Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Bar #59 Iggy's Bar

After going to 58 bars you could worry that the mystery is gone in my relationship with every bar in Lakewood. Have I seen it all or is this simply going to be some mix or version of bars that I've been to? A bigger question I had going in was, how do I know nothing about this bar. Bar #59 is Iggy's Bar and it's the bar I knew the least about going in.

I approached an unnamed building with a couple beer signs on the front. This would lead to confusion throughout the night. There were 3 doors on the front of the building. I tried the farthest first, thinking the entrance would be marked. I was wrong and ended up having to use the first door I passed and the last possible option.
Upon entering Iggy's Bar you are first hit by COLOR. The wall behind the liquor bottles is lit up and then your eye is drawn to a crazy mural at the back of the bar. The second thing I noticed was a man yelling “This is why guys kill their wives!” It seems he was getting a divorce or his live in girlfriend left him. The only other person at the bar was a stereotypical Grateful Dead fan (actually a member of a Grateful Dead tribute band) that was trying to talk down his rage that night. Unfortunately, Kelly and Lynn had disappeared on the way to the bar; so I was sitting alone.
I ordered a Magic Hat #9. It's a lighter beer with a bit of fruit taste but only if your looking for it. It's also a bit bitter. I enjoy drinking it but it's a better representative of itself than of any genre of beer. Example being, it's not what you're looking for if looking for a fruity beer. It should be brought up that the bartender was quick to give extra beer options beyond what was on tap. He was my favorite combination of bartender characteristics, being laid back, helpful, and knows his product.
Throughout the evening, I had friends show up. Every arrival began with a confused text about where the bar was. Along with Kelly (wife), Andrea, and Lynn, Johnny made his first Every Bar appearance in months, and Missy of Lakewood's own All Dogs Heaven special needs dog rescue, who has been talking about making it to one of these since the beginning, finally made it with one bar to spare.
I'm currently reading Game of Thrones, actually I'm on the 5th book of the series that begins with a book of that name. This lead me to decide to leave the land of beer and try a rum by the name of Kraken. I had never heard of it but others had. I don't like drinks mixed with coke so we figured out mixed drink. It wasn't called squid but something like it and tasted like vacation. I quickly had two, which helped one game I played later and humiliated me on the other.
They have bar bowling and much fun was had with it. I won, which always helps make things more fun. You would think you'd hear about more people being horribly injured by angry, drunk people throwing those heavyish wooden balls at people's heads. One point for humanity not being awful I suppose.
Iggy's Bar also has more pool tables than any bar in Lakewood.

After taking random pictures around the bar I saw that Andrea's painted toes were crazy reflected on the chrome of the bar. While taking a picture (seen below) the angry single man mentioned, a bit loudly, that she had some nice looking feet. I haven't written much about him since the beginning because once the women started arriving he went off to hide in the other room.
Lynn sometimes is referred to as angry. Usually not but she is more likely to be loud, tell you what's up angry than quietly brooding. Johnny, decided that he needed to quantify her rage on the punching bag machine. Johnny tried to incite her rage but only made her laugh. This is the force behind her laughter. Johnny followed beating the current high score.
Then it was my turn, but I decided that if I took a picture on a stool it would look like I was flying. The picture was at the wrong angle but regardless I was mistaken. During that one minute distraction the karaoke host piled all his equipment under the punching bag. So, we got him to move it. Now that all eyes were on me things went from bad to worse as whiffed on the first punch. So, we decided that I needed to give it another go. As I felt my foot slide on the floor under the bag, I knew that my fate of being mocked was sealed.
At this point, obviously, karaoke was coming so we were going. We had a damn good night, even if it did end at 10pm. When you have to work at 7am your day begins and ends at unfortunate hours.
I really liked Iggy's Bar. The service and selection were better than good. The atmosphere was cheery. The bar patrons were...well, they weren't there yet. I had a surprisingly good time and want to return to Bar # 59, Iggy's Bar. However, put up a damn sign!
Epilogue: Johnny went to the open mic the following night. He said the music was good and diverse. He also said it was hard to get much play as it favors the regulars over the newbies. The rest of this paragraph has been deleted prepublication for being too specific. Instead I'll leave you with a lesson: If we've never had a conversation, then we aren't friends and you shouldn't “friend” me on Facebook because you will be denied.

13403 Madison Ave

Friday, June 13, 2014

Bar 55 Sidetrack Cafe

There is always a bar that isn't right for you. It doesn't make that bar bad. It just means it's a wrong fit. Bar #55 is Sidetrack Cafe.

It was a beautiful, sunny Thursday evening. This is important because good weather for riding motorcycles means good business for their favorite bars. The parking lot was packed when we arrived, plus some of the sidewalk with motorcycles. We entered a busy bar the smelled of the road and cigarette smoke. “There is no smoking nor ashtrays in the Sidetrack Cafe.” All the seats were taken at the bar and as many people were standing around talking and having a good time.  Classic rock was on the digital juke box and wouldn't deviate.  I made my way to the bar and was helped by a young woman that was probably half the age of the majority of patrons. Yes, Sidetrack Cafe is a biker bar for those beyond middle age.

I ordered a bottle of Yuengling. In some bars you just want a cold beer whose taste you can ignore for the most part. There are no taps.

Our friend Lynn arrived but didn't come in. I went to see what had happened and almost got run over by a motorcycle zipping by as I stepped through the door. It turned out she was simply messing with her phone.

She ordered a jack and coke and described it as the worst ever.

I left her with Kelly and went to take pictures in the back rooms. I was saddened to see the pool table gone but there was a piano and small patio. Sidetrack Cafe is a large, three roomed bar that can handle a large crowd even if everyone wants to sit down and eat.
When I returned a minute later, one of the older bikers had stopped by the table to hit on the ladies. He was denied.

We debated on getting food but I was eventually out voted against my argument of “but it looks good!” Sidetrack Cafe is supposed to do a great breakfast/brunch.
So, we left.

Sidetrack Cafe is a pretty cool bar whose patron's love it. Their beer list and prices are alright. I've only heard good things about their food. I plan on returning in the future to give the bar the time it deserves. However, I had the wrong group for the bar that day. One of the great things about having 50+ unique and interesting bars in Lakewood is that there is a bar for everyone and obviously, everybody will be able to find a bar they won't like. Sidetrack Cafe, bar #55 is worth checking out because it's fucking awesome, just not for everyone.

13429 Lakewood Heights Blvd. Cleveland, OH 44107

Monday, June 9, 2014

Bar #58 Lizardville

It is a rarity in this blog that I get to go to multiple bars owned by the same people. Rarer yet, though logical, are those two bars being in the same building. This unique situation is enhanced because its sister the only bar to get a negative review out of every bar in Lakewood. Lizardville is bar #58 and seeks to redeem the Winking Lizard name.
We parked by their side entrance upon arriving. It's not the most inviting route, bringing you by the dumpster and using banners for its signs. However it is quicker and doesn't require scaling steps from the building's main entrance. As I was taking pictures out front, one of Lizardville's employees happened to come outside and offered to take my picture with the sign. He (Jarvis) would be the first of many very friendly and very helpful employees.
We entered a dim but inviting environment. There were unique whiskey and beer signs around the bar. But when you enter you won't see any of that. On the wall above the bar there are 300 bottles of whiskey. Their prices range from a couple bucks to a couple thousand. We later found out that there are multiple lines of security that prevents after hours theft. If you aren't a whiskey drinker you just have to turn around to see wall after wall of bottles of beer. These are available to take home or your bartender can cool them down in 5 to 10 minutes.
All seating is on bar stools and unless you are approximately 5 foot 8 or above, depending on your torso to leg length ratio, your feet will dangle. A note to those people who are looking to open a bar or at least update their chairs: if your average adult's feet don't rest on anything while sitting in their chair, there will be probably be temporary discomfort and numbness. If your customer's legs start hurting while at your bar they will leave much earlier costing you money and will decrease their chances of returning, costing you more money. In other words, short people drink beer too; give them a chair they can sit in.

I couldn't pick a beer from the wall due to the ridiculous amount of options. I instead went with my regular beer source, the tap. Our super helpful bartender Joe picked my beer for me following my description. The Columbus Creeper IPA has a sour smell with a big head. It is light, bitter, with a bit of sharp fizz. A quality beginner IPA that's only available on tap, and it's worth a taste.
Kelly went with Eagle Rare Single Barrel whiskey out of Frankfort, Kentucky. It had a clean, light flavor and was just about the easiest drinking whiskey I've tasted. Warning, it drinks like water and will lead to quick intoxication. Actually, the warning should be it drinks so easy that by the time you're feeling it you will need to plan on crawling home in joyous, blurry confusion.
They have a good soft pretzel with a great cheese dip and a spicy mustard that's not too spicy. I also went with the bacon, cheese burger. The bacon was perfectly crispy and the burger itself tasted like it just came off your grill. Downsides, were the prices were still a little high and you can't get the deals from upstairs.
If you want to drink something a bit more interesting, Lizardville also ages some of their liquors into, hopefully, better liquors. These include whiskey, rye and vodka with orange peels.  Dylan was trying to remember a whiskey he liked but all he could remember was that old was part of the name.  The bartenders took down all the "Old" whiskeys until we found the correct one.
The bartenders are very knowledgable about their beers and whiskies. They enjoy talking about them and will even help you out picking the bottles you'll be bringing home. This is the ultimate beer and whiskey nerd haven in lakewood.

We walked into Lizardville with a sense of dread, after a previous reptilian themed bar had fought so hard to fail the previous blog. From the moment we got there till we left, they only strived to impress us. The bar had a comfortable quiet environment surrounded by booze and beer with a couple of TVs. The food wasn't really worth the money but it's still pretty good. We even returned here after leaving a different bar later in the same week. If you like lots a great service, beer and whiskey, then go to bar #58, Lizardville right now.

14018 Detroit Ave.