It is close to 11PM on a Friday night, but the atmosphere in Sweet Moses, an old-timey fountain soda and treat shop located on Detroit Avenue in Cleveland, is relaxed and chatty. The line to the cash register stretches outside the door, filing past the glass cabinets full of fudge, toffees, and chocolate-covered marshmallow pops.
My date and I are nervous. He is strictly allergic to dairy, and the idea of going to an ice cream parlour together is new to us. While we wait for our turn at the register, we try to choose a flavored soda from the menu to pair with the handmade dairy-free ice cream we plan to order. With choices ranging from lemon to passionfruit, to raspberry, we have a hard time deciding.
When we reach the register, we order two ice cream sodas containing dairy-free vanilla ice cream. I had expected at least a look of bafflement from the woman at the cash register, but the transaction is smooth as she takes our order without surprise.
A few minutes later, we are sitting at a quaint table surrounded by a crowd of young families, older couples, and small social groups including all ages. The music transports us back in time as we sip on our soda fountain treats.
The sodas themselves are bubbling and frothy, flavored with orange and strawberry. The ice cream has strong taste of vanilla. I comment that I have never tasted a creamy non-dairy ice cream before. We decide we would return again soon to try the root beer floats, if we can resist trying the other soda fountain flavors.
One of the reasons I love Northeast Ohio is the region’s sensitivity to foodies who have allergies, dietary restrictions, and dietary preferences.
We can find gluten-free, dairy-free sandwiches at The Tree Hugger’s Cafe in Berea. We can order vegan grilled cheese sandwiches at popular original restaurants like Tommy’s and Melt Bar & Grilled. Poison Berry Bakery offers allergen-free baked goods to order in the Cleveland Heights area. Once, I even walked into The Flaming Ice Cube, a vegan eatery with locations in downtown Cleveland and Boardman near Youngstown, to find a box of vegan marshmallows.
In Northeast Ohio, choosing to be allergen-free won’t constrict your food options to Boca Burgers when eating out.
Most recently, my boyfriend and I visited Piccadilly on Coventry Street in Cleveland and filled our cups with artisan vegan frozen yogurt. Truly, we are fortunate to live in a region that offers so much food diversity to us, even with our dietary restrictions.
Urvi has been a vegetarian her entire life. She came to Northeast Ohio to attend Case Western Reserve University in 2007 and is currently an engineer in Mayfield Village. When not exploring food options to satisfy her sweet tooth, she likes to cook, read, and write. Follow her writing on twitter at @urvibpatel.