Although I’ve lived in Avon Lake for three years, until recently I had only one or two suggestions for where to take people to eat.
I was more likely to drive downtown or even the far Eastside to dine out. It was easy to see the chain and fast food restaurants and overlook my suburb’s local gems.
Then Scott and I went to Strip Steakhouse in Avon which jumped to the top of our Cleveland restaurants list and motivated us to start exploring our backyard a bit more.
Our curiosity has been rewarded not just with special occasion restaurants like Strip, but dining that’s good for any budget in Avon and Avon Lake.
Next time you’re out my way, here are 2 places we recently checked out that we’d recommend:
Cafe Melissa – Avon Lake
Last month Scott and I were looking to meet up for brunch on the westside. We were going to head over to Sweet Melissa’s in Rocky River until our friend Joe let us know they had just opened a spot in Avon Lake.
Right around the corner from our house at Walker and Avon Belden roads, Cafe Melissa opened up in November with an excellent breakfast menu.
In the few weeks since our first visit, it’s quickly become our go-to for brunch with delicious offerings like their sausage gravy and biscuits and greek folded eggs (featuring artichoke, red onion, basil, kalamata olives, tomato, asparagus and feta).
And then there’s my favorite: crab n’ eggs, featuring a crab cake, 2 fried brown eggs and a fried green tomato dressed in a chipotle aioli. While it’s one of the more expensive items on their breakfast menu, it’s worth the price for that combination of flavors.
However, it’s their lunch and dinner menu where Cafe Melissa really shines. Hearty small plates, large flavorful salads and sandwiches and an entree list that offers fresh selections for all tastes, it’s one of those menus that has me excited to try something new each time.
While we’ve only been there for dinner twice, we’d recommend any of the following:
Matzo ball soup: Although a little dense (which is how I like mine), the matzo ball was huge and the soup incredibly flavorful. I had given up on finding a matzo ball soup as good as the one we used to get in NJ until I ordered Cafe Melissa’s.
Lobster bisque: Cafe Melissa’s is the lobster bisque that finally made Scott realize how delicious bisque can be. It’s velvety with a slight sweetness. Balanced with their wedge salad, it’s what Scott orders every time he’s there.
Steak salad: Although I’m going to order the steak on the rarer side next time, this salad featured a hit list of my favorite flavors: field greens, wild mushroom, red pepper, red onion, tomato, asparagus and goat cheese. Those ingredients paired as well in reality as I had imagined they would.
Pumpkin gnocchi: Hands down my favorite entree. While I love pumpkin-everything, I was grateful their pumpkin gnocchi did not have a strong pumpkin flavor. Instead it was subtle, combining with sweet cranberries, wild mushrooms, creamy goat cheese and crunchy pumpkin seeds to make a very delightful earthy dish. The balsamic + vegetable stock sauce it comes in unites the different flavors and textures.
In addition to really great food, the staff has always been friendly and helpful – often going above and beyond to answer questions or take care of our table even when the restaurant is crowded.
Cafe Melissa offers lunch and dinner Monday-Friday and brunch, lunch and dinner Saturday and Sunday.
Similar to Sweet Melissa in Rocky River, they also have fresh-baked sweets on hand for purchase.
Two Bucks – Avon
On the opposite side of route 90 is another new addition to our Avon-Avon Lake eats list: Two Bucks Avon.
Although Two Bucks Food and Spirit has been open for a few years, a recent restaurant review on Cleveland.com prompted us to check them out.
Located at 36931 Detroit Road, Two Bucks is an unassuming storefront next door to a couple of antique stores and florist.
Inside, there’s a modern bar design with slick lighting, a mix of comfortable hightops and booths and a large patio space for the summer.
The real reason to go to Two Bucks, though, is in the name – with most of their food and drinks costing only $2.
Snacks like a bowl of mac and cheese and sage-and-garlic fries are $2. A large selection of sliders (burgers, fish, stuffed mushroom, and sesame chicken among others) cost $2 each. And most domestics, imported beers, and liquor shots – $2.
In fact, the most expensive thing I could find on the menu was the Bistro Filet Stroganoff on their winter seasonal menu, a 5 oz file with garlic mashed potato and red wine sauce for $10.
And just because it costs cheap doesn’t mean they scrimp on taste or size. When we stopped by Two Bucks for lunch last week, I enjoyed 2 Cheesesteak sliders with creamy peppercorn aioli ($4), their mac and cheese ($2), and an Angry Orchard cider on draft for $3.
A filling meal plus drink for under $9? Pretty impressive.
I agree with others’ reviews praising their sliders; however, the mac and cheese was the winner of the night. A bowl of ziti pasta was elevated by a rich smoked gouda cheese sauce – a must-order for cheeselovers.
Our only issue was the service. After sitting down, we got water while we looked over the menus. After another staff member brought us our water, we waited for about 15 minutes until someone else came over, asked if we needed anything and took our drink and food order.
Fortunately, the rest of our visit went very smoothly and the initial delay was a small blip in an otherwise very good experience.
Of course you can’t argue with our final tab for the quality and quantity of food. Skip the fast-food and head here for the same price.
In addition to the Two Bucks in Avon, they’ve recently expanded with locations in Middleburg Heights, North Olmsted and Milwaukee.
What restaurants would you recommend in your own neighborhood?