1265 West 9th Street
Cleveland, OH 44113
by Beau Cadiyo
When I was young in Cleveland a girl invited me to a salsa dancing class. I remember nothing about the girl, or the class, but every time I walked through the alleyway past that bar I would look through the windows and stare. Those windows were huge, it seemed, and inside the bar it was inevitably dark and romantic, like a 1930s gangster haunt, and couples always seemed to be in the middle of dance lessons of their own - young men and women dressed more formally and beautifully than the West Sixth crowd. There was music in the air through the summer nights, horn-heavy music, and the awkward movements that come with amateurs taking tentative steps forward and back, back and forth, adding affected flairs and garnishes which made them as ridiculous and attractive as three-year-old girls trying on their mother's makeup.
Tonight, I returned to the Waterstreet Grill - for it was the Waterstreet - and found it different inside. Someone had widened it and modernized it and taken out the old, elegant fixtures and replaced them with modern pieces. Gone was the dark, mysterious, danger-charged atmosphere; an airy lightness had descended, a little less threatening and a little more sterile. Gone were the dancing couples, or future couples; besides the one occupied table I sat at, three guys and one girl were clustered close to the bar and it was otherwise empty.
I don't remember the old menu, or if there even was an old menu. Maybe it was just a bar, a legendary, gangster-looking bar. This time, we were there to eat, and there was only one thing on the menu I could consider: the Peanut Butter and Bacon Burger.
It should be a rule that if you are in a restaurant you should eat something you've never had before or something you wouldn't or couldn't make yourself. Me, I would have never thought of mixing a burger with PB and bacon. I mean, Peanut Butter and Meat? Bacon? Why settle for so much saltiness; why not add some brie and strawberry jam, or, better yet, aged cheddar and apple butter to make it more like an Apple Pie burger? (SOMEONE STEAL THAT IDEA, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE.) But just as we fight the war with the military we have, we order our burgers from the sandwich menu we are given.
To be totally honest, it was pretty good. The Peanut Butter they used melted all over the burger as oily condiments are wont to do, but rather than be annoying the combination surprisingly worked - it wasn't too thick or too oily. The bacon was at just the right point where it was crisp yet retained a satisfying, fatty chewiness. The lettuce and tomato were slightly wilted and dry, respectively, and the bun was made for a burger twice as large in circumference. Even these failings sufficed, though, and besides, nobody would order such an improbable creation for roughage or carbs. The sweet potato fries on the side were among the best I've ever had, and I hate sweet potato fries; they were a bit salty, but well-cooked. Everything on the plate benefited by generous dollops of ketchup and mayonnaise. The service, too, was excellent - over the course of the meal no fewer than five people came to check on us, one guy stopping by three times.
I never stepped foot in the Waterstreet after the first salsa lesson; perhaps it reflects more on my dancing or the girl than on the bar itself. I will certainly be stopping by Sixth City again, though. If they could come up with a PB and Bacon Burger, I'm very interested in finding out what else they have that I'd neither think of or make myself.