Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bar #12 O'Donnell's Pub

The bars of Lakewood tend to rely on the extra features and options to put themselves above the rest. What attracts you to a bar? Do you look for the bar with the biggest patio, the cheapest beer, the best food, or perhaps the best antiquated mechanical game? This week I went to a bar the cuts out the extras and have decided just to make a nice, quality bar without the frills. Bar #12, O'Donnell's Pub, is the bar to compare all other bars to.

O'Donnell's Pub sits in a plaza on Madison Avenue with a notable list of businesses including a Subway, a Chinese restaurant and a church bank. Plus sides to this are there plenty of parking, plus if you have an early case of the munchies, then you've got options. When I enter I see a bunch of big (bigger than average) tvs, a chalk board with a list full of beer and specialty shots and everyone is enjoying themselves. Along the walls are 1970s movie posters and beer mirrors.


I picked my beer off the tap out of a list of quality options. I went with New Castle's Werewolf. I like New Castle's standard beer, this was slightly better. If you don't like New Castle that's fine there are a bunch of craft beers on tap and in bottle at some of the best prices in town.

As for food, well, there's a Subway next door.

Who comes to O'Donnell's? Obviously, people that like quality alcohol at an affordable price. People that go to the bar for people, drinking, music and TV but don't need the excuse of fried cheese or electronic bocce ball tournaments. To really know the people at a bar you must listen to their song, or in this case the random songs on the juke box they decided to drunkenly belt out. Their favorites seem to be Call Me Maybe and anything by Journey. So they're either a mixture of mid 20 to 30 year olds or I happened to stop by on Glee night.

Service at the O'Donnell's Pub was good, Chris was friendly and proud of the bar he worked in. The pub was also noticeably clean. O'Donnell's may not offer all the bells and whistles you may find at other bars but you won't have anything to complain about what they do offer. Bar #12 is the protobar. It's made of the elements that make a good bar and is what I'll be comparing bars to in the future. I'll be going back to O'Donnell's Pub and will see what Rachel and Fin are up to next!...Ok, and yes I got Subway afterwards.

Awesome: TVs, Craft Beer (prices)

16204 Madison Ave

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bar 11 The Winking Lizard

Depending on what you are looking for, this week I went to a great bar or this week I went to an awful bar. It's like me and peanut butter. I can't stand peanut butter but I like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. However, I don't like those Easter egg peanut butter cups because they are too peanut buttery. Bar #11, The Winking Lizard, is my peanut butter cup. The questions is, did it have enough chocolate to hide a bad experience?
The Winking Lizard is inside of a huge old BPOE Elks Club (as I learned from Stephen Udycz in the comments)  and it kept a lot of the original wood work. The entrance room gives you the option of heaidn upstairs to a private room, to the left is the dining room, downstairs is the bowling alley and straight ahead was the main bar area. The bar is a giant room full of old wood work and giant signs and tvs. There's plenty of seating and bar space. Johnny had already gotten a table, so I sat down and waited to put in an order.
Twenty minutes later, I gave up and went to the bar. The bar service was quick, helpful and polite. They have a large amount of beer on tap, I had an Arrogant Bastard. It's a nice complex beer full of alcohol and an awesome.They also have a giant variety of pop flavors, numbering over 100.
Food was real good too. I had five spicy bbq wings that weren't special but were very yummy and were actually a little hot. I also has these fried cheese wedges and really, what could be wrong with fried cheese wedges. By the time I got my food, one of the bartenders had switched my account away from the bar and back to our waiter. I let him know that I couldn't get service and I guess it was new kid. Luckily for me the manager was “helping” him now.
Closed bowling alleys are high on the creepy list.  They should do haunted bowling.

Service from then on ran every 40 minutes. This included time between ordering and getting beer and the time from when we wanted our check and were able to sign the receipt. Our waiter received $3 tip which was $1 for every word he said to me (he would only talk to John but did his job well when he did it). The last of the peanut butter is that a basket of cheese, 5 wings and 2 beers cost me $30.
Best Skee Ball in Lakewood
Now there are lots of fun stuff in the Winking Lizard, there's pool, skee ball, even bowling in the basement (it was closed that night). There is plenty of good food and beer everyone will like. The tvs are large and the sound system attached is excellent. I also love what they left of the building's original aesthetic. This is what many bars would like to be if budget allowed.  That being said, The Winking Lizard is a big chain bar that has the capabilities of dealing with poor service and it is implied in the cost. This is my second trip to a chain bar for this blog and both times the service as been poor and slow. Perhaps my standards are higher after visiting bars whose owners and employees are personally invested in their service and patrons. In the end I had a good time but when I got home I complained.

 I've been to the Winking Lizard before and I'll probably go back again. The Winking Lizard is the default bar of Lakewood.  It's the bar people go to when they need the majority of people to agree on it.  So go, have a good time and check off The Winking Lizard even if it is a peanut butter egg on occasion.

Awesome: Skee Ball, Games, TVs,  Food

14018 Detroit Avenue

Also, I'll be Tweeting from the bars on my bar nights as well.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bar #10 The Shamrock Tavern (Deceased)

There are a couple bars in Lakewood that everyone refers to as Lakewood's biggest secret. All those bars really do have great food, beer and environments, but everyone knows it. To find Lakewood's biggest secret you must go to the end of the rainbow...well, Madison and find a Shamrock Tavern, Bar #10.

When you enter the Shamrock you are surrounded by games and windows. You've got pinball, a two person sit down Galaga and Pacman arcade game, a pool table, the Claw, an electronic shuffle board and horse shoes in the back patio. Along the walls and the booths are antique and Irish symbolic stained glass windows. The bartender was very friendly and our service quick.

Their on-tap options are small currently having a specialty, a domestic and a light beer. I went with Stella, a very drinkable beer that is both flawless and uninteresting. Their bottled selection wasn't bad and allowed me to try my first Black Label Beer. I don't drink urine, but if I wanted to, then I would go with the cold, fizzy urine taste of the Canadian beer with a black label.

The Shamrock Tavern makes all of it's own food including its bread. I went with the local favorite bahn mi, a brisket sandwich with pickled jalapenos and other good stuff with Jojos. All of it was great. Everything on their menu had this same unique take to your standards. Next time I go to the Shamrock I'll be trying the jalepeno poppers with chorizo inside.

Katie was defeated by the claw. The lack of drop button raises the level of practice needed for success.

We started off the evening with confusing game of shuffle board. We set up our own scoring for three people playing instead of two. Johnny broke out early but his high attack playing style was better at stopping scoring then getting points for him. Katie and I went neck and neck till the end. With victory in my grasp sent my final disk at about 50 miles an hour sending all my discs off the board leaving her winning by default. So, she went home to get ready to go to Chicago for Johnny's surprise birthday party the following day.
Our next game was Galaga. If you haven't played, the game is simple, you move left and right shooting aliens that shuffle back while they shoot and swoop at you. I got a top 10 score! When the other person is playing you get to see the game at the perspective of the aliens, sitting above the screen.

We made our way out back past a large dining room that hasn't been updated in a couple decades besides the large flat screen TV at it's entrance. There was a large patio out back with a nice view of the surrounding neighborhood. I don't know if the neighborhood would agree with that. The pit was set up mainly for daytime use to appease the neighbors and was still wet from the earlier rain. We weren't detered, as Johnny said, “with enough beer, anything is possible.” After jury rigging some extra lighting (we still couldn't be sure where the shoes landed when we threw them but we knew where to aim.) and our shoes getting a bit muddy the game was on. John's bounces were truer than mine and after a longer time than should have been required he won the day.

The Shamrock may not be made of gold but I will keep going back. There's plenty you'll want to do, eat and drink. Every other Friday the tavern is filled to the brim with an epic night of karaoke. There is too much awesome to this bar to just pick one thing, and if you're lucky, next time you go out you'll pick a Shamrock.

Awesome: Games, Customer Service, Food (quality and price), Horseshoes, Size

11922 Madison Ave

Friday, September 7, 2012

Bar #9, The Church Bar (Deceased)

A preacher, a nun, and a blogger walk into a church. The blogger goes to the preacher, what's good? The preacher answers: Beer! When I look around this house of worship, I see a mixture of gay and straight people with plenty of good beers on tap. At Bar #9, The Church Bar, drinking is a religious experience.

There is a new trend in Lakewood. Bars are beginning to open that really try to be unique and want to be the place you want to keep coming back to. The Church Bar is one of those bars. They invested over 45 thousand dollars into renovating and revamping McGintys Achill Isle Pub. They've created a warm and inviting environment with sofas, a fireplace and a noticeably clean environment. The bathrooms are immaculate. The Church Bar is a good mixture of the cozy and comfortable with random Christian iconography and fanciness.

My beer of the night was another from Six Point called Resin. 6 Point takes what's left over from their pilsner vats and make the beer from that. It tastes like a darker IPA..that's been scraped off the side a vat. But I liked it! Christopher was the bartender of the night, I was told that he makes perfect drinks by a bartender that comes to the Church to drink. They didn't have food, so I had more beer to wash my beer down with.
A man in black had been staring at our table on and off all evening. He eventually put together the courage to come over and talk to our resident preacher. I assume he was looking to get lucky. Unfortunately, once he found out that Aidan's boss is God, he shot himself down with the excuse that Aidan wouldn't like him. He spent most of the rest of the time we were there sitting by himself. Don't be this guy, be social and give yourself a chance to be shot down.

The Church Bar has a nice pool table. They also have a trivia game on Wednesdays that's a lot of fun and isn't afraid to admit that their game is actually for adults.
The Church bar isn't your stereotypical gay bar. This isn't a dance club and you can hear people talking below a yell. When asked why people come to this bar two of the primary reasons were this is a chill and relaxed environment and because this is a bar where everyone feels comfortable coming. The Church bar has made it, its mission to create a space where everyone is equals regardless of gender or orientation. They are currently the #3 ranked gay bar in all of Cleveland. If you want to go to a bar where you'll have a good time and meet friendly, interesting people in a great environment then come to the Church Bar. It's not a bar for gay people, it's a bar for people. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Awesome: Craft Beer, Atmosphere, Customer Service, LGBT

13751 Madison Ave.
(216) 226-1770