Thursday, January 30, 2014

Bar #53 The Avenue Tap House

I've been to more bars in Lakewood than there are weeks in the year. The majority have been good for one reason or another. This blog isn't about that. We now begin the bars that I chose not to go to 52 times. Each one for a reason. This week, I go to a bar who's known for cheap booze, cheap women, and the worst wings I've ever had. Every bar deserves a chance to prove itself and tonight was bar #53, The Avenue Tap House's chance to show that I've waited too long.
This Tuesday evening I showed up to a mostly empty Avenue. The bar was half full; the large room behind it was empty. I was meeting my friend Jon tonight. Disappointment came quickly. First Jon wasn't there, then I was told they don't have food till 9 (it was 7). So, I ordered a beer (½ off) and waited. My disappointments took a turn for the better a half hour later, when both Jon and the cook showed up.
The Avenue Tap House has a bar on their left and right side sandwiching tables and stools in between. There's a raised seating area on the far left side with VIP style seating. A DJ station is set up above the primary bar on the left side. The back wall is basically just a wall with a big curtain over the entrance to where the bowling alley used to be. The bowling alley materials were sold to Mahall's a year or two ago.
My beer of the night was New Castle. It tastes like beer. That's basically it with this one. They eliminated the cheap qualities that plague beers like PBR and Budweiser and then stopped. Their beer options included a couple local craft beers, but mainly consisted of the normal domestics.
If you are coming to the Avenue for food check the schedule first. The cook comes in late for karaoke on Tuesdays and may not even be there on other days. If their kitchen isn't open, then you can order food to be brought over from The Kenilworth Tavern next door. We were able to get our food by 8. We went with the Taco Tuesday option but it lacked a vegetarian choice. The kitchen made this an option for Jonn anyway. The tacos were surprisingly good. Jon ranked them in his top three favorites in the greater Cleveland area. They are definitely worth checking out, the chicken more so than the beef. Avenue Tap House has jalapenos poppers (cheese version.) They taste like everyone's.

The story I was able to get on the two previous food providers to the Avenue is that both businesses didn't have enough variety to be successful in a bar that serves some food, as opposed to a restaurant with a bar. Basically, you need a variety of different (bar) foods to get people to impulse buy. The Avenue isn't a location to come for a specific food, except on Tuesdays. Beyond that, the wings I got from Guys Pizza at the wing crawl two years ago were so bad, we couldn't tell if they were undercooked or horribly frost burnt. I had liked their pizza. So, I don't miss them. I was also told by people that the following business, The Red Rooster, whose chicken I used to buy back when they were located by my dog daycare, was too expensive. I thought the chicken was good previous to moving to the Avenue. It looks like the newest option is the best one.

The music of the night was famous rock songs of the 70s and 80s. I assume this was to get everyone ready for karaoke. This brought up the conversation of, are these songs actually good, or are they only good because of the memories attached to them. Do I like Hotel California, which some people may argue is dreadful, because it's great or because my parents thought it was great and it was ingrained into me? Is The Eye of the Tiger amazing or does it feel that way in my head because I ran listening to it in cross country in high school and saw a montage in a movie containing it? The song, I'll Be Watching You, sticks out in many people's heads as a love ballad, especially after hearing it at so many weddings to the setting of people in new love. Is a song about Sting going mildly insane and stalking his Ex-wife a love song because our experiences dictate it? This effect of the events of our lives defining our perceived quality of music becomes apparent when we think to our favorite type of music and the bands that really stick out. Theses tend to be the music from our teenage years, which is always better than the music of today. The alternative rock of the 90s sticks out to me but perhaps it's only because that's what I left my childhood listening to. Our teenage genre of music becomes ingrained in our foundations of who we are as a person. Wonderwall probably does suck but it carries a lot of good memories with it, so it's good to me. Luckily, during karaoke, you can fake the effect of the songs sounding good with proper amounts of alcohol.
The service was good from both my bartenders Nicky and Mark.. They were friendly and put in the extra work to make sure that we were happy. Nicky tried to get us to stay for karaoke but wouldn't stay herself. She only sings if she's if she's drunk or if it's early and just her friends are around and she's singing Rainbow Connection. They were both open to chatting with us and not being just glorified drink pourers.
The Avenue Tap House's primary goal is to get people drinking. They offer good service at great prices. There are different activities and deals going on throughout the week. I have talked to people that leave the bar they are eating at to go drink for a bit at the Avenue to save money. Food is not their priority and isn't available as often one might like. However, if it is available, then I suggest you give it a try. Since. this is their third food provider, I'm glad I left it till Bar #53 skipping the first two. The Avenue Tap House was worth the wait.

18206 Detroit Ave.

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