"Cedar Creek Grille in Beachwood feels sophisticated, but does 'retro' quite comfortably: Taste of the Town"
On its website, Beachwood's Cedar Creek Grille refers to a warm and inviting atmosphere that hopefully takes its customers back to the simpler times and classic grills of the 1950s and 1960s.
I have no doubt that Ward and June, Wally and "The Beav" dined on dishes like the thick steaks, grilled pork chops, roast chicken and mashed potatoes on Cedar Creek's menu. But I don't remember the Cleaver clan spending any time in a restaurant that looked anything like this.
As I soaked in its transformation from a its previous tenant, Melange, my first impression was. . . stunned. The space has been completely made over, floor to ceiling, with truckloads of expensive-looking recycled dark wood, tile and marble. Studio-quality sepia-tinged black-and-white photos of Cleveland landmarks and landscapes fill the walls.
Don't let the sophisticated, high-end steakhouse-feel fool you. While there are a few pricey dishes, there are enough entres in the $14 to $20 range that you don't have to be Thurston Howell III to afford a visit.
Our first meal got off to a great start with a simple-yet-perfect Blackened Shrimp Taco appetizer ($11). The shrimp weren't all that blackened or spicy -- just lightly-seared and succulent. Our next course, an Arugula Salad ($8), starred a zesty lemon vinaigrette dressing with hints of garlic and mustard. A generous portion of shaved parmesan accompanied, but cold onion crisps didn't add much. Warm crisps could have lent some punch/contrast to the dish.
For her entr e, my wife upgraded a Prime Strip Steak, opting for the Crab Encrusted version ($38, plus a $4 supplement). It was a disappointing dish for the price. The meat was not actually encrusted -- basically, steak with a pile of fishy-tasting crab tossed on top. And the gorgeous cut of beef was cooked past the medium-rare temperature my wife requested.
Our server did not ask for a temperature when I ordered a Double-Cut Pork Chop ($19). It arrived with beautiful char marks -- and well done. Still juicy and flavorful, I think I would have enjoyed the quality chop even more had I thought to ask for a medium preparation. The wild grain rice salad proved a tasty, healthful side dish.
Returning on a Tuesday, I was surprised to find the massive main dining room nearly full. A Smoked Salmon Spread appetizer ($8) went old-school, pairing salmon with toast points, diced red onion and capers -- plenty for two to share. The Prime Steak Salad ($14) featured a combination of greens, sliced steak, bacon, roasted tomatoes and onion crisps, but soggy from too much buttermilk ranch dressing.
Roasted Gerber Farms Organic Amish Chicken ($19) was a solidly-prepared dish, with crispy skin and delicate jus. I substituted spicy beans for the grain salad that came with the dish and was thrilled. Pepper heat burst from caramelized onions laced throughout. Chunks of bacon added nice salty flavor and texture contrasts. The night's fish dish, saut ed Trout with Lobster Butter ($24), was simple and elegant: mild, moist rainbow trout accompanied by mashed potatoes and broccolini.
But the real star of the night was the Molten Chocolate Cake dessert ($8). The cake's warm, gooey center was ultra-rich without being overly sweet.
Cedar Creek is not going to wow foodies with cutting-edge creations. That's by design. Judging from a Tuesday night turnout that most restaurant owners would kill for, retro is a winning formula in Beachwood.
Read the Plain Dealer full review >