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

The Red Chimney

The Red Chimney on Fleet Avenue in Slavic Village (or as it’s called by the residents “Warzawa”) is hard to describe. It is a Slavic Village institution that has been in business since the 1970s. It’s like your typical Americana diner with a Polish influence, and the decor hasn’t been updated since the 1970s. The food is heavily Eastern European and pure comfort, ranging from cheap breakfasts served all day to sandwiches and burgers and entrees like stuffed cabbage, pierogi, kielbasi, wiener schnitzel and city chicken. The food is very affordable. I think the most expensive thing on the menu is twenty-five chicken wings for $16.99, but most dinners are under $10. On weekdays before 11 a.m. you can get two eggs, ham, sausage or bacon, potatoes, and toast for just $3. The service is quick and efficient, and the majority of the customers are all over the board, from a table of police officers, a table of businessmen holding a meeting to a table of young people trying to get rid of their hangovers with a nice greasy breakfast.

I keep coming back for their chicken noodle soup, which is probably one of the best soups I have had in a long time. Chock full of homemade noodles, chunks of fresh carrot and celery, and shredded chicken in a tasty broth, I can’t get enough of it.

On my first visit I ordered the stuffed cabbage dinner. It is served with soup or salad, sauerkraut, your choice of potato and rye bread or dinner rolls. I went with the mashed potato and couldn’t decide on the bread so the waitress brought me one of each. They were both delicious. The rye bread was soft and flavorful, and the dinner roll was yeasty and delicious. So good! I’m not sure if I enjoyed the somewhat blander tomato sauce they used, but I’m sure most people would love it. I prefer dousing my stuffed cabbage with ketchup to give it a kick (I know, I’m a heathen, but I’ve been eating it that way since I grew up eating my grandmother’s stuffed cabbage). Next time I’ll just order ketchup on the side without any shame. The meat and rice filling is tightly packed and flavorful, and the serving was enormous. I brought half of my meal home (one whole cabbage roll and half the mashed potatoes) and thoroughly enjoyed it the next day.

I came back just a few days later for the soup again. This time I decided to order a club sandwich to go with my soup. The meat and fixings in the club sandwich were super fresh. In fact, the tomato kept falling out of the bread, and I ended up wearing a lot of it. I learned to order a side of Thousand Island Dressing with club sandwiches back in my Bakers Square days, and my request was accommodated without any questions. I chose the french fries as my side, but they also throw in a couple onion rings, which were really delicious. The fries themselves were nothing special, but I nibbled on them because they were there. It also came with a small side of coleslaw, which was fresh and creamy and overflowed onto the side plate it was served on. Again, I ended up taking half of my meal home for later.

The Red Chimney is also one of the few places that serve City Chicken. Sokolowski’s being one of the other places. City chicken is a Polish-American dish that is now unique to Cleveland and Pittsburgh. It got its start in the Depression era, when chicken was scarce and more expensive. City chicken is made with cubed pork, veal, or a combination of the two, threaded onto skewers, breaded in flour and breadcrumbs to create a drumstick-like shape and either deep-fried or pan-fried before placing them in a hot oven and cooking them for 60 to 90 minutes. Brown gravy is an optional topping.

The place is clean, friendly, and about as old-school as they come. The servers are friendly and efficient, the portions are huge, and the soup overflows the bowl. Every time. And every time I am tempted to drink the last drops directly from the bowl, but decide manners are more important.

It is worth mentioning that they do not accept credit cards. It’s a cash only restaurant, so be prepared. There is plenty of parking along the side and in back as well as across the street, and there is a door off Fleet Avenue as well as off the back parking lot. Slavic Village has gotten a bad reputation, but the people in the neighborhood are working hard to counteract that, and it was recently voted the winning host neighborhood for Cleveland Chain Reaction. Cleveland Chain Reaction is a concept backed by LeBron James called “Cleveland Hustles,” with local business owners hustling to get their idea off the ground. Hopefully Slavic Village will once again become an up-and-coming neighborhood with the total economic boost to the neighborhood predicted to exceed $1 million.

Contact info:

The Red Chimney
6501 Fleet Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44105
(216) 441-0053

Ferrara’s Imported Foods

Photo by Sarah Dorn, cleveland.com
Photo by Sarah Dorn, cleveland.com

Ferrara’s has been selling Italian bread, meats, cheese and more to East Side Clevelanders since 1959. You walk in and you definitely feel you are surrounded by Italians. One gentleman even held the door for me.

This place has everything you need – from fresh garlic and tomatoes to espresso makers and huge pasta bowls to serve your family delicious pasta. I wandered the aisles just amazed at the wide variety of itemIMAG4929s they sold. They had canned San Marzano tomatoes, every variety of olive oil and vinegar you could imagine, balsamic vinegar ketchup (!), blood orange soda, fresh pasta in a low-slung refrigerated cooler, dried pastas in every shape and form, as well as prepared foods such as Sicilian pizza, pasta and antipasti salads, and made-to-order submarine sandwiches.

Since my friend who told me about Ferrara’s recommended their sandwiches, I went there with the intention of ordering an Italian sub. The sub was loaded with thick-sliced Italian cold cuts (capicola, (Genoa?) salami and I think ham), IMAG3231provolone cheese and your choice of hot or sweet peppers. I went with the sweet peppers and it was oh so good! They make their bread rolls there, and you can tell at first bite just how fresh the rolls are. I don’t know what they do to the peppers, but they are extremely addictive. Some people also suggest having the top of the bread dipped in hot oil. If you want a different sub than the Italian, you can choose from Italian Beef, turkey, IMAG4931roast beef, veggie, prosciutto, and ham and cheese or you can make your own creation.

They also sell hot subs like sausage sandwiches, meatloaf subs, and meatball subs for $5.50. The sausage sandwich (pictured to the right) comes with peppers and onions and has a nice heat to it. It may not look appetizing in the photo, but it was really delicious.

IMG_20190423_155434.jpgFerrara’s Wedding Soup is one of the best ones I have ever tasted. You can find it in the freezer with the frozen pasta on the wall to the left as you walk into the store. The back wall is all about pizza. You can buy slices at the register, but you can order larger pizzas back in the back. I bought some Sicilian pizza for my Italian translator friend who had lamented about the lack of Sicilian pizza in Cleveland, and she was absolutely thrilled with their pizza and its authenticity. The pizza is not in slices – but thick slabs of dough covered in a thick tomato pasty-like sauce. There is no melted cheese – just some sprinkled Parmesan. It is served at room temperature.

Just be warned that they only accept cash or checks. They have an ATM in case you forget, and from personal experience I can tell you that the fee is lower than most regular bank ATMs. They also have a nice little area for people to eat in if you feel so inclined.

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A small dining area is set off straight ahead as you walk in

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View of the bakery/deli counter from the back

 

Contact info:

Ferrara’s Imported Foods
5750 Mayfield Road
Cleveland, OH 44124
(440) 442-3700

Geraci’s Restaurant

IMAG4417Geraci’s is family-run restaurant with fresh Italian cooking from scratch. They have been in business since 1956, so they must be doing something right. It is also popular with John Carroll students, and they have a special section on the menu for them (billed as “late night dining” – although they are only open until 9 PM and 10 PM on Fridays and Saturdays). Geraci’s is known for its pizza, so muchIMG_20120830_133307 so that it was featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.

The bread service features crusty and soft Italian bread with a dusting of sesame seeds on the crust and packets of soft butter. The House salad dressing is a good choice if you like red wine vinegar. It’s pretty overwhelming. You can order it with and without grated mozzarella on it.

The only thing I have ordered here that disappointed me was the spaghetti and meatballs. I thought the meatballs and sauce were pretty bland. I’ve learned not to IMG_20120830_133257order spaghetti and meatballs in Italian restaurants around here. However, they offer a lot more than spaghetti and meatballs. They are known for their Geraci’s sauce, which is a red sauce. You can also order spaghetti with fresh mushrooms, meat sauce or marinara and upgrade with a meatball or Italian sausage. They also offer gluten-free pasta and whole wheat pasta for an upcharge.

The spinach ravioli are absolutely fantastic. IMG_20120830_134524The ravioli are large and the sauce is a tomato cream sauce that really complements the cheese ravioli. It is a creamy delight. I didn’t even miss the meat.

Geraci’s also offer veal and chicken entrees. The Chicken a la Tosca was out of this world. I wasn’t expecting such a large portion. It came with three chicken cutlets IMAG4410dipped in egg batter and lightly fried and served over a bed of garlic spinach and diced tomatoes. The chicken was really moist and tender. The heavenly smell as they were frying it permeated the restaurant (I was the only table left after their lunch rush), which made me really anticipate the meal. It was served with a side of spaghetti. I was able to upgrade it to the meat sauce for an extra dollar. I had been wanting IMAG4422spaghetti that day, but didn’t want a huge plate of it. This was perfect – and I was able to bring two of the three cutlets home for later.

Everyone raves about the pizza, however. I have friends who travel all the way from the far west side for a Geraci’s fix. Reading all the suggestions for the pepperoni pizza on Yelp I felt the need to order one even though I am not a huge pepperoni pizza fan. My friend who loves it suggested I get the large with extra pepperoni, because she feels it is their best one. It was okay, but it didn’t thrill me. The sauce is a little sweeter than most, and the crust is a little stiff (I prefer a little doughier, chewier crust). And it was more burned than I like. I’ll stick with the chicken and pasta here in the future.

Make sure you come with cash though. This is a true Italian restaurant. Cash or check only.

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Contact info:

Geraci’s Restaurant
2266 Warrensville Center Road
University Heights, OH 44118
(216) 371-5643

Eat at Joe’s

IMAG3464I’ve been hearing about Eat at Joe’s for a few years now. Everyone said they serve amazing hash browns. I’m happy to report that the hype is true. Eat at Joe’s is a tiny little place on the side of the CVS at the corner of Mayfield and Green Roads. It is just a solid spot with no frills, good food, and a nice staff. The prices are low, and the hash browns are amazing. The menu is small but covers all the basics. Breakfast is served all day: 3-egg omelets, pancakes, French toast, and your basic variations on eggs/hash browns/breakfast meat/toast. Lunch features some sandwiches, burgers, soup and a couple salads. NIMAG3465othing is over $5.50. As I said, the place is really tiny and from what I hear it is always packed, especially on the weekends. But tables turn over quickly; this is not a place that people tend to linger. Two tips: it is only open until 2 pm, and it is cash only.

On my first visit I knew I wanted the hash browns. I wasn’t sure what else I wanted. I walked in shortly before 10 a.m. on a Friday, stood behind a gentleman, and IMAG3466waited for a seat to open up. He took a small two-top that was vacated, and then I saw there were several seats available at the counter. I grabbed the seat on the end and was immediately greeted by a server who asked what I wanted to drink. I ordered a large orange juice (for $1.50). I then looked at the menu in a little table stand and ordered a standard diner breakfast of two eggs over easy, bacon, hash browns, and rye toast. At some point a young guy came in and sat next to me and was immediately greeted by name and asked if he wanted coffee.IMAG3470 You’ve got to love a place that recognizes its regulars. Some other guy seated at a table by the kitchen, who was also obviously a regular, yelled out for a server who was too far to hear them calling for her to pick up an order. That’s camaraderie. The guy next to me got his cinnamon chip pancakes (a special) and sausage before I got my breakfast. I immediately regretted not ordering the pancakes. They smelled wonderful. Soon after my breakfast was brought out.

The eggs were perfectly cooked (so much so that I ended up wearing a few drops of egg yolk), one strip of bacon was crisp (see the almost burnt piece in the photo) while the others IMAG3514were well cooked without being too crisp, and the rye toast was small but well-buttered. The hash browns were as good as everyone says. They were crisp on one side and soft but not undercooked on the other. I was in heaven. I didn’t even ask for ketchup, which I usually do for breakfast potatoes. My bill came to $6.49. I rounded up to an even $9, because I follow Robert Fulghum’s advice and always overtip my breakfast servers. It was still a bargain.

I went back a few days later for the cinnamon chip pancakes IMAG3518and a side of sausage because it sounded so good. Once again I sat at the counter. The counter seems to be the place to be, because I got to witness an epic obnoxious customer along with my breakfast. She was arguing with the waitress over a $1 brownie because she wanted a middle piece and not an end piece. The waitress told her she couldn’t stipulate what she got, while she demanded that she could because she was the customer. They ended up giving in to her because she wouldn’t let it go. Epic. I almost wished they served popcorn. Meanwhile, the older guy on my left (greeted as a regular) was home from wintering in Florida and on his way to Cape Cod for the summer. Eat at Joe’s attracts all kinds of customers apparently.

IMAG3544In any event, the cinnamon chip pancakes were delicious and went very well with the side of sausage. They were actual cinnamon chips and not chocolate chips with cinnamon mixed in. They were lovely. You can’t see them in the photo because they were on the bottom. I ordered a coffee and a large cranberry juice. The coffee was decent, and they both hit the spot. My bill was $8.65.

I stopped in a third time to grab a quick lunch at 12:30 because I was going to be in the area on an errand. There was ample seating at the counter and a couple tables available. img_20171106_110246The turnover continued as I sat there and people-watched. I ordered an iced tea, a cup of soup, a tuna melt and a side of hash browns. I even got to choose what kind of bread (rye again). The soup that day was yellow split pea. It didn’t wow me, but it was a nice choice for a dreary day. My tuna melt and hash browns were finished super quick before I could finish my soup, and they were amazing. The cheese on the tuna melt was nice and melted, the tuna overflowed onto the plate (and paired well with a dill pickle slice), and the hash obrowns were as crisp as before. My bill was $12.20.

This place is definitely going on my regular rotation, and I’m going to need another tuna melt soon.

Update: I went there and ordered lunch choices – a bacon cheeseburger and veggie beef soup. Stick with the breakfasts. The burger was served on ciabatta bread, which I hate, even though a breakfast sandwich is served on a Kaiser roll. The burger was well done, something was burnt to a crisp on the edges, and the soup was just okay.

Contact info:

1473 South Green Road
South Euclid, OH 44121