Gunselman’s Tavern – Ash Wednesday 2020

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

Fish Fry Friday 2020 – St. Andrew Ukrainian Catholic Church

I started the official Fish Fry Fridays this week at St. Andrew Ukrainian Catholic Church. The first Friday was spent at Pacific East celebrating a friend’s birthday.

Dinners here are served from 5 to 7:30 during Lent. They sell pierogi out of the basement on Friday mornings/afternoons. My ideal fish fry has fried fish and homemade pierogi, so a church that sells their own pierogi is fisy fry paradise for me. I was here last year at 5:10. The line and wait was fairly long. We ended up meeting up later this year to accommodate schedules (I was down in Kent that afternoon speaking to translation grad students about our profession, others were working). My friend Kris and I ended up getting there at 6:10, which seemed to be the perfect time. The line had died down and they were able to reserve a table for six for us when we requested it after ordering. The price of the fish fry was also $1 less this year, but you only get one piece of fish instead of two. The price of a dinner includes choice of cole slaw or apple sauce, bread and butter, a dessert and soft drinks, coffee or tea. You can order fried fish, fried shrimp or a pierogi dinner. I ordered the fried fish and 3 pierogi for $12 and a side of mac n cheese for $3, for a total of $15.

They ran out of cabbage and noodles just as we were about to order, then they had run out of baked fish and bread by the time the rest of the group arrived at 6:30.

The room is small and lots of people stake their claim to tables. The line to pay and get the dinners from the kitchen is right as you walk in. If you are taking your food to go you can forego the line and head to the to-go area at the back wall past the kitchen. Otherwise you order at the table and then head to the kitchen window to pick up your dinners. Then you get in line again at the condiments and dessert table on the left and grab your condiments, cole slaw or apple sauce, bread and butter, dessert and coffee or tea. Soft drinks are available at the bar that is built into a cubby in the wall to the left. The bar does not serve alcohol at fish fries – it is manned by young high school boys.

I had a tough time deciding what dessert to choose. There was a wide variety of homemade desserts, from cake, brownies, cookies and chocolate pudding. I chose what looked to me like a pumpkin cake with cream cheese center. It was and I was very pleased with my choice. By the end of the night we were sitting around talking and they had a ton of desserts left, so I grabbed another chocolate pudding.

Everyone was thrilled with their meals. Half of us chose the fried fish, and half chose the fried shrimp. The fish was flaky and moist, the pierogi were plump and delicious, and the apple sauce hit the spot. The mac n cheese was also nice and creamy. One friend went back and ordered another piece of fish because he enjoyed it so much. The only complaint we had were the potato pancakes, which were so greasy they were soggy. Potato pancakes should be crisp and shatter to reveal a creamy center.

We sat around talking until 7:30. We were literally the last table to leave. The volunteers were sitting and enjoying their meals when we ventured into the snow squall. I put on my heated seats, and we headed north for home. It was the perfect, quintessential Cleveland evening.

Contact info:

St. Andrew Ukrainian Catholic Church (Back Hall)
7700 Hoertz Road
Parma, OH
440-843-9149

Bonus Fish Fry Friday – The British American Club in Twinsburg

It’s Fish Fry season! I am starting my usual fish fry attendance tonight at St. Andrew’s, but wanted to post a couple fish fries from the past to share them here. This fish fry visit was from April 20, 2018. It was spurred by someone asking about it on All Things Food in Cleveland, a Facebook group I help run. I found my photo of the food and drove by today to take a photo of the building. This is facing west on Ravenna Road. A couple interior photos are from the BAC website.

The British American Club in Twinsburg is not your usual fish fry. This completely nondescript building is located on Ravenna Road in Twinsburg. Just past the Square the street Ys off on Route 82 (at Romeo’s Pizza), so turn to the right then keep going straight when it turns to the left. It’s on the right side a couple miles down. It is a brick building that is just past the Do This Do That Auto Body shop. The BAC volunteers serve fried fish, fried shrimp and fried chicken throughout the year on the 1st and 3rd Friday of the month and every Friday during Lent. The Fish and Chips dinner includes two pieces of battered fish, chips, mushy peas, cole slaw and bread and butter and costs $8 for members and $9.50 for non-members. It is cash only.

We cautiously entered since we weren’t sure what to expect but were greeted and told to take a table. We then went to the back of the room where we gave our orders. If you want to order a drink at the bar they will charge you $2 for a temporary associate membership. I was happy to do it because they had Guinness and Harp on tap. We were given our fried food and helped ourselves to the cole slaw, mushy peas, and bread and butter as well as the condiments (ketchup and malt vinegar) on a table along the wall separating the bar and the dining area.

I spent $15 that night for my fish and chips, temporary membership, and Black and Tan. We would go back again for the mushy peas and the malt vinegar alone. My friend from England was so happy that night. The fish was perfectly cooked – not too greasy while crisp outside and moist inside. I got the impression that the fish were hand-breaded, because most fish service fish look flat and identically triangular. I would definitely recommend this fish fry if you are near Twinsburg or don’t mind a bit of a drive.

Contact info:

British American Club
8564 Ravenna Road
Twinsburg, OH 44087
(330) 963-6370

Byte Cafe

Two years ago during Lent I joined a fun little thing called “40 Days of Sandwiches.” I was introduced to it by my friend Nina whose friend Mitch started it. They are still doing it this year if you want to join them. Just post your photo to Instagram and use the hashtag #40daysofsandwiches. I’m toying with the idea of doing it again, but it is really hard to eat some kind of sandwich every day. Maybe every other day. It was a fun way to explore new restaurants and sandwiches.

When planning my sandwich schedule, I stumbled on a Thrillist list of the best sandwiches in Cleveland, which included the Green Goddess by Byte Cafe. I live close to the Byte Cafe and had no idea it was even there. You probably aren’t even aware of it. It is a little coffee and sandwich counter on the ground floor of the Tyler Building on Superior Avenue. It is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. It is closed on Saturday and Sunday.

The Byte Cafe is an unassuming little place at the end of the ground floor hallway with a fun little eating area with leaded glass windows. It gets crowded during the lunch rush when all of the business people in the building head down for lunch. I go after lunch rush hours and before they close. And get it to go.

The first time I went there was for the Green Goddess. It features fresh avocado, goat cheese, basil pesto, arugula, balsamic reduction, roasted walnuts, and salt&pepper on multigrain bread. It was by far the favorite and most unique sandwich I ate during the 40 Days of Sandwiches. It was refreshingly light yet super creamy and flavorful.

Another sandwich that is highly recommended here is the Desperado, which is a turkey sandwich that is topped with has bacon, avocado, arugula, tomato and apricot honey mustard. I really enjoyed the apricot honey mustard. It gave it a nice little flavor kick.

All of their soups are homemade and change every week. So far I have enjoyed their cream of potato, clam chowder and French onion. The soups taste homemade with sizable chunks of ingredients, which makes it filling. The soup comes served with a nice hunk of bread as well. The French onion soup had the croutons and cheese in separate containers to add at home/in the office.

I haven’t ordered any salads, but the Ancient Grains and Green Goddess ones sound amazing. They also offer the option to order a half sandwich if you have a smaller appetite.

My most recent lunch featured the aforementioned French onion soup and The Alaskan. The Alaskan features smoked salmon, cream cheese, cucumber, red onions and a vinaigrette on a ciabatta bun. I’m not the biggest fan of ciabatta, so I would probably order a different bread choice next time. I always try the default before switching it up.

 

I usually get here after the lunch rush and don’t drink coffee after 2:30 or 3:00, so I have not ordered a coffee here yet. It’s next on the list!

Contact info:

Byte Cafe
3615 Superior Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44114
(216) 835-7073