Truth is, my husband Jack and I had driven past Jeremiah Bullfrogs Sports Bar & Grille in Austintown many times -- it's located in the Westin Center Plaza -- usually on the way to stop at the Panera Bakery Cafe for some of those wonderful Danish pastries or to have lunch at the Rotelli restaurant. Some day, we always said, we'll peek inside and see what it's like. That day finally arrived not long ago, when I had to make a quick run to Panera for a loaf of bread, after which we'd planned to head elsewhere to have lunch at one of our old familiar eateries. While I was at Panera, though, Jack wandered a couple of doors down to check out Jeremiah's.
When we met up 10 minutes later, I was greeted by an enthusiastic, "Wait till you see this place -- you're gonna love it!"
As it turns out, truer words were never spoken. But if my words aren't enough to be convincing, consider this: be Within a week and a half of that first visit, we made two return trips.
For openers, this is our kind of atmosphere; the interior is quite large with plenty of uncrowded seating at booths and tables. There's a full bar for times we just want to pop in for a beer or perhaps a munchie or two during the Happy Hour that takes place from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily, and with more than 30 flat-screen TV sets, we're always within view of whatever we'd like to watch. All around the walls are cardboard cut-outs and ceramic bullfrogs -- and even a few of the lyrics to "Joy to the World," a song written by Hoyt Axton made wildly popular by Three Dog Night.
Other than liking what I saw inside, though, my first real clue that I'd be very happy here was looking at the menu and seeing Antone's salad listed there. For years, I've actually craved that salad -- chopped iceberg and romaine lettuce tossed with tune, salami, Romano and mozzarella cheeses. Wow, I wondered, what's up with that?
As it turns out, Jeremiah Bullfrogs is owned by the folks at Antone's -- there's a second location in Boardman -- so the pasta and other offerings here are familiar to Antone's regulars as well (Antone's, for the record, has been an area staple since 1961). We even noticed Antone's gift baskets filled with tempting goodies perched atop some of the partitions that delineate various seating sections.
The extensive list of appetizers and wings, the latter including a Jim Beam Bourbon sauce, got Jack's attention first. He ended up getting the Froggers' Sliders appetizer ($7.49) which consists of four miniature hamburgers with onions, pickles, American cheese and fries. To that, he added a cup of tomato basil soup ($3.99).
Needless to say, I wasted little time ordering the Antone's salad (with Antone's Italian dressing) as a side to my sausage penne marinara, one of the daily specials ($6.99). The pasta was loaded with green peppers, onions and plenty of sausage and marinara sauce and quite delicious. The salad, though, was a surprise. Yes, I'm very familiar with what I'd describe as my favorite-ever salad. What I didn't expect was the size; as a side, I figured it would be a relatively small portion.
Not so! In fact, it was so large -- and so mouth-watering -- that I scarfed up the entire thing and had no room for that wonderful pasta! Oh well, I reasoned, the pasta would be great for lunch the next day. It was, but I had to share it with Jack.
Jack's four sliders would have been about two too many for me, but he managed to eat all four. The fries were quite good as well, and there were plenty of them to share. The soup is an absolute standout; very very thick, full of finely chopped tomatoes and spices and, in short, just wonderful.
As we neared the end of our first meal here, I looked longingly at the list of "signature" hot chocolate drinks, all $4.95 and very "adult" beverages with tempting names like "Chocolate Cherries" (with Bailey's Irish Creme, grenadine and hot chocolate). Oooh, I signed -- no room left today. Maybe next time!
Next time we stopped in -- maybe a week later -- Jack simply had to have another cup of that great tomato basil soup. Our server pointed out that a cup is $3.99 and a bowl is just a dollar more, making the latter a much better deal (and yes, Jack agreed). To that he added a beef brisket sandwich with fries ($7.99) and one of the $5.99 pitchers of domestic draft beer. The brisket was delilcious, topped with hot peppers,mozzarella cheese and vinegar cole slaw on a grilled ciabatta hoagie. He did find a few hot pepper rings, which he fished out and gave to me.
Meantime, I decided to go big-time. For the month of February, Jeremiah's was offering half-slabs of their "Almost Famous" ribs accompanied by fries and slaw for $8.99, and that Jim Beam bourbon glaze sounded great. But then, I saw the chicken francaise and -- not being a huge ribs fan -- I went in that direction. For an extra 99 cents, I substituted that wonderful Antone's salad for the regular slaw, and chose pasta with red sauce for the second side. I could have had the pasta topped with the francaise sauce to "match" my chicken, but somehow that sounded like overkill.
The pan-fried chicken breasts were lightly breaded and topped with a delicious lemon wine sauce. The portions seemed a little small for the $11.99 price tag, but they were extremely tasty and satifying (besides, I'd filled up on that Antone's salad once again). This time, though, I didn't have any of the entree left to take home.
After a second great experience here, we returned once again -- and the third time was a charm as well, at least for me. This time, one of the daily specials was three bone-in ribs with four wings, fries and cole slaw for $6.99. Aha, I said, now I can try that Jim Beam bourbon sauce! Not being terribly hungry, Jack decided on the "Big Ol' Pepper and Egg sandwich $6.99; it was made with four eggs, hot, sweet or mixed peppers (he got the sweet), mozarella cheese and mayo on toasted Italian bread. Once again, he couldn't resist that tomato-basil soup -- he went straight for the bowl this time, asking for two spoons so I could help him finish it (as if he needed any).
The "regular" (non-vinegar) slaw is not finely shredded, but the sweet mayo dressing rivals my own -- which I consider to be the best in the world, for the record. The wings are on the small side and very, very crispy -- I chose the garlic sauce -- and at first, I thought they'd be too crunchy for me to eat (those of us who still have most of our teeth realize that the older they get, the more vulnerable they become). But they weren't too bad, and the garlic sauce was quite delicious and loaded with small pieces of garlic.
Turns out the Jim Beam sauce is delicious as well, and the the ribs were so fall-off-the-bone tender that it was impossible to pick one up -- I was "forced" to eat them with a fork. I should also note that the fries are quite tasty here as well, and I'm not a big fan of French fries. They are so plentiful, however, that we've never been able to come close to polishing off even a single side order.
As for Jack's egg sandwich, the best I can say is he was less than enthusiastic. To start, it was so large that it was virtually impossible to pick it up even though it was cut in half. The eggs were cooked rather like a pancake and almost brown on both sides -- more than a little overcooked and very lacking in flavor. That's one sandwich we won't try again, but there are plenty more on the extensive menu for us to try next time, and the next and the next!
Editor's Note: This update was added to the Jeremiah Bullfrogs review on March 5, 2010.
More recently, the sun decided to peek out (finally!) so Jack and I headed south through farm country to try out the replacement lens he just got for his Canon Digital
We had a coupon from the Entertainment Book that gave us a buy one, get one free lunch (up to $7 off), and when our server said it was good on anything from the list of entrees for the day, we stopped looking at the less expensive sandwiches and went straight to the good stuff. And boy, was it ever good!
For my entree, I chose the haddock at $9.99 -- broiled instead of fried -- which came with one side (mashed potatoes) and either fries or a tossed salad (the latter, with some of that wonderful Antone's House Italian dressing that's the same as on my favorite Antone's salad I mentioned earlier). Meanwhile, Jack couldn't resist the stuffed flounder at $11.99; knowing full well that I'm not a big fan of fries, he got those so we could share.
First came some of that wonderful fresh-baked bread, along with plenty of butter packets -- very unusual since at most restaurants you're lucky to get two or three. My salad was almost as good as the Antone's salad -- I've concluded that the dressing is close to half the appeal here. It's absolutely delicious.
Then the entrees were delivered, and oh my! My piece of haddock was quite substantial and swimming in a wonderful buttery sauce. Noticing that the mashed potatoes were plain, our server immediately asked if I'd like gravy (yes, ma'am). It arrived in short order -- a thick brown -- and it was excellent. And, it was plentiful enough that when I'd finished the mashed potatoes, I tried dipping a fry in the gravy bowl and discovered yet another treat.
My fish was quite tasty, and while it perhaps could have used 30 seconds less under the broiler, it was flaky, tender and nowhere near as overcooked as I find at most restaurants. Jack's flounder, though, was nothing short of outstanding. He raved ("This is the best meal I've had in a long, long time," he uttered when he came up for a breath between bites). It was wonderful; the stuffing was very flavorful, and whatever sauce was on top -- sort of a Hollandaise taste -- really made it outstanding. In short, it's a highly recommended dish and our complements went to the chef -- who for the record turned out to be the husband of our server (who said this is a favorite dish of hers as well).
If you go:
Jeremiah Bullfrogs Sports Bar & Grille
5229 Mahoning Ave. (Westin Center)
Austintown, Ohio 44515
1315 Boardman-Canfield Road, Boardman 44512