Whether you opt for dinner and cocktails before a performance at the Cleveland Public Theatre or would like a late-night drink and nibble before heading from a movie at the Capitol Theatre, XYZ the Tavern – located in the center of the historic Detroit Shoreway/Gordon Square Park district of Cleveland - offers a fine collection of craft beers and bourbons, as well as an eclectic menu that is sure to please diners of all tastes and backgrounds. For denizens of the Ohio City, Tremont, and Detroit Shoreway/Gordon Square Park neighborhoods, the XYZ Tavern – in its nearly two years of being open - has easily established itself as a favorite hangout of the locals and a casual, but sophisticated alternative for a night out on the town.
The well known and respected business trio of Randy Kelly, LindaSyrek, and Alan Glazen – who also own the renowned ABC Tavern and now the Ontario Café downtown - have assembled “24 craft beers on tap, over 100 varieties of whiskey and bourbon, as well as delicious comfort food from scratch at an affordable price.” In addition to the carefully assembled beer selections, bourbons, and the well-thought-out dishes on the menu, they have hired knowledgeable staff, like Harris Eide, who provide valuable and interesting insight into beer and food pairings.
Harris, our server last night, explained in detail how each beer related to the dishes we were being served. My partners for dinner were Eugene McCormick of the Cleveland Leader, http://www.clevelandleader.com and Dennis Gartland of Net Advertising Group, http://www.netadvertisinggroup.com. To get things started, Harris brought us a hearty portion XYZ’s House Made Chips with house made vegetable French Onion Dip which was nicely balanced by a sampling of Left Hand Polestar Pilsner.
The chips and dip were followed by Roasted Artichoke Dip with rye crisps, Broccoli Tempura with Siracha aioli, and a selection of just some of the many sandwiches available on the menu: the XYZ Corned Beef Sandwich; Big Zac Burger, Smoked Salmon BLT, and the Turkey Avocado Wrap. Because so many chain restaurants offer a weak version of artichoke dip, the bold flavor of the chunky artichokes, and the fact that I could actually taste the freshness of the spinach, was a pleasant and gratifying surprise. The rye crisps were a perfect counterbalance of texture and flavor to the dip’s richness. The broccoli tempura was not the skimpy quality found at every county fair and festival across Ohio, but large florets that maintained the deep green of the vegetable without being underdone or overly soggy and the Siracha aioli added a nice bite to the crispy tempura. The sandwiches were nice twists on classics, such as adding salmon to a traditional BLT and spicing up the coolness of the turkey and avocado wrap. The onion frizzles and Thousand Island dressing on the burger are signatures of both ABC and XYZ (and also one of my favorites). Each course was accompanied by a craft brew selection: Bell’s Smitten Golden Rye Ale; Revolution Coup D’Etat (great name); Angry Orchard Hard Cider; Boulder Mojo Risin IPA; Hoppin’ Frog Cleveland Crusher; and North Coast Le Merle Saison. The Coup d’ Etat was one of my favorites for its “lighter, sweeter body,” which was how Harris described it for me. “Revolution,” he said, “is my kind of brewery.”
The last course was dessert and a true treat: pineapple pound cake with strawberries and freshly whipped cream; and blueberry crème brulee. Both deserts were, well, absolutely delicious! The pound cake was moist without being soggy and the crème brulee had the perfect candy top with fresh custard and blueberries underneath. Harris paired dessert with Hoppin Frog Cleveland Crusher, and explained how sweet goes with a bitter stout. With unmistakable hints of coffee, it was a perfect combination to the dessert without adding caffeine to a late night out. Linda explained to us that deserts will be constantly changing, so if the fresh pound cake and blueberry crème brulee appeal to your decadent side, then you had better get there soon. In any case, XYZ’s chefs will have something mouthwatering to appease that sweet craving. Dennis, Eugene, and I left XYZ fully satisfied and completely impressed. Linda, Randy, and Alan have located the pulse of the Detroit Shoreway/Gordon Square district and given the area precisely what it needs – good food, good prices, quality selections, and experienced staff, and all the while keeping in mind the area’s entertainment venues and that some people might want to keep the fun going a little later into the night.
XYZ’s menu has something for everyone, from mussels in white wine sauce, a gnocchi du jour, soba noodles to pizza by the “serious” slice. And XYZ is a fun place, with an energetic and interesting staff, who are always willing to enhance an evening’s enjoyment of food and drinks with friends. The XYZ serves food until 2:00 a.m., so long after other establishments have closed their doors and their staff have gone home, a good time can still be had at the XYZ Tavern, located at 6419 Detroit Avenue, Cleveland Ohio.
For additional information, go to www.xyzthetavern.com.
Special thanks to Linda, Randy, Alan, and Harris for a great night out.