I’m often looking for ways to get involved in an event beyond the basic experience. For me, I find that doing instead of attending has always led to a more enriching and enjoyable experience. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy the Cleveland Sketch Crawl. It allows me to get out there and see different angles of the city through drawing. When I found out about the PlayhouseSquare’s Partners program, I knew this would be another unique opportunity to actively support an aspect of Cleveland I love — the city’s theater scene.
Partners is the young professionals group at PlayhouseSquare. Although it’s a donors program, it’s about more than just making a tax-deductible donation to the theater. It allows members to also support the country’s largest performance arts center outside New York City by volunteering their time and abilities. Unlike other donor programs where you have to ‘buy in’ at a level way beyond the average income to get involved, even the lowest donor amount for Partners ($50 per individual/$75 for a couple) allows you to volunteer on one of the committees.
The Jump Back Ball committee, for instance, is responsible for planning and organizing the group’s largest fundraising event – an annual black tie/costume ball located inside of PlayhouseSquare. Education committee members help raise money and awareness for the Bus Subsidy Fund, which brings children to the PlayhouseSquare theaters for educational performances. One of the Education committee’s programs is the Tinsel Town Party, an annual holiday-themed party for children and their families. The other committees include Membership, Social, and Fundraising.
Of course, signing up for a Committee is optional. Those who don’t want to get involved in a Committee can still benefit from Partners with invitations to seasonal parties, pre-show receptions, master classes, pre-sale ticketing and other events. One of these events is the Partners Dine Around program. Dine Around is a networking event (in the social – not business – sense of the word) that allows members to enjoy a Cleveland restaurant while meeting different members of Partners.
From a list of four options, participants rank their favorite restaurants and then are assigned to one based upon availability. Each restaurant who participates sets everything up on separate checks so you don’t have to deal with splitting a check between a large group. And because the 4 restaurants are all located in the same neighborhood, participants meet up afterwards at a bar to mingle some more.
This month’s Dine Around was held downtown with the options of Crop, Metro, Blue Pointe and Sushi Rock (the post-dinner locale was D’Vine Wine Bar). Scott and I happily ended up with our first choice – Crop Bistro. I’ve enjoyed their lunch before, but wanted to try them out for dinner before they moved from their W. 6th location to W. 25th Street. Although I usually reserve Crop for a nice meal out, I really enjoy the reputation for creativity, sustainability and local food patronage they’ve built over the last couple of years.
Scott and I started off with the Lobster Latte and Chile Deviled Eggs with Prosciutto. I’m going to borrow the description shared by another Crop fan when they recommended the Lobster Latte — it was sheer buttery goodness. A latte-style cup was filled with large chunks of lobster in a rich buttery broth topped with a mouth-watering buttery foam. Sure, it’s probably not the best for your health, but definitely good for the tastebuds. The deviled eggs were also very delicious. The mix for the egg yolk tasted and looked like it had a browner mustard than I’m accustomed to eating with deviled eggs and the crispy prosciutto that accented each piece was a nice complement in taste and texture to the rest of the egg.
For our main dishes, I had the Thai D Bowl; Scott had the Pot Roast Short Ribs. The Thai D Bowl consisted of cinnamon pappardelle, shiitakes, carrots, bell peppers, leeks and coconut curry. I was very happy that the cinnamon in the pappardelle didn’t overpower the rest of the dish, which is what I had been a little apprehensive about when I ordered it. I’ll admit – I didn’t have room for it all so I had to take some home for lunch the next day. I didn’t reheat it and it was an entirely different (and delicious) experience having it as a cold noodles plate. Scott’s Pot Roast Short Ribs came with braised root vegetables, pearl onions, and herb jus. Scott loves meat — I’d say he’d be happy eating some sort of beef product every day of his life if he could. So for him to say it was the most tender, fall-off-the-bone dinner he’s ever had is a large compliment. As much as I loved the Thai D Bowl, when I tasted some of the Short Ribs, the carnivore in me was kind of sad I hadn’t ordered that as well.
I figured if I was going to go all out at dinner, I might as well experiment with one of their drinks. I ordered the AT&B which was a crisp mix of Apple Vodka and Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc. It was accented with a slice of spiced apple, which complemented the taste with an amazing aroma. Another drink definitely worth trying was the Applewood Punch which a couple of the other guests in our party ordered, It consisted of Goslings Rum, Domaine de Canton, Apple Cider and Cinnamon Apple on the Rocks. The evening was punctuated with excellent service from our waiter Nathan. It can sometimes be hard to get attentive service in a large group, but Nathan and the rest of the Crop staff definitely delivered.
The next Dine Around is in January, and I’ve heard rumors that we may be heading to Rocky River for that one. Other events before then include the Partners 20th Anniversary Celebration Event (a pre-show party and tickets to the delightful Dixie’s Tupperware Party) and a Backstage Tour of PlayhouseSquare featuring Joe Garry, host of Broadway Buzz, PlayhouseSquare historian and director of Jacque Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris. Although the 20th Anniversary Event is open only to current and past Partners, the Backstage Tour of PlayhouseSquare is open to anyone interested in learning more about Partners.
This year is the Partners’ 20th anniversary and since it’s founding in 1991, the group has raised more than $2.5 million to support the not-for-profit mission of PlayhouseSquare. I’ve only been a member since August, but I’m definitely excited to have discovered the program and hope to see it continue growing through its next milestone anniversary.
PlayhouseSquare Partners / Crop Dine Around 411:
About PlayhouseSquare Partners:
- Becoming a PlayhouseSquare Partner
- Partners 20th Anniversary Event
- PlayhouseSquare Partners Backstage Tour
- PlayhouseSquare on Facebook
About Crop Bistro: