What Merwin’s Wharf lacks in food quality, it makes up for in atmosphere. I met a friend there for dinner on a recent Tuesday. There was a one and a half hour wait for a table (on a Tuesday), but my friend quickly found two people leaving at the bar and snagged their seats. The location is the big draw. Located on the banks of the Cuyahoga River, Merwin’s Wharf has a large patio with a fire pit, a gas fireplace, and a giant Jenga, lots of windows and a great view of the boats and river traffic. I saw a rowing crew counting out their strokes and the Goodtime III drove by at one point. My friend commented that they should have the bar facing the river, but the design allows the servers and food runners access to the kitchen (note I didn’t say quick access, because several orders sat there for a pretty long time). Things got better once the manager came out to expedite things.
I was underwhelmed by the food, but I loved the drinks. I started off with a Hemingway’s Day Off, which was delicious. It features rum with a little lime and is finished with basil syrup. I saw no sign of the “seasonal fruit” mentioned in the description, but it really didn’t need it. I drank it down quickly and enjoyed every sip. I then ordered a Rum Runner, which features light and dark rum, banana and blackberry liqueur, orange juice, pineapple, Grenadine and 151 Rum. It was also delicious, and I had to ask the bartender for water because I was afraid I would drink it down too quickly without any food. I didn’t get my water until I finally was able to ask the runner who brought the food for one. The bar was slammed, but the bartender had obviously forgotten my water.
As far as the food is concerned, it isn’t the best food, but it is okay. I ordered the Beef and Mushroom Melt. I don’t know if it had sat under the heat lamp for too long, but the thick-cut beef was tough and the “melt” was pretty dry. There wasn’t much horseradish cream that I noticed and as you can tell the cheese was also pretty meager. The fresh cut potato chips were decent. I think a shaved beef would make this a much more successful sandwich.
My friend ordered the fish tacos. The fish was walleye and it had a nice amount of veggies accompanying it. She said the tacos were okay but a bit bland. She said they could really use the addition of some kind of crema or creamy topping.
A fellow patron at the bar also offered us a bite of their giant pretzel with mustard and beer cheese. The biggest thing it has going for it is the size. It was gargantuan. It was doughy but didn’t have the nice crispness I am used to. The mustard and beer cheese dips were tasty and were needed to give it some flavor. It was nothing like the pretzel at the Hofbrauhaus or any pretzel in any backyard beer garden in Germany. The pretzel was more like a bit dough bowtie than a pretzel. In any case the two of them were having trouble finishing it, which is why they offered us a taste. I guess it would do a good job soaking up the alcohol, so it is a good bar choice.
This is definitely a place to go for drinks. Just don’t expect too much from the food. Or the service. I have heard complaints about rude hosts/hostesses, and I was not impressed with the time it took to run food out once it hit the kitchen window. Go for the drinks and the view. You can wave at the Goodtime III when it goes by.
1785 Merwin Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113