Cleveland is celebrating their NBA win today, so it seemed only fitting to feature a longtime Cleveland hangout on the blog. Tucked away a few blocks from the bustling atmosphere of Cleveland’s Little Italy is the serene, bohemian Algebra Tea House (2136 Murray Hill Rd Cleveland, OH). Filled with custom, natural wood furniture, textiles from around the world, and handmade ceramics, you may just think you’ve stepped into a hippie retreat on the silk road. True to its name, the specialty at Algebra is tea, and they have a bunch of esoteric blends for drinking in house (and for sale, to bring home). A small sampling of the teas on offer included: sage herbal, hibiscus, house-made chai, Darjeeling, Dragonwell, Yunnan, Assam and White Pekoe. In the international tea section there was Moroccan mint tea, Turkish tea, Palestinian tea, and a wholly new variety for us: Libyan Tea.
We didn’t go in to Algebra Tea House expecting to gain a new country for our list- but we’ve never had any food or drink from Libya before – so we were really excited to see “Libyan tea” on the menu. Libyan tea is a blend of strong black tea, mint, sugar, and peanuts! Yes – the whole shelled peanuts are thrown right into the tea itself. The flavor is rich and peanut-y – and perfect as a pick me up. Along with tea, you can order house-roasted coffee made in a variety of styles, caffeine-free milk drinks, and fruit smoothies.There is also a pretty sizable menu of Middle-Eastern food, including hummus, falafel, shewarma and ful medames (Egyptian fava bean dip). While we came for the tea (and the Libyan tea was delicious) we were also pretty impressed with their falafel, which was made in our favorite herby, Palestinian/Israeli style. Between the good food, tea and relaxed atmosphere we could have stayed at Algebra for hours. We hope to visit Algebra Tea House again soon to sample more of their tea (and food!) menu.
2018 W Chicago Ave
It’s not often that you enter a restaurant to find a wall entirely covered with Arabic versions of 1980s film posters. But, as you can see below, that’s exactly what you see when you walk into Chickpea, a cool Lebanese eatery in Ukrainian Village. Tucked into the corner is a pinball machine and colorful glass lanterns hang from the ornate tin ceiling. It’s a pretty cool space, and somehow manages to retain a vintage feel – even with airbrushed posters of Bruce Willis looming large.
At Chickpea, you place your order at the counter, and grab a number. A cooler of international sodas like Vimta are available in a fridge next to the counter. The wait time was very quick, perhaps sped along by a few games of pinball. We started out with an order of Koosa ma Laban ($4), a dip made of yogurt, zucchini and mint. It came to the table with a basket of pita, which we utilized for dipping into the rest of our main courses. The Koosa ma Laban reminded us of the more familiar Indian dish raita, but with a chunkier texture. We gobbled up the dip, and it bears noting that we were particularly smitten with the plate it came on – an orange Moroccan-inspired plate from CB2.
Back to the food…for an entree, L ordered the Falafel platter ($6). It came out on a bed of hummus, spiced with green chili sauce and cumin. They were not kidding by calling that green sauce ‘spicy’ – it was hot (hot enough for fire-breather M, even). For his entree, M ordered the Saturday special of the Palestinian national dish, Mussakhkhan ($12). Mussakhkhan is chicken roasted with sumac and pine nuts, served on a round of flatbread. We haven’t seen Mussakhkhan at any other middle eastern restaurants in town so it was a treat to try. It came loaded with perfectly caramelized onions that M especially liked. Chickpea really impressed us. It was quick cheap and tasty, and with free pinball. Whenever were in Ukrainian Village we will certainly be hitting this place up for some Nosh.