TV shows often depict the favorite coffee shop or bar where the same characters can always be seen. I had one of these places in high school, a gyro place where my order was started as I walked in and the coffee was poured for me by the time I got to the counter. I could bring a book and kill a few hours by myself comfortably or meet up with my group as they drifted in, knowing we would always be there.
I have since learned that these places are rare. This doesn’t happen often; that you feel so welcome and at home, never tiring of the selection, familiar servers or the bartender that knows your drink and is happy to let you hang out for hours. I haven’t had such a “home haunt” since high school. My friend Jeff had one but it is under construction for the next three months as it is being gutted. I think he is starting to out grow it anyway as he has been reluctant to use it as the fall back plan lately.
Jeff’s old haunt had it’s charm but it also had it’s drawbacks. Wonderful bartenders but NO beer selection. No kitchen but you can bring in takeout or have a pizza delivered. When it is just the regulars the atmosphere is much like our living room but when a new group wanders in conversation dies. I think we have been subconsciously interviewing local bars for the replacement job for months.
Saturday, May 7th The Cashmere Cricket www.facebook.com/cashmerecricket
Matt has the evening off on a Saturday!!! Unheard of!!! He worked until about 8 and Jeff and I were told to “find something fun to do”. We are close to the riverfront in Cuyahoga Falls and a new restaurant/bar opened up. The Cashmere Cricket was previously open, closed and is now open after a 4 year break.
The three of us walk in and grab the corner of the bar. Some interesting notes: Purse hooks present, comfortable stools with foot rests, deep bar of beautiful wood, wide space for bartender to move about freely, well light liquor selection and taps without a Budwiser in sight! The bartender greets us and is happy to talk beer. She knows her selection because she is the buyer. Beers change seasonally and she hopes to get in a wide variety.
Matt chooses the Sam Adams Saison and describes it as friendly. Jeff went with the Mount Carmel Nut Brown. Toasty and familiar it teeters on bitter but stays floral. I ordered, wait for it, an IPA. (I told you it was coming, see Nachos, Beer…) The Founder’s Double IPA was bright and clean. The bitter I was expecting was mild but the floral aroma was complex and intriguing. Overall it was refreshing and a bit lemony.
The menu had a variety of small plates, sandwiches, salads and pizzas all prices around $5 to $7. Matt ordered a Muffaletta with cappicola, proscuitto, salami, provolone and marinated peppers. Olive dressing and toasty ciabatta complement the rich meats. Jeff was sucked in by a peppery pastrami with arugula on marble rye.
The turkey reuben was calling me. I wanted to try something different, out of my usual comfort zone. Nope, I needed the roasty turkey paired with honey roasted bacon, swiss and cole slaw on marble rye. The bacon was chewy with the salty sweet in great proportion. The cole slaw was crisp with just enough dressing. Swiss holding everything together like a creamy, melty glue. Each sandwich came with a large, crisp pickle.
At one point we took inventory: knowledgable bartender, great beer and full bar selection, excellent casual food, walking distance from home, excellent prices, seasonally changing menu and a bartender that insists on calling regulars by name and calling us regulars. We all vowed to try the rest of the menu – Wednesday sausage slider special included.
On Sunday Matt and I went for a walk and wandered past the Cricket. We fought the urge to stop in for a snack. I’m sure I’ll be back. The bartender already knows my name.
Until we eat again,