808 Shave Ice

In keeping with the Hawaiian theme, I also came to appreciate shave (not shaved!) ice in Hawaii, which is a much better version of a snow cone. The Hawaiians shave the ice until it is almost the consistency of snow. There is no crunch from the ice. This local chain also uses high quality imported flavors mixed with 100% cane sugar and contain no high fructose corn syrup or preservatives. The shave ice cones are handcrafted and can take 30-60 seconds to maintain quality and presentation. You can also top it with sweetened condensed milk (called a ‘snow cap’), whipped cream or mochi or get a scoop of vanilla ice cream at the bottom for your very own float.

There are a ton of flavors to choose from. The first time I went I chose one of their suggested combos (Lahaina Luna), which features pineapple, coconut and banana. It was a very tropical treat on a very hot day in May. Another of my friends ordered The Cool Cat (root beer and vanilla with a snow cap). She said it hit the spot. We got a kick out of their tables, which include recessed holes for the shave ice cones to fit into.

By the time I made it back, Covid was in full swing and there was no more seating. You order at the window, go stand in front until your order is ready, and then leave. I chose to eat in my car, but the church a couple buildings down has some picnic tables set up on the front lawn.

I’ve been back several times since – one of the most memorable was the Getaway, which features margarita, pina colada, a mai thai. These non-alcoholic flavors were still chocked full of flavor. But everyone kept recommending the Tiger Blood flavor (strawberry-coconut) to me, so I ordered two-thirds tiger blood and 1 part orange dreamcicle. I loved it. The two flavors complemented each other really well.

Then I tried another combo just to be adventuresome and tried a combination of my own making. I chose tiger blood, passion fruit (which is dye-free and comes out clear white) and banana. That was a winning island combination as well.

This place also offers a lot of choices. In addition to shave ice, they serve bubble tea, ice tea, various hand-pressed lemonade flavors, smoothies, and milkshakes. Overall I love this place. I’m sure you will too. I’m always sad to see it close in the fall (it’s open from May to September – their close date this year is September 27th).

Lahaina luna (pineapple, coconut, banana) with a snow cap

Getaway (margarita, pina colada, mai tai)

Tiger’s Blood, Orange Dreamsicle, Tiger’s Blood

Tiger’s Blood, Passion Fruit, Banana (w/ ice cream)

Contact info:

808 Shave Ice
21280 Lorain Avenue
Fairview Park, OH 44126

12457 Pearl Road
Strongsville, OH 44136

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
3900 Wildlife Way

Poké Fresh

Poké Fresh is a small local chain with locations in Akron (N. Hawkins Ave.), Cuyahoga Falls (Portage Trail), and Highland Heights (Wilson Mills near the entrance to I-271). I fell in love with poké in Hawaii a few years ago and love sushi, so I was excited to find this place. I discovered it when I was picking up my peaches from The Peach Truck. I’ve been back several times already.

My friends and I enjoyed the poké at the 2nd and High Poke House + Bar, but the volcano started erupting on Hawaii and the chef had to fly home to help his family and it closed. We also ate at Corner 11 Bowl & Wrap in Tremont, but as much as I enjoyed it I never think to eat there. This is the first poké that is in my neck of the woods.

​The word Poké (pronounced “PO-kay”) is Hawaiian for “to slice or cut”. Having been served on the islands since the early 1970’s, this delicious dish has finally made its way to the mainland! It is set up like a Chipotle, Piada, or any other fast casual food place. You can order one of their suggested bowls (there’s a vegan one and a cooked chicken one) or you can make your own. You start by choosing your rice base (white jasmine and brown available) or a bed of Ohio grown organic greens. Then you pick your protein. The choices include ahi tuna*, salmon*, shrimp, chicken, tofu, crabstick and more (*raw). You then choose your toppings. You can choose from edamame, furikake, corn, cucumber, pickled ginger, sweet onion, and more. I really like the pineapple. Seaweed salad, avocado, and masago are a dollar more. Lastly, load up with one of their signature sauces and top it off with something a little crunchy! Halé sauce is their house sauce, similar to a soy sauce.

The first time I went I ordered the ahi tuna and have them put every topping on it but jalapeno, edamame, and masago. I topped it with the Halé sauce and citrus ponzu and toasted sesame seeds. I enjoyed the cucumber, seaweed salad, pineapple, cilantro and avocado a lot. The portion was very large, and I ended up quitting with just a couple bites to go.

I loved it and was back two days later with a friend to whom I had raved about it. The guy behind the counter remembered me and suggested I get a loyalty card (and gave me two punches). The second time I asked for half ahi tuna and half spicy salmon. I once again had the same toppings on it and topped it with just Halé sauce. We sat inside and there was only one other table occupied. She enjoyed it a lot and took the menu since she lives in the Akron area.

The last time I was there I ordered for curbside pickup and discovered the popping boba in their bubble tea. I was a little more discerning with the toppings this time. I went with ahi tuna and added crabstick. I left out the seaweed salad and pickled ginger as well and only had the green onions, carrots, cilantro, sweet onion, cucumber, pineapple, fire roasted corn, and avocado. My sauces were the Halé sauce, citrus ponzu and wasabi aioli with sesame seeds and furikake as toppings. I especially liked the kick of the wasabi aioli. I was finally able to finish the entire portion.

I ordered the Honeydew Boba Tea with popping blueberry boba. The blueberry added a nice flavor kick, but after a little while they just deflated and moldered at the bottom of the cup. That said, the honeydew boba tea was very refreshing.

Contact info:

Poké Fresh
6319 Wilson Mills Road
Highland Heights, OH 44143
(440) 421-9121

Los Arcos Mexican Restaurant Bar and Grill

I never would have thought a great little gem of a Mexican restaurant would be hidden in a strip mall on Green Road. Los Arcos Mexican Restaurant Bar and Grill was recommended to me by my massage therapist. He told me many of his clients enjoyed eating there.

Authentic Mexican is hard to find, and I’m certainly not someone who can tell. However, one southern California transplant is a fan and that’s enough for me. She recommends the cheese enchiladas (and several people suggest getting the verde sauce) and fish tacos. And they have tacos and gorditos de lengua (tongue) on special on Saturdays (click on the Specials on the website). You don’t see too many restaurants here that serve tongue. They also serve pozole on Saturdays and menudo on Sundays as well as cheap street tacos (hard shelled for $1, soft shelled for $2) on Taco Tuesday.

I met a girlfriend there for lunch after her massage for our first foray there. I ordered what is probably the most Instagrammable item on the menu, but it is as delicious as it is beautiful. I ordered the pineapple fajitas. I love fajitas because they are hard to screw up, but these fajitas come in a pineapple half on top of the searing hot plate. The chips are fresh and warm, and I enjoyed the salsa. The margarita was great. I ordered a frozen peach margarita the first time, but over time I have determined that I love the fresh margarita the best.

This became my go to place to order from during the coronavirus crisis, because they starting serving their margaritas to go. I got a little emotional when I had a sip of margarita for the first time in months. They serve peach, raspberry, blue raspberry, strawberry, watermelon, mango, pineapple and lime on the rocks or frozen. They are available in glasses, jumbo glasses, half pitchers, and pitchers. I love the raspberry, watermelon and – when I really want to splurge – fresh lime margaritas. They are $14.99 ($18.99 for top shelf). They also have a nice happy hour every day.

My go to order here is the Pollo Adobo. It features grilled, seasoned and marinated chicken strips with grilled mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, bell peppers and onions covered in queso. It comes served with rice, beans and tortillas. This is my favorite thing in a Mexican restaurant. It isn’t available at every restaurant, so when it is I order it. I love the cheesy dip mixed with the savory chicken and veggies.

My dad likes chile rellenos, so I like to try them when I see them on the menu. I was able to order it in a combination with a spinach enchilada and bean burrito (Vegetarian Combo #7). I thought it was a little bland, and I loved the spinach enchilada the most out of the three. The best thing about it was the cost – $9.99. You can’t beat that when you are pinching pennies during a pandemic.

Growing up we had Chi-Chis, and everyone ordered their fried ice cream. The fried ice cream here actually comes kind of close to the Chi-Chis fried ice cream. My photo doesn’t look very appealing, because it was in a to go container during COVID (and on Cinco de Mayo to boot). They got overwhelmed with orders and I was afraid my ice cream would melt, but it came out perfect and was still cold when I got it home. I highly recommend it if you like the combination of cinnamon and ice cream.

Contact info:

Los Arcos
2175 S Green Road
University Hts, OH 44121
(216) 862-6623

Congin’s

Photo from Yelper Laura S.

I had never heard of Congin’s until I attended a Bordeaux wine dinner by myself at Le Petit Triangle. I was sat at a larger table of strangers, and we were trading favorite food tips (as foodies tend to do). One of the women, who I recognized as a writer for the Cleveland Heights Observer, recommended the pizza at Congin’s. Congin’s Pizza is a family-owned restaurant that has been in business for over 27 years. Apparently there are two locations – Congin’s Pizza in Chardon and Congin’s Italian in Cleveland on Nottingham Road & St. Clair near the Euclid/South Collinwood border). I drove past the Nottingham location, and it took me a second to recognize it. It looks like an unassuming auto body repair shop. One Yelper describes it as “a very unassuming, bare bones building lacking in even a modicum of charm.” I made a point to stop for a pizza (making the mistake of not calling it in – I sat and waited in the austere waiting area for a while). It was worth the wait, and I’ve been frequenting Congin’s Italian ever since. It is a quick drive from Cleveland Heights once I learned the back roads, and it serves what I think is the best old-school, American-style pizza in Cleveland. The crust is delicious, the red sauce is not too sweet and not too acidic, and they are generous with the toppings. I especially like the generous clumps of sausage. I am hooked. In fact, I was driving for Lyft on Valentine’s Day and decided to call it a night when I was near Bedford. I called in a pizza order to Congin’s and drove all the way there to get my pie just before they closed at 10 pm. Driving 271 to 90, I got off at E. 185th, and it was a quick trip until I was there on Nottingham. They have a drive-thru window if you’re lazy and don’t want to get out of car. I can’t usually wait until I get home and dig into the pizza as soon as I can. The melty cheese stretch brings so much satisfaction, and I rush to get the slice in my mouth before the warm toppings slide off. I’ve gotten pretty good at holding it so it all stays together. I order the same pizza every time – the Deluxe, which features pepperoni, sausage, mushroom, green pepper, black olive, and onion. I think about switching it up every once in a while, but why mess with perfection.

I’ve also tried several other things off the menu. I ordered the Congin’s sub on my second visit, because ordering the sub named for the restaurant seemed like a no-brainer. I enjoyed the sub a lot. The Congin features turkey, ham, roast beef, cheese, lettuce, tomato, mustard, & Miracle Whip. Even though I prefer mayonnaise I didn’t hate the Miracle Whip. I think it gave it a more unique flavor. The tomato was surprisingly fresh and perfect for a tomato in January. It was a nice surprise. I loved the fact that the lettuce they used was a spring mix featuring arugula. They have a meatball sub, Italian sausage sub, chicken and eggplant parmagiana subs, and hot buttered steak sub that sound good – as well as something called a Bundo Burger, which is apparently very similar to a Romanburger. Ah, Cleveland, never change!

Their pasta dinners come with a dinner salad and a bread roll. You can order a half order, but it doesn’t come with the salad or roll. I ordered the spaghetti with meat sauce my first time around. I always order spaghetti at a new place, but have learned not to order meatballs because I tend to be disappointed. The spaghetti was good and the meat sauce was quite generous. I will be trying other pastas off the menu in the future.

The wings were weird. People raved about them on Yelp. I was not expecting to receive breaded wings with the sauce on the side. They were large, meaty wings, but I prefer unbreaded wings. Breading makes the sauce soak in and is just unnecessary in my opinion.

Contact info:

Congin’s Italian
18812 Nottingham Rd
Cleveland, OH 44110
(216) 481-4585

Congin’s Pizza
104 South Street
Chardon, OH
(440) 286-1260

Fish Fry Friday 2020 – Emerald Necklace Marina/Big Met TO GO

One of my dining out group members recommended the Big Met Fish Fry, and we had every intention of trying it – until the Corona virus happened. Instead, Big Met Fish Fry switched to call ahead and curbside pick-up in two locations. On the last official fish fry day (Good Friday) I called Big Met to order my fish fry (it took numerous tries to get through) and was told to go to the Emerald Necklace Marina to pick my meal up at my allotted time.

I drove to the west side to pick it up earlier in the day to avoid the rush hour traffic. There was only one other car ahead of me, and one pulled up as I left. There were a lot of people walking in the Metroparks and enjoying the nice weather.

The Fish Dinner featured two pieces of fried or baked cod (I chose fried), served with your choice of potato (fresh cut French fries, house cut potato chips, or roasted redskin potatoes), coleslaw, and rye bread for $13.00. The fish pieces were pretty small and pretty uniform in size. When I get fried fish I prefer a battered fish as opposed to a panko-crusted one (or whatever this was). I chose the roasted redskin potatoes, because I felt they would travel and reheat the easiest. I wasn’t wrong. The potatoes were a really nice change and were nicely seasoned. I also added an order of hush puppies with honey butter ($6.50) and a clam chowder ($4). The clam chowder was okay, but had a smoky flavor that I just couldn’t get behind. The hush puppies were packaged in the styrofoam straight out of the fryer and melted the styrofoam as well as the plastic honey butter container. They were soaked in melted honey butter, which was quite tasty, but I wonder about the melted styrofoam. The hush puppies were definitely the standout here.

In addition to a shrimp dinner and fish sandwich, they have also non-fish options like a grilled cheese, a chicken tender wrap and the Rocky River Burger.

I don’t know if I would go back. It was a good fish fry, but it didn’t wow me. I enjoyed the differences from most fish fries – like rye bread and redskin potatoes, but it isn’t enough to make me clamor to go back. If you are on the west side definitely check it out.

Contact info:

Big Met Golf Course
4811 Valley Parkway
Fairview Park, OH 44126
440-331-1070

Emerald Necklace Marina
1500 Cleveland Metro Park Drive
Lakewood, OH 44107
(216) 226-3030

The Crispy Chick

The Crispy Chick opened on Woodland Avenue near the intersection with E. 55th in October 2019 in an old Church’s Chicken building. I had watched the renovations, so was happy once it finally opened. The Crispy Chick is a minority female owned business (the owner is from Eritrea but has lived in Cleveland for 20 years), which I like to support. The Crispy Chick serves chicken raised without hormones or antibiotics at affordable prices. The chicken is real whole chicken tenderloin with no gristle or fatty filler pieces. The sauces and seasonings are made from scratch.

The menu is quite limited. It only has four chicken tender meal choices – a strip sandwich, a three-piece, a four-piece (“Original Meal”), and a six-piece “Mega Meal.” The four piece comes with garlic toast, slaw and one sauce; the mega meal supposedly comes with garlic toast, slaw and two sauces. They also have a Kids Meal with two tenders, fries and sauce. There are also two chicken wing dinners – with three wings and ten wings. The sauce flavors are BBQ, Buffalo, Habanero, Honey Mustard, House Sauce, and Sriracha. The House Sauce is a zingy, creamy sauce. I liked it a lot, but I’m at heart a honey mustard girl. The two sauces go well together when both ordered. The drink choices are limited too – and not listed. They are (if I remember correctly) Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Dr. Pepper, Fruit Punch, and Orange. They also have fresh brewed tea and lemonade for $2.39 and $2.99. When I asked to mix the two she said it would be extra (??), but I think there might have been a communication problem with the intercom. They also have milkshakes for $3.95.

The first time I stopped I ordered a three-piece meal for $7.38. The tenders were delicious, the fries were decent enough, and the garlic bread toast was phenomenal. The three-tender meal comes with one sauce, but I wanted to try another sauce as well so I ordered a second sauce for another $0.75 (ordered BBQ and Honey Mustard). The second time I ordered a Mega Meal (6 tenders) and an extra garlic bread toast. The food itself is great. The size of the tenders vary, but they are juicy and perfect.

Despite the limited menu the service is pretty slow. The first time I wasn’t even sure it was open because I sat at the drive-thru ordering sign for a while without being greeted. A couple minutes later someone greeted me. I thought it was an anomaly until my second visit when I was asked to wait three times while sitting at the drive-thru ordering sign, she rang up the car in front of me that had drive up to the drive-thru window (because I could see their order being rung up on the sign), and then I was finally greeted. Once I got to the window I was handed my drink, eventually asked for my payment, and then after another minute asked to pull around, where I sat waiting for at least 15 minutes. I’m not quite sure what the hold up was, because nothing was blazing hot as if right out of the fryer. I was then told they were out of House sauce (they had one, which was in my bag, but I had asked for a House sauce and Honey Mustard so it was okay – she had just forgotten that). When I then checked my order in the car and went in to ask about the missing cole slaw I was told they were out of cole slaw. Out of House sauce and cole slaw at 5 PM on a Wednesday. Okay, I didn’t have my heart that set on the cole slaw any way…

While I was waiting two people went inside and came out with preordered meals, so that seems like the way to go. You can order on GrubHub, DoorDash or UberEats, but I’d rather go there in person and make sure they get the entire cost of my meal. The food is good and affordable, so preorder your meal or do not be in a rush if you stop here.

Contact info:

The Crispy Chick
5618 Woodland Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44104
(216) 331-4700

 

Ash Wednesday 2020 – Gunselman’s Tavern

Gunselman’s has been serving fish fries since 1936 (obviously with the break in between when they weren’t serving food). I started the 2020 Fish Fry season on Ash Wednesday (February 26th) at Gunselman’s Tavern by ordering the Fish and Chips to go for dinner later that night. I was there to enjoy the burger of the month, the Coldwater Lobster Love Burger, before the month ended.

The Fish and Chips features a 14 inch haddock filet served with the hand cut fries, cole slaw and tartar sauce – and half a grilled lemon. The fish filet is so huge they had to cut it in half to fit it in the carryout container. I put it together for the photo.

The fish filet did not strike me as a food service fish and was lightly breaded so I could taste the fish. The fries are their usual hand cut fries and were as stellar as always. The cole slaw was a little meagerly portioned, but I enjoyed it. It was a light mayo-based cole slaw that was not too gloopy. The tartar sauce also struck me as homemade. I ended up eating half for dinner and the other half I heated in the air fryer for lunch the next day. Even the cheese sauce for the hand cut fries reheated well. Both the haddock and the perch dinner are on the regular menu, but Gunselman’s was also serving a special Friday Night Fish Fry menu during Lent with clam chowder, Cajun fish tacos, salmon, mussel ramen, shrimp boil, fried shrimp and lobster mac n cheese. Alas, then COVID-19 hit and everything got scaled way back. I had hoped to go back later in the season and order a couple more items to really cover their Fish Fry Fridays. Instead they are serving a limited take out menu and you get this post three months later. Maybe (hopefully) next year!

Contact info:

Gunselman’s Tavern
21490 Lorain Road
Fairview Park, OH 44126
(440) 331-5719

Fish Fry Friday 2020 – Fisher’s American Tavern

Nancy from Fun Playing With Food highly recommended the fish fry at Fisher’s American Tavern, so that was my choice last week. I thought I had posted it, but apparently not. I called ahead and was told it would be about 30 minutes, which was perfect for me since it would take that long to drive there. I pulled in and there were a few cars in the lot waiting for their food. Calling ahead was a great idea. I walked in under the awning and picked it up at the bar. They had forgotten to give me my bags with salad and chowder, but a quick call and u-turn fixed it.

I decided I was going to add a couple sides, so I only ordered the 1/2 Annie’s Fish Fry. I was told that it was one piece of fish instead of two, about 7 oz. total. It still came with a ginormous piece of delicious, flaky fish, a healthy portion of fries, a dinner roll and tartar sauce. I also ordered a side of pierogi and a bowl of chowder. When asked if I wanted sour cream or apple sauce I answered affirmative to both. I’ve been craving apple sauce lately. I split them up into two meals. I can’t imagine how much I would have had left if I had ordered the full fry.

My air fryer came in handy, because I had to stop at Fresh Fork to pick up a winter share. They were nice enough to let non-current customers order due to the coronavirus. I took advantage of stocking up on milk and eggs and looked forward to the roast chicken later in the week. People were heavily distancing themselves (instead of 6 feet more like 100-200 feet) and the line wrapped around the edge of the parking lot. By the time I came home my fries and fish were soggy. I popped half of them in the air fryer for about 8 minutes at 380, and they crisped up nicely. In fact, I would have to say that the fries were my favorite all season. Nicely seasoned. And the fish had a nice crisp coating but it wasn’t too thick. Overall a very nice fish fry.

The pierogi were great and easy to heat back up. The onions were nicely caramelized. It was just potato and cheese, but those are the best ones and these were a really nice example of good pierogi. I slathered them with sour cream, because that’s how I roll. The chowder was okay. Better than Around the Corner, but nowhere near Sokolowski’s or Firehouse Grill’s chowder. I ended up eating half with the meal and then the other half later that night as a “snack. They added it to my entree for $2.99 instead of charging me the full price of $5.49, so that was a nice surprise.

I also ordered a Wedge Salad, because I love them. The bleu cheese doesn’t love me, but I figured I would indulge since I was self-isolating. I was so glad I did. The lettuce was crisp, and I loved the toppings of finely diced tomato, crisp bacon pieces, and bleu cheese hunks. The sliced egg was a nice choice as well. It even held up until I had the second half at lunch the next day.

This was definitely a fish fry worth visiting. Thanks for the heads up, Nancy!

Contact info:

Fisher’s American Tavern
28020 Miles Road
Solon, OH 44139
(440) 349-3736

Fish Fry Friday 2020 – Around the Corner TO GO

We’re in week two of #stayathome. Two weeks ago all the church fish fries were cancelled until further notice because we were told to avoid crowds of 100. And then some self-entitled nimrods partied on the beaches of Florida anyway and who knows how many people were infected. So the government had to ratchet it up a notch (since people weren’t giving it the attention and concern this pandemic should be given) and close down all restaurants and bars. But luckily restaurants can still operate as carry out operations for the near future. Who knows how long that will last, but I took my chances and drove to Around the Corner in Lakewood to grab a fish fry to go. Practicing self distancing the whole time. There weren’t a lot of people getting to go orders at 7, and the employee cashed me out with the bar in between us.

I apologize for the quality of the photos. The lighting in my kitchen is not great, and I tried to avoid shadows as much as I could. I was unsuccessful.

All the little things – including the dinner roll

I ordered a perch dinner because all my friends seem to prefer it. This perch dinner was good, but again it didn’t wow me. I guess I’m not much of a foodie, because I prefer to sink my teeth into a nice thick, fluffy white fish. I should have ordered the cod. It looks like a beautiful piece of fish and takes up the entire plate in the photos. The perch dinner features 4 pieces of lake perch, french fries, a small serving of cole slaw, and a corn muffin (yeah, dinner roll in this case – maybe they had run out) with honey butter for $13.95. I also ordered a side of (3) pierogi for $5.95 and a bowl of clam chowder for $5.95.

Since it was take-out I can’t rate the freshness. The perch and fries were a little soggy from being in the takeout container, but the second half heated up nicely the next day in the air fryer. I really enjoyed the cole slaw. It definitely ranks up there with my favorite cole slaws. It is mayo-based with just a hint of sweetness. The dinner roll was meh, but the honey butter was delicious and definitely made it better. The pierogi seemed homemade. The potato and cheese filling was nicely seasoned and the outside was not overly doughy.

The only thing I wasn’t a fan of was the clam chowder. It looks denser in the picture than it was once I rewarmed it. So the consistency was fine. It was the taste. I don’t know if they added twice the pepper or if that is the normal recipe. If that was the normal recipe they might want to dial it back a bit on the pepper. It had a nice amount of clams and potatoes. I still ate it, but a cup would have been more welcome.

Who knows what adventure awaits us next week. I had the Donauschwaben fish fry scheduled because I had a teacher meeting scheduled there that night, but we have now moved all school-related stuff online – even teacher meetings. I may or may not get it to go. It depends on if they are still serving. I definitely miss the pancake breakfasts!

Contact info:

Around the Corner
18616 Detroit Avenue
Lakewood, OH 44107
(216) 521-4413

Gunselman’s Tavern

I’m lucky I don’t live closer to Gunselman’s Tavern or I would be eating here all the time. The restaurants in Cleveland would go under, because I would be eating at Gunselman’s once a week and not exploring all of Cleveland’s restaurants. They are open every day from 11:00 to 2:30 a.m. The menu has a lot to offer, with lots of interesting appetizers, salads, entrees and burgers. They have a rotating daily soup, happy hour is 11-6 p.m. everyday of the week, and they offer Sunday brunch from 11-2 p.m. Gunselman’s has been open as a neighborhood bar since 1920. Opened as the Past Time Cafe in the 1920’s and has a shady history during prohibition. Legend has it that Henry Gunselman was a whiskey salesman that went to collect a bill in 1936. They couldn’t pay so he took over the bar. Gunselman’s had a great neighborhood kitchen until 1956. The new owners re-opened the comfort food kitchen in 2016 with a lot of old school recipes and a great burger. The walls have lots of old-time photos. The bar side is homier than the side room, but if you park in the parking lot you can enter through the side room.

The place is not that large, so during dinner hours it can get quite packed. That particular night had a large party in the side room, and the bar was packed with people. We had to wait for a while for a table to open up, but luckily her son and his girlfriend were running late.

I first heard about Gunselman’s when a friend posted a photo of the December burger of the month – the Christmas Dinner featuring 1/2 lb. burger, shaved prime rib (shaved here meaning nice slabs), house recipe horseradish aioli, rosemary au jus, Muenster cheese, arugula and tomato on a Weck (salted) bun. Every single ingredient was perfectly balanced to complement the others. The horseradish aioli was divine and the rosemary au jus was inspiring. That prime rib was also absolutely perfect. Despite it being fairly chunky it came apart easily

and melted together with the beef. I took a photo of the cross-section because it is a sight to behold. My friend and I split it (and ordered onion rings instead of fries) in addition to ordering a few appetizers for the table to share.

The tabletopper sign said the burger paired well with GLBC Christmas ale, but I ordered a Black & Tan because I could. Anytime Guiness is on draft I order it. Black & Tan is one of my favorite Irish beer or ders – half Guinness and half Harp or other Irish lager. It always hits the spot.

My friend and I also split a dozen chicken wings. Gunselman’s was in the middle of a wing sauce competition, so we ordered some wings with one of the sauces. The wings were well-fried and crisp and the sauce was very flavorful. I’m not a hot/spicy loving person, so it was very sweet BBQ sauce-like, which is my jam. The wings were quite tasty. I went home with a couple of them, and they made a nice lunch the next day.

The kid at the table decided to order chicken tenders after the waitress told him he could get them doused in sauce. Unfortunately for him he chose a sauce that was a little spicier than he was ready for. He should have gotten the sauce on the side like on the menu. He enjoyed the tenders anyway.

I ordered the Reilly’s Corned Beef Pasties, which Reilly’s Irish Bakery makes for them. They are empanada-like meat pies (the Brits call them pasties) filled with corned beef & Swiss, sauerkraut and 1000 Island. This was the surprise hit of the night. We all loved them, and I could see myself ordering them again.

My friend’s son ordered the Ohio City pierogi but I seem to remember that there was something special to them. The normal pierogi are Ohio City Pasta cheddar & red potato pierogi with grilled onions and sour cream. They were a little tougher than I like, but it was a solid pierogi if you like pierogi.

I enjoyed this burger of the month so much that I went back a week later for lunch on my own. It was a big burger. I would have been too full if I had ordered anything else. It was the middle of a snowy day and I felt like spoiling myself, so I ordered an Irish coffee. It did a good job warming me up, and the burger was just as good as I remembered. I went with the hand cut fries, which I enjoyed dunking into the accompanying side of cheese sauce. I’m not usually a cheese sauce girl and prefer ketchup with my fries, but there is something about this pairing of cheese sauce and fries that is a match made in heaven. If I am not mistaken it is the Bertman beer cheese dip featuring cheddar cheese + beer + Bertman’s original ball park mustard and served with pretzel rods as an appetizer. Good stuff! It is without a doubt the best burger I have ever eaten. I was sad to see it go off the menu.

I ordered the chicken paprikash to go for dinner that night. Advertised as “Irish Kevin’s recipe” it was a little overpowering and heavy on actual peppers for me. Not a flavor profile I prefer. I’ll stick with Sokolowski’s or Balaton’s, so give me the ones made with Hungarian paprika. Other people adore it. It’s just not my taste and I’ll happily try more things on the menu instead.

The Burger of the Month in January was some health-conscious one wrapped in lettuce, so I skipped it. However, February’s Burger of the Month, Coldwater Lobster Love, featured a half pound burger of ground brisket, chuck and short rib (for one damn tender burger patty), smoked bacon, coldwater lobster meat poached in Cajun butter, Muenster cheese, tomato and arugula on your basic burger bun. This burger was decadent AF. I ordered it medium rare and it practically melted in my mouth. It was once again perfectly cooked. I paired it with an El Dudearino, which is Van Gogh Espresso vodka, Kahlua and cream. When I finished that I switched to iced tea because the snow was starting to fly and I wanted to have my wits about me for the drive home.

I can’t wait to see what this place does next.

Contact info:

Gunselman’s Tavern
21490 Lorain Road
Fairview Park, OH 44126
(440) 331-5719