"Five for Friday: Matchmaker Mike Green picks first-date restaurants"

Hot news: Cleveland is not the worst city in the world for dating. That's according to The Great Love Debate, a touring show of dating talk that polled more than 35,000 singles over the past two years. Chicago won, and Cleveland came in 12th.

Local matchmaker Mike Green can tell you the city is a player, and there are places to play it right on the first date. In 1995, Green founded Lunch Date, a matchmaking service for professional singles in which he interviews each client before setting up a first meeting.

He shared five of his best spots.

Nighttown (12383 Cedar Road, Cleveland, 44106,, 216-795-0550)

"This Cleveland Heights landmark is a great place to eat, drink and listen to music.

"The Dublin Lawyer (seafood in sherry cream sauce) is a must, one of their signature dishes. Bangers and Mash (sausage and mashed potatoes) is another favorite."

Gigi's on Fairmount (3477 Fairmount Blvd., Cleveland Heights, 44118,, 216-291-7237)

"I've arranged several dates here. People like it because it's cozy and intimate, like a neighborhood Parisian bistro. There's always a buzz, whether on the small patio, in the dining room or cozy wine bar.

"Tasty shared plates are offered which are exceptional. I like the bruschetta boards which offer 18 choices of toppings."

The Flying Fig (2523 Market Ave., Cleveland, 44113,, 216-241-4243)

"My clients love the place, a charming, casual setting with a patio on a cobblestone street in the heart of Ohio City. Great appetizers, ever changing menu offerings and attentive service. Fun, relaxing atmosphere.

"Great little bar has a city feel and extensive wine list. Grilled pork loin and stuffed acorn squash are dishes my clients really liked. It's an exceptional place for dates."

Ginko (2247 Professor Ave., Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood, 44113,, 216-274-1202)

"This is one of my favorite sushi bars. Creative presentation of sushi and sashimi. Small, quaint, fun spot. Always busy, good crowd.

"Located in the heart of Tremont, great spot for those living in the area or nearby. Attractive happy hour prices on food and drinks. Small place but yet intimate, perfect for dates."

L'Albatros (11401 Bellflower Road, Cleveland, 44106,, 216-791-7880)

"Great place for a date. It's got a central location between east and west in a now-thriving University Circle area. Nice bar, comfortable patio. It has an energy.

"Food is consistent, and there's a diverse wine list. Varied menu with fabulous seafood entrees. Scallops and trout are two of my favorites."

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