The Ballentine Gastropub is a new dining experience worth trying. Located on Erie St. in downtown Willoughby it is a little over a 20 minute drive from campus.
Though the distance may be inconvenient, Ballentine’s atmosphere, food and drinks are a good excuse for a Saturday night trip to Willoughby.
The restaurant opened earlier this year bringing the gastropubs trend of New York to Cleveland.
“Gastropub” is simply a fancy word for a pub with good dining, something Ballentine achieves quite successfully.
Ballentine blends elegance and comfort well in their cool, relaxed vibe. It is dark like a typical pub, but also has a classy interior design that reminds one of a newer Geracie’s.
The place is friendly and casual with good bar music (DMB, classic rock, and country) and nice comfy booths, as well as tables and the bar.
There are a few TV’s around the bar for a good view of the game if you wanted to watch it.
Being a pub, the place is geared to those of legal drinking age, however, because it is also a restaurant, anyone can find something. For those who are 21 years old they have an amazingly large selection of alcohol.
They have 29 draught beers on tap and over 56 available in bottles. That’s not including beers like Miller and Heineken, which they also serve. Their wine and cocktails list are also quite extensive. They offer over thirty wines by the glass, ranging from $5 to $14.
Even the coffee is spiked. But don’t get me wrong, as I said before, there are options for those of us who are underage. If you’re looking for festive drinks they offer “The Four Virgins.”
These drinks are fruity concoctions varying from the “Not So Bloody” Mary to the Sparkling Berry Bellini. Ballentine also offers the usual soft drinks and iced tea options. And they have root beer on tap.
Even though the drink menu is bigger than the food menu, there is still plenty to choose from.
They serve everything from burgers and pizza to linguini and steak. The pizza choices were endless, with over five specialty pizzas to choose from in either 10” or 16”.
If you enjoy spicy food, the “Hot chicken and lots of peppers” pizza is for you. It’s a colorful pizza that looks nice and innocent at first, but then attacks your mouth with fire. The pizza is crazy kickin’ because the chicken is sautéed in Tabasco sauce and then joined on the pizza by jalapeños and other spicy surprises.
But, not all the specialty pizzas are hot. In fact, if none of the specialty options sound quite as delectable as you would like, you can build your own choosing from fresh vegetables, various sauces, and meats.
Not a pizza fan? They also have sandwiches, salads and both large and small platter meals as well.
With names like “Peeky Toe Crab Cakes,” “The Po’boy Sandwich,” and “Spinach and Pear salad,” there are many interesting things to try.
There were also dinner entrees serving chicken, fish, pasta and steak, all at reasonable prices ranging from around $13 to $24. The tomato-basil fettuccini was the preferred dish at our table. It was served with spinach and the option of adding salmon or chicken for a fee.
When choosing the added salmon you receive a whole fillet, which is heaven to a salmon fan like me. The dish had good flavor, most of the basic food groups, plus it supplied a great escape for the mouth after trying the “Hot chicken pizza.”
The service is friendly and on task, never leaving a glass empty for long and Manny, the manager, comes to check on how your meal is going and tell you a little about the place.
By Manny’s description of the five other bars that are owned by the same people, my bias opinion says that Ballentine is by far the best.
Sophomore Laura McRickard said, “I really enjoyed the upscale restaurant/bar. Its friendly atmosphere and tasty food created a cool hangout for my friends and me. I’d definitely go back.”