Half a life ago, I was a fairly regular customer at Willoughby Hills properties on Chardon Road, just west of SOM Center. Mario Fazio’s, Wright Place, and the Firehouse Grille & Pub are still there decades later, practically Lake County landmarks now.
But I haven’t lived, worked, or played Beer League softball in years, which means other old vigils are mostly faded into distant memories. Until recently, at least.
My wife’s new job is nearby and we have some friends who recently moved around the corner. This once again makes the region a highly viable after-work destination. We recently took this opportunity to visit Wood Room Martini & Wine Bar, which my wife and I had never been to.
Wood Room shares a parking lot with Wright Place and Firehouse, forming a sort of little entertainment triangle with these spots, operated by the same local ownership group. It’s hard to believe it’s been around for 10 years now, but it shows how rarely I am in the area these days. Strangely enough, we met a couple who we spent many nights with in the same neighborhood years and years ago.
It was like we were at the adult table now. This is not a knock on the other places nearby. It’s more that Wood Room has a grown-up sophistication about it – lots of dark wood, a long bar, and a few small tables along the wall of an intimate interior. Outside, where we sat, there is a fenced patio with a fireplace and a large water feature. It’s lined with plants all around, a garden-like setting that separates visitors from the parking lot and the road.
There is no loud music or darts, and there is no chicken wing in sight. My late ’90s softball teams wouldn’t have hung around after games. That’s a compliment.
Drinks are front and center, which you would probably expect at a martini and wine bar. I didn’t look at the wine list very carefully, but it seemed like a sufficiently large selection of wines by the glass and by the bottle. There is also a long list of signature cocktails, which more closely matches the mood we were in.
My wife ordered the Metropolitan ($ 9), which is raspberry vodka, lime juice, triple sec, and cranberry juice. They shake the cocktails at the table for you and fill the glasses to the brim – like in you have to bend down and take a few sips before you can even pick it up. When I saw that my wife’s drink only had a light pink hint of cranberry, I knew they would be strong drinks.
My dirty martini ($ 10 plus $ 1 for the high end) confirmed this idea. I had the option of going with blue cheese stuffed olives, but as usual I gave up, really wanting to taste the gin. I certainly did. It was a strong, gin-deed drink. If I had had more than one, I wouldn’t have gone home.
As for food, it’s a range of small plates and appetizers to share, as is the case in most places with “martini” or “wine bar” as their names. There are also a handful of signature pizzas and a few salad options. The thing that jumped out at me was the Swiss Sweet Onion Dip ($ 13).
It did not disappoint. It arrived at the table on a platter, the dip in a sculpted bread bowl surrounded by various crackers, crostini, shelled nuts and apple slices for dipping. The dip was phenomenal, creamy and sweet with more onion than Swiss flavor. It was very high end, and they could charge more for it. Hope they don’t, because I will definitely be going back.
As an aside, we have another friend who frequents Wood Room and whom I spoke to after our visit. She also praised the Swiss diving and made several attempts at home to replicate it. She said she couldn’t quite get the same, and that Wood Room wouldn’t share the recipe, which I think is pretty cool.
The red pepper bruschetta ($ 13) was also really good, consisting of four pieces of really good bruschetta topped with roasted red peppers, fresh mozzarella, basil and a little sweet balsamic reduction, all sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese. . It was a perfect blend of flavors and the mozzarella was superb.
If you don’t like strong cocktails or wine, there are about a dozen bottled beers available. The Bavarian Pretzel Plate ($ 12) is what I would consider a food pairing for this itinerary. These are two large baked pretzels served with this impressive Swiss sweet onion dip. I liked that there was a pretzel and beer option available.
Our service was excellent and the staff worked hard but not in a rush. The fact that the place is rather small probably helps, and I can’t help but wonder how it goes later on weekend nights. I like it as a place to relax after work or a nighttime date.
I’m usually up for a beer and a burger, but there are plenty of places you can do that. It’s nice to change the pace, and while the martini bar concept is not unique, it is executed very well at the Wood Room. This is a good reason to visit this part of the city more often.
Wood Room Martini & Wine Bar
34080 Chardon Road
Site: On the south side of Chardon Road, just west of SOM Center Road.
Type of catering: Martini and wine bar.
Hours: 4:00 p.m. to midnight Tuesday to Saturday; closed Sunday and Monday.
Liquor and wine: Full bar.
Facilities for disabled people: Yes.
Credit card: All adults.
Vegetarian: Some options.
Special diets: Learn about food preferences.
Suitable for children: Not really a place for kids.
Outdoor dining: Yes.
Dress code: Relaxed.
Online order : No; call for take out.
Prices: Very reasonable. Signature cocktails in the $ 10 to $ 12 range; pizzas $ 13 to $ 17; appetizers to share mainly from $ 12 to $ 1.
Notes (out of five):