Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Goldilocks Rebooted

Come, gentle readers, gather 'round. It's story time and I have one that will be right up your alley. Er, or maybe not.

As a result of my multiple trips up to dine at Cork & Cleaver Social Kitchen and gather intel for my review on them, I noticed a restaurant called Clearview Inn on the corner of Cleveland-Massillon and Everett Roads. Should you go to the almighty Google to locate them on Google Maps, DO NOT believe the results. Google Maps puts the restaurant about a half a mile further south on Cleveland-Massillon Road than they actually are.

Having driven past the restaurant enough times, it finally piqued my curiosity enough to actually look them up online. Interestingly, while they do have a perfectly fine and functioning website, when it comes time to take a gander at their menus online, while there is a landing page for both the lunch and the dinner menu, links and/or PDF files are suitably missing. Sadly, no amount of digging around the Internet would yield anything other than the fact that the Clearview Inn specializes in steaks, chops, and seafood. I decided to remedy the situation with a visit.

My first visit was on a Thursday night, around 6:30, on a night when there wasn't any entertainment (which according to my server is a big thing at Clearview Inn). When I walked in, I discovered more of a bar-like atmosphere than a restaurant, although there were plenty of empty linen-covered tables. The woman tending the bar told me I could sit wherever I'd like. A glass of water and a menu followed shortly thereafter.

Here was the Dinner Menu:

Dinner Menu

Based on how much the print had faded on my menu, I'm guessing the menu didn't change very often. I also noticed that most of the steaks, chops, and seafood were in the $20-$30 price range, a touch on the pricey side for the Akron area. However, with Ken Stewart's two joints just down the road, the Clearview Inn seemed in-line to compete with them. On the last page was a section called, "On The Lighter Side". Reading the items in this section (Southern Fried Chicken?), it occurred to me that "lighter" must refer to the price points rather than the calorie counts.

While I wasn't quite in the mood for a steak, the scallops sounded like a lovely choice. After placing my order, standard bread service arrived a few minutes later:

Dinner Roll and Butter

The roll was fresh and warm and the butter soft. What can I say? It was a good roll.

In addition to my entree, I decided to start my meal out with a cup of the Shrimp and Corn Chowder:

Shrimp and Corn Chowder

While the soup was hot and had a nice flavor, the two items that I noticed right away were the thinness of the soup (almost a broth) and the lack of actual shrimp in the soup. While I wasn't expecting whole pieces of shrimp to be floating in the soup, by the time I reached the bottom of the bowl the only shrimp I found was a few links of the tail-side end of the shrimp ... sans shrimp! I don't doubt that shrimp and shrimp shells were used to flavor the soup, but it'd be nice to see a bit of the actual shellfish given its use in the description.

My entree came with a rather standard garden salad. I asked for mine with the homemade White French Dressing on the side:

Garden Salad with White French Dressing

Containing an assortment of iceberg lettuce, grape tomatoes, cucumber slices, and red onion, there was nothing particularly special about this salad. The white french dressing added some necessary zip, flavor and seasoning. Sometimes you eat something because it tastes good; sometimes you eat something because it is (or at least you think it is) good for you. This salad falls into the latter category.

My entree, the Seared Sea Scallops with Asparagus, showed up just as I was finished my salad:

Sea Scallops

Let me break down the plate for you a bit, gentle reader. In addition to what appeared to be half a pound of asparagus, there were five scallops of various sizes arranged around the plate. Some were seared nicely to a golden brown and others, a tad more blonde. A sherry butter sauce lined the plate and a dusting of chopped parsley added a bit of color to the whiteness of the backdrop. At a $27 price point for the scallops, I expected quite a bit more in terms of uniformity of scallops, the inclusion of a starch of some kind, and honestly, just better plating. I'm not sure who decided that a half-pound of asparagus was a wise portion size for the average diner, but I would've preferred half the asparagus and the inclusion of some rice pilauf or maybe some mashed or roasted potatoes.

Regardless of the presentation, what really counted was how well the food was prepared and how it tasted. Sadly, like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, because the sizes of the scallops were all over the place, the smaller ones were overcooked and rubbery, the middle one was nearly perfect and the larger ones were undercooked and raw in the middle. The sherry butter sauce was tasty, if a bit on the thin side. I only managed to eat half of the asparagus, although it was tender and had good flavor. Overall, I'd say the dish was average, which is not what I expected for $27.

I decided to return for my second meal on the following Friday, this time for lunch. In addition to the dinner menu, a standard lunch menu was also available:

Lunch Menu

Having already experienced the dinner menu, I decided to focus on items from the lunch menu, starting with a cup of the Mushroom Bisque:

Mushroom Bisque

As opposed to the shrimp and corn chowder I had experienced during my previous visit, the mushroom bisque was thick, hearty, and full of not only great mushroom flavor, but also mushroom pieces themselves. A bowl of this and a nice salad and you'd have yourself a very filling lunch. Fortunately, the cup provided a lovely taste while still leaving room for more food.

For my lunch proper, after scanning the menu quite thoroughly, I opted for the Buffalo and Bird Burger:

Buffalo and Bird Burger

I am a big proponent of ordering straight off the menu when evaluating food for the blog. Sometimes the chef just knows better and I don't want to go mucking around with a recipe that was designed to be a specific way. However, when I saw that the egg was cooked over-medium, I asked instead if they would cook it sunny side up. I mean, isn't the runny yolk part of the appeal of putting a fried egg on a burger? Fortunately, my server said that it wouldn't be a problem.

When my burger finally arrived at the table, I used a steak knife to cut the burger in half to examine the middle. Knowing that buffalo meat could be fairly lean, I had ordered the burger cooked medium. Sadly, while the burger had been cooked closer to well done, at least it wasn't dried out. I also noticed that the burger meat was adulterated with bits of red pepper and onions strewn throughout the patty, presumably to add flavor and help keep the meat juicy. I was eating more of a meatloaf-esque buffalo burger than a straight up 100% ground buffalo patty.

As for the taste, it was a decent enough burger. The seasoning was right and the bun was toasted and substantial. It wasn't the best burger I've ever had, but it was far from being the worst. The menu indicates that the burger comes with lettuce, tomato, and onion, but my plate came devoid of any vegetation for the burger. I chose a side of the homemade potato salad which basically consisted of potatoes, celery, scallions, mayonnaise-based dressing and seasoning. It was potato salad, yes, but it was rather plain, to be honest.

Lunch was obviously far more economical than my previous dinner, coming it at around $15 plus the tip. I realized fairly early on in my experience with the Clearview Inn that this is the kind of dining establishment that would've appealed to my late grandfather. When he went out for dinner, he expected the steak to arrive on one plate with a sprig of parsley and the potato to come on a separate plate. Plate presentation was of little importance to him. That he could have ordered a Black Velvet manhattan and probably gotten one at this establishment says more about a previous generation of restaurant goers.

In the end, I was only moderately impressed with the food. However, the service when I went both times was responsive and pleasant. To be fair, I didn't go during a day when they had entertainment; your mileage may vary if you go then. For value, I'd recommend lunch over dinner and quite frankly, dinner only gets an average passing grade for the quality and execution of the food. If I had $27 to blow on scallops, I can think of several other restaurants who would get that business instead.

Clearview Steak & Chop House on Urbanspoon

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails