Ken Stewart's Grille
 Akron, Ohio        Date of Visit  11/06/13  

Well, here we are. Restaurant number 400. That’s just crazy, but we are still enjoying ourselves, so on we go. Long one of the “classy” joints in Akron, if not the, Ken Stewart’s is where we had dinner close to the date of our first anniversary. I remember a really nice waygu steak and a good time overall. More than a decade has past and they have been on the list for some time so after picking out my second pair of “Oh my I’m old glasses” we decide to stop in and try their lunch menu.



The Interior Is Something

We are not dolled up. There are folks in the place wearing the proverbial three piece battle armour with accessories and a couple tables with some obviously well-to-do and retired folk in much more comfortable attire. The crowd didn’t seem to mind our lack of formality but our waitress had a twist to her countenance which seemed to suggest concern over if we would tip or not.

The interior is designed by the owner’s wife and she might design under the influence of peyote or mescaline. An interesting mix of formal and carachitured cowboys. I suppose it would connect with the steak heavy menu, it is an interesting collision regardless. What was disappointing in ways no décor could ameliorate (unless there is a vault or something) was having to sit right next to a table of folks being incessantly regaled by the self-appointed “Most interesting man in the world.” One downside to any restaurant, no matter how fancy, is a percentage of their clientele. I almost sent the blowhard without brakes a Dos Equis, but I don’t think he would have understood. Anyways….

Couple Bread Options And Nice Butter

Nice Broth, Onions, Needs Another Layer

Classic But Serious Salad

Preserves Make The Brie en Croute

We ordered soup, salad, brie, tuna tacos, a daily special and two desserts. Big lunch.

The KSG onion soup was functional, nice beefy broth, cheesy crostini, plenty of onions, there just wasn’t much else. Most notably absent was a dose of vermouth or brandy, it was deep and rich but monotone and dull after a few spoons. The salad was the complete opposite, bright and varied, bitter and sweet field greens, intensely pungent bleu cheese, sweetly glazed walnuts, tart cranberries, all tossed with a sharp and acidic balsamic vinaigrette. It’s not a ground breaking salad but it is an exceptionally well done classic. Steph ordered the baked brie which arrived wrapped in puff pastry and with a small loaf of stiff crusty bread, and two small pools of preserves, raspberry and apricot. Again, tried and true, which evidences the reason these items hang around. If the soup had met the challenge of the other two the appetizers would have been a rousing success.


Two Filet Combo

One Was Perfectly Done

I was considering the walleye or the Reuben but they had a petite filet duo as a special and I was swept away by the juicy deliciousness of my first foray into the Americanized version of Japanese tradition from many years ago. Sure this wasn’t waygu, but as soon as I heard the special, I wanted steak. If only this was as good as my memories of our first visit. A smear of functional mash separated the two pieces of loin, one served with portabello slices and a red wine sauce and the second with a heap of the bleu cheese from the salad and a duskier red wine sauce. The beefy disc with the sharp cheese was done to a perfect mid-raw, as ordered. The other was heated well past it’s prime and had a dry iron-y flavor, so disappointing sitting next to its twin. A bit of mushroom helped but could never bring the nugget back to what it could have been.

Steph ordered the spicy Ahi Tuna tacos which were much more successful than the filets. The crunchy shell reminded me of harvest cheddar Sunchips® which I would have thought problematic (too much flavor & cheese? with tuna) but it worked surprisingly well. It would be a stretch to call them spicy but the tacos have thin slices of barely-seared, high-quality tuna topped with a Japanese slaw and dressed with an avocado crème fraiche, not spicy at all but tasty nonetheless.

The Other REALLY Wasn't

Beat The Beef; Hands Down

We perused the dessert menu and decided against anything until our server mentioned a couple of things in addition and we were both sitting waiting for desserts. Oh, man, good thing we did. The first offering was a scutterbotch (yes, butterscotch) pot du crème topped with whipped cream and a little caramel sauce. The stirred pudding was supremely rich and carried a load of the sweet and caramelized taste of butterscotch. Most of the time I don’t mind sweetened whipped cream but every now and again I get a much less sweet but rich version which does something to elevate a dessert that sweet can’t imagine, this is their whipped cream. Thick and cloudy, the lack of sugar gives it a depth which stands against the pudding beneath, very nice.

The Desserts Were Worth A Trip Off The Menu

Especially This One, I Can Only Imagine Peak Berries Here

The second dessert they have apparently tried to take off the menu, but have so many requests for, they still keep on hand. A bite of the wild berry shortcake and it was easy to see why there was a clamor to keep it. The straw, blue, rasp and black berries may not be at their peak but they buy the best available and pair them with the whipped cream, a crème anglaise and a raspberry sauce and you can only wonder how good it would be with berries at the peak of freshness. The “shortcake” was unique in a wonderful sort of way. I have had the angel food and Betty Crocker Bisquick biscuit, this was something else. More akin to a thick and squatty shortbread cookie. Split the cookie, stuff with whipped cream, buoy it in the two sauces and pile on the berries and you have scrumptious. That alone might ensure a future trip, much sooner than expected, next summer perhaps. KSG is a bit fancy, it’ll cost you for that fanciosity, but you will get mostly well done classics and a couple of tasty surprises for the coin. Just be sure to ask for a table far away from loud mouthed braggards in suits.




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