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Event picks for this best week in Cleveland

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Monday | 02

Fit for Foodies

The Return of Cleveland Restaurant Week

If one Cleveland Restaurant Week is good — and it is — then two should be even better. Which brings us to this week's food-related festivities, brought to you by the 90-some members of Cleveland Independents. Starting today: three-course prix fixe dinners for $33. Some spots may be higher or lower, depending on their usual pricing, and some may offer value-priced lunches as well. "We're committed to promoting Cleveland as a dining destination," says C.I. prez Marlin Kaplan, executive chef at Dragonfly. "Nothing does that better than promoting our independent restaurants through a program like this." Restaurant Week continues through April 14, with time off for Easter Sunday. Find a complete list of participating restaurants and their menus on the website. — Cicora


Hanukah in April!

The LeeVees Get Funny at Kent State University

Some people check the weather report when they get up. Phil Torres checks the concert feeds. That's how the Kent State University senior communications major learned that Guster was coming to Kent for an early April performance. Fortunately, he already knew about the LeeVees, the comedic side project for Guster's Adam Gardner and Dave Schneider from the Zambonis. Together with a backup band, the two "nice Jewish boys" have been carving out a niche performing and recording what they call Hanukkah rock. With titles like "Applesauce vs. Sour Cream" and "Jewish Girls (At the Matzo Ball)," their tunes have not only attracted a campus following, but have made their way onto Grey's Anatomy and drawn attention from the NPR crowd. "We just got lucky," says Torres about snagging the band for tonight's 8 p.m. concert at the Rathskeller. The appearance is sponsored by Kent Hillel, where Torres serves as programming intern. Himself an up-and-coming stand-up comic, Torres will host tonight's show. Advance-order tickets via the website are $3 for students and $10 for non-students; at the door, students pay $5 and non-students pay $15. Eighteen and older, please. — Cicora

800 East Summit St. in the Kent State Student Center, kenthillel.org.

Tuesday | 03

Spoken Word

The Poetry of Hart Crane

Poet Hart Crane was born in Garrettsville in 1899 and died by suicide in the Atlantic Ocean somewhere off the Florida coast in 1932. In between the extremes of his short and tortured life, he crafted some of the most linguistically profound poetry of his time, attempting, as one historian puts it, "to synthesize with accuracy unusually complex states of thought." Crane's works seem as good a place as any to launch Lakewood Public Library's celebration of National Poetry Month. Doing the honors today is Cleveland actor and producer Tim Tavcar, founder of WordStage. "Crane was a word painter," says Tavcar. "He was trying his best to absorb what he saw happening during the Jazz Age, and reinterpreting it in what he felt was the emerging American sensibility." Tavcar's presentation will focus on Crane's letters, allowing them to serve as an introduction to his poems. Each poem will be underscored with period music, including selections from Aaron Copland and pieces by Erik Satie as interpreted by a French jazz trio. A Q&A session will follow the readings. The 7 p.m. program is free and open to the public. No pre-registration is required. — Cicora

15425 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 216-226-8275 x127, lkwdpl.org.

Playing With Food

Annual Chili Cook Off in Independence

You'll find lean ones, rich ones, hot ones, and mild ones today at the Holiday Inn in Independence. No, we're not talking about potential hookups. We're talking about big hot bowls o' red, otherwise known as chili. More than 30 area chefs, professional and otherwise, will be dishing up their favorite recipes from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Among the participating restaurants: Palookaville Chili, Yours Truly, Mavis Winkle's, Dante's, and Tinkers Creek Tavern. If past years are any measure, the variations on the theme of chili are likely to be staggering: vegan, vegetarian, lamb, beef, pork, and sausage are just a smattering of what you'll find. Local band Ace Molar will provide a soundtrack of energized rock and blues; when you need a breather from scarfing down the chili, check out the silent auction and the raffle prizes. Making the ultimate call on the best tasting brew will be roving members of the judges panel, including Nancy Alden, chef Eric Williams, and yours truly. This is the seventh year for the event, which benefits the Autism Society of Greater Cleveland. Tickets are $20 by phone, online, or at the door. — Cicora

Wednesday | 04

Cirque du Soleil

Dralion Roars Into Town

You can waste a lot of energy trying to figure out the plot to a Cirque du Soleil show. So don't bother. Just sit back and enjoy the fabulous visuals, the mind-blowing athleticism, and the stunning production values. Take the traveling production of Dralion landing tonight at the Wolstein Center. Sure, the program notes will ramble on about Eastern philosophy, the quest for harmony, and 3,000-year-old Chinese traditions. You'll learn that the costume colors represent the elements, and the show's name is a blend of "the dragon, representing the East" and "the lion, representing the West." But once the international cast of 50 lithe, young, beautifully costumed hardbodies starts with the handstands, hoop tricks, and aerial ballets, they could be whistling "Dixie" for all it matters. Seven performances are set for today through April 8. Tonight's curtain is at 7:30 p.m.; see the website for additional performance times. Tickets range from $43 to $153. Get yours by phone, online, or at the Wolstein Center box office. — Cicora

2000 Prospect Ave., 877-468-4946, wolsteincenter.com.


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