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Happy Campers

Ken Stewart's Lodge enjoys wild success.

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Toasting marshmallows over an open fire . . . basking in the golden glow of dozens of antler-bedecked chandeliers: Yes, it's the long-awaited Ken Stewart's Lodge, a top-notch restaurant disguised as a fanciful homage to the rustic life. The Bath dining room (1911 North Cleveland-Massillon Road; 330-666-8881) opened less than three short weeks ago, but has already been hosting capacity crowds of Akron-area foodies, who simply couldn't wait one minute longer to see what restaurateur Stewart and his venerable executive chef, Zachary Bruell, have been up to. Their anticipation was justified: The food here is not only delicious, but a good deal more au courant than at the staid Ken Stewart's Grille in Fairlawn. You will search in vain, for instance, for sautéed crabcakes at the Lodge; instead, there's tuna tartare and lobster crêpes. Among the entrées, we adored the Drunken Chilean Sea Bass ($24.95), a pearly filet basking in a broth of vermouth, sake, soy, and lime; other interesting-sounding alternatives included calamari steak Milanese and chilled ceviche of scallops. And for dessert there are s'mores, the classic campfire composition of toasted marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers, served DIY-style along with a little cast-iron brazier. Lodge hours are 5 to 10 p.m., Monday through Thursday; until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The restaurant is closed Sunday; guess that's the day Stewart & Co. goes fishin'.

Gelato among the geraniums...

and cannoli among the calla lilies make Café Angelo one of the sweetest spots around. The little counter-service café is planted in the midst of Angelo Petitti's newest garden center (18941 Pearl Road, Strongsville), with hand-painted Italian ceramic-topped tables, sinuous wrought-iron chairs, and the occasional butterfly flitting from hither to yon. Restaurateur Rick Serio (who also owns Twinsburg's Serio's on the Square) operates the eatery and says he and Petitti modeled it on sidewalk cafés they visited in Italy. The modest menu includes a decent Italian wedding soup ($3.25), assorted aromatic sandwiches (around $5), several pastas, and freshly made gelato that Serio's uncle, Pete Machi, churns out on the spot (try the hazelnut-white chocolate; $3.25 for a large portion). In addition, there's espresso, cappuccino, café mocha, and latte, as well as tiramisu, cannoli, and biscotti. Like us, Serio believes in the pleasures of combining shopping with eating; after trotting around this gigantic garden center for a few hours, you may very well need the sustenance. The 57,000-square-foot all-glass greenhouse is one of the largest in the country and brings to mind the elegant Victorian "crystal palaces" of yore. Serio plans to add Sunday brunch to the menu within the next few weeks. In the meantime, café hours are Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call 440-878-9409, extension 106, for details.

Lights are on, but nobody's home

The patio furniture looked so forlorn, sitting in the rain outside Twinsburg's now-defunct MacLaren's Cuisine. Besides the abandoned furniture and the still-glowing beer signs, former chef-owner Greg MacLaren left a lengthy, bittersweet quotation from Teddy Roosevelt posted on the front door, assuring us, in part, that "the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood . . . who knows the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause." No word yet on where MacLaren plans to wage his next battle.

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