Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Every NEW Bar in Lakewood! Bars #61 - #65


As many know, the idea of Every Bar in Lakewood is not a concrete concept. The bars of Lakewood are more of a fluid idea.  The names and ownership change with the trends, people and standards.  

Well, that, and your normal amount of bars that close due to poor management, ownership or just general grossness.  This summer I caught up to the end of the current list of all the bars.  But the list is wily and will not be defeated so easily.  Today I announce the list of Every Bar in Lakewood-that-opens-this-summer!  The Side Quest Bar, O’Toole’s Pub, The Stache, 16-Bit Bar+Arcade, and Kelley’s Pub are bars #61 through #65.
 
O’Toole’s Pub has taken over the location of Irish Kevin’s.  The new bar is looking to be an upgrade of its predecessor.  The beer list will be set for a wider audience.  It will be changed more often to give O’Toole’s customers more options and prevent beer boredom.  The biggest change to the bar will be the food.  A new full kitchen is currently being installed behind the scenes.  The true inspiration behind the bar is the love of food Urvashi O'Toole and her husband have.  They want deliciousness to be seen and tasted at O’Toole’s Pub.  Their diverse tastes of Italian, Indian, and Mexican (to name a few) will translate to options for to everyone.  Urvashi wants to make sure that her bar offers food worth loving:  both for her patrons and private events in the future.
In addition, O’Toole’s Pub will be lightening up its look.  The black ceiling has been painted gold and is the original to the building.  The windows and entrance will be enlarged so that the light from outside can flood the bar and into create a more inviting look.  The new large front windows will slide open to let in a fresh breeze during our fairer months.  I got to meet Urvashi before writing this blog and more than anything you can tell that she is working to create a bar she can be proud of.
 
The kitchen should be up and running by the end of summer, but until then, pizza from their neighbor Grab-In-Go Pizza will be available.  The window and door expansion is set for next spring to early summer.  Check it out soon for the beer and free pizza and then revisit later to check out the new food menu.

13601 Detroit Ave
216-226-5718

16-Bit Bar+Arcade has been the biggest news to Lakewood bars this summer.  It will be the only bar not moving into a previous bar’s location: it will be going into the previous location of Five Guy’s Burgers.  This is 16-Bit’s second and biggest bar, allowing them to increase what they do great.  16-Bit Bar+Arcade will bring an army of arcade games (around 50) that will be kept current by rotating them with their Columbus location.  They will also have a number skee ball machines, which they use for both individual and league play.  They try to offer the best of old school and newer cocktails pushing for quality ingredients and enjoyable taste.  They have a diverse beer list ranging from domestics, local and Belgium craft beers and some vintage varieties.  Their events are a mix of arcade tournaments and nostalgic culture.  16-Bit Bar+Arcade looks to be a great new draw to our fantastic downtown Lakewood.

16-Bit Bar+Arcade was originally slated to open July 1st but  has pushed back to August 29th in order to get everything just right.
(Some info is thanks to Cleveland.com)

15008 Detroit Ave
 
The Stache has taken the place of Johnny Malloy’s.  They have replaced the sports bar/pizzeria to go with the idea of a “modern-day speak-easy.”  They will endeavor to have the best burgers in town.  Along with that, they’ll offer great beer options, your favorite cocktails, and, keeping with the speak-easy theme, offering moonshine.  They want to make the community a part of their concept.  The Stache isn’t open yet but they are showing updates on their Facebook and Twitter pages.  The Stache opened August 20th.
 
17103 Detroit Ave
216-221-1177
Twitter: @thestacheclev 

Billy C’s location is opening as Kelley's Pub this summer.  It’s already looking better than a month ago.  It will be opened by a local Cleveland firefighter.  I don’t know anything else about this bar yet.  Let me know if you do and I’ll write it here!


13525 Lakewood Heights Blvd.
 
The Side Quest Bar is opening at the previous location of Eddy & Iggy's on August 30th.  It is being opened the writer of the local blog…oh, that’s me.

Every Bar in Lakewood is opening its own bar!

A question repeatedly asked of us was,  “Once you’ve finished going to Every Bar in Lakewood, what’s your next project?”  So, what does a geeky bar blogger do next?  Open a nerd bar, of course!

We’ve visited nearly Every Bar in Lakewood and we’ve discovered what’s missing!  A bar for us, a bar for you, a place for geeks and nerds can go enjoy the things they love while having a few great craft beers with friends! 

The Side Quest is going to focus on tabletop gaming, geeky TV shows, and craft beers in a relaxed environment.  Trivia, theme nights, lecture series, and live television programming events will be common occurrences.  New ideas and events will be included as our customers (you) ask for them.  We want this bar to be your bar, so, we would love to hear what you’d love to see, play, and drink.


The Side Quest will offer an extensive library that can be loaned out to play in the bar.  These games can range from card games like Munchkin and board games like Settlers of Catan to Scrabble and Sweet Valley High.  Don't worry, you'll also have the option to BYOG (bring your own game.)
 
We will offer 24 beers on draft, 12 of which will be brewed specifically for The Side Quest Bar.  The beers we offer will be from local brewers, whenever possible.  Craft drafts by local beer nerds for local beer nerds.  We will design different seasonal cocktails throughout the year to engage your palette and your nerdy side.

 Our food will be designed to be easy to eat with one hand to keep you in the game when your stomach is running on empty.   This will allow you to try different foods per visit without emptying your wallet.

In the last year, we have worked with different businesses throughout the area on events that ranged from filling up Mahall’s 20 Lanes for the a viewing of the Doctor Who 50th anniversary episode, manning a table at Carol and John’s Comic Shop’s Free Comic Book Day event, to a month-long Mario Kart 8 tournament at Eddy and Iggy’s this summer.  The Doctor Who party was where we officially decided to open the bar.  I had simply wanted to watch something I was excited about with other like-minded people.  It turned out there were a lot of you.  The Side Quest will strive to be a part of the community and local businesses through joint promotions, events and customer participation (to let us know what they want, like and dislike.)

Are the cities of Lakewood and Cleveland ready for a Geek Bar?  We are a city where the Avengers battle and Superman was born.  We have craft beer festivals on a regular basis.  There’s barely a bar in town that doesn’t rely on sports, games, or at least scoring of some kind or another.  Some of our biggest drinking days involve dressing up in costumes or at least large amounts of green.  The question isn’t, "is Lakewood ready for a geek bar?"  The question is, "are you tired of waiting for your bar; a bar that lets you eat, drink, watch, and play what you want?"

Address?
Twitter: @thesidequestbar
Instagram: @thesidequest

As I invite you on my new quest, my Side Quest, I don’t want to you to stop exploring.  There are great bars opening: bars with great ideas, a bar that will offer their love of great food, a bar that will offer you hundreds of arcade games, a bar that will offer you the best burger and moonshine you could ask for.  A bar reborn through a local fireman’s vision, and a bar that asks, “Are you ready to geek out?”  Check us all out and the other dozens of bars throughout Lakewood.  We exist for you and because of you.  Come find your favorite bar; adventure is just around the corner.

Monday, July 14, 2014

World of Beer's Best of Ohio Tap Takeover



Every Bar in Lakewood promotes three major points, adventure, community and supporting your local businesses.   Today’s blog is about the latter, buying local.  A part of supporting our local businesses, that we sometimes forget, is that it’s not just about our local retailers but also about our local producers.  The manufacturers, the growers and in this case the brewers make great things.  Getting to buy a product that you know was create in your home state, or even town, gives us that extra bit of pride.  Getting to drink something that was made by my "neighbors" makes me happy and makes me feel like I have a closer relationship with my beer.  On Friday, I was invited to World of Beer’s (bar #42) for their Best of Ohio Tap Takeover.
The World of Beer put 48 Ohio brewed beers into their taps.  These covered over two dozen breweries from all over the state.  They ranged our hometown Lakewood’s own Buckeye Brewing to one of my favorite’s Jackie O’s from Athens’ Ohio.  Breweries of all ages attended, from the established, Great Lakes Brewing Company, to plucky new comers like Franklin Brewing Company.  What these breweries have in common is creating products that aren’t just beer.  If you have enough money, know how, and cleanliness abilities you make a good enough beer.  Hell, you can make good beer in your basement.  These breweries do something beyond just making beer.  They are crafting beer.  This may just sound like a play of semantics but to the people that work at these breweries it’s everything.  They spend countless hours tweaking recipes to be the exact beer that they want to exist.  This Friday they got to show themselves off.  It was impressive that there are enough great types of beer in Ohio to fill forty-eight taps  and that we could have used at least another couple dozen beers.  I tried out five of them and still wished there was another half dozen I would have drank as well.  Well, my liver disagrees but what are you gonna do.

The event itself was odd.  There weren't any of the breweries present there like I was told, or at least they weren't obviously present.  There was also a weird smell coming from the sinks or garbage that made us move to a different location in the bar.  It basically felt like a normal day at World of Beer (minus the smell) but with a ton of Ohio beer on tap.  But they had soooo much local beer that they made up for it.

My first beer was Crafted Artisan Meadery, Meadjito.  Artisan is one of four quality meaderies in Ohio.  For those with a good palate, you’ll pick up hints of mint, lime juice, and of course, honey.  If you aren’t a mead connoisseur, it’s going to taste like a mildly sweet and sour white wine.
Next was Actual Brewing’s Photon.  I couldn’t detect much smell to it and it didn’t have a head.  This was a good beer for those trying to bridge the gap from light beers.  It’s very fizzy with little taste.  There’s a slight after taste to it as well.  It’s a nice choice for the light beer drinkers but not too interesting to your average craft beer aficionado.
I haven’t had anything from Fathead’s Brewery in a while and tonight it was time to make amends.  I didn’t even have a choice.  How do you not drink something called Fat Head’s Bonehead Red Rye Cask w/ Pineapple and Habanero.  It had a nice head to it and a soft foam.  They used the rye well, where many breweries have failed.  There should have been a piney and pineapple taste but it had trouble competing with the habanero's heat.  The spiciness took over more and more of the taste as you drank, including sticking around for a long after taste.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it and would get it again.  I want to try it with something to eat.  I believe that its complex taste will enhance a variety of foods.
My favorite beer of the night was Elevator’s Horny Goat.  I am always impressed with what Elevator produces and tonight was no different.  Horny Goat is a dark beer that even Kelly, who doesn’t like dark beer, liked a lot.  Its taste combination of whiskey, vanilla, and coconut creates a taste that’s more than its parts.  Horny Goat just got better as you went.  You must drink this, it will raise your expectations for beer and yourself.  Perhaps this was simply because it was my fourth beer in.
My last beer of the evening was Brother Drake's Apple Pie Mead.  This is not a shy mead.  It has a strong sweet aroma of apple, alcohol and cough syrup.  It’s a sweet mead, whose taste is heavy with apple and honey.  The combination can come up almost fake due to its potency.  This strong apple pie taste hides its 13% alcohol content.  This is a beer whose goal is to blast you in the face with apple pie, then knock you on your ass.
These are experiences that can’t get with a domestic beer.  Our Ohio craft beers, instead of being part of the background of getting drunk, are part of our experience.  I enjoyed getting to know some new Ohio beers.  Thank you to the people that crafted them for us.
These are the other beers included for the World of Beer's Best of Tap Takeover:
Crafted Artisin Meadery Meadjito 
Brothers Drake Apple Pie Mead 
Brothers Drake Sour Paw Paw Mead 
Black Box Abbey Ale
Black Box Cloud 9
Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. Barrel Aged Cerberus
Thirsty Dog Whippet Wheat 
Rockmill Petit Saison
JAFB-Wooster Brewery Harvest Saison
JAFB New Stunt IPA
Actual Brewing Ingenuity
Actual Brewing Photon
Great Lakes Brewing Company Space Walker
Great Lakes The Wright Pilsner
Great Lakes Mango Perry Firkin
4 String Backstage Blonde
4 String Big Star White IPA
Hoppin' Frog Brewery Turbo Shandy
Hoppin' Frog BORIS the Crusher
Buckeye Sunstream
Buckeye Hippie IPA
Jackie O's Pub & Brewery Paw Paw Wheat
Jackie O's Galaxy Mandala DIPA
Jackie O's Dark Apparition
Catawba Island Whitecap Wit
Catawba Island Double Couple
Franklin Brewing Company Ltd. Company Ltd. Americas Gold
Franklin Brewing Milk Street Stout
Willoughby Brewing Company Peanut Butter Cup Porter
Fat Head's Brewery Jack Straw
Fat Heads Bonehead
Fat Heads Bonehead Firkin w/ Habanero and Pineaplle
Fat Heads Bumbleberry
Portside Distillery Pop Smoke Rauchbeer
Portside Brewing Ironclad
Lagerheads Smokey Robinson
Seventh Son Brewing Golden Ratio IPA
Seventh Son American Strong
Brew Kettle White Rajah
Brew Kettle Black Rajah
Columbus Brewing Restaurant Bodhi
Columbus Brewing Dalton
Mt. Carmel Deeper Roots Coffee Brown
Elevator Brewing Company Horny Goat
Griffin Cider Lemon Blues
Griffin Cider Honey Oak Nitro
Rivertown Roebling Porter Nitro



Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Bar #60 Melt


There are few bars in Lakewood, or even Cleveland, that have gotten even a fraction of the hype that this week's bar has received. It has been featured everywhere from the Plain Dealer's A List Restaurants to the Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. It has expanded its space and expanded into new spaces. It's fitting that for the last bar in Lakewood that I would have a beer at would be a meeting between Cleveland Scene's 2014 best blog and best sandwich. Obviously, the 60th and final bar is Melt Bar and Grilled.

For the most part we had all already been to Melt Bar and Grilled at one point or another. I haven't been there since the blog began. For a while, it was simply because everyone wanted to go on the Melt blog day; but we couldn't match everyone's schedules at a time when the wait wasn't too long. When you've got one of the most famous grilled cheese sandwiches in America, there will probably be a line. I remember how excited everyone was about a grilled cheese sandwich at a bar back when Melt first opened. There's a certain nostalgic excitement when you get foods that you mainly ate when you were a kid. Mac & cheese, pizza, and grill cheese are always exciting to eat. They were as much a treat as as a meal as a child. When we eat them now, it's always a bit more fun than other foods.  Since, none of us were new to Melt, we tried a new experience:  Melt's new bruch menu!


On a rainy Sunday morning, ten of us arrived at Melt Bar and Grilled fifteen minutes before the bar even opened. Already a couple people were waiting for the doors to unlock. We all huddled under the entrance overhang looking forward to our culinary adventure. When you enter through the back entrance, you find yourself in a waiting area with benches and a souvenir/hostess stand. This waiting area was an important part of the remodel. Originally, the waiting patrons would simply wander around the tables trying to keep out of everyone's ways. Your eyes quickly accelerate from randomly wandering to quickly darting about at all the amazingness around. This eye candy ranges from old ads and photographs on the walls to holiday themed blown plastic figures up above the bar. After looking at the snowman army above, your eyes will be drawn to a slew of beer taps showing off their fantastic draft selection. The front entrance of Melt is an amazing combination of caricatures of people and local places around Cleveland.

Our waiter had already made it to our table by the time I had stopped wandering around taking pictures. He was friendly and did his best to keep us happy during our time at Melt. Unfortunately, there was a breakdown of communication during our stay, leading to two incorrect food orders and three incorrect drink orders. On a plus side, this lead to one of us getting a free meal.

We had a minor amount of confusion when we couldn't figure out who was missing. We knew the number but couldn't figure out how it added up. Suddenly, we realized that our missing person was already here.  We somehow overlooked her, even though she was blowing bubbles with her drool at the time. Yes, we forgot that Katie and Johnny's baby Nora was a person. I was then carded by our waiter.

As stated before, Melt has a superior beer list. It gives you the ability to get exactly what your in the mood for and possibly, something you didn't even know you wanted. I decided that North Coast PranQster, a Belgian style ale, was a proper breakfast beer. It's got a good bit of fizz with mildly sour, citricy flavor, with a bit of spice and apricot to boot. It stood great on its own and added to my eating experience. Oddly, the beer prices on the menu didn't match our bill at the end.

Now for the important part, the food. Melt now offers a Sunday brunch from 11am till 4pm on Sundays. You'll still be able to get all your favorites, you've simply got another half dozen sandwiches to try out. I went with the Breakfast Club Melt. It's basically your breakfast morphed into a sandwich. You take your normal egg, bacon and cheese sandwich coat it in pancake batter and deep fry it till awesomeness maximization is reached. I also got a side of bacon. They were out of the side portions of french toast. I'm not complaining because there is no way I could have touched the side of toast after eating the massive sandwich. This is also a good place to lose your chicken and waffle (sandwich) virginity, but watch out it is a mouth full. The agreed upon best sandwich on the brunch menu was the Stuffed French Toast. It's a combination of blueberry compote, lemon curd and cream cheese on cinnamon french toast. It'll force you to go mmmm and your friends to go “Awwwe, why didn't I order that.” Downsides? We had two people that can't handle all the deep friedness and had to get the salad. It was still good.


The regular menu has been shrunken and changes on a monthly to seasonal basis to allow different options throughout the year. They still keep some favorites year round. Smaller menus usually lead to more imagination and quality. Melt is another success story of this logic.

When we were leaving we saw that you get name tags so that the host can find you when your table is ready.

Do you want discounts?  Here are two options.  One, try the Melt Challenge.  All you have to do is eat their monster grilled cheese sandwich which includes three slices of bread and 13 types of cheese and a pile of fries and slaw without any help or trips to the bathroom.  If you survive, you'll get a t-shirt, $10 gift card, and a place on their wall of fame.  If your stomach can't handle it, then maybe your arm can.  if you brand yourself with a Melt tattoo, you get 25% off for LIFE.  These next two pictures are from Melt's website.

Melt  has one of the coolest atmosphere's in town and with five locations the wait's not too bad anymore. Their beer list is top notch, everyone will find something they love to drink. The food is greasy, gastropub priced and makes me droll just thinking about it. Their fried sandwiches are capable of competing against most any restaurant in the country. The service was knowledgeable and friendly, though this morning it was also easily confused. It is a requirement, as a Lakewoodite/Clevelander to eat at Melt. If you're reading this it's probably just to see if I agree with you and see some pictures. If you're the one person in Cleveland that hasn't gone or you aren't from around here and I'm your tipping point; then go to bar #60, Melt Bar and Grilled, and be full, intoxicated, and happy.

As the bar that is always near the top of everyone's list, it was fitting that the blog ended here. A proper celebration needs its grande finale, and no bar can do it better. It has been a privilege to see, explore and enjoy every bar in Lakewood. Each one has had something that made it unique and fantastic. I've made great friends and memories throughout my travels. Thank you for reading my blog and coming with me on my journey. Now it's your turn to go to Every Bar in Lakewood.

Oh wait. You didn't think I was actually done, did you? The quest may have been completed but there are still side quests to be had.  I've got some new ideas for blogs and for Every Bar in Lakewood itself, that will arise over the next couple months.  Plus, it's looking like four more bars will be opening by the end of summer.  I'm ready for new adventures.

14718 detroit Ave
216-226-3699
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