Cleveland’s first acknowledged “gastropub,” Ballantine, is opening in Willoughby with chef/owner Kurt Steeber at the helm. Steeber, formerly of Great Lakes Brewing Co., has completely revamped the former second location of Johnny Mango at 4113 Erie St., featuring the gastropub concept of haute cuisine served in comfy environs. “Imagine going into Academy Tavern on Larchmere and Michael Symon is the chef there. That’s what is happening here,” Steeber explains. A devotee of sustainable foods, Steeber is planning a menu rich in local ingredients, with everything made from scratch, from condiments to bread to house-cured meats. Also a full-service bar, Ballantine will serve 30 Belgian and American craft beers on tap, with an additional 30 beers by the bottle and 40 to 50 wines.
Akron will host the second annual National Hamburger Festival July 21 and 22 at Lock 3 Park. Returning from last year’s festival will be a variety of contests, live music and plenty of carnivore-friendly concessions. Gates open at noon each day and admission is $5.
Treat yourself to an extended Independence Day holiday with deals at Cleveland Independents restaurants the week of July 1 through 7. This is the second year for Independents Week, which offers a 5 percent discount on the bill at many of Cleveland’s top local eateries. A coupon must be printed at clevelandindependents.com to participate, and all participants will be entered into a drawing for a $100 gift certificate.
Originally launched on Coventry Road in Cleveland Heights more than 30 years ago, Chesters American Café is reopening on Quarry Lane in Independence after a seven-year hiatus. Wayne Koury, who once owned the now-defunct Frank and Pauly’s at this same location, says the restaurant focuses on completely from-scratch cooking, from homemade salad dressings to in-house roasted turkey to fresh desserts on a wide-ranging menu. “We’re looking for people who remember what it was like to eat real buttercream frosting,” Koury teases.
Light Bistro, at the Ohio City spot formerly home to Parker’s, has been picking up where its predecessor left off with a series of prix-fixe, multicourse vegetarian dinners. The next one is Wednesday, July 11. Call (216) 771-7130 for reservations or information.
A local investment group headed by Bay Village resident Maureen Androsik has brought an East Coast craze to Avon — Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries. Androsik and her group, who are relatives of the franchise founders, report a warm welcome from Northeast Ohio. The restaurant, at Detroit Road and state Route 83, serves super-fresh ingredients in its made-to-order food, and this is the first of several locations to come in Lorain and Cuyahoga counties. Another group is planning to open Five Guys locations around the East Side as well.
Velocity American Bistro, 10427 Clifton Blvd., Cleveland, (866) 860-4766
Brendan O’Neill’s Irish Pub & Restaurant, 30006 Detroit Road, Westlake
Indigo Luna Eatery and Teahouse, 180 W. Streetsboro St., Hudson
Bix Foods, 3365 Richmond Road #225, Beachwood
Rocky River Grillhouse, 283 Howe Ave., Cuyahoga Falls
Halite, 2800 Clinton Ave., Cleveland