Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sam's Town pt. 2

So where was I?

In 2011 Sam McNulty opened his most ambitious project to date, Market Garden Brewery. Given his track record this was bound to be something special. It has all the ingredients to make up one of the best places to go in the ENTIRE city of Cleveland. A brewery, that is managed by one of the former Brewmasters of Dogfish Head and Great Lakes Brewery that promises to bring amazing craft brews with a unique blend. A distillery, that promises to be a first for the city and most of northeast Ohio. And a food menu, that is quite unique in its own right. Any one of these things makes it a must see. However, the combination of all three makes for a remarkable combination that is sure to leave an impact on the entire city. But do we need it?

First the beer. A rotating beer menu that is all brewed in house! Seriously you can go and see the tanks by the back bar. And what a beer menu! IPA's? Check. Wheat? Check. Pilsner? Check. They even had a wonderful ESB for a while before it sold out. But they also have a very nice Scotch Ale (if you're into that sort of thing), a lovely stout, A DARK WHEAT (that has the faintest hint of cherry), and a black IPA that is just marvelous. So what's the problem? Nothing really. They are all inspired beers that meet my highest standard.

However, I get the impression that they can't meet the demand of the public because by the time you read this a third of that list will be no more. I am not kidding when I say that I went there opening weekend and by the following week they were out of a good portion of the beer menu that I saw the previous week. Now they are quite good at subbing in new alternatives but you can tell that they are getting... "creative". A perfect example is a "Shandy" option which is just the Old School Lager with lemon juice poured in it. It's lovely, I am sure, and I had a friend of mine tell me as much the other day, but it seems just a touch on the lazy side.

So how about the food. I have not had a bad meal there yet. They have a starter of BBQ popcorn that is possibly one of the best snack foods in the history of snack foods. Seriously if Sam decides to sell it in stores, I will be there for the midnight release party. Just the right amount of spice and smokiness that delights your senses. The wings are good, not great but not anything to kick to the curb. (A word of warning: The hot is sneaky. It will get you in the end).

Then you get to the main courses. I have enjoyed the hell out of the sandwiches that are offered. The Cuban is quite nice and the Chorizo Joe is a great take on the classic sloppy joe. However, that's it. I would love to advise you on some of the other menu items but this being such a new restaurant, I just haven't had time to try everything.

So that brings us to the distillery. Well, it's not up and running yet due to permit issues. So that saves me from having to write a long paragraph about it. I will say this, I love the idea.
All of that being said I still haven't addressed the main question. Do we need it? The answer is quite frankly a bit vague. To be honest I have had some reservations about this particular post. On the one hand, Sam McNulty has created one of the most visually pleasing spaces in downtown Cleveland that we could ever ask for. In the outdoor courtyard you have steel beams as decoration with a view of the West Side Market as the background. It represents everything that is my city so well. The interior is also well presented and just as creative in every way. Soon there will be a rooftop patio and a basement added on to the property that has probably cost millions to create. And here is where the other shoe drops. When all is said and done Market Garden Brewery will hold 1,000 people.

The thing is that I love hanging with my friends and meeting new ones but 1,000 is just too much. We are talking wall-to-wall with people fighting for an inch of space trying to get the bartender's attention. Hour to two hour long waits for tables. Delays on food service. I don't care how well a place is run when you start pushing four digit occupancy, things are gonna suffer.

The final verdict... well that's hard to say. I love this place. I love its concept and everything it hopes to be and by all means you should go there... NOW! It has the potential to be exactly what Sam want's it to be, a beacon of hope for the city. But to be honest it is too early to call exactly what it will turn into. Will it be a great place that cannot be missed when you come to the city? Or will it be the "mega bar" that turns W. 25th into W. 6th? I guess time will tell on that one. For now I recommend it highly but mostly on the weekdays.

1 comment:

  1. I need to revisit... But you can get a table via OpenTable, that was nice.