Monday, November 9, 2009

Hidden Gem in South Euclid - The Sanctuary

I've mentioned before that I'm a big fan of Yelp, the user submitter review site for everything from restaurants to dentists.  Ok, I'm a BIG fan.  It has helped me to discover some neat places around town.  Like my most recent discovery, Sanctuary on Green.  Never heard of it?  Me, either.  And I live less than 7 minutes away.  

The Sanctuary is the most amazing little gift shop/tea studio/scenic retreat.  Set on a few acres in the middle of the suburban South Euclid jungle, this neat little place is set back on a large piece of land overlooking a large wetland/wooded area.

(My view during my visit - gorgeous!)

The main house is a Christmas wonderland (read: gift shop), craftsman's lair, and a tea studio.  Things that might not always go together, but it works here.  

Since yesterday was an unseasonably warm day, I enjoyed enjoyed a nice cup of pumpkin soup (vegan by nature, vegetarian if you opt for the cinnamon creme fraiche like I did), iced decaf coffee (freshly brewed for me and amazing), and a wonder bar (like a brownie/nut bar only smaller, fresher, and more delicious) on the extensive patio that overlooks the wetlands. 

(Iced decaf coffee)


(Vegan pumpkin soup  - maybe the best, freshest tasting pumpkin soup I've ever had)


(Wonder Bar - warm and gooey chocolate, nuts, peanut butter - does it get any better?)

Besides my view being incredible, the service was top notch.  As is the tradition in Europe (so says The Sanctuary's website), food is more expensive upfront in order to provide a "living wage" for waitstaff, so tipping isn't required.  And because the waitstaff is paid a better than average wage, they're knowledgeable, friendly, and attentive, but not in an obnoxious way.  Being the picky vegetarian that I am, I had a nice discussion with my server about the vegan and vegetarian options available on the menu.  He stressed that the owner of the tea studio (which features more varieties of tea than I've ever seen - too bad I know nothing about tea!) like to uses the freshest, most locally sourced ingredients possible.  Right now they're on their "winter menu" which features only a select few items - like soups, small sandwiches, and desserts.  (and coffee - darn good coffee!) But in the spring and summer, the menu varies based on local produce availability and whatever is fresh from the on-site garden. 

I respect any business owner that 1. is living their dream (as is evident from the stories listed in the menu about the owners as well as on their website) 2. uses local produce, dairy, etc., 3. offers vegan and vegetarian options and 4. strives to provide the best dining/shopping experience possible while still preserving the essence of nature. 

The Sanctuary really is a hidden gem.  I wish I'd visited earlier in the season so I could have sampled some of their home grown fare, but I definitely plan on going back once the weather breaks in the spring so I can enjoy the beauty of nature and delicious vegan/vegetarian grub in such an unexpected location.

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