Sunday, August 1, 2010

ABC Tavern

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It seems that lately people have been raging hardcore against Melt. New York and San Francisco have dealt with small unknown restaurants having their original customers crowded out due to national media exposure or just straight up local popularity for years. In Melt’s case I think Guy Fieri put the final nail in the coffin for a lot of Clevelanders. Waits even at ridiculously stupid hours of 3 in the afternoon – during the week – can leave you faced with a 45 minutes to burn until your table is ready.

I was very curious to see what impact, if any, would be felt on Detroit Rd. once the east side location finally opened up. If there’s been a reduction in volume – I haven’t seen it. Having eaten most of what I want off of the regular menu, I’m more inclined buy the soups or specials “to go”. I encourage you to become a fan on Facebook. They send out a list of their specials every morning.

I’m actually happy that Matt Fish has struck gold with this concept. It’s good to see someone besides The Cleveland Clinic cranking the money machine on the North Coast. Anyone who can get 100+ people and counting to get Melt inspired tattoos permanently stained on their bodies is clearly onto something.

My normal Melt alternative – since I won’t go there to sit down and eat – is Buckeye Beer Engine (review here). I love the 20+ draft beers on they have on tap. For craft brew fans it’s a great place to go to try something you may have seen at the store but didn’t want to buy an entire six of. Actually, this is how I found my 2010 favorite – Tröegs Nugget Nectar. I love drinking this stuff with barbecue. Like Melt, I also love their specials. The fact that any burger BBE makes can be offered up as a beef patty, chicken breast, or portabella mushroom is a nice touch, too.

ABC Tavern

I have heard a lot of people say some great things about the food at this small bar/restaurant on West 25th St. in Ohio City. Not really knowing what to expect we decided to give it a go this past Saturday night.

In a word – awesome. The menu is fairly small (not like Hiroshi’s Pub). Have seen that menu? Holy shit. That thing makes Cheesecake Factory look like the Wendy’s Value Menu. Anyways….the menu at ABC is very thoughtful and creative. They aren’t being different simply to be different. It’s different good….real good.

We are suckers for calamari. I know most kitchens cringe at the thought of this brain dead little appetizer but ABC throws it down. A very light breading with a lime and something sauce that was so good I saved what was leftover for my fries. Regina had this lamb, cucumber, pita thing that is not what you would normally expect. The pitas were more like flatbreads that had a buttery crispness to them. Very good. I ordered the Atomic Hot Dog which consisted of a jalapeno stuffed hotdog, wrapped in bacon, deep fried, placed on a hot dog bun with chili oil, and topped with a Srachia aioli. Loved it. Spicy. Crispy. Salty. Delicious. I wanted another one right after I finished it. (Deep fried hotdogs kick ass. See: Hot Dog Johnny’s, Buttzville, New Jersey.)

After we finished our dinner (and a couple of Heavy Seas Pale Ales- aaard!), we were talking to the bartender. He said that they have another place opening in October in the Gordon Park neighborhood called XYZ Tavern. This new incarnation is going to be a little more dining and a little less bar than ABC. I can't wait to try it out.

I walked out satiated and smiling. An appetizer, two entrees, two craft beer drafts, and a tip ended up being all of $35. I guess that’s the one thing I wish we had more of on the east side is places like Buckeye Beer Engine and ABC Tavern. I think one could make an argument for Brennan’s Colony, but I think BBE has everyone beat on beer selection, ABC wins out on food, and Melt wins out on concept and a combination of food and beer. I enjoy them all.

ABC Tavern
1872West 25th Street
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 861-3857

ABC Tavern on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Sarah and I have been doing takeout from Melt a lot lately as we live five blocks away, giving us a 15 minute wait instead of two hours. We really like everything on the menu except for the grilled cheese, which we've agreed is too much bread vs. filling.

    It would be great if Buckeye Beer Engine opened an east side location. I just sampled a couple of their beers at Whole Foods, which were great. Brennan's isn't bad, but there are five beers on tap and it's not that cheap. I ordered the grouper sandwich last winter, which tasted good but the grouper itself was the size of 1-2 silver dollar pancakes and the sandwich was $12 or something.

    We'll definitely have to check out ABC Tavern.