so so eats in the falls/bainbridge area

We live close to Chagrin Falls and love this area in general. As part of our weekend ritual, we head to the Starbucks in the Falls every Sunday for coffee and the paper, then a quick walk through the farmer’s market. Lately, we’ve been exploring different breakfast options in that general area as well as quick bites for dinner. Let’s just say we haven’t been overly impressed during our quest. If only Lucky’s was closer or Cleveland had a Bongo Room (an absolutely delicious breakfast/lunch spot in Chicago).

Washington Street Diner
Based on a recent review by Doug Trattner we decided to check this place out, which is right off of Washington Street in Bainbridge. I went with the old-fashioned thick French toast and Jamie had one of the well-stuffed breakfast sandwiches Doug described with eggs, cheese and bacon. My French toast, which was anything but thick, didn’t resemble the old-fashioned picture I had in my mind. In fact, it was pretty stale and boring. As for Jamie’s sandwich, it was super greasy, overly messy and left him also unimpressed. Finally, the place in general lacked that “perfect diner atmosphere” we’ve been looking for. I think it’s safe to say that will be our first and last visit, which is pretty disappointing because we both really wanted to like it.

The Grill at Bainbridge Commons
Let’s start with the positives: This place serves up a lot of local purveyors, from bread to cheese to syrup to produce and several items in between. And on our few visits, service was always friendly and the menu does feature a wide-range of options. As for the negative, the food is just ok – not bad, but not great. We’ve tried a few things, including the BLT, pancakes (they use Grateful Ed’s mix) and omelets. Again, nothing with that wow factor, but there’s something about this place that makes me not want to give up quite yet…

Yours Truly
Ok, here we have had two pretty good breakfasts, and this past one, we sat outside with Stella – a challenge, but fun. Each time we split the French toast and YT medley (pita stuffed with eggs, bacon and two types of cheese). Simple but actually pretty good, as was the French toast. And the best part (aside from bringing our dog), you can get a tiny sundae sampler for $1! It’s the perfect amount to satisfy your sweet tooth and not make you feel guilty.

Rick’s Cafe
I haven’t been to this popular Chagrin Falls staple in years until recently. We both wanted a burger for dinner and to sit outside. Enter Rick’s. We weren’t starving, so we split a burger and some fries. Unfortunately, the burger was fairly dry and didn’t offer much to make us satisfied. The fries weren’t bad, but they were covered with cheese so how bad could they have been? While I won’t be in hurry to order a burger from here anytime soon, I know this place is popular for a reason so I’m sure we’ll be back to try something else.

I knew from the very beginning this was going to be a mistake. But, the weather was perfect outside, the music coming from the restaurant was inviting and there was a seat open outside – we were swayed. When I was a kid, we used to eat here all the time – and I remember really liking it (especially those garlic rolls – yum). Things have changed. Service was horrible (our server was definitely on something – good for him, but how about waiting until after your shift?), the table/utensils/plates all dirty, the food was beyond blah and those garlic rolls… hard as a rock (but still garlicky). Jamie had the chicken cutlet sandwich and I went with the eggplant sandwich, which the server messed up and brought me the eggplant appetizer instead. The eggplant was greasy and lacked any resemblance of flavor. Seriously, not one hint of any seasoning in the breadcrumbs. And as for the sauce, I’m convinced they just opened a can of tomato puree and used that because again, no flavor. It’s a shame because this place could be a gold mine. In fact, since it’s survived all these years, I’m sure it is – or that people are ok with mediocre food. I will say this, it does seem to be a good spot for families, which is maybe why they have hung on all these years.

The Village Exchange
I’ve written about this place before. While I love its location and overall atmosphere, on our recent two visits, both my orders were messed up and service was beyond slow – and the place was dead both times. So while I was initially excited about this casual eatery, I have now given up. I’d much rather grab a sub at Dave’s next door and sit on a bench to people watch then wait 40 minutes for a sandwich made the wrong way.


  1. Nancy Heller
    Posted September 23, 2008 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Your post is probably why we never eat around there – even though we probably live closer to it than you do! You hit the nail on the head.

    Although – I’d give the Italian place by the Giant Eagle (is that Bainbridge Commons?) a try – Bon Appetito? Had a nice lunch there once and want to try it for dinner.

    I’d also like to try Michael Longo’s places.

    Other than that – buy goodies at Mazzulo’s and cook/eat them at home!

  2. Allison M.
    Posted September 23, 2008 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    I love Yours Truly. Never been to the one in Chagrin Falls because there’s one a half a block from my apartment.

    I was at Joey’s over the summer and not really interested in going back.

  3. bonnjill
    Posted September 23, 2008 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    I discovered First Watch in Cincinnati this weekend and was thrilled to find one in University Heights, right next to Whole Foods. OK, it’s a chain, but it’s a really good chain with fresh ingredients and unique breakfast items. I also like Chicago Deli or the Mustard Seed Sunday breakfast buffet in Solon.

  4. michelle v
    Posted September 23, 2008 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    I like Chicago Deli, too, as well as Jim’s Open Kitchen.

  5. BloggingJason
    Posted September 24, 2008 at 12:07 am | Permalink

    If you want a little taste of Lucky’s on the east side, try Vine and Bean on Larchmere, just down from Blvd Blue. They have some of Heather’s brunch items(I know I saw the Shipwreck, the granola, and the waffles) plus a few lunchy sandwiches that my parents and I rather enjoyed last week.

  6. Kelly and José
    Posted September 24, 2008 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Nancy about Bon Appetito — surprisingly nice atmosphere with a very extensive menu. They even have “movie nights” where they project an old school Italian film/musical once a month.

    Additionally, if you haven’t already been — you might want to try Raintree in Chagrin Falls. The “Dublin Lawyer” alone is enough reason to go there ;) They also have Sunday Brunch*


  7. michelle v
    Posted September 25, 2008 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    Jason – you remind me that I need to get there. It’s been on my list for awhile… maybe this weekend. Glad you liked it!

    Thanks for the tip on Bon Appetito. I’m not familiar with it but will check it out.

  8. danielle
    Posted September 26, 2008 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    i have had really good burgers and fries at Rick’s Cafe before, but their ribs are their best asset for sure. My dad and Russ love going there for their ribs. joey’s however, no fluke, consistently not worth going to, in my opion!

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