Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Burger Night At Teschner's Tavern

I think we all have those friends in our lives that we can lose touch with for months at a time and then all of the sudden, something sparks a connection and we remember that it has indeed been six months since I've sent or received anything from this friend. Such is my relationship with friend, mentor, and teacher Kathy Lehr. She was the instructor of my very first class at the Western Reserve School of Cookery on French breads and for some reason, we have always had a very strong connection. I've mentioned Kathy before on the blog, when I published her recipe for Roasted Red Pepper and Black Peppercorn bread that I took with me to Friendsgiving last year.

Kathy is a retired school teacher, but given her very active lifestyle, she is anything but retired. Besides teaching her bread classes and workshops at the school in Hudson, she is taking classes on her own as well as assisting others in building outdoor bread and pizza ovens. I hadn't talked to her in quite some time and after my successes at breadmaking at both the Heartland Gathering this year in Ann Arbor as well as my demonstration at the Howe Meadow Farmers Market, I had sent her an update on myself and asked how she was. To my surprise, she invited me to join her and her husband Mike for dinner at a local favorite hangout of theirs, Teschner's Tavern in Richfield, Ohio.

Now, I had actually heard of Teschner's Tavern before. When I was in the throes of my Lenten Project back in March of this year, I had come across pierogi being served at the United Methodist Church in Peninsula, Ohio that had been provided by a small local Akron company named Posh Pierogi. At the time I didn't know this, but soon after my write-up posted on the blog, I was contacted by one of the owners, Autumn Johnston. After some discussion with her about the company and their products, she informed me that as of right now (at least back in March 2010), only Teschner's Tavern had their pierogi on the menu. Excited to finally get to try them again, I emailed Autumn to confirm this fact. Not only was my information correct, but it turned out that Teschner's was also selling their sauerkraut balls as well.

As I pulled into the parking lot of Teschner's located at 4252 Broadview Road, Richfield, OH 44286, I realized that I had never even seen Teschner's before now. Many times I get recommendations for restaurants that I've come across before, but just never visited. I pulled into an open space in the lot and prepared to walk inside. If you wish to contact Teschner's via telephone, their number is 330-659-9094. I couldn't find a website that was obviously owned by Teschner's.

The first thing I recognized the minute I walked through the door was how dimly lit the inside was. I arrived while the sun was still up; however, when it finally settled below the horizon, getting a good picture was near impossible (as you'll see soon enough). I sat myself at one of the tables in the bar and looked around. Kathy had told me that Wednesday's were $2 off burger nights. I figured that the place would be packed for dinner; it wasn't.

While waiting for Kathy and Mike, I decided to go ahead and take snapshots of the menu:

Teschner's Menu Page 1
Teschner's Menu Page 2
Teschner's Menu Page 3
Teschner's Menu Page 4
In addition to the regular menu, there was a small plastic holder on the table announcing the daily happy hour specials:

Daily Happy Hour Specials
What surprised me was how expensive the food was. I mean, $9+ for a burger was in B Spot territory and while Kathy professed how good the burgers at Teschner's were, I was skeptical that they rivaled a Michael Symon burger. Soon, my other dining companions arrived and after an initial hug and greeting, we sat down to start looking at the menu. Clearly this was a favorite haunt of theirs since the minute they walked in, the woman running the bar welcomed them by name and shortly after filling their drink order, came over to take our order.

Unfortunately, Kathy decidedly killed any chance of an anonymous review today when she revealed who I was, what I did, and why I was there. I was a little peeved about that at first, but then I resigned myself to the fact that with this knowledge, hopefully the kitchen will make sure that the food coming out tonight would be first rate, and for the most part, it was.

After discussing Posh Pierogi and their products, we decided to start our meal out tonight by splitting a round of appetizers. First up were the Posh Pierogi fried sauerkraut balls with a side of horseradish sour cream:

Sauerkraut Balls with Horseradish Sour Cream
And here was a shot of the interior of a sauerkraut ball:

Interior View of Sauerkraut Balls
The flavor of these was mild, the sauerkraut being present, but not overwhelming. Sadly, there were three problems with this dish. First, they had been fried a bit too long and the outside was considerably darker than it should have been. Second, one of the sauerkraut balls came adorned with a black hair; no one at our table seated near the basket of balls had black hair. Third, the horseradish infused sour cream was nearly horseradish-free. In fact, it tasted like ... sour cream. Which, was a nice flavor to pair with the balls, but the horseradish would've added a nice kick to it.

It also turned out that Wednesday nights were chicken wing nights and a basket that normally cost $8.50 was cut to a much more affordable $4.50. Mike decided to go with a basket of the Teschner's Tangy, fried crispy, with an additional coating of Parmesan cheese and chopped garlic:

Basket of Teschner's Tangy Chicken Wings
Having had the roasted garlic and Parmesan cheese chicken wings at B Spot and found them to be a bit unbalanced, I have to say that Teschner's version absolutely rocked. The skin was nice and crispy, the sauce was slightly spicy with a bit of acid from the vinegar and the garlic and Parmesan added to the complexity of the overall flavor instead of dominating it. I'd order another basket of these in a heartbeat.

Our final appetizer was a small dish of the Posh Pierogi potato and cheddar pierogi with fried onions and a side of sour cream:

Potato and Cheese Pierogi with Onions and Sour Cream
These were quite good and reminded me why I had liked them so much when I had them back at the United Methodist Church during Lent. This time, however, they were fried perfectly and the combination of the crispy exterior and the creamy interior made for a delightful bite of food. The onions were expertly caramelized and the sweetness played nicely with the tang of the sour cream. While the pierogi from Posh Pierogi weren't inexpensive, they were also high quality and you could taste the difference when eating them.

Our appetizers now finished, we decided to go ahead and put in our burger orders. While there seemed to be a burger for many tastes, I decided to go with a deluxe cheeseburger, minus the raw onions, along with a side of the onion rings:

Deluxe Cheeseburger with Onion Rings
By this point in the evening, it was so dim in the tavern that I had great difficulty getting any shots that were in focus, evening with the flash on my camera. I've included the following shot only to prove that I asked for my burger to be cooked to medium, and sure enough, it was:

Cheeseburger Side Shot
The burger was seasoned properly, it was juicy, and quite honestly, it was pretty darn good. The cheese was nice and melty and the tomatoes were perfectly ripe. The bun held up well and didn't get sogged out from the moist beef patty. It was a good burger and one that I would eagerly have again. However, it didn't take me to the same place that one of B Spot's burgers did. Considering that with tonight's burger discount it also only cost me $6.25, so there was that to consider, too.

The onion rings were somewhere between good and tasty. They were seasoned nicely, but as Kathy pointed out when she tried one of my rings, the breading to onion ratio was a bit too high. Additionally, as you bit into a ring, the inner onion easily detached and pulled away from the cooked batter, a sign that these were more than likely fried-from-frozen. This was later confirmed when I asked our server if that was the case. While the rings weren't bad, they also weren't a stand out either.

After separating out the checks, I ended up dropping about $21, with tax and tip. While my compatriots had several beers / cocktails, I stuck with water for tonight. While I am not adverse to spending that much for an appetizer and a burger with a side, it seemed that the problems with the sauerkraut balls and the provenance of the onion rings makes me think that if I had to choose only one, I'd pick B Spot over Teschner's Tavern. That being said, the burger was good and if you don't feel like driving all the way to Woodmere, Teschner's Tavern might just be the place to stop to satisfy your burger craving.

Teschner's Tavern on Urbanspoon

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