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Come on Back: Crumb and Spigot Offers Plenty of Reasons for Diners to Return 

Crumb & Spigot is billed as "a tavern where neighbors can eat, drink and gather," and while that statement might sound plain or even unexciting, I believe it accurately conveys the mission and ambitions set out by owner Karen Gorman. The longtime catering chef saw a gap in the local marketplace for a small, independent, quality neighborhood tavern and set out to fill it. And she has helped do just that.

"We're not trying to reinvent the wheel," Gorman explained. "We just want to do some really good, from-scratch food that people can recognize."

Located in Bainbridge, in the former Western Reserve Bread shop, Crumb & Spigot is small, sparkling and cute as a button. If you count the stools at the lengthy bar, there are just under 50 seats. The cosmopolitan interior belies its strip mall setting, with spring-green wainscoting, sharp plaid wool-wrapped banquettes and oversize mirrors. An open kitchen and bustling bar — not to mention shiny concrete floors — amplify the din to near rock-concert levels.

The quirky name — a riff on those colorful British pub signs — hints to some of the main attractions at the tavern, namely wood-fired pizzas and draft beer and wine. Cocktails, while pricy, are decidedly well crafted. The Squaw Rock ($12) is an artful blend of local (as in down the street) Tom's Foolery apple brandy, honey simple syrup and grenadine served in a stylish coupe. Beer cocktails get considerable real estate on the menu, with concoctions like the Saint J ($13), a mash-up of IPA, St. Germaine and Watershed Gin, and the Orange Radler ($12), with IPA, orange soda and Aperol. A well-chosen craft beer list — both in the bottle and from the spigot — and solid wine-on-tap list bear the most sensible sips on the menu, with prices in the $6 to $8 range for most selections.

When it comes to the solid portion of Crumb & Spigot's menu, the options are wildly diverse, veering from beer-friendly German-style platters to delicate vegan entrees. At its core is a hefty pizza program augmented by snacks, salads, sandwiches and a few simple, satisfying mains.

The Beer Board ($13) is an odd assemblage of munchies like housemade beef jerky, soft pretzel, Bavarian cheese spread and a pickled hard-boiled egg. While nobody feels comfortable gnawing on a length of jerky in public — and that egg was eaten more out of curiosity than desire — the house-baked pretzels, especially when dragged through the soft cheese, really hit the spot. Other finger-friendly snacks like heady, gin-soaked green olives ($5), warm, seasoned nuts ($4) and pretzel-wrapped beef hotdogs ($9/2) with mustard are perfect for barflies. At five bucks per ball, the meatballs ($10) had best be good, and they are, light and loaded with flavor courtesy of dry-aged beef. They're served in a cast iron skillet, naturally, with bright marinara and a dollop of melted cheese.

You can just as easily start — or end, or supplement — your meal with any one of Spigot's dozen pizzas. Despite their stay in a wood-burning oven, the 12-inch pies aren't exceedingly crisp or charred, but they are tasty and well-built. Roasted poblano peppers and smoked green onions lend deep flavor to the chicken chorizo ($15) version, made with zesty sausage and two types of cheese. Others feature salami and bacon jam, meatballs and mozz, and smoked prosciutto and speck. Diners also are free to compose their own from a list of toppings.

We loved the addition of meaty strips of roasted mortadella in an arugula salad ($8), which transforms a light starter into a meal-worthy plate. A vegan and gluten-free cauliflower tabouli salad ($7) is one of many such options that also spill over into sides like roasted carrots, broccolini and roasted fingerling potatoes (all $5).

Crumb doesn't break new ground with its concise sandwich and entrée menu; instead it presents dependable, familiar and appealing choices for those with larger appetites. Sloppy Joe ($11) spills over the sides of its bun, gilded by aged cheddar and an overcooked fried egg. "Beer Can" chicken ($19) nets the diner a heaping portion of moist, flavorful white and dark meat served with roasted carrots and potatoes. A textbook chicken Milanese ($17) — pounded, breaded, pan-fried white meat — comes topped with a tart green salad, making for a nice light meal.

Gorman, along with partner Ryan King, set out to create an easygoing place "where people could come more than once a week, maybe after the movies." Given the right bank account, diners easily could make a habit of coming here, especially considering the dearth of similar such options in the immediate area.

crumb & spigot

16783 Chillicothe Rd., Bainbridge,

440-384-3035, crumbandspigot.com.

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