I am currently typing away on a Sunday evening on my back deck, listening to the cicadas and birds and a random Harley. Kids voices are heard in the distance as they are playing in the woods, wafting up from time to time, and I think to myself, “This is perfection!” Summer weather has been extremely pleasant the last few weeks. Heat went away and we are getting that late-summer, 70-degree evening followed by a fire pit kind of night.
I am smoking baby back ribs as I type this and anxiously awaiting to sauce them with a regional favorite of Syracuse, N.Y., a present from my brother Tim: Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Sauce from the popular restaurant in Syracuse.
The ribs today are done totally old school, 225 degrees for five hours, with mopping and sopping starting around two hours in, finished with a sauce in the last half hour. The mopping sauce is a thin mixture of soy sauce, Worcester Sauce, honey, balsamic vinegar and garlic. The sopping sauce is thin and runny, a vinegar-based sauce with some kick (Blues Hog Tennessee Red). Dry rubbed, smoked with maple and just a good, slightly-overdone, fall-off-the-bone kind of rib with some burnt edges. Always experimenting, I am smoking some chicken wings, of course, at the same time, because, well, why wouldn’t you?
For those who don’t have the time or patience to cook while you are working on a Sunday evening, I recommend taking advantage of this gorgeous weather we are having and treat yourself to a night out at some of the area’s amazing restaurants that are fortunate enough to have great outdoor dining spaces. Their ribs and steaks are likely better than mine or yours anyway, and there is really no better time of year for this!
Here is a rundown in alphabetical order of some of my favorites.
Blue Heron Brewery, Medina
A newcomer and a must-visit place. Really phenomenal sunsets over the former Blue Heron Golf Course. Modern decor and quality throughout with top notch service and food. A new favorite!
Brew Garden, Strongsville
Corn Hole, good beer, great food, excellent vibe. Nothing but good times here!
Corkscrew Saloon, Medina
The patio is just beautiful, with a water feature, lush lawn and privacy. While you are dining, you will often see Chef Marino pop out of the kitchen and grab a handful of fresh herbs that he grows out back to throw into a dish.
Dominic’s /Jo Jo’s, Medina
Outdoor bar, lot’s of large screen TVs, nicely designed, combined with some of my favorite pizza and chicken. Want some Italian food? You are in the right place.
Don’s Pomeroy House, Strongsville
Classy, comfortable and outstanding reputation means you will certainly have a wonderful evening.
El Jalapenos, Barberton
Good place to catch a flight of margaritas!
Gandalf’s Pub, Valley City
Quaint setting with enormous trees makes you feel like you may be on vacation. Valley City has that effect on people. Food is wonderful and the Irish pub-like atmosphere exudes throughout the menu.
On Tap, Medina
Great space and always busy. Entertainment, fire pit and really tasty food. Lots of TVs to catch any game that you don’t want to miss.
The Galaxy Restaurant, Wadsworth
Always rocking, live bands on Friday nights, lots of energy and simply amazing food time and time again. When a restaurant raises its own cattle (Circle L Ranch down in Burbank), you know you are in for a treat. The steaks, burgers and wine list are out of this world! Huge place, yet they treat you like family. That’s just how they do it in Wadsworth.
The Oaks Lakeside, Chippewa Lake
Best view in Medina County for a sunset over a lake. Outstanding in every category for outdoor dining.
Thyme 2, Medina
Combine a modern feel with a huge awning out front of Chef John Kolar’s restaurant, a packed patio abuzz with conversation and the smell of hickory smoke from his large smoker and you have a great lunch or dinner. Love this place.
Twiisted Burgers & Sushi, Medina
Great, big, new awning. Dine on sushi while enjoying the breeze.
By the way, the ribs with the Dinosaur Sauce have finished and we have eaten them. The verdict: ribs were great, sauce was not quite as epic as expected. In the quest for perfect ribs, this will happen from time to time. Next week’s column: “Sauce that is the Boss!”