2466 Fairmount Blvd
Cleveland Heights, OH 44106
by Beau Cadiyo
I know a lot of bathrooms.
Lola’s sinks are a work of art. Lolita’s remind me, aesthetically, of Portland, Oregon. Slyman’s bathroom is tidy – shipshape, really. Hot Sauce Williams’ requires a key. Freddie’s Southern Style Rib House doubles as a cleaning closet, and a filthy one at that. The door on Sokolowski’s mens’ room is awkward to operate. As far as I could tell, there was no men's room at Johnnie's Deli - only a women's room. The Mad Greek’s reminded me that I’d been there before at some point in the past, slightly more buzzed.
This shouldn’t have been a surprise: the Mad Greek felt familiar, like a good neighborhood bar should. The bartender has a broad New York accent and talks to you in a way that makes you feel like you can confide in him – he gives away a small weakness or character trait in himself and you feel obligated to do the same. Soon he knows that you feel estranged from your mother, or that you hooked up with a girl at the other end of the bar who now won’t talk to you. The tables feel like you might have sat in any of them before, and have. The television, tucked away in an awkward corner, forces people close together to watch it and invites you to brush against your neighbor intimately.
The Feta Cheeseburger arrived; I was thick in the crowd of patrons, but the bartender made eye contact and waved me into a seat in front of him. He placed the burger before me as I tried to trade him my credit card; he waved it away, saying, “later.” I wasn’t sure why, but I thought that perhaps he wanted to make sure that I liked it before I even considered leaving a tip, a level of honest dealing which I fully respect.
Perhaps he knew that it could only end well for him. The burger was big and juicy; the red onions and tomatoes were fresh and the lettuce only slightly wilted. The pile of feta cheese stayed in place, adding flavor to the meat and a sort of dry, grainy texture – but you know what feta cheese is like. The only mistake, in my mind, was the potatoes – instead of fries, they were cubed and tasted frozen, a major turnoff which I wouldn’t have dared tell him.
The check arrived; $10 and change. I, too, was shocked; not even Lola charges that much for a burger, and theirs are, next to Lolita’s, the best I’ve had in Cleveland. I tipped, though – even though it was just a pretty good burger, The Mad Greek had something extra in it, something pleasant, something friendly, something familiar.