For a number of years, my husband Jack and I have enjoyed scenic rides in and around historic Garrettsville, Ohio, and we love to stop at the old Garrett's Mill grist mill at the falls of Eagle Creek in the heart of the downtown. The mill building itself has been transformed into a restaurant, in more recent years with a brew-pub. For the past six, it's been Main Street Grille and Brewing Co.
Not long ago we had occasion to visit nearby Hiram, Ohio, and the decision of where to have lunch was a virtual no-brainer. And I must say, we weren't disappointed.
A relatively new brewmaster has signed on, we were told, and the list of eight ales brewed on the premises (diners can see the equipment, vats and such on the restaurant's upper level) range from Garrett's Gold (a traditional German Kolsch-style ale that's closest to "regular" brand-name beer) to Three Scots Ale, a very malty concoction brewed with English hops and a hint of smoke from traditional Scottish peated malt. Prices vary, but the Garrett's Gold goes for just $3 for a 16-ounce glass (and you can buy, as we did, pint-size ale glasses with the Main Street Grille logo for $3).
If you're extremely thirsty, try a growler fill (64 oz.), ranging from $12 to $20 for the Three Scots Ale. And with the exception of a few seasonals like Strawberry Fields and Three Scots, growler fills are half price on Tuesdays (Happy Hour takes place from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, by the way).
As you might expect, the exterior of the building is rustic old wood (it was a mill, for goodness sake). The interior has been updated, but the tables (high ones with barstools on the bar side) are a beautifully polished dark wood, and there's medium-brown knotty wood on the walls. Pretty lanterns dot the walls with TV sets interspersed in between.
There's a dining room as well, although we prefer the bar side; if weather permits, it's nice to sit outdoors on one of the two levels of decks that overlook the water and mill wheel.
Do start with an ale while you peruse the menu (unless, of course, you're not a fan of ale at all). Not sure which to order? Samples (5 ounces) are $1.25 each, or try six for $7.50 or all eight for $10.
If you're like us, you may need a second round of ale before you settle on what you want to eat. There are quite a number of appetizers that sound wonderful, from Won Ton Jalapeno Poppers with sweet and sour dipping sauce ($4.95) to Hawg Wings (lightly fried pork shanks with Caribbean spices and a side of ranch for $7.39) to the one I really wanted to try, Ahi Tuna coated with sesame seeds served with seaweed salad, soy reduction, mango relish, wasabi aioli and crispy won ton. But alas, it goes for $12.59, and I didn't want to blow my entire lunch budget on a single item so I passed this time around.
As of our visit, there were three flatbreads on the menu, and one - lobster meat, spinach and sun dried tomato with a garlic and herb cream for $11.99 - stopped Jack dead in his tracks. This one's for me, he announced, barely looking at the rest of the menu.
I, however, took a bit more time, although I quickly scanned the delicious-sounding list of dinner-size salads because I wanted something more substantial. That said, the spinach salad with strawberries, avocado, walnuts and bacon bits with whole grain mustard and honey dressing sure was tempting ($12.59).
Similarly, I eyeballed the entrees rather quickly, since they're a bit pricier (around $13.99 to $21.99) and, more important for the moment, way too much food for lunch. But hey, there was Butternut Squash Ravioli tossed with walnuts, spinach, carmelized onion and herbs with browned butter ($15.99), Seared Salmon with pineapple, jasmine rice, alfalfa sprouts and a strawberry honey puree ($15.99) and - be still my heart - Creole Chicken Cordon Bleu, or airline chicken breast stuffed with capicola and swiss cheese with mashed potatoes, baby carrots and a Cajun remoulade ($14.99). Next time, for sure!
The list of sandwiches, all of which come with a dill pickle spear and the restaurant's hand-cut kettle chips, is a bit less daunting. I admit to waffling a bit, considering the Main Street Dip, which is crisp fried chicken, mushrooms, scallions, cheddar and Swiss cheese on a hoagie roll with light chicken gravy at $6.99 before settling on the Caribbean Spiced Mahi. It comes with mango relish, shaved lettuce and mayonnaise on an onion roll for $8.99.
Since Jack chose the chips to go with his flatbread, I spent $2 more to upgrade to the hand-cut fries (I'm not big on chips, and even if I were, we didn't need two orders of them). As it turned out, the chips were quite tasty - Jack loved them - but I wouldn't have eaten more than two or three.
The fries were good as well, although when I see "hand-cut" fries in such a uniform size, I always wonder if a hand isn't being used to operate one of those Veg-O-Matic devices as seen on TV - remember those? Truth is, I'm on my second one; with two kids and a husband who loved fries back in the day, the original wore out in a couple of years and I finally gave in and got a replacement.
Jack was very pleased with the flatbread, which was cut in six triangles and arranged neatly on the plate. I took a taste and liked it too, but the sauce was quite rich and I know I'd never have been able to eat more than a triangle or two.
My mahi sandwich was wonderful as well; it was a decent-sized chunk of fish and the Caribbean spices didn't overwhelm. Although I do love onion buns, though, I should have done what I usually do when I order fresh fish sandwiches - ask that they bring the fish to me minus the bun simply because it gets in the way of the fish flavor and texture. In this case, the bun got soggy from the fish coating rather quickly, so I ended up ditching it almost from the start.
Needless to say, we'll be returning here soon - if only so I can try that ahi tuna!
If you go:
Main Street Grille and Brewing Co.
8148 Main St.
Garrettsville, Ohio 44231
Open 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; noon to 8 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday.