I’m not abiding back I aboriginal saw it, but it was difficult to watch the BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse architecture advancing forth after a acceptable accord of anticipation. The modern, brick architecture that takes up added than 7,000 aboveboard anxiety of above parking amplitude at Abundant Lakes Mall in Mentor is absorbing from the outside.
Inside, there are some absorbing things about Mentor’s newest alternation restaurant, too. And, as ability be accepted from a chain, a few hardly less-impressive things.
Opened in August, the Mentor area is the third Northeast Ohio restaurant for the Huntington, California-based company, the others residing in Stark and Summit Counties. Inside, it loses a little bit of its exoteric largesse, with a lot of its amplitude vertical rather than horizontal. Still, it seats added than 200 guests calmly in a vibrant, accessible dining room. The brick burden from alfresco is agitated indoors, as well, and chaplet lights adhere bottomward from the aerial ceilings. A ample bar with canteen shelves backlit in altered colors dominates the space.
Though a chain, BJ’s isn’t as all-over as, say, T.G.I. Fridays. There are 180 locations throughout the U.S. As far as chains go, it’s added forth the curve of Cheesecake Factory, in agreement of cardinal of locations.
It’s additionally not far off from that aggregation as far as the menu’s admeasurement goes. Taking the “something for everyone” approach, it’s like a book. There’s advanced ambit of options.
According to its website, BJ’s started as a pizza abode in Chicago, so on a contempo appointment a accumulation of us started with a deep-dish pepperoni pizza in accession to a best from the absolute appetizer menu.
I’m a fan of absolute Chicago abysmal dish, and although our pie accustomed in its pan, it appeared added like a Domino’s pizza that had artlessly risen too much, rather than annihilation authentic. I admired the sauce, which was absolutely tomato-y with aloof a adumbration of sweetness, but I absolutely accepted added cheese. It wasn’t awful, but for $16.50 for an eight-cut, it wasn’t a abundant value, either. I would achievement that some of their interesting-sounding signature pizzas, all upwards of $20, are crafted with a little added care.
On the cast side, I fell in adulation with our added amateur — brittle flatbread nachos, which at the accustomed amount of $9.75 are about a steal. With a $2 happy-hour abatement we got, they are absolutely a steal. The “nachos” appellation ability fool you, but the bowl is absolutely a brittle flatbread cut into 10 chip-sized pieces. Accumulated on top — but not too accumulated for the attenuate band — is a alloy of cheeses, jalapenos, atramentous beans, disconnected lettuce, pico de gallo, avocado and acerb cream. They were actual good, and the allocation would accept been abundant to accomplish a meal for me.
I was additionally acutely blessed with my entrée choice, the Mediterranean craven tacos ($9.95). That bowl consists of two broiled pitas abounding with a adorable Greek-styled mix of broiled chicken, feta cheese, tomatoes, red onion and a yogurt cream. Aloof as the flatbread nachos, the aggregate of flavors was superb, and aggregate seemed super-fresh. The pita/tacos were served with a ancillary of melancholia grains, and admitting aggregate was beginning there, too, I anticipation they were a bit heavily sauced.
My sister-in-law and her bedmate accompanied my sons and me, and he additionally admired the craven tacos. She got the portobello Swiss burger ($12.95), one of a dozen burgers on the menu, and admired it. It was too big for her to finish, and I anticipate alike I ability accept struggled with that task, too.
Interesting abundant to agenda was the actuality that my sons’ mini-corn dog kids commons ($5.95) were actual solid. The blah dogs — ugh, they get them wherever they can — were absurd to a brittle outside, not the dried-out, microwaved debris you get some places. You can get kids dishes with chips or veggies, and my earlier son’s affection for the less-healthy choices accustomed me to try the shoestring-style fries, which were additionally actual good. Kids commons additionally appear with a starter, and we went with bake-apple for that, so not all was absent in the healthy-choice department.
Speaking of that, BJ’s absolutely offers absolutely a few convalescent choices throughout its menu, including vegetarian options and dishes that are artlessly on the lighter side.
As you ability apprehend from a abode with “Brewhouse” in its name, there’s absolutely a focus on beer, both their own and added domestics and imports. There are a lot of brews on tap, admitting none of the dozen or so abode beers are brewed there — they are alien in from BJ’s breweries in added states. And they’re not absolutely cheap. My brother-in-law’s pint of Stella Artois was $5.50 with the $1 happy-hour discount, and my BJ’s Hopstorm IPA was $4.95. It was aloof OK — I anticipation it was about beautiful that this actual smooth, but not hoppy, IPA had “hops” in its title.
Those happy-hour prices absolutely helped the amount at BJ’s. In fact, our analysis was abate than I expected. Aloof about aggregate was acceptable abundant and, a from the approved alcohol prices, added than adequately priced.
It’s additionally account advertence that although it was appealing active for 6 p.m. on a Monday, our server was actual acceptable — bigger than you ability apprehend for a chain. As arbitrary as it may be, the “for a chain” qualifier was article I acquainted like I was abacus too abundant to my evaluations of everything. There are places that feel aloof and comfortable, and afresh there are places that feel bigger than they should be, a bit apish and/or antiseptic, and BJ’s affectionate of fits that bill. I accept my prejudices against smaller, bounded places becloud my expectations a bit, but, again, the all-embracing acquaintance at BJ’s is acceptable for a chain. That said, it’s a actual solid, different-enough accession to a burghal that has a ton of those already.
Reviews are based on one bearding appointment to the restaurant.
7880 Mentor Ave.
Location: In advanced of Macy’s at Abundant Lakes Mall, aloof west of Barnes and Noble.
Type of restaurant: Tavern/brewery.
Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Liquor and wine: Full-service bar.
Facilities for the handicapped: Yes.
Credit cards: All major.
Cuisine: Advanced variety.
Vegetarian: Some options.
Special diets: Ask your server.
Kid-friendliness: Kids’ menu; highchairs/boosters.
Outdoor dining: No.
Dress code: Casual.
Prices: Moderate — appetizers in the $10 range; burgers entrees and pizzas mostly $10 to $20 range; blessed hour and cafeteria specials daily.
Value: Actual good.
Ratings (of five):
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