Tag Archives: restaurant marketing

Whistle a Happy Tune: Cleveland Food Tour at Whistler’s in Avon

Located right at a very busy corner of Avon on Detroit Avenue and 611 sits Whistler’s Wood Fire Grill. Sort of a strange looking front as you drive by as it sort of resembles a shabby shack or old barn, but in reality it used to be an ice cream place — as we understand it. The front section is well lit and most likely this was added to put the actual 700 degree wood fire oven in, and it features a quaint little bar that seats four and about 5 or 6 tables in the space, which also leads out to a front patio.

The side entrance (main entrance) is the main dining room with a much larger bar. Why did we start with the decor? Well, for as amazing good as the food and service is, the actual decor and design of the place is at best confusing and at worst, really, really dated and kinda shabby, particularly when you look at the menu and corresponding prices — dinners are priced the same as much, much, MUCH higher end establishments. Now, having said that the food is good is an understatement — the food (and service) were fantastic. But, when it’s 5 p.m. on a Friday night and we are the only two folks in the place, there’s a sign.

Whistler’s is suffering from a brand identity crisis and is in desperate need of clarifying the message while updating the space to fit the menu and the cool factor of the wood fire grill. A bad website, awful decor, furniture from a cheap diner, yet the prices for a steak rival or if not more than Morton’s or Ruth’s Chris. It was strange, here you are in a rather expensive restaurant, yet you have sports on several TVs and really old WWII stuff, which made no sense at all? A bit of advice, hire a marketing professional to give you a little image makeover and a redesign of the front of house and the website, a clarified brand and message as to “what you are,” better and smarter promotions on social media and our bet is this place would be packed. Because…

The food is excellent. It’s fresh. It’s well crafted and thought out, and everything was absolutely cooked to perfection in that amazing wood fire grill.

The second bar in the front room had a few beers on tap and a nice wine and spirits selection. And, you can actually watch the wood fire grill from there, so it was a cool place to sit. We ordered the shrimp crostini and fried calamari as an appetizer, and both were very good — flavorful and fresh. The calamari was not frozen, it was hand cut, hand dipped and fried fresh and you can definitely tell the difference. Dinner was a 12 oz NY strip and lobster tail, which came with fresh zuke salad and a baked spud. Absolutely wood fired to perfection, flavorful, juicy and a perfect medium rare. The lobster was tender and moist, bursting with lobster awesomeness, and the sides were well prepared. In all, absolutely fantastic food. Great service, but I felt kinda bad for the cook and the waitress there on a Friday night hustling for tips with two whole customers.

Give Whistler’s a try, you’ll be glad you did. But, be prepared, it’s pricey (one dinner, two apps and a couple beers was over $100). I don’t mind paying for a good meal and good service, I just didn’t expect a $100 meal from a place that looks like really dark Flo’s Diner. Update the look, find your brand voice and this place — because of the cook and server — is a definite home run.

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2015 Greater Cincinnati Food Tour visits The Gruff

Okay, when you think of something being “gruff,” you’re likely envisioning something a little rough around the edges, perhaps a tad curt and uncouth, and most likely something you just don’t want to be around. Well, in the case of new Covington, Kentucky eatery “The Gruff,” nothing could be further from the truth.

So named because of the nursery rhyme featuring three billy goats, a troll and bridge, we can assure The Gruff will leave you with a happy palate, a filled belly, and seriously looking forward to your next visit. Conveniently located and with plenty of on street meter parking, walking into The Gruff is a wonderful sensory experience as you’re greeted with a deli to your left, and a MASSIVE bar and eating space to your right. Well lit, bright and cheery with lots of windows and natural light, this place is a delight to foodies and craft beer aficionados alike. A clever menu, not too large but just right, cleverly crafted and cleverly planned. The service staff was outstanding, with big smiles, knowledge of the menu items and johnny on the spot service. The on table water service was a nice touch, and while the space is large, it did not seem cold or cacophonous, but strangely warm and intimate. We give it an A+ as a place to take a client or colleague for lunch or after work drinks.

There are several choices of lunch to be made, highlighted by some very signature pizzas — which we couldn’t resist. We started off with their beet salad. As beet salad connoisseurs, we hoped this would live up to expectations. It was, without question, the best beet salad I have ever had, no matter the price no matter the restaurant. The beets are grilled perfectly and the combination of goat cheese and pine nuts with the “i want the recipe” dressing was stellar. The pizza was light, with a beautifully golden and properly cooked mid crust — crunchy on the outside, and soft in the center. The homemade sauce topped with cheese was absolutely delightful. This isn’t your average pizza, but a true pizza lovers paradise. Not greasy, not heavy — just a perfect pie.

So, all said, we’re thrilled The Gruff is in our our neck of the woods, and we can’t wait to cross that bridge again. Kudos. A+.

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