Sunday, November 25, 2012

Bar #20: Riverwood Cafe

Until this point I have tried to go to bars on their “off nights”. On these nights when the big promotions aren't going, you get a better feel for who their regular crowd is, plus there probably won't be a wait for a table. This week I decided I wanted tacos, and only knew one place with Taco Wednesdays. This week I got my taco fix fixed at bar #20, the Riverwood Cafe.

We arrived to a packed bar and claimed the last table. Unfortunately, it was chairless and we had to stand. We spent the next half hour or so deciding if we wanted to stick around or leave. Luckily, before we could decide we saw a couple ask for the bill at a booth and claimed the table for ourselves. Unluckily, they ran into the age ole problem of who pays the bill. As we acted like we weren't watching them pull more and more money out of their wallets and move the check and cash back and forth, growling at each other, we listened to our bellies growl back and forth as well.

How do you decide who pays for what when it doesn't happen naturally. A couple elements come into the decision/complication of who pays. There is the chivalry element that demands that a man should pay. This can cause complications as it can cause some women to feel unequal early on. Rejection of this can cause the man to feel emasculated. Then some guys may have a problem having their food paid for by a woman. Along with all that, who pays can determine the seriousness of the relationship and can cause the other person to feel like they owe the payer. To all these complications I have two conclusions. I never cared who paid and I'm glad I'm married; so that I don't have to worry about crazy dating games ever again (among other reasons).

The beer selection was good. Regardless of the type of beer you like you should be able to get what you want. I went with a Bell's Oberon, a good quality craft beer with a strong distribution out of Kalamazoo. It's got a an interesting assortment of flavors that's not too heavy on the hops. Oberon is a good gateway beer if you are trying to get a loved one to move on from lesser corporatey beers.

We got a big assortment of foods. I tried all three types of tacos. I ordered them all hot, spicy obviously. They aren't that spicy, so order them hot. My favorite was the fish. They also have a competing version of Firecrackers. They were good but needed the dipping sauce. Other foods that were good included their wings, fries and pirogies. Unless we were very lucky it seems that all their food is good so come ready to get what you're in the mood for without having to only rely what they're known for.

The bar clientele were basically just a random selection of normal people younger than myself. They all seemed friendly and rarely annoying. The music was also fairly normal but both younger and rarely annoying. There was also, a pool table that spent most of its time unused as well. We didn't use it either. The bar had interesting things up in random places. The floor had nice tile work.

The Riverwood Cafe has been on the top of bars that many people recommend. There's a reason for that, it has what you want and at a good price. I had a good time and had no complaints about the Riverwood. The service was good this time and when I was there for the wing crawl. It's a bar that comes with the question: Why shouldn't you come here?   

Awesome: Tacos, Atmosphere

  • 18500 Detroit Ave
  • 216-521-9999
  • On Facebook

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bar #17: Rush Inn

You know what would be funny? If I waited two weeks to write my blog for bar #17 because it's called the Rush Inn and I didn't rush to get it done. Yeah, if you're pretending to believe that, then you can pretend it was funny too. Anyway, I was told the Rush Inn is great and it is.

Kelly and I arrived at the Rush Inn with the mission to figure out where to seat 4-10 people. The Rush Inn has plenty of seating a long bar and a room full of booths with giant walls. We went with the bar because we didn't know if anyone could find us in a wooden booth fortress city. There is a little bar in the city's side as well. It was probably better that we went with the bar side because we would have pulled one of the more annoying scenarios that you can put waiting staff through. Our friends slowly showed up every 15 minutes or so for the next 3 hours.

I was told by our Rush Inn expert that I was to get the hot Parmesan wings. I did and they are my new favorite wings in Lakewood. Now I have to go get more tonight! All the food was good. Practically every night something good is on special. They even have a $15 steak which I'm sure is great. But it is not on special.

The service and prices were good.

The beer selection is diverse. I got some kind of cider that I'll edit in later once I figure out what it was. I like hard cider between the Octoberfest and Christmas ale seasons. It's apply but in a manly way...well, it's better than some kind of lemon flavored Zima. I hate Zima. It's like someone fermented Clear Pepsi, which I didn't like either.

Bar talk of the night: is 3 Musketeers candy bar good? Though the vote was against it in the beginning it still won the night. I like 3 Musketeers! But I also respect it. Most chocolate bars need to rely on some combination of nuts, caramel or random crunchy things. 3 Musketeers, however, win with just chocolate. Payday decided that it would take the other end of the spectrum and went from a candy bar to glued together trail mix.

Rush Inn has good food and beer. It has a great atmosphere and it's patrons love it. Everything is not a bed of roses at the Inn. There aren't really cheap nasty beers, any chance of mostly naked painted women, and the excitement of possibly getting stabbed is nonexistent. I'll still go back to the Rush Inn, in fact I'm going tonight. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Awesome: Food, Customer Service, Water Buffalo Head, Booths

  • 17800 Detroit Ave
  • 216-221-3224
  • Rush Inn

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Bar #18 and #19: Obituary

There are two bars that I wish I could have blogged about before their premature demise. Sullivan's suddenly closed its doors shortly after I began this blog. The Screaming Rooster is still open but the owner/manager has been forced to leave and there's more to a bar than decoration and beer. This blog isn't about why these bars have closed but why they were great. I present to you:
Every Bar in Lakewood Obituary Edition

Sullivan's Irish Pub

Sullivan's Pub has been one of my favorite bars in Lakewood as long as I have lived here. It brought everything you'd want out of an Irish Pub without having to worry about the thick accents. I was usually drawn to their fish and chips with ample amounts of malt vinegar for the fries. By that point I was already stuffed with their artichoke/spinach dip and boxty wedges; a must for all visitors.

The pub's beer selection was everything Irish and complimented by their purchasable mugs. The mugs came with your name of choice on it and hung from the rafts anxiously waiting your return. Beer always tastes better from your own mug, especially when you get a discount for it.

Sullivan's was a place for events. They always had Irish performers that would come adding a that extra bit of Irish to the experience. One day a year Sullivan's was the only place to be. Obviously, that's St. Patricks Day. The bar was filled to the brim with a slowly revolving hoard of green people. If you wanted a booth there was an hour wait, if you were lucky and if you made arrangements to people that had already stolen seating earlier. Basically, you inherited seating and only the tricky ever stopped standing. We would get a booth early in the day and our friends would come and be replaced as the day went on. Live music would be playing for most of the day and the food wouldn't be quick but it would be done well.

Alas, Sullivan's Pub's new owner could not keep it open. Now the keys are returned and questions remain. Will somebody stand up and take over the reigns or will it become our next dollar store? Has anybody been able to get their mugs yet? Where is Every Bar in Lakewood going to spend it's St. Patrick's Day? Remind me not to use up all the Irish bars before March. For now, I raise my glass and say cheers to the finest Irish Pub Lakewood.

Awesome: Atmosphere, Personalized Beer Steins

13368 Madison Avenue

The Screaming Rooster

The Screaming Rooster was my current regular bar when I began this blog. We celebrated birthdays with our friends and the bartenders that knew our names. It was never a question knowing somebody when we got there, simply who we would know. We even ran a fundraiser for the local animal rescue All Dog's Heaven. The Screaming Rooster was everything we needed from a bar and that included Donna, one of two owners and the only manager we knew there.

The Rooster has my favorite bar food. It's called a Fire Cracker and it's an egg roll full of chicken, hot sauce, cheese and jalapenos. They were willing to make it as hot as it sounds. Every time I went there I order them even if I'm not going to eat them there. Immediately after typing that, I got a very strong craving for them. But isn't that what an obituary is, a chance to write what makes you happy about something that's gone even if it makes you a little sad.

The Screaming Rooster had an interesting selection of bands come through their doors. They ranged through many genres of music. Even as a small venue the Rooster has been recognized as a music venue throughout the Cleveland area. Its bands have been the back drop to different Lakewood events. Last year All Dog's Heaven special needs animal rescue had a fundraiser called Barktoberfest helping out with one of their dog's emergency amputation. The event's soundtrack was provided by the Samantha Fitzpatrick Band. They played a great variety of covers and original music that helped make the event a success. On the night of the Screaming Rooster's grand finale the rock-a-billy band, The Straight 8's, kept us rocking and dancing all night long. Even when the music wasn't play there were plenty of reasons to go to the Rooster.

The Rooster had some additions that made it a good bar to visit any night of the week. They had a diverse selection of beer ranging from the domestic to craft. The Screaming Rooster also knew how to properly serve tequila. It also has both skee ball and pool in its second room. If you wanted to watch “the game” the Rooster came very prepared with more TVs than any bar I know of. This includes TVs above the bar, on the walls and in many of the booths. All this isn't why the Screaming Rooster was my favorite preblog bar. This was Donna's bar.

Donna Repasy loved her bar. She was the the type of owner that always put the extra effort into making sure her customers, employees and even the bands were happy. She was friendly with everyone that came in and always made sure you felt welcome no matter how busy they were. To understand what the Screaming Rooster was you had to be there on its final night.

Saturday, August 18th two of Lakewood's biggest summer events squared off. As the Lakewood Pillars Wing Crawl highlighted Lakewood's Detroit Avenue bars, Madison Avenue had it's 10th annual Lakewood Car Kulture Show. It sprawled from Warren to Hilliard full of cars, motorcycles and vendors. The Screaming Rooster and Mars Bar helped sponsor the event that brought people to Lakewood from all over the county and beyond. Donna's only complaint of the the timing of the crawl was that it would limit the amount of new customers that would visit our town by not giving them the chance of going to both great events on different weekends. Donna was always a big supporter of Lakewood businesses.

That evening the show moved the Screaming Rooster. In between the Straight 8's sets the Rooster had a burlesque show by Cleveland's burlesque troupe, The Red Hot Heathens. The Heathens used a mix of comedy, sex, props and costume to to entertain at a level beyond simple dancing mostly naked women to actually entertain. Plus there aren't enough boobs in obituaries.

The bar was packed all night long. Donna's friends and customers showed up throughout the night, sometimes just to give their condolences and thanks even if they couldn't stick around. As many tears of joy and laughter were shed that night as tears of sorrow. It was a great night that few people that attended would forget any time soon.

The Lakewood Car Kulture Show wasn't the end of the Rooster or Donna. She now manages the gigantic Two Bucks in North Olmsted and the Rooster carries on run by the other owner. The Rooster is now just a bar with a really good spicy egg roll for me. Imagine Cheers without Sam Malone, it would look the same and taste the same but that era has ended. So, if you decide that you have to try a firecracker, head over while Vicky is bartending and tell her I said hi. I won't be going back, it'd be like going back to your house after you had moved away; same place but empty. Thanks for the good times Donna.

Awesome: Customer Service, Live Music, Donna, A Billion TVs, Skee Ball, Firecrackers, Family

15527 Madison Ave

There will always be new bars coming into and leaving Lakewood. I look forward to going to our newest bar, Taco Tantos; it's supposed to be phenomenal. Today, I mourn the loss of two of the best bars in Lakewood. The Screaming Rooster is still running but under newish management and there is still the chance that Sullivan's will open again. I am glad I had the chance to visit them and in moratorium I check off bars #18 and #19.