Fish Fry #6 2023 – St. Sava on Wallings Road

This is a story of two churches. St. Sava Cathedral and St. Sava Church are both Serbian Orthodox churches that are located south of Cleveland. One (the Cathedral) is located at the border of Seven Hills and Parma on Broadview Road, while the other one (St. Sava Church/Hall) is located on Wallings Road in Broadview Heights. You can see where the confusion is almost guaranteed. According to a parishioner we spoke with today, there was a falling out in the church that cleaved them into two churches years ago. Things are better now, but they are still two distinct churches with a similar name.

Last year I went to St. Sava Cathedral’s fish fry on Broadview Road. It was very Orthodox. I didn’t love it and heard the St. Sava Church’s fish fry was very different and better. I wanted to compare the two, so I planned on eating at St. Sava Church this time around. I learned from my mistakes last year and brought butter with me. Because they are very Orthodox and it is Lent, so no dairy is allowed. Although they served sour cream with the pierogi today, so color me confused.

First of all, the church is located on W. Wallings Road about 1 mile past the intersection of Broadview Road and W. Wallings Road. You can’t miss the signs. I got there right at 4:30 and met a friend there. Two other friends planned to meet us a little later on and had no trouble finding us. There were already lots of people coming out carrying take-out containers at 4:30. The fish fry is held in the Main Hall behind the church. Enter through the doors on the right and get in line. I just followed a group from the parking lot. There was already quite a line at 4:30. We chit-chatted a bit until we got to the front of the line. They have it running like a well-oiled machine. Tables are positioned two together so there is a lot of space between you and the person sitting across from you. Long tables with serving chafing dishes line the back wall.

There were signs advertising three different dinners – $12 for 1 piece of fried fish, 6 fried shrimp and 2 sides or 6 pierogi, $14 for 1 piece of fish and 3 shrimp and 2 sides or $15 for baked salmon and 2 sides. All dinners come with coleslaw and a dinner roll. They don’t advertise the sides, because they vary every week. This week we could choose from something called O’Brien potatoes, steamed mixed veggies or pierogi. I chose the potatoes and the pierogi, then opted to get the bean soup ($3) and a Lenten stuffed cabbage roll ($2). The bean soup was really good. I brought it home to eat later.

I didn’t think about the fact that the Lenten stuffed cabbage roll contained no meat. It was essentially rice, tomato sauce and carrot stuffed in a cabbage leaf. It was different, but I don’t think it was worth an extra $2. It would have been a fun and different side. Unless you really love rice and cabbage, save your cabbage.

The salmon looked amazing, but I decided to try the fish and shrimp. They were both moist and tasty. The potatoes were weird. I guess they roast them with  red and green bell peppers and onion until they break down to mush and mix them with some kind of Serbian vegetable paste (?). They were okay, but the baby food consistency turned me off. There is nothing wrong with roasted chunks of potatoes.

The pierogi were decent, but they didn’t strike me as homemade. They were too uniform. I also ordered a cherry strudel, because I remember the strudel last year was magical. It was definitely flaky, but I think it might have been flash-fried. I definitely tasted fried oil. I preferred the Cathedral’s strudel and rolls. I also shelled out another $2 for two cans of pop (you can also buy bottled water). The coffee is free, but I don’t drink coffee this late in the day.

The place was packed from the moment we got there at 4:30 until we left at 6:30. They serve from 4:30 to 7:00 every Friday in Lent from February 24th to April 7th – dine in and carry out. They were also really pushing their Bake Sale on April 8th. It’s supposed to be amazing. I have to say that I am tempted to go to Bingo Night there one Tuesday or Thursday. Just because they take it so seriously. They have a huge light-up board and professional machines to mix the balls. It puts my little metal Bingo spinner and wooden balls from my grandparents to shame.

Contact info:

St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church
2151 W. Wallings Road
Broadview Heights, OH 44147
(440) 237-2260


Kenston High School Pancake Breakfast

The Pancake Breakfast at Kenston High School on Bainbridge Road in Chagrin Falls is hosted by the Bainbridge Civic Club and co-hosted by the Bainbridge Women’s Club during the first three Sundays in March. This year was the 71st Annual Pancake Breakfast. It’s closer to Cleveland than any Geauga county pancake breakfast, and they also serve killer pancakes and real maple syrup (they have a big box in the corner that they used to refill the syrup dispensers). Unlike Geauga county breakfasts, they don’t serve every single weekend. This year the breakfasts were held on March 5, 12 and 19 from 8-1. I love that they serve until 1 PM. That allowed me to slowly wake up and still head over there in plenty of time for pancakes.

I know I joke about the lack of signs sometimes, but I certainly can’t say it about Kenston High’s Pancake Breakfast. There are signs leading you to the breakfast from the I-422 highway exit, down Bainbridge Road and to the entrance of the high school and then all the way to the entrance doors. A++++ for the signage!

Once you enter the gymnasium, there are two tables to the right and left selling raffle tickets and Kenston gear. The table straight ahead is where you pay. They accepted credit cards for the first time this year, but it was quicker and easier to pay in cash. The funds they raise are used to support the Bainbridge Area Food for Friends Food Pantry, provide scholarships, and fund the club’s local community driven, philanthropic endeavors.

$11 for an adult breakfast will get you sausage, coffee, milk, syrup, butter & applesauce, orange juice and unlimited pancakes (plain, blueberry, and buckwheat) and/or French toast. They direct you down the hallway to be seated when a seat becomes available. They definitely keep things moving. Community volunteers seat you, take your order, and bring your freshly prepared, hot food to your table. I was immediately asked for my beverage order (orange juice and coffee), and then I ordered a Combo and sausage with applesauce. The Combo comes with two pancakes (buttermilk and blueberry) and one French toast, but I was given all three pancakes along with a French toast (probably because it was getting close to the end and they had a surplus of buckwheat). The sausage patties were also generous and perfectly cooked. The sausage is an exclusive recipe, ground and made fresh each week by Mazzulo’s Market. Best of all, the meal is served on china plates, with china mugs, and metal silverware!

The tables had little two-sided paddles if you needed more coffee or pancakes. If I needed anything else (like more sugar, more syrup, or my applesauce that wasn’t delivered) I asked someone and was immediately given it. It was a lot of food for $11, and I savored it. It was a special morning sitting in the gym watching the snow fall outside. What more could one want? Generous signage directing me where to go, real plates and silverware, and all I could eat? Add some eggs (protein) and this would be the absolutely perfect pancake breakfast. Once I got back to my car I decided to pop over to my parents’ house to say hi since I was so close. All in all, a great Sunday.

Contact info:

Bainbridge Civic Club Pancake Breakfast
Kenston High School
9500 Bainbridge Road
Chagrin Falls, OH 44023

Parkman Community Center Pancake Breakfast

Most pancake breakfasts are served on Sunday mornings in March when the maple trees are being tapped and the sap is flowing, although a couple run into mid-April. If you look you can find several maple syrup making events. Geauga County is known for its maple syrup, and the pancake breakfasts in the area serve genuine Geauga County maple syrup, freshly tapped and boiled. This pancake breakfast has their maple syrup in water pitchers.

I first attended the Pancake Breakfast in Parkman with my old neighbors from Solon in 2017. I met them at their place, and we drove out 422 to Parkman. I always love driving across LaDue Reservoir. It always brings me peace. Anyway, the patriarch and I somehow got turned around and drove in a circle for a few extra miles. I hadn’t realized how easy it was to find from 422. It’s a straight shot on 422, just past the Welshfield Inn. The Community House was built in 1863 as a cheese factory. It’s currently the social hub of this tiny town. We stood in line and got seated quickly along the large serpentine table. The table was built to allow the servers to easily walk back and forth and wait on the visitors requesting more sausage, more pancakes, more coffee, more milk, etc. That was pre-Covid.

First two photos borrowed from Eat*Drink*Cleveland

This year was the first time back in two years, and it has made some changes. They offered takeout in lines in the parking lot. There is no more serpentine table; they are socially distanced dining tables instead. There are still plenty of all-you-can-eat buttermilk pancakes and sausage from Charlanne Farms and several beverages to choose from. They still use real dishes and flatware, which is a nice change after having to eat off styrofoam at fish fries and other pancake breakfasts. Still the same great maple syrup in drinking pitchers (we finished that pitcher among the 7 of us). And the water was drinkable (it’s been Crystal at Eat*Drink*Cleveland’s biggest complaint)! I would have happily paid extra for orange juice, but the milk hit the spot just as well.

The pancake breakfast runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. I arrived there at 12:10. I pulled into a great parking spot right at the entrance and had very little wait time to be seated. They said they had served about 350 meals that day. I handed over my $10 and walked to the door to be seated. I was seated with three couples. We were quickly served plates of pancakes and sausage, and we helped ourselves to the coffee in the thermos and the butter, creamer, sugar and maple syrup on the table.

I was full after finishing my plate, and after drinking a second cup of coffee and having a nice chat with my tablemates I got up at 1 and headed home.

Contact info:

Parkman Community Center
16295 Main Market Road
Parkman, OH 44080
440) 548-2904

It’s Fish Fry season again (2023)!

Hold onto your hats. It’s about to get busy here! It’s fish fry (and pancake breakfast) season. I spent some time planning this year’s visits yesterday. I don’t like going with big groups, but if you’d like to join me you are welcome. I go at the beginning of service to avoid the crowds (I’m still wary of catching the coronavirus) and make sure nothing runs out. I might decide to get take out, so if you are going to show up let me know.

Here is my tentative schedule:
2/22 (Ash Wednesday LUNCH): West Park Station at Kamm’s Corner
2/24: St. Joseph’s in Avon Lake (you need to order ahead). The baked salmon and baked cod both sound amazing – and they have breaded perch!
3/3: St. Charles Borromeo in Parma (takeout only) Fry time: 4 to 7 p.m. Fridays Feb. 24 to April 7 except for March 17, St. Patrick’s Day. St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral. Fry time: 4:30 to 7 p.m. Fridays through April 7.
3/10: No Fish Fry -meeting friends for a birthday dinner, lunch St. Joseph Byzantine Catholic Church in Brecksville
3/17 (St. Patrick’s Day): St. Joseph’s for corned beef and fish dinner
3/24: St. Sava on Wallings Road (but I’m bringing butter and salt&pepper with me just in case!)
3/31: Ss. Robert & William Catholic Parish in Euclid
4/7 (Good Friday): St. Barnabas Fish Fry in Northfield (Icelandic cod and fresh-squeezed lemonade)

I also need to try out the American Slovak Club in Lorain for lunch. The fish fry during Lent will start Friday February 24, 2023  serving from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Our fish fry runs all year long, not just during Lent.

I also plan to eat at Melt Bar and Grilled once or twice, but not on Friday. I wish the one in Cleveland Heights hadn’t closed! Melt is offering seafood and meatless options every day from February 22nd – April 6th with their new Seafood Spectacular Menu. The menu will offer a fish fry with panko crusted cod fillets and hush puppies and some of their most requested fan favorites from the past and some awesome new items!

If you are planning your own visits and haven’t been to St. Gabriel’s or St. John Bosco yet, I suggest you put them at the top of your list. St. Gabe’s in Concorde is worth the drive and serves an all-you-can-eat buffet with 3 kinds of cod (battered, crumb coated and baked), shrimp, mussels, homemade seafood chowder, and sides like pierogi, mac n cheese, fries, pizza, and rigatoni from 5pm to 6:30pm ($20 preorder and $23 at the door – preorder ends at 2 PM on Friday). Get the seafood chowder and dessert as quickly as you can – they run out. Located in Parma Heights, St. John Bosco’s dinners are catered by Bruno’s Ristorante and include a lot of great Italian options, including eggplant lasagna and manicotti. There is a $1 early bird discount from 4-5. Adult dinners ($11.50-$13.50) include an entree (fried fish, broiled fish, eggplant lasagna, or pierogies), a side, coleslaw, rolls & butter, dessert (brownie or carrot cake), and choice of coffee, tea, or soft drinks. The fish is Alaskan Pollack that they beer-batter themselves.  Beer and wine are available in the dining hall. Extra sides (cabbage and noodles, manicotti, mac n cheese, vegetables, pizza) can be added to dinners for $1.50.

Express Deli

Express Deli is a family-owned deli that is making some of the best sandwiches in Cleveland. Express Deli was listed #41 in Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat in America in 2018. According to a Yelper, the parents Pierre and Maha bought the place 24 years ago when they moved from Lebanon in 1998, it was more like a Mini Mart. (Note: that explains why I haven’t heard of them until now – I moved to the east side in 1992). They thought it would be a good idea to serve good deli food at the Mini Mart, and have turned it into a true deli over time as it rose in popularity. Located on Smith Road just off I-480 (W. 130th exit) and just past Brookpark Road in Brook Park, it is tucked away at the end of a small, nondescript strip mall. When you walk in you are greeted like a family friend. Head to the back – that’s where the magic happens.

Make sure to tell them if it is your first time. They offer a tasting tour of their three most popular sandwiches – the turkey, the pastrami, and the Reuben. Each features a special sauce. The turkey is served with the house dressing (a delicious herbed oil), the pastrami has a garlic mayo and is topped with a thin pickle slice, and the Reuben is a small bite of Reuben (corned beef, Swiss and kraut) with a mix of their delicious Thousand Island dressing and garlic mayo. They started the samplers about 7 years ago to have people try and love what they ended up purchasing, and maybe get them to try something they normally wouldn’t.

If you are a regular reader, you know I’m not a fan of corned beef. It is a rare place that can make me change my mind. Well, I tried the Reuben bite and liked it so much I actually ordered the Reuben on my first visit! They make their own corned beef on the premises, so maybe I’m just a fan of their corned beef. I guess I like lean corned beef. The sauce and melted cheese made every bite super creamy, and the sauerkraut was not sour at all. I can see why everyone loves this and it’s one of the top sellers.

I had originally decided to order the chicken cordon bleu wrap until I tried the Reuben, so that was my choice on my next visit. Maybe it was an off day, maybe the Reuben has ruined me for all other sandwiches, because I thought it was just okay. The cordon bleu sandwich has a lot of fans. It’s made with chicken, ham, Swiss, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and a honey mustard sauce. I don’t see any tomato, but it still wouldn’t have magically saved it. I’m not a huge fan of wraps; I find the texture of the wrap or pita too dry, which then detracts from the fillings. I’ll try it on a hoagie next time, because it is one of my favorite food pairings.

One of their other most popular sandwiches is the Beirut Chicken. I asked what bread he might recommend for it instead of a pita wrap, but he really urge me to get the pita wrap since there was so much going on in the sandwich. It is made with marinated & sautéed chicken breasts, garlic mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion, thin sliced pickles, cole slaw, and sriracha. I was initially only going to eat a few bites and then eat the Reuben I had also ordered, but I soon found that I had eaten half of the sandwich and was ready to finish it. The sandwich was that good! The flavors really complemented each other, and each bite was a delight. I set aside the sandwich to eat half of my Reuben and was pleased that the wrap only got soggy in one spot when I went to eat it later. And for the record the Reuben was perfect the next day – no sogginess to speak of despite all the sauces on it.

I also ordered the chicken noodle soup. Since I wasn’t eating it right away I was okay with it not being heated up. Once I was ready to eat it at home, it heated up nicely, and the noodles were a total treat. The homemade broth will definitely cure what ails you!

They have a huge cooler filled with soft drinks, iced teas, flavored water, hard seltzers, and beer as well as a wall of crunchy snacks (chips, pretzels) to go with your sandwich. I also grabbed a bag of Zappo’s Voodoo Chips and Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips (my two favorite chips) and a bottle of Mountain Dew and a Crush Grape. The chips and beverages are very well-curated. The homemade cookies are also soft and delicious.

The macaroni salad was just okay. Davis Bakery has ruined me for all other macaroni salads. The pasta salad was really tasty. I highly recommend it. It looks like the black bits are olives, but they are beans. I still didn’t hate it. The seafood salad was great. I ate it straight out of the container with a fork, but it was especially good on a toasted slice of croissant bread. I also enjoyed the pickle. I do plan to try the potato salad too. But come here for the sandwiches.

I must be spoiled from all my years in Germany, because the Braunschweiger sandwich just didn’t do it for me. I prefer a softer meat spread. It’s also possible that it was too much of a good thing. I got there close to closing time, and she used up the Braunschweiger on my sandwich. It was very generous, but I prefer thin slices over huge hunks. I won’t get this again, but there are plenty of other delicious-sounding sandwiches to choose from.

There are no tables. It’s takeout only. Eat in your car if you must.

Open Monday through Friday from 9 to 5 and Saturday from 11 to 4.

Contact info:

Express Deli
5185 Smith Road
Brook Park, OH 44142
(216) 267-7878

Watami Revolving Sushi Bar

Watami Revolving Sushi Bar is the only conveyor belt sushi restaurant in Ohio as of right now. It is located on Broadview Road near the intersection with Pleasant Valley Road in Parma near the border with Seven Hills. It is in a small strip mall in front of the Giant Eagle and is next to a Dunkin’ Donuts. You need to enter and exit the strip mall at the gas station.

The sushi chef prepares sushi and puts the individual plates on the revolving conveyor belt that circles the dining area. The items on the conveyor are on various colored plates, so the server knows what to charge by counting the plates on your table at the end of your meal. Diners choose which plates they want as they pass by. If you want something that isn’t on the conveyor belt like rmen or udon or a beverage, you can order it from a server. If you have 15 or more plates you can go try your luck to win a capsule toy. The plates with rolls usually have 3-4 pieces (2 for nigiri), so you can try quite a few different rolls in one meal. They also have some appetizers, desserts, and fruit circling as well. Watami Revolving Sushi Bar is a healthy, fun, and delicious dining experience.

The menu is based on traditional Japanese recipes and has about 100 items including sushi (nigiri and rolls), tempura, ramen, and udon. They do not use artificial sweeteners and preservatives or coloring to any of the food. Unfortunately, I think that also applies to the rice wine vinegar that should be added to the sushi rice. It is pretty bland. I heavily season the nigiri and blander rolls with wasabi. Rolls that have extra sauces or toppings have a great flavor and don’t need doctoring.

The first time I went, I went by myself to check it out. It had just opened. I had been anxiously waiting for it to open. The sushi that was going out was pretty good. I grabbed a good selection of nigiri and rolls. I had to ask the waitress for wasabi and ginger as well as things like gyoza or takoyaki, but that’s preferable to something fried sitting on the conveyor belt for too long. The nigiri was well-portioned, but the rice fell apart too easily. It needed something to pack it together. I really enjoyed the Godzilla Roll and Mango Tango Roll because they were so flavorful. Save your money on the obviously canned fruit. The pineapple was just canned pineapple, but the orange slices in visit 2 were refreshing.

The second time I went I met several friends. Instead of sitting in a booth and having one or two people grab items for the others, I chose to sit at the end with seats facing each other. That way everyone was able to grab what they wanted while the other people could enjoy their meal instead of stressing to quickly grab stuff off the belt.

This place definitely isn’t gourmet, but if you want a casual meal of picking a variety of $3 covered plates with four pieces of sushi or two of nigiri or sashimi off of a conveyor belt, you’ll enjoy Watami.

Contact info:

Watami Revolving Sushi Bar
7426 Broadview Road
Parma, OH 44134
(216) 232-1161

Marie’s Restaurant

Marie’s Restaurant is a Cleveland institution located at the corner of E. 45th and St. Clair Avenue. The restaurant has been in business for four decades and features Eastern European cuisine – specifically “home cooked authentic Eastern European cooking just like mama would make.” It’s known for its Croatian cooking (see: cevapi). Marie’s has great lunch and dinner specials all week.  You can order in or take it to go, get a full or half portion, lunch or dinner, the choice is yours. The specials run out, so make sure you order early. Marie’s has a comfortable, no-frills dining room, friendly down-to-earth staff, and delicious home cooking.

The bread is soft and fluffy and comes served with prepackaged butter pats, which were nice and soft. No frozen hard butter that makes you tear the bread. I ate several slices before my soup and salad came out (entrees come with choice of soup or salad, but I ordered the salad on the side). The salad dressing is a delicious vinegar-based European dressing. You can’t go wrong with any of their soups, but you will have to add some salt and pepper. They definitely cater to the elderly patrons who are watching their salt intake. I’ve had the clam chowder, the ham and barley, and the chicken noodle soups. All were really tasty.

The first time I went I ordered a Schnitzel and Spaetzle, because I think that is the best test for a European restaurant. The Schnitzel was definitely homemade and hand-pounded. No uniform frozen schnitzels here. It was crisp and delicious. I ordered some goulash gravy to go over the Spätzle, which was perfect, and the green beans were good too (canned but I like that). The beer went down tooo smoothly.

The second time I went I brought my dining out group. I ordered the Schnitzel Cordon Blue and probably won’t ever order anything else. The schnitzel was thinly pounded and wrapped around a generous portion of ham and cheese. Each bite was delicious. I also ordered the spätzle again – and a side of the fried cabbage, which was absolutely delicious. It’s a special side on Wednesdays.

My fellow diners enjoyed the goulash with spätzle and with noodles as well as a schnitzel with homefries, and one diner ordered the pork chop with spätzle. The goulash is authentically Viennese in that it is just meat and sauce. Everyone loved their entrees and sides of choice. Several exclaimed that they would be coming here again.

We split several apple strudels, which was just like the thin layered pastry I enjoyed in Austria. Strudel is supposed to be made with multiple layers of thin dough – not puff pastry. This strudel was perfect.

I look forward to trying the stuffed cabbage and the cevapi before relying on the cordon blue from now on. Judging from the photos, Marie’s Chicken Paprikash is more Balkan than Hungarian. The sauce is creamier and does not use a lot of paprika like the Hungarian version does. Marie’s also has City Chicken on the menu. You can’t get much more Cleveland than that.

Contact info:

Marie’s Restaurant
4502 St. Clair Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44103

I Heart Mac N Cheese in Parma

Who doesn’t like mac n cheese? When done well, mac n cheese can put you in a happy place. When I went to New York City a few years ago we made sure to eat at S’MAC, which I think (and Goldbelly agrees) is probably the best mac n cheese restaurant in the U.S. The variety there is amazing. I wanted to love I Heart Mac N Cheese, but it’s no S’MAC. S’MAC offers a lot more varieties – and adult-friendly varieties. I Heart Mac n Cheese is perfectly okay, but I don’t see myself going out of my way to eat there.

Once you get to the ordering station, you tell the person your order. If you want mac n cheese, they fill a bowl with pasta, add whatever mix-ins you want (vegetables, meats, etc.) and ladle cheese sauce over it. They then put a couple slices of cheese on top and run it through the conveyor belt broiler/salamander. If you order a grilled cheese, they grab the bread, layer on the cheese (and mac n cheese if requested) and run it through the conveyor belt broiler/salamander. You can also order tater tots and tomato soup.

You can build your own mac n cheese bowl using pasta, broccoli, cauliflower, quinoa or tater tots as a base and add on your favorite proteins, cheeses, and vegetables. They have all kinds of set options too – like buffalo chicken, short rib philly and chicken parmesan. Bonus points for offering gluten-free options and being vigilant to prevent cross-contamination. Extra bonus points for offering vegan options and vegan cheese. If my mother liked this kind of thing I think she could safely eat here.

The first time I went they had just opened, and I brought my dining out group there. Everyone was very healthy and ordered veggies to add to their mac n cheese. I was less so and ordered the Lobster & White Truffle Mac n Cheese minus the truffle oil. Truffle oil is the easiest way to ruin mac n cheese if you ask me, and every restaurant feels they need to add it to make it fancier than it is. Mac n cheese is mac n cheese. It doesn’t need to be fancy. I enjoyed the lobster mac n cheese. I wish they offered different noodles than just cavatappi, but do understand that cavatappi makes a nice mac n cheese. The cheese sauce was really bland. A dash of hot sauce might help. They weren’t chintzy with the lobster, which I appreciated.

They make a mean grilled cheese, and I love the tomato soup. I am not normally a fan of tomato soup, but their tomato soup is quite creamy and flavorful. I am not a fan of the tater tots. They are just kind of mushy and not very crisp. I felt like I was biting into mashed potatoes shaped into tots. They come with a small container of tomato soup for dipping, but you can also get ketchup if your kids want it. This is definitely a kid-friendly place, but it’s not S’MAC. If you want to try S’MAC for yourself you can order it through Goldbelly. My favorites are the four cheese and Napolitana, but the Parisienne is out of this world (make it yourself at home with this recipe).

Contact info:

I Heart Mac n Cheese
7725 W Ridgewood Drive, Suite 800
Parma, OH 44134


Established in 1977, Grum’s is legendary when it comes to CWRU students and their favorite subs. You can get a foot-long (whole) sandwich for $13, which is enough for two meals. Grum’s is always recommended when folks on food forums ask for good subs. Unlike many sub shops in Cleveland, Grum’s has one location – Coventry Road in Cleveland Heights. I live within walking distance, which makes me the envy of a lot of people. One of my friends drives here twice a year from the west side and enjoys their Grum’s in Lake View Cemetery.

It doesn’t wow me, but they make a good sub and they have their die-hard fans. The bread is fresh, the meats and cheeses are plentiful, and the combination of flavors are well-paired. At the moment they only carry Italian bread. There is a supply problem with wheat. They have a sign on the door. They have chips and soda in vending machines to the right of the ordering counter. They used to serve them from behind the counter. I do not like the addition of the vending machines. It seems cheap and not very customer-friendly to me. I don’t know too many people who are willing to pay for a sub and then willingly plug money in a machine for a bag of chips and then another machine for a can or bottle of soda. But maybe that’s just me.

Grum’s is best known for the Turkey Ridge. It is made with roasted turkey breast, lettuce, tomato, onions, provolone cheese, Grum’s (secret) spices and mayo. It’s definitely a tasty sub. The spices complement the turkey sub, and I like the fact that the lettuce and onion are thinly shredded.

I usually order the Grumsteer, which is made with thinly sliced roast beef, oil, lettuce, tomato, onions, provolone cheese, Grum’s horseradish sauce and Grum’s spices. I really like the roast beef and tangy horseradish sauce. It can be ordered hot or cold, but I prefer it cold, because I felt the consistency and taste of the roast beef changed when it was heated and I was not a fan. As you can see from this side view there is a lot of roast beef in the sub. They also offer something called a Grumsting, which is a roast beef sandwich with barbecue sauce (thinly sliced roast beef, lettuce, tomato, onion, jalapeño pepper rings, provolone cheese, BBQ sauce , and Grum’s spices, to be exact). I prefer horseradish with my roast beef, but if you like barbecue sauce you might enjoy the Grumsting. It’s only available as a hot sub.

I tried the signature sub, the Grum, just to report on it. It is a decent Italian-style sub, featuring smoked ham, pepperoni, genoa salami, oil, lettuce, tomato, onion, hot banana pepper rings, provolone cheese, and Grum’s spices. Me being me, I picked out the hot banana pepper rings, but there was enough residual juice left behind to give it a bit of zing. The pepperoni and salami obviously overwhelmed any taste of ham, but it is a good sub if you like Italian cold cuts.

Grum’s tuna fish sub, the Seagrum, is made with Grum’s tuna salad, mayo, lettuce, tomato, and provolone cheese. I am not a fan of crunchy stuff like celery in my sub, so I really enjoyed the softness of the sub bun and the tuna. But if you prefer a sturdier sandwich you might want to order something else. The tuna flavor was not too overwhelming or “tuna-ee”. It wasn’t the best tuna sandwich I’ve had, but it also wasn’t the worst. It was a decent tuna sub.

I was going to order a hot sub, but I wasn’t able to order a half Hamshire in their online ordering system. Maybe another time. I’ve also had their pizza sub, which I enjoyed, but I don’t have a photo of that either. Two things you can order on the online ordering system is a side of potato salad and a half or a whole pickle, so I did. The potato salad was a decent potato salad. It’s not Fragapane’s or my mom’s, but I would order it again. It had a nice mayo base. It could use a little more seasoning than the paprika dashed on top of it. The whole pickle was great. Cut into four spears, it was sturdy and not too floppy and had a good dill flavor.

They also have three salads and a hot dog on their menu. The salads look like they are all iceberg lettuce, but the toppings appear to be plentiful. The salads are also all under $10. I would have really like to order soup, but maybe that is too much. There is chili listed in the ordering system, but several people on Yelp complained that they don’t have it despite it being listed. The online ordering system also allows you to order a soda, but they don’t specify what kinds and I wonder how that works with the vending machine.

The vending machines were there even before the COVID renovations (see the new menu boards in second photo)

Grum’s isn’t my go-to choice for subs, but it certainly has its fans. I prefer a sturdier bread. Maybe I would have become a fan if I was a CWRU student in the 1990s instead of BGSU. Instead, my heart belongs to DiBennedetto’s, which was across the street from my dorm and is unfortunately is no longer in business.

Contact info:

Grum’s Sub Shoppe
1776 Coventry Road
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118
(216) 321-4781


Opening Day in University Heights

Swensons Drive-In is an Ohio drive-in restaurant chain with locations in the Akron, Canton, Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati areas. Swensons’ signature hamburger is the Galley Boy, a double cheeseburger prepared using two sauces (a tartar-sauce-like and a BBQ sauce), and the restaurant also sells 18 different milkshakes. Wesley T. “Pop” Swenson started selling hamburgers at Buchtel High School out of a station wagon in 1933. In 1934, he opened a restaurant on South Hawkins Avenue in Akron, near West Market Street. Swenson sold the restaurant in 1949 to Robert Phillips, who began expansion in 1952 with a second location in North Akron on East Cuyahoga Falls Avenue.

I have been eating at Swensons since I was in grad school at Kent in the mid-1990s. My father introduced me to the Stow location, but I also enjoyed the Swensons near Howe Avenue. You pull into a parking spot and turn your headlights on for service. You turn your lights on again if you need anything or are ready to pay. I was so impressed with the guys in shorts running as fast as they can back and forth between the restaurant and the cars in the parking lot.

People either love or hate Swensons. The burgers have a little sweetness to them. No one knows the secret recipe.  It seems to be something of an Akron urban legend that Swensons mixes a little brown sugar into the ground beef. I can’t say if it is true or not, but whatever they do it yields a patty that is extra tasty and delicious. But no, they are not dumping sugar on top of the hamburger, and it is definitely not sweet. And you can’t hate the prices. A Galley Boy is between $3-4, asloppy joe is $2.65, the sides are all around $2, and a classic milkshake costs $2.70 for a medium and $3.10 for a large and the special milkshakes are $0.10 more.

My father is a HUGE milkshake fan. He’s easy to buy for on holidays, because I can get him a Swensons gift certificate or a Swensons glass to make a milkshake at home. It was an exciting day when Swensons opened in Cleveland, first in the Seven Hills area and then near me in University Heights. I was at University Heights on Day One despite the terrible weather (see first picture). I got the last available spot in the parking lot. Here’s an amusing story: I ordered a milkshake and was driving home and tried to drink it. Oddly enough, nothing came out but a couple ice pebbles. I drove back and complained that I didn’t get the right drink. I tried my best to explain it to the server. It turns out someone had filled the cup up halfway with ice and then poured the milkshake on top of the ice.

Galley Boy with lettuce, tomato and onion added.

Swensons features one milkshake a month or so. It used to drive me crazy because I never knew what the milkshake flavor was without having to drive by. I reached out to them through the Internet, and they actually took my suggestion and are posting the milkshake flavor on the website and on their social media channels. You’re welcome. You can order the flavor as a standalone or mix it with one of their standard milkshakes. Think strawberry and chocolate or nutella and banana.

Galley Boy dressed with a Spanish olive

I have tried most of the things on the menu. My go-to order is usually the Galley Boy. I switch things up and usually “with everything” (mustard, dill pickles and onions) and add lettuce and tomato. I feel like I am making it a little healthier that way. It comes out dressed with a Spanish olive on a toothpick.

Beef veg, large California and a crispy chicken sandwich

Another favorite is the beef vegetable soup. It was probably launched to use up older beef, but now it has chunks of beef instead of ground beef and features eight different veggies. It is a definite order when it turns colder. I also really like that there are no lima beans.

Another must for me is the California. Swensons has three specialty sodas that mix a fruit flavored soda with ginger ale. The Florida uses orange juice, the Ohio uses cherry soda, and the California features grape soda. The California also has a slice of lemon floating on top. I always order “the largest California possible.” I wish they wouldn’t use styrofoam cups. If they would sell reusable cups I would love that.

The sides are all quite tasty, and everyone has a favorite. When fried well, the fries are crisp yet creamy, the onion rings are shatteringly crisp. The potato teezers are the hands-down favorite (potato with cheese and jalapeno). I like the fried mushrooms and fried zucchini sticks. Be sure to order a side of Ranch to dip them. The potato puffs are basically tater tots.

The sloppy joe (above left) is pretty decent. It’s not the most spectacular sloppy joe, but it will curb the craving. If you like fried bologna (above right) they can satisfy that urge too.

I very rarely order the shrimp or chicken dinners. The dinners come with a toasted roll, fries and coleslaw or applesauce. The toasted roll could be improved, because all it is is a toasted hamburger bun. This is similar to the “in a basket” back in the day before COVID. Any sandwich was available “in a basket” and get fries and coleslaw or applesauce. I miss that.

This is a controversial choice, but I enjoy the grilled cheese and tomato soup special or the egg salad sandwich and tomato soup special in the winter. I’ve also been known to just order an egg salad sandwich when I want something light and not fried/grilled. Swensons serves a decent egg salad sandwich.

Contact info:

Swensons Drive-in
(click on link for locations)