We were a little leery when friends suggested that we try one of the newest additions to the Mentor restaurant scene. The Local Tavern is located in the stone building still referred to as "The Sawyer House" on Mentor Avenue, in the heart of the busy commercial area east of Route 615. This building has been the home to many a failed venture, including a rib restaurant, an upscale food and wine venture, and most recently, Frank and Pauly's Italian restaurant. This charming century home seems to bring a curse to any dining establishment that tries to bring it back to live. So it was with a bit of reluctance that we agreed to try it. There are so, so many choices of places to eat in Mentor and we usually like to go with a sure thing. But we are so glad we made the leap of faith. The Local Tavern was a great choice and our group of four enjoyed everything we ordered. I started with the soup of the day, a wonderful potato chowder that is not on the menu. It was a very good choice to start my meal. We ordered the Cheese Bomb Fries from the "Happy Beginnings" part of the menu and it was more than enough to share with four people. The fries are served on a cookie sheet (yes, there really are that many fries) and topped with a mix of several different cheeses, including goat cheese. This is an ooey-gooey fries and cheese extravaganza that could be a meal in itself. FRIES are actually the main feature of the appetizer section of the menu and can be ordered as partnered with angus beef and cheese, portabella mushrooms and cheese, herbs and parmesan, and even calamari based fries. The rest of the menu includes salads, burgers, handwiches (no, not misspelled, they really are called "handwiches"), and several entrees in the "Plate Lickers" section such as meatloaf, shepard's pie, fish and chips, and two steak choices. To accompany your meal, they have an extensive list of beers, including bottled and familiar draft beers, as well as some very interesting draft beers that you may want to try, like the Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale. Our server was very friendly and knowledgeable; one of those types who writes nothing down when patrons are ordering, but everything arrives at the table just the way we wanted, special requests included. Our only complaint is that she did not warn us that the portions here are huge. We ordered way too much food. None of us could finish our entrees and each of us took home a container full of leftovers. So good the next day for lunch! Although we did not have to wait for a table on a Thursday night, the restaurant was crowded with patrons. My guess is that on a Friday or Saturday night, you may have a bit of a wait if the word it out about this place. Maybe the "Sawyer House" curse has finally been warded off by new owners who also have a second location on Chardon Road in nearby Willoughby Hills. We are definitely going back to try some other enticing items at this great place.
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