1109 Starkweather Ave
Cleveland, OH 44113
By Beau Cadiyo
It was the Oyster Po’ Boy that got me. It got Scarlet, too, who talks at least once a day about her time spent working in a seafood restaurant, and who distrusts Po’ Boys with sausages. And it was the Oyster Po’ Boy that lured Frank Fu from her fourth-year medical school studies to the Prosperity Social Club on a Monday night.
Thus, when they did not have Oysters, there was a general murmur of discontent around the table. The waitress, sensing mutiny, decided to go elsewhere and return while we settled on a new dish. Comparatively, none of the other sandwiches attracted; Scarlet got the Fried Fish Sandwich and Frank got a Reuben. I settled for a Killer Gouda Burger, described thus: “Black Angus beef, smoked Gouda, bacon, lettuce, tomato. Topped with two homemade onion rings and spicy soy-mayo sauce on toasted ciabatta bread and hand cut french fries.”
With orders out of the way, we were able to look around. The Prosperity Social Club is, admittedly, beautiful in a dilapidated way. The bar itself is ancient and dark, with old signs and knick-knacks lining the shelves, and an mid-20th Century bowling game in the back. At the same time, it’s in the middle of Tremont, and seems designed to attract the thin young men in skinny jeans and wider young women with tattoos and black hair who sat at the bar. It’s like a 40-year-old beauty queen, just past her prime, luring in a younger man who gives her a jolt of excitement.
My burger was long in arriving – they served in three stages, and I was at the end. I would re-christen this the Napoleon burger. It was ambitious – while the volume of the description indicated something massive, the reality was the opposite – the ciabatta bread were scarcely larger than croutons, and everything else was apportioned accordingly. When it and the fresh-cut fries – admittedly, not bad – were done, I was left searching for other sustenance. I had some of Scarlet’s fish sandwich, which was disappointingly average, and then a cut of the Reuben. Corned beef and sauerkraut were placed between two potato pancakes. The beef was good, as was the sauerkraut, but the pancakes were more grease than potato. It was simply repulsive. Frank got through perhaps 1/3 before pushing her plate away; after the first bite, I don’t think anyone else wanted to try it.
We got the bill and divided it up. To me, it seemed absurdly expensive for what we got – I ended up paying $20 or so for a burger and a share of appetizers that were, frankly, not very good. I sensed a general unease around the table, and the waitress seemed to, also, ducking in and taking payment quickly. I’ll likely go back at some point, for a drink or a round of mini-bowling, but even the promise of an Oyster Po’ Boy will not lure me back for the food.