Collision Bend adds excitement to Flats’ revived East Bank

Ahhh, the Flats.

You could just feel the crackling of energy on the streets lined with restaurants, bars and clubs. Maybe not to the frenetic levels as the 1990s, but it’s still there.

Jeannene and I were there for all of it back then, celebrating another Indians’ win until 2 a.m. And we were back at it this weekend to try one of the restaurants that had popped up.

Of course, we’re 20 years older. And we went on a Sunday. At 5 p.m. Shut up.

Our stop this time was Collision Bend Brewing Company, which sits on the river in a large, high-ceiling building that was the old Watermark restaurant back in the day. Now, the interior is decorated with reclaimed wood and rope from old ships and wharfs and there is a patio right on the water but we chose the glass enclosed section in between since it was still winter despite the full sunlight.

(And to all the people we saw wearing shorts throughout that day – what the hell? “Suns out, shorts out” doesn’t have to be your mantra, temps are still in the 30s)

But as the sun was starting to set, we settled down with a couple of whiskey drinks. My rye-based Precious Cargo ($11) was more mellow than I was expecting – the lemon juice did liven it up – and Jeannene’s Ramble on the Rose ($11) had a dash of cinnamon which gave it an apple taste.

IMG_3340Our appetizer was an Asian-Style Arancini Siciliana ($6). Normally a traditional Italian dish of fried risotto balls covered in marinara sauce, this version showed the effort of a chef who took his time to bend it to his will — working in pickled ginger while crafting a wasabi mayo that wasn’t overpowering all the while still keeping it a traditional arancini.

The main courses were more ”Cleveland brewpub” fare though still showing a deft touch when it came to seasoning and spice. I had the Pulled Pork ($15) which sounded like a sandwich on the menu but was actually an open-faced one with BBQ-drenched pork piled high with cabbage, onions and onion straws all on a piece of Texas toast. Jeannene was in a similar boat with her Roasted Eggplant Melt ($14).

We passed on dessert though the table next to us seemed to be raving about all of them. But I’m sure we’ll be back, maybe at 6 p.m. next time.

John Bertosa is likely out and about sampling the Northeast Ohio dining scene.

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