Friday, January 28, 2011

Lunch At Cafe Bricco

Bricco Restaurant has made quite a name for itself. Originally opened in downtown Akron, locations have spread to a second location in Cleveland across the street from Playhouse Square, Pub Bricco on Merriman Road in The Valley, and it's newest location, Cafe Bricco located inside the DoubleTree Hotel on West Market Street right across from Summit Mall in Fairlawn, Ohio. Each restaurant has its own focus on the cuisine served and my intention is to eventually do a comprehensive review of all three. Of course, in order to do that, I will need to divide and conquer. With work being in close proximity to the Cafe Bricco location, I decided to stop in for lunch and check out the first location.

Cafe Bricco does not have a dedicated entrance, but was instead just a few short steps inside the main doors at the DoubleTree Hotel. The DoubleTree was located at 3150 West Market Street, Akron, OH 44333. The dedicated line for the restaurant was 330-835-2203. Parking was in the lot surrounding the hotel. I parked in a spot just outside the front door of the hotel, walked inside and veered to my left.

Only a few short steps later, I was greeted by the entrance to the restaurant:

Entrance to Cafe Bricco
When I stepped inside, I stood by the hostess stand, waiting for someone to seat me. What surprised me about the space was that it looked deceptively small. When I finally got around to estimating how many guests could be accommodated, it was actually close to fifty, so I suppose the space wasn't all that tiny. The room was long and narrow, so perhaps that was why I had perceived it as being small.

As I sat down at my table, I noticed that each table had either an amber or tangerine-hued margarita class with an unlit white tea candle in the center of each. While this little bit of color was appreciated, when I looked above the bar, I was stunned to see this hand-blown glass chandelier:

Blown Glass Chandelier
While certainly eye catching and stunning, it felt a little discordant with the rest of the settings, the colors on the walls, the carpeting, even the napkins, which were more of a butterscotch color. The gentleman who seated me left me with the two page menu to peruse:

Cafe Bricco's Lunch Menu Front
Cafe Bricco's Lunch Menu Back
While the dinner menu could be significantly more expensive (read: twice the price), the prices for lunch today were fairly reasonable for an establishment at this level. Do note that the online menu for lunch (and I'm assuming probably breakfast and dinner, too) didn't exactly match the menu I was handed today in the restaurant. Scanning the menu, I was happy to see that some of the salads came in half portion sizes at quite attractive prices. Since I was a bit hungry today, I decided to pair a half salad with one of Cafe Bricco's sandwiches and included sides.

Looking around the room, I noticed that other tables had received baskets of bread; I never did. Perhaps only entrees came with bread. While I didn't miss it today, I was curious as to why some had bread and others did not.

As an avid lover of anything with apples, bacon, and fresh chevre, when I saw the Mixed Greens Salad with Caramelized Apples, Goat Cheese, and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds, I knew what my half salad would be. After a noticeable wait, my salad finally arrived:

Mixed Greens Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
Tossed with a warm bacon vinaigrette, there were also pieces of bacon tossed into the salad as well. The salad was dressed well, with only a minimal amount of dressing remaining on the plate after I scarfed this delicious salad down. The caramelized apples had been lightly dusted with cinnamon and when combined with the tang from the goat cheese and the smoky-salty flavor of the bacon, each bite hit multiple taste receptors in my mouth. This was a tasty salad. If the toasted pumpkin seeds were added for texture, they were kind of lost to the bacon pieces. Additionally, at only $4, this was a great value as the amount of salad was enormous for a half-portion. Should you decide to order a full portion, gentle reader, know that it would be enough to make an entire meal.

Sadly, I was only one-third of my way through my salad when my sandwich platter arrived:

Salmon BLT Platter
A tad bit annoyed that the kitchen hadn't timed the two courses a little better, I went ahead and let my server place the plate on the opposite side of the table while I finished my salad. Did the quality of the sandwich and fries suffer because it sat for an extra five minutes before I got around to eating it? Perhaps just a little. But my only other option was to have them hold it in the back until I was ready for it under a heat lamp, and I don't think it would have fared much better.

Having now finished my entire salad, I switched the plate out for my Salmon, Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato sandwich served with a Basil Aioli on a laterally bisected croissant:

Salmon BLT on Croissant with Basil Aioli
After cutting the sandwich in half, I also took a side shot to inspect the layers:

Side Shot of the Salmon BLT Croissant
When I originally ordered the sandwich, I asked my server if the fish was cooked to order. He indicated that unless otherwise requested, the fish was cooked to medium. I was happy to learn upon taking my first bite that he was exactly right. The fish was tender and juicy and had decent salmon flavor. The lettuce and, more importantly, the tomato were fresh and ripe and added notes of crunch and sweetness to the flavor. I didn't get a whole lot of basil flavor from the aioli, although small strands of it were clearly visible. I tried a bit of the bacon and just as in my salad, it was smoky and salty without being overly so.

All that being said, something felt amiss. The bacon tasted fine by itself, but wasn't overly assertive (like bacon can be sometimes). When I tried just a bit of the salmon with my fork, I discovered the issue. The salmon wasn't seasoned at all. Even with the salt from the bacon, once you combined it with the unseasoned lettuce and tomato, the sandwich simply lacked salt. While there was a combination salt shaker/pepper grinder on the table, given how thickly the aioli had been applied, it would've been a messy proposition to try and correct the situation tableside.

Fortunately, my side of freshly cut steak fries were properly seasoned:

Fresh Cut Steak Fries
These thick cut fries were decent. The good news was that they weren't oily and a few of them were crispy. The bad news was that more than not, these fries were just a tad limp. While I did enjoy them with the cup of ketchup provided with the platter, I ended up leaving more on the plate than I ate. To be fair, however, that was due more to the fact that by this point in my lunch, I was definitely full.

With the bill coming to just over $13 with tax, I think I had a solid meal that was also a decent value. There were a few missteps along the way between the seasoning on the salmon, the rather limp steak fries, and the service guffaw that led to my sandwich platter arriving only minutes after receiving my salad, but the flavors were decent and the half-portion of salad was an outstanding value.

When I was doing my research before my visit, I discovered that one of the other duties of Cafe Bricco, besides being a restaurant catering to outside patrons, was to provide food for the DoubleTree's guests, be it breakfast, lunch, or dinner. As such, they are open seven days a week from very early in the morning until very late at night. Unless you are looking for a spot to eat in the wee early morning hours after the bars close, Cafe Bricco will have their door open and a table waiting. I suggest you give them a try.

Cafe Bricco on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Alicia at Poise in Parma said...

I used to frequent the downtown Cleveland location when I was working in the Theater District. I like your point about the decor - funny how the discord is just their interior design styling for both spaces.

Also you make another good point about bang for your buck. I always thought I received a great meal for a solid price when dining there.

Bricco's Akron location was at the event last night at John S. Knight Center and they had a wonderful showing. I really respect what they are doing overall.

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