Cleveland's resurgence in homegrown suds and artisan charcuterie has made us a little spoiled. Now we don't just want local microbrews, we want to drink them with hand-cut steak and just-shucked oysters.
Butcher and the Brewer's food is not subservient to the beer, or vice versa — an important distinction given that they both lend the restaurant its name. And the boisterous social setting is everywhere we want to be while we pregame in jeans and jerseys.
"We have been ridiculously busy," says executive chef Jim Blevins. "Even a soft [game] day is a very good day for us."
There's a reason for that: The restaurant and brewery is housed in the former Dredgers Union retail space. Long and open with expansively high ceilings and giant fans that recall a high school gymnasium, it's a natural setting for a somewhat unconventional communal dining experience.
The polished-wood tables that make up the bulk of seating can accommodate 14 diners each. Strangers bump elbows, laugh and fall into conversation as dishes flow across the table, free from the rigidity of traditional courses.
Though you wouldn't have to ask us twice to claim one of Blevin's house-smoked corn dogs ($10 for three), served with house-made ketchup and whole-grain mustard aioli, the family-style format has been known to cause confusion — particularly once master brewer Eric Anderson's beers start flowing.
"We're doing something so different for Cleveland," says Blevins. "We can't even find cooks that know what we're talking about."
From the crowds spilling out onto the sidewalk, it's obvious Clevelanders are starting to understand that splitting the check is easier when you've also shared the food. Still, that doesn't make it easier to leave before the first pitch, since you can't get a glass of Repeater ($5.50 for 16 ounces) from the bleachers.
On second thought, you could just watch the action on the five flat screens over the bar. 2043 E. Fourth St., Cleveland, 216-331-0805, butcherandthebrewer.com
Try This ‡¨All charcuterie is made on-site, including our favorites: Asian-inspired yuni jerky ($3), pate campagne with bacon and pistachio ($4) and pork rillets ($4), a shredded pork spread flavored with orange and thyme.