There are places I just want to love by default. Places that are synonymous with Cleveland and breed local through and through. I want these places to thrive and become a successful part of our make-up. But no matter how much I want to like something, unfortunately that doesn’t mean I will. Case in point, Great Lakes Brewing Company.
First, let’s start off with what I do like: the beer, but that’s a given. We all know the history here and that Great Lakes does brew some really great and nationally recognized beer. And I am by no means a beer enthusiast, not even close. But I enjoy their offering and whenever I need to send a thank you of sorts to out-of-towners, it’s usually a case of Great Lakes (Gina Batali at Salume in Seattle said her whole family really enjoyed the beer we sent and are now fans).
I also like the building itself, the buidling’s history and the fairly new patio. It’s a smart addition on their part and well-done. I’d happily go back and sit on the patio for drinks, either before a game or just because. You can tell they put a lot of thought, time and money into this and I’m sure it is paying off. And I like that it’s eco-friendly. If only that same effort was evident throughout all aspects of the restaurant, primarily the menu, which leads me to what I don’t like: the food.
We found ourselves at Great Lakes on Monday with our good friends before the Tribe game by way of Flying Fig (forgot this place was closed on Mondays). Jamie and I got there a bit early and since we were starved, we started off with the cheese and meat board and an order of hot wings. I didn’t try the wings, mostly because after a few bites Jamie, a self-proclaimed wing aficionado, declared they were some of the worst he’s sampled. As for the cheese/meat sampler, I can’t say it was much better. The sopressata and cured sausage was incredibly tough and just tasted old and weathered. The cheese was ok, particularly the blue.
For dinner, we both had the tomato bisque and I had the spinach salad with shrimp and balsamic; Jamie had the same but with steak. Again, nothing positive to say here about two dishes that in theory, should be incredibly simple to execute and tasty based on this type of establishment. The rather small shrimp were over cooked and over salted and the steak was tough. Even the dressing was bitter. By the way, I wanted the chef’s salad but our server quickly told me to order something else. She honestly shared with us (which I always appreciate) that it’s simply not good and in fact, would be coming off the menu the very next day. As for the soup, I will say that wasn’t bad and was easily the best dish of the night.
I will continue to support this place because of what it is, but primarily through beer purchases at Heinen’s. If we’re in the area and it makes sense, I’ll stop back in – but not for the food. For that, I’ll head over to one of several other places in the area where I know I’ll leave happy and satisfied. Cleveland connection or not, at the core you still have to offer a good product because people are paying good money for it.
On a side note, I can’t believe how many Yankee fans were at the game. At times it felt like I was at an away game!