Best Restaurants 2011: The Best New Restaurant

Deagan's Kitchen & Bar

it's Friday night, and Deagan's Kitchen & Bar is slammed. The cavernous gastropub is one of the newest entries in the fine-dining-casual-atmosphere scene, opening in Lakewood in September.

It's easy to see why people love the place: It has a large central bar, plenty of room for sitting or milling around, and ample flat screens. The beer list is deep and interesting, even offering hard-to-find, one-off craft brews such as Founders Black Biscuit and Kaiser Curmudgeon.

Deagan's is a friendly neighborhood pub that never seems like it's trying too hard. No memorabilia hangs on the walls in a desperate attempt to look like the place has been around for decades. There's nothing fake or kitschy — on the walls or the menu. Take the dining room's horse and buggy mural, for example, which was discovered during remodeling. It had been flipped over and used as drywall during a previous renovation, but owner Dan Deagan saved it and hung it in his dining room. That old-meets-new aesthetic filters through the menu, where you'll find mac and cheese dressed up with duck meat and pommes frites finished with truffle oil.

"I look at [a gastropub] as a place that has a more relaxed setting, a traditional English pub but with higher-end food," Deagan says. "The funny thing is that I actually had no idea there was a name for what we were doing." Deagan and his wife, Erika, just wanted to create a place that catered directly to people like them: foodies in T-shirts and jeans.

They interviewed almost 20 chefs before selecting Demetrios Atheneos, formerly of Bodega. Atheneos crafted a menu that features unexpected takes on pub fare from Moroccan meatballs made with wagyu Kobe beef to deviled eggs with Lake Erie Creamery goat cheese and English mustard.

"There's just something about serving great food that makes you proud," Deagan says. Case in point: Lovers of the ubiquitous Taco Tuesday phenomenon are in for a surprise when they show up to Deagan's version. The kitchen churns out five varieties, from adobo-braised beef to yellowfin ahi tuna. Welcome to the new all-American bar and grill.

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