There are two types of people in this world: those who rush out to see a movie the first weekend it’s open, even though it means fighting crowds and sitting in an extremely full theater … and those who avoid that situation like the plague, even if it means usually forgetting the movie exists until well after its hit the 2nd year of availability on Netflix.
I fall into the latter category. I’m not one to flock to the latest thing just because it’s the latest thing, or to rush through the open doors of a new restaurant/bar/store five minutes after they’re unlocked for the first time.
Which makes perfect sense as to why we’re here at Lock 15 Brewing Company on only the second day of its existence. And that it was my choice.
See also: things I vow to never do again, because clearly the universe was trying to punish me for this decision this time around.
More on that later.
So Lock 15 Brewing Company is a brand new space located in the newly renovated Cascade Lofts building, just on the edge of downtown Akron. I’d been watching the space’s social media accounts, which I thought had hinted to the opening actually being earlier this summer. I’m not sure exactly why, but it seems this was instead pushed back to the end of August. Technically still summer, although closer to “end of” than “early in.”
I hesitated on the pick when I looked online and noticed that their online reservation system showed no openings for private tables between 7 – 7:30PM. But knowing that they had several “common tables” (read: long tables you might end up sharing with other guests) I wasn’t overly concerned that we wouldn’t find a place to seat ourselves. Also, reservations are a bit taboo in this group anyway. We all remember the last time we tried making one of those, only to end up eating tarter toast and not-sweet bean salad in a room that clearly was not going to be standing room only.
So, yeah, I’m not sure if they only take four reservations per half hour time slot, or if literally all of those people who made online reservations ditched out at the last minute, but we had zero problem getting a table when we walked in reservation-less at a little before 7PM. Because the place is one big open room and we could clearly see the door and any line that did or didn’t form at the entrance area, I can also tell you that the time periods of 7:30 and 8:00 would’ve been free of any mad rush for seating as well.
The place itself is pretty nice. You can definitely tell they put some money into the renovations and the decor of the space. Which apparently they are trying to get back via the cost of food. Snacks and starters range from $7 – $13 – with wings being among the most expensive item on the section. Hmmm, not our typical ballpark, but OK. Sandwiches are in the $15 average range. The dinners actually seemed surprisingly low in comparison, with most running around the same price or just a little more than most of the sandwiches.
The menu is also pretty much what our group would consider to be “fancy,” especially when served in combination with beer. I mean, they have the staples like burgers and salads, but they throw you off with culinary vocabulary like “spent grain bun,” “Vegan brioche bun,” and “pork belly croutons.” In particular the Arugula Goat Cheese Toast Salad sounds like something my fried-food-loving body would run screaming in the opposite direction of, but whatevs. But then they also have highly intriguing – read: sounds less healthy – things like a Pork Belly BLT, Ghost Pepper Mac and Cheese, and Nashville Hot Chicken. Huh.
But let’s start with the beers.
I got the Hefe, IPA for Jason, Porter for Shane, Pilsner for Cassi … and nothing for Ted, who had a work event this evening, but didn’t tell us until like 5:00 so we couldn’t make alternative revisit arrangements. Bad Ted.
Apparently they also have flights of beer, so you can try samples of the different offerings before you commit to a giant 16oz glass of something that maybe tastes like burnt coffee and motor oil. But we weren’t aware of this until we saw one getting carried away from the bar to a neighboring table. File that under: things we wish they had advertised in some way.
Of course, on the night I leave my “telepathy for beginners” manual at home. Never fails.
For apps, Cassi and Jason got the nachos, while Shane and I opted to carb load with a giant pretzel.
The nachos ended up being the winner here. Wait, what? How is that possible? I mean, did you not see the photo?
Yeah, well, let’s just call this pretzel the appetizer equivalent of that person across the bar who you think is totally hot until they walk over and open their mouth to reveal an IQ that gerbils would be embarrassed about.
At first sight it looks amazing. But then you take a bite, and realize it’s drier than pool towels left out in the sun all day, with about as much flavor. It’s like eating a loaf of bread made entirely of heel slices.
Let that thought sink in a little bit.
The cheese and mustard dipping sauces might’ve helped … had they given us a larger portion. You can’t baste a turkey with an eyedropper, but thanks for trying.
Meanwhile the nachos were actually made from potato chips instead of tortilla chips, and had tons of toppings. #appetizerenvy
I’d like to say things improved for us from this point, but I don’t want to lie to you. I think I’m safe to say that the nachos were the highlight of the evening. Getting our apps and drinks was definitely the epitome of our service for the night, because after that it seemed to take longer and longer for our server to appear anywhere close to the proximity of our table. And, again, the place is one giant room, so we would’ve seen if she had been busy with tables on the other side of the space or something like that. But no, she just would seemingly get kidnapped into the back for like 19 minutes out of every 20. Because that’s helpful.
In any case, I guess it’s good that we were done with the appetizers before she even took our meal orders, because there was no way all of that food would’ve fit along with the app plates. As it was the meals for four people barely left us with any table space to set our drinks.
Shane and Jason both ordered burgers. I know you’re shocked about that. Shane got the Black and Blue burger, while Jason opted for the Lock 15.
I tried to order the chili … but was informed they were all out. On day two? Either that was the crowd favorite on the official opening the night before, or maybe cheese and mustard aren’t the only things that are portion sized into eyedroppers around here.
So I got the pork belly BLT instead.
Cassi ordered the hush puppies. And then sat and watched us start to eat our food, since apparently there was also a run on those early in the restaurant’s short lifespan, as she was informed as our food was being delivered that hers would take a bit longer due to just having been started.
I would say something to the effect of letting us know that not long after we ordered would’ve been helpful, but let’s just say that by this point we were just thrilled that someone who worked there came out of hiding long enough to even approach our table and deliver most of the meal. Be very still and don’t scare them away too quickly.
All of us were genuinely disappointed in the food. It arrived looking great, but when you tasted it … well … it just didn’t overwhelm any of us. Shane said his burger was just OK, but nothing special that he would feel the need to return for. Cassi said the hush puppies might’ve been better with a different breading, but that in their current state they just don’t have much flavor. Seems to be a theme here with things of the carb-laden variety,
Meanwhile I was channeling Cassi’s pizza experience of a few months ago with a mushy bottomed sandwich. I blame poor bread choice on this one. Seems to me something sturdier than holey sour dough might be in order when you’re dealing with a pork product, no?
The items making up the “T” portion of my sandwich were also weird. I don’t have a better word to describe them than that. Weird. Take that as you will.
The consensus seemed to be that the giant pretzel should really just be the mascot of the entire menu. Looks great when it arrives, but they need to learn to deliver the taste to the table as well.
(Side note, if you pull up Lock 15’s menu online, the photo at the top is that of the pretzel. Which made me giggle, because while I didn’t notice that until after I wrote this review, clearly we’re on to something here.)
In any case, the non-flavorful food is a real shame, because we had high hopes for this place. The space is great – and will be made even better once the outdoor patio opens, since we could see where it’s intended to be and were slightly jealous we couldn’t be seated there already. It’s also nice to see a local brewery with a full bar to offer for those who aren’t in the mood to for gluten heavy drinks. I do think overall it still has potential, but that there are definitely some kinks that need to be worked out.
One of which is this:
If you’re going to seat people in close quarters and give them cold glasses of beer, I hope either there’s a large line item on the budget for reams of paper, or part of your staff also moonlights at the local Kinko’s. As Cassi stated when she pointed this debacle out: “that will never work.”
Oh – and you’re going to have to go another week without our smiling faces, since we once again forgot to take photos before we left the restaurant. And we’ve learned that dark parking lots are not the venue for this either. I think we’re all still having nightmares about the last time we tried this …