Moosehead Saloon's atmosphere keeps you coming back

The historic landmark building that sits on Dover Center Road in Westlake right before you head over the railroad tracks to Bay Village houses a restaurant that can boast an inviting atmosphere inside as well as out.

As you enter the front door, the warm, rustic moose lodge finish makes you feel right at home. Booths and tables dress the left side of the restaurant while a long straight bar runs down the opposite side.

A beautiful mural draws your eyes to the back wall giving you a vision of what the building might have looked like in the early part of the past century.

Once you sit down, just look to the table stand to grab a menu. The core menu, along with seasonal and “other stuff' menus, requires you to take your time looking everything over.

The Jumbo Chicken Wings ($9.99) are a great way to get started. The baker’s dozen – that’s 13 for those at home – are wonderfully crispy and dressed with just the right amount of sauce, four to choose from.

For you seafood lovers, go with the Crispy Calamari ($9.99) or Buffalo Calamari ($10.99). Both are lightly fried golden brown and served over hand-cut chips. Also served with marinara and cocktail sauce or tossed in Buffalo sauce with crumbled bleu cheese. Personally I would go with the Buffalo style, wow!

If you don’t usually think that an entrée salad is filling enough, Moosehead will change your mind. Try the Taco Salad (Chicken, Beef or Turkey, $9.99; Steak $11.99). An edible fried tortilla bowl is filled with fresh greens, olives, jalapeños, cheese and topped with your meat choice. The tastiness is neverending.

When it comes to sandwiches, the selections are numerous and all tempting. Mozzarella Madness ($10.49) starts with fried mozzarella patties, fresh greens, tomatoes and a creamy pesto mayo on French bread. Oh, and please choose chicken, roast beef or veggies to finish off this tasty sandwich.

Grouper Fingers (market price) seasoned and lightly fried just enhances the flakiness of the fish, served with fresh-cut French fries and special slaw. Nothing is better than grouper to take my mind on a quick trip to Florida.

Now let's get your hands dirty. A full slab of Baby Back Ribs ($19.99) is coated with a nice tangy BBQ sauce and served with cole slaw and grilled toast, so belly up to the bones. Don’t worry, they supply plenty of napkins and wet-naps to keep you clean.

Don’t overlook the Yellow Fin Lake Erie Perch entrée (market price) at the bottom of the appetizer section. Fried golden brown to perfection served with fries, pierogi and cole slaw, bring your appetite for this one. Perch seems to disappear from most restaurants once the weather cools, but not at the Moosehead Saloon where it’s a year-round standard.

A few of the items above came with a side dish that I intentionally neglected to mention just because it needed its own paragraph: Hand-cut Potato Chips. They may seem to be a simple side dish, but they always come out nicely warm, crisp as can be, seasoned just right and served with a homemade French onion-style dip that makes it so delicious it can become an addiction. So much so that we’ll order a basket just to get the meal started.

The service staff whose faces are familiar give good and adequate service.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the seasonal patio. A Westlake In Bloom winner on countless occasions, the Moosehead Saloon’s patio is second to none on the westside of Cleveland. Its cascading waters down glass partitions, beautiful planting, gas-fired log fireplace and outdoor ventilation system is no longer the best kept secret on the westside, much to the chagrin to those of us who discovered it early on.

Putting it all together, the Moosehead Saloon has become a regular stomping ground for anyone looking for a lunch or dinner destination.

Moosehead Saloon, 694 Dover Center Rd., Westlake; 440-871-7742

Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-midnight; Sunday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

Prices: Soups, Salads, Appetizers, $3.49-$15.99; Burgers & Sandwiches, $8.49-$14.49; Entrees, $11.49-$20.99 (some items are at market price); Desserts, $4.99-$8.99

Reservations: No; call ahead seating available

Credit Cards: All Major

Cuisine: American

Kids Menu: Yes

Bar Service: Full

Accessibility: No

Grade: 3 Stars

Rating: 1 Star, Fair; 2 Stars, Good; 3 Stars, Very Good; 4 Stars, Excellent

Steve Novak

Steve Novak is a Westlake resident and 30-year veteran in the restaurant industry, working at all levels from dishwasher to manager to chef/owner. The Observer makes two anonymous visits per restaurant and does not accept complimentary meals.

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Volume 3, Issue 25, Posted 2:43 PM, 12.13.2011