sense of nostalgia? Or the human race’s incapability and secret disinterest in keeping up with the post-modern, always-connected, real-time world? Perhaps a bit of both?

We want to slow down. We want to reach out. We want to feel the innocence of our youth and live in the perceived community of a simpler time.

And we want to drink our milkshakes.

Sweet Moses Soda Fountain & Treat Shop, which opened March 26 in the resurrecting Gordon Square Arts District, provides the desserts and the atmosphere of this retro lifestyle. With its antique brass-like cash register, wooden over-sized mirror, marble soda counter, wait staff in matching white aprons and pointy hats and numerous posters of vintage Cleveland, the new eatery could easily belong in a Norman Rockwell painting.

And, people are flocking to stand in line for one of the many temptations. From gourmet chocolate to root beer floats to flavored popcorn, Sweet Moses features a tempting menu of tasty delights, providing the perfect technology reprieve for adults and kids alike. Whether a weekday or weekend, afternoon or early evening, patrons of all shapes, sizes, ages, ethnic groups, relationship status and economic means arrive at the dessert oasis, ready for something new. They also secretly hope that, after a very long and wet season, perhaps, eating a hot fudge sundae will finally bring sunshine and warmth to Cleveland.
The handmade delicacies offer a rich flavor, one so savory that it actually does make us want to slow down, to take it all in, one delicious sip at a time.
In fact, the lingering feeling of joy this place infuses brought me back three times in one week. Each time, with different friends and, on one occasion, even running into my neighbor and her dad and niece, who were both visiting from England. All three individuals, and generations, enjoyed their American goodness.

Whenever I review a local food establishment, there’s one staple dish I look for each time. Blame it on Pulp Fiction‘s memorable Jackrabbit Slim scene, but nothing will come between me and my $4 milkshake. And, I will go on record and say that Sweet Moses has the best chocolate milkshake I have ever had – in N.E. Ohio, in the States and in the world.

With the much welcomed addition of Sweet Moses, the Capitol Theater in full swing and the rest of the neighborhood revealing new gems to explore, this summer, Gordon Square will be the place to be, to watch, to eat, to shop to stroll and to run into your friends and neighbors, sit down, relax, talk, laugh, discuss and be present. Our grandparents could not be more proud.

Additional information about Sweet Moses is available on its Facebook page and can also be viewed at

Reprinted with permission and gratitude from