How to: The Progressive Dinner

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With the continued explosion of restaurants in neighborhoods like Ohio City, Tremont, Collinwood and Detroit Shoreway, one might have trouble deciding on just where to eat. Enter the "progressive dinner," the sensible choice for a fun, unique night out.

What’s a progressive dinner? Simply put, it's a multi-course meal that takes place throughout the night at various restaurants. The idea originated from close-knit residential communities, where neighbors enjoyed one course at each house, progressing from house to house throughout the meal. The progressive dinner enjoys a more leisurely pace than camping out at a single restaurant from start to finish. The short strolls between courses extend the evening and can even aid digestion.

When planning a progressive dinner, it's best to keep the group relatively small. It might also be a good idea to check in ahead with each restaurant to let them know you're coming and for advice on timing. Depending on the course and restaurant, allow between 30 and 60 minutes at each spot.

To use Tremont as an example: You and your dinner companions meet at the bar of Fahrenheit at 6 p.m., where you enjoy cocktails and share an order of crispy cauliflower with capers, almonds, golden raisins and citrus. In less than an hour you eat, chat, pay the tab and move on to the next spot. You walk down to Lolita, where you have a 7 p.m. reservation. You skip the apps and dive right into mains like duck breast with butternut squash, or a mushroom, onion and rosemary pizza. You're out the door by 8:30 p.m. and on your way to A Cookie and a Cupcake, where you enjoy individual cheesecakes for a small but rich bite. Up for a digestif? Head over to Press Wine Bar.

In Ohio City, you might start with a craft beer and spiked hummus at Nano Brew, before heading to SOHO Kitchen for pimento cheese and BBQ potato chips. Then it’s off to the Black Pig for a small course — the braised rabbit perhaps — followed by Townhall for dessert. Cap off the night with an after-dinner drink at the beautiful bar at Crop Bistro.

Of course, you could plan an evening like this in so many Cleveland neighborhoods. Or better yet, don't plan, just do it.

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