Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Cleveland: The Oak Barrel

The Oak Barrel is in the old Hoggy's location at Cinemark's Valley View location. With Hoggy's, the overall feel to the place seemed totally out of scale. Sound seemed to reverberate throughout the entire restaurant. The task of filling this place would be a tall one.

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to drop in for the first time for dinner at The Oak Barrel and was surprised to see Ben and Sarah from Heights Eats having dinner with their son.  After a little chat with two of the Heights Eats Three (the third wasn't really feeling the conversation) I headed off to find out what this place was about.

Decor and Space 4/5

The interior is a vast improvement over what used to be there. Gone is the mausoleum feel of the old place. The new owners have successfully portioned the massive space into several smaller scale 'rooms'. I was skeptical they would be able to do it, but it seems to work. Imagine my surprise when the owner told us capacity is 450!

Food 3/5
First off, the beer list is very good. The Oak Barrel offers a broad selection of well known as well as lesser known drafts as well as bottles. I'd be able to bring my old man here and not have to worry about him being put off just drinking 'fancy beers', as he calls them.

For dinner, I had the Turkey Burger and Stuart Spivack (foodie about town) ordered the ribs. I thought the burger could have used some kind of special mayo/sauce concoction. The burger itself was a little 'peppery' but probably would have been better if it had something else besides LTO to play off of. It was cooked all the way through and the bun was money. The fries were also above average.
Das Turkey Burger and Fries

Stuart liked the ribs alright. You could tell just by looking at them, they had a decent amount of smoke put to them. They were probably more KC style than a Memphis or Carolina, but he seemed to like them. Again, the fries caught props as well.

The Ribs and Fries
One strange thing I noticed was the sourcing of the pork noted on the menu. While I am interested in knowing where the food comes from, I probably don't need to know the pork is from Daisyfield Farms. People that don't care, aren't going, while people that are obsessed with that sort of thing will know that Daisyfield is factory pork. I'd just leave it off the menu. It's been my experience that non-factory meat gets called out on a menu, while factory does not. Picky? I know, but just an observation. I actually don't mind factory pork for things like ribs; for the money there's just not a big enough difference for me to pay the premium for heritage.

Service 3/5
I believe Heather was our server. Service got a little harried at the end simply because there was an older group that seemed to be packing up 3/4 of what they ordered to take home. She was doing the best she could for as busy as the place was and the avalanche of "to go" containers she was bringing out. She was doing a really good job until Mamaw started packing up the half the kitchen.

Overall 3/5
I thought the experience was a good one. Since I'm on the east side and I have people on the west, it would be a perfect compromise for lunch or dinner. Prices are in line with the setting and the portions. The Oak Barrel offers a little something for everyone while providing a nice setting, good service, and a solid value.

The Oak Barrel
5975 Canal Rd
Valley View, OH 44125
(216) 520-3640

The Oak Barrel on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Good point about Daisyfield. Promoting factory farm pork is borderline goofy. We've really enjoyed our meals at Oak Barrel but found the service a bit slow--hopefully they're working that out. It was good to see you and Stu, and sorry I didn't notice the shout out until now (been pretty busy lately and not blogging much). Heights Eats #3 tends to be kind of shell-shocked whenever someone he doesn't know talks to him, but we're working on that. Ground turkey can be hard to make palatable, so even a decent burger from it strikes me as a good effort.