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Bites: Hmmm. Bakery

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Nothing lifts a neighborhood like a great bakery. Thanks to Tom and Adria Clark, residents living near the Lakewood-Rocky River border have a wonderful source for European-style artisan breads. Opening in early July, Blackbird Baking Company (1391 Sloane Ave., 216.712.6599, blackbirdbaking.com) is quickly developing a loyal following. Originally from Lakewood, Tom spent a decade working in the bakery biz in Portland, Oregon. In 2007, he and his wife relocated to the Cleveland area to open a bakery of their own. To hone his skills, Tom worked at the wonderful East Side bakeshop On The Rise (3471 Fairmount Blvd., 216.320.9923, ontheriseartisanbreads.com). When the perfect location became available near the Clarks' home, the couple seized upon it. They spent seven months remodeling, transforming a shabby space into a sleek metropolitan bakery. The open design gives customers an unfettered view of the kitchen, including its flour-dusted worktables and massive ovens. Everything is made from scratch daily and displayed on counters and baker's racks. Bread fans will crow about Blackbird's baguettes, batards, focaccia and ciabatta. Sweets fans will head straight for the pecan sticky buns, cherry scones, apricot croissants and dreamy chocolate chip cookies. Beverages, including Crooked River brand coffee, are also available. Shoppers can get their goods to go or enjoy them in the dining room or out on the patio. Blackbird is open every day but Monday.

When the ornate chandelier in the rear of the Bier Markt (1948 W. 25th St., 216.344.9944, bier-markt.com) is illuminated, tipplers know to head below ground for intoxicating liquor served up in an intoxicating environment. Owner Sam McNulty may want his clientele to "speak easy" about his latest offering, but word is getting around that Speakeasy is now open for business. The rules are clearly posted: Gentlemen shall behave like gentleman; ladies shall be ladylike; and there best be no rabbler-rousing. Inside, expertly crafted cocktails with Prohibition-era-sounding names are made with infused liquors and fresh-squeezed fruit juice. The deftly balanced Bee's Knees ($12) combines honeycomb gin with lemon. Caramelized bacon bourbon is the star of the Manhattan Pig ($12), garnished with (what else?) a crisp rasher of bacon. Open only on weekends.

Corrected hours for Flying Cranes (13002 Larchmere Blvd., 216.795.1033): Tues. and Sun., 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Wed.-Thur., 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

dining@clevescene.com

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