Beer Engine Revs on Madison
The southeast corner of Madison and Arthur Avenues has seen the coming and going of Lenards, Martinis and Titanic. Now it is home to Buckeye Brewing Beer Engine. Offering 30 beers on tap, a full bar and moderately priced menu, this newcomer to Lakewood is destined to succeed.
Opening as a non-smoking facility, rather than wait for the June enforcement date, it is apparent that the three owners of Beer Engine are keen on pleasing customers to assure repeat business. Beer-related paraphernalia adorns the walls, and the serpentine-shaped bar, comfortable booths, dining tables and high-boy tables can seat 88 people. Flat-panel televisions, with the sound off, allow sports fans to keep tabs on contests without being intrusive to non-sports enthusiasts.
My companion and I wandered in on a late afternoon three days after the Beer Engine opened and received a friendly greeting with the offer to sit wherever we chose. Upon settling into a booth, our server Lisa immediately arrived with three menus. Handing us the wine list, she explained that they offer a small but varied selection for the non-beer drinkers. However, since they are all about beer, as are we, she placed the beer menu before us and watched our reaction as we scanned the list. We were instantly pleased to see that 4 oz. samples of all beers are available, as well as the usual pint. Selections of higher alcohol content come in 10 oz. snifters. Three selections are their own Buckeye Brewing microbrews, which are brewed off-premises.
I prefer dark beers and am continuously dismayed by the token, identical brews offered at most establishments. The people at Beer Engine, however, understand that we are many who prefer the rich, flavorful, healthy attributes of a well-brewed stout and porter, and that we want a selection to choose from.
Starting with samples of Buckeye Mammouth Stout, N.H. Poet Oatmeal Stout and Flying Dog Imperial Stout, I felt like a kid in a candy store; my partner, who leans to the light, ordered a pint of Anchor Steam Ale. In time, Beer Engine plans on expanding their selection by offering numerous bottled brews, perhaps looking to fill the void left by the Warren Tavern.
The food menu offers soups, salads, appetizers, sandwiches, several varieties of burgers, sides and four entrees including Meat Loaf with a chipotle bourbon gravy, vegetables and rosemary mashed potatoes ($9.50) and a 3 pc. Lake Perch dinner with Buckeye Chips, vegetables and blue cheese slaw ($10.75)
I immediately zoned in on the Spicy Tomato Soup with blue cheese ($3) and decided that the BLT with applewood smoked bacon on white toast ($5) would be the perfect accompaniment. My companion ordered the Samich Burger topped with chili and cheddar cheese ($9) Both sandwiches come with homemade Buckeye Chips (shoestring fries, which cost extra, are available) and a pickle.
The soup arrived in a ceramic coffee cup, which made it easy to scrape every wonderful drop. Chunks of blue cheese were suspended throughout and softened to a yummy consistency. Nestled in paper-lined plastic baskets, our sandwiches looked appetizing and tasted scrumptious. My BLT was perfect with savory, crisp bacon and garlic mayo on the side; along with crunchy chips and a pickle spear, and I couldn't have been happier. Well, perhaps with another sample of Mammouth Stout! Meanwhile, my hungry cohort was happily munching through his burger, making approving noises over the chips and offering me a bite of the deep-fried pickle spear that accompanied the meal. He requested a snifter of Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA to wash down any remaining morsels.
On a subsequent visit, I tried samples of S.T. Stout and Kulmbacher Schwarzbier (dark ale) and paired them with a Schnitzel Sandwich ($8) Imagine a slice of pork loin, breaded and pan fried, topped with Swiss cheese and spicy mustard mayo, served on grilled marble rye bread. Lisa said I could substitute the Buckeye Chips, so I chose the blue cheese slaw. Divine! Meanwhile, my forever-famished companion matched a pint of Buckeye Fuggle with a Double Sasquatch Burger, consisting of two 8 oz. patties topped with BBQ sauce, hot pepper-jack cheese and a huge fried onion ring. No substitutions for him. He stayed with the Buckeye Chips and deep-fried pickle ($10.) Lisa was attentive and knew her business and menu. For every question I had, she had the answer. No blank looks or questioning stares. Brian, one of the owners, checked to see if we were satisfied, and we assured him we were.
Beer Engine wins high points with us. If it can maintain this quality of service during busy periods, then Lakewood has a winner. Located at 15315 Madison Ave, Beer Engine is opened daily from 11 AM - 2:30 AM; the kitchen closes at midnight.