It feels as if there are no shortage of restaurant openings in Chagrin Falls so far this year. This includes the tiny wonder that is Umami, Fresh Start Diner (replaced Dink’s) and now Jekyll’s to name a few, which is part of the Hyde Park Restaurant Group.
We’ve made two visits to Jekyll’s so far (one was by the invitation of their PR person). I was impressed – with the view and soon-to-open patio. The food, unfortunately, fell short. But despite my thoughts on this place, Jekyll’s will do well, really well. And once the newly constructed patio opens, those that missed out on a seat at Gamekeeper’s and 87 West (also nice patios) will surely rejoice.
But despite my mediocre thoughts on the food, they are going to get another visit out of us this weekend. And it’s purely because of its location and views. We’re taking my in-laws there for mother’s day and this is an incredibly picky duo (actually, that whole side is). We’re talking a strict diet of American and Italian fare – that’s it. And even then it get a little iffy. I love them, but really hope my daughter doesn’t inherit any eating habits from her dad’s side. We usually take them to Blue Canyon, which they enjoy, but this time wanted to take them someplace new. And since they’ve never been to Chagrin Falls and have been eager to check out the town we spend so much time in, we figured this was a safe bet.
The latest restaurant from the Hyde Park Restaurant Group—the team that runs The Metropolitan Café, Blake’s Seafood and Hyde Park—has opened its newest restaurant venture in picture-esque Chagrin Falls.
Food: Chef Kevin Foley, together with the Hyde Park team and guidance from Chef Michael Herschman, developed a menu that at first impression, is surprisingly rather reasonable.
With a focus on classic American fare, the menu offers a selection of fish, steaks, poultry, pizza, pasta and daily features. Chef Foley, whose five years as an executive chef includes Smith & Wollensky in his hometown of Columbus, says he believes that with his approach to cooking, the diner always knows what they are eating because he tries to let the ingredients stand out and not complicate a dish.
Popular items include the truffle chips with candied pecans and sage, four-cheese penne, wood-grilled lobster pizza with mozzarella and double-cut pork chop with apple bourbon chutney.
On our visit, we tried a sampling of appetizers and entrées, including the rare tuna, ginger calamari, goat cheese-crusted filet mignon with cranberries and sweet balsamic and Chilean sea bass with a crystal citrus sauce.
The tuna, which is the chef’s signature dish, was frankly disappointing. While the sweet mango slaw was a nice complement to the slightly spicy tuna, the tuna itself was dry and surprisingly not served rare. In fact, there was no beautiful deep jewel tone to be found.
Like the tuna, the accompaniments of the calamari were nice, specifically the chili lime dipping sauce. But the calamari itself was nothing special. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great—it was typical and rather ho-hum.
The dinners were slightly better. While the filet was flavorful and the gruyere gratin was quite tasty, the steak was ordered medium and served well-done. The wood-grilled sea bass had a pleasantly firm texture and paired nicely with the server’s recommendation of the citrus sauce—albeit slightly on the oily side, but still enjoyable.
Décor: The restaurant received a total makeover inside and out from its former days as Blake’s Seafood. Unfortunately, this included a paint job on the outside from white to a brownish tan. The restaurant would have been best served by retaining its original color. Inside, the large windows with even larger velvet drapes with contrasting reds overlook the best part of the restaurant—the falls. Other decorative touches include the exposed brick wall, wood floors and giant, overhead circular lights. However, there is almost too many lights competing for attention.
Perhaps the best part of the restaurant isn’t even open yet—the street-side patio. Come mid-May, both the lower and newly-constructed upper patio will open. The upper patio, which will seat 70, will feature a bar and giant fireplace. This will surely become a destination in Chagrin Falls throughout the summer.
Insider Tip: If possible, request table 60. It’s the best seat in the house offering stunning views of the Chagrin River waterfalls.
Bottom line: Go for the view, go for the happy hour and go for the patio, but go knowing it’s not the food drawing you in.