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Buckeye Beer Engine does not get that much play with the local food scene. Cheesecake and I went there last night; which was my first time. What can I say other than I was very, very impressed. If I lived on this side of town I would be either an alcoholic, chub tub, or an alcoholic chub tub.
I liked it on three separate levels: the beer, the food, and the setting.
BBE offers up 27 different beers on tap. With four separate price points ranked by letters A thru D, with A being the most expensive, they have a beer for the aficionado as well as the “I don’t care, just gimme a goddam beer” crowd (my father falls in the latter category). Since I’m a huge fan of Bear Republic Brewing, I went with the Hop Rod Rye. A self proclaimed Racer 5 addict, I was surprised that I liked this one more than maybe Racer 5. Later on I finished my dinner with Buckeye Brewing’s, Buckeye Bling Bling; which ended up being okay. Aside from the one page draft list, they also have what I think is at least a 3 page bottled list that totals somewhere around the century mark. If they just served beer and nothing else I would drive from Shaker Heights to come here.
While we waited for the food to come, we talked about what makes a good burger. Does it have to be a hand-made patty or can it be preformed? Is it the bread? Is it the toppings? Is it the sides that come with it? Does price play a role? Does a burger get points if it's cheaper, like $6, but a click below the $16 version? The discussion could have lasted hours. Each question giving rise to new ones. It just the kind of exercise you want to be engaged in when there's an entire keg of Hop Rod Rye on tap.
From some of the things I’ve read BBE cited fairly regularly as having a good hamburger. Cheesecake would be the only one sampling the bovine bliss tonight due to the fact that I am in the middle of trying to lose weight. Here something cool: if you see a burger you like but don’t want the hamburger patty, you can substitute it for a chicken breast or a spicy bean patty. I ordered the Blackened Burger (chicken breast substitute), with Cajun seasoning, topped with mushrooms, caramelized onions, and blue cheese. It had an awesome char on it, the bun was just a plain (but very soft and fresh), and there was so many big chunks of cheese on it they were falling out the back of the bun. Looking back I think this is the best sandwich I’ve had this year. A side of shoestring fries and a deep fried pickle come with the sandwich.
Since I wasn’t allowed to substitute the baked beans for the fries, I ordered them “to go”. When I reheated them at home, they tasted like they were fresh out of the pot. What had intrigued me was the addition of the jalapenos. These beans tasted like my favorites down at City BBQ in Columbus. With a brown sugar influence, they tasted just like my favorites. The only difference between the two of these recipes was the subtle heat you felt at the end of each bite. If there was a gripe, it’s that there weren’t any chunks of brisket or pork (at least none that I could see). These were a special so they might not be on the menu if you go.
A big bar dominates the central space of the restaurant, proudly declaring that beer is at the forefront of this establishment. Behind the bar sits a battalion of taps, eager to serve any thirsty customers who come through the door. To the left of the bar are tables and booths, with high boys rounding out the balance of the seating in the front of the restaurant. I know it isn’t much consolation heading into winter, but a sizeable patio area wraps around the front of the building. I actually like drinking great beer with loud music, but it might not be the place to take the elders if they’re looking for burgers, unless you can sit outside or they too enjoy loud music beer drinking. In which case, a good time will be had by all.
The bottom line is that this is THE place to have sandwiches and beer. I know this may be sacrilege but I’m going to go so far as to say that the beer (27 different drafts, 100+ bottles), the food (inventive tasty sandwiches with bread that will actually fit in your mouth), and setting (both have loud music, both have tables and chairs but BBE just has more of them, and no 2 hour wait). I have a gift certificate for Melt that I still have to use, but after that I think I’ve eaten for the last time at the one in Lakewood. As far as my D, D, and D Mondays have gone with Cheesecake, this one was the best yet. Buckeye Beer Engine is definitely worthy of a special drive from Shaker.
Buckeye Beer Engine
15315 Madison Ave
Lakewood, OH 44107