Ray's, at Kent State: One damn fine place to relive the glory days

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Here's something incredibly awesome I learned recently about college reunions: You can still get just as shit-faced at them as you did back in the day. Case in point: I recently met an old college buddy for a multi-class get-together to tour Kent State University’s new School of Journalism and Mass Communications. The Friday-night reunion started with the obligatory meet-and-greet of alumni neither of us had seen in years. And after we took a two-hour look-see of the renovated Franklin Hall – with its three stories of classrooms, lecture halls, radio station, TV studio, and the Kent Stater newsroom – we all retreated to one of Kent’s most revered bars, Ray’s Place, a vintage-1937 former hotel named after innkeeper Ray Salitore, whose clientele included comedian W.C. Fields. ... While my preferred college haunt was its ‘round-the-corner rival, the Loft, I remember my last day of college, which I spent at Ray’s, as four classmates and I toasted our soon-to-be-newfound freedom. What I didn’t recall was the bar’s massive selection of 150 bottled beers and 46 brews on tap. How times have changed. I’m a draft-beer devotee. At the reunion, I ordered a $13 pitcher of an India Pale Ale I had never heard of: The Dogfish Head 90 Minute. As I later was told, this Delaware-brewed ale was judged by Esquire as “perhaps the best IPA in America.” And, dude, I couldn’t agree more. As for taste, it reminded me of fruitcake with a blend of raisins and oranges. Its full body backed up the brewer’s claim that a 12-ounce glass has 294 calories in it. And its nine-percent alcohol content had me calling it “Headfish Dog” halfway through my third glass. The company also recommends that you drink it with pork, grilled fish, or beef. So, from Ray’s extensive menu, my buddy and I each ordered the infamous “Bleu Cow,” which is a six-ounce burger with the works topped with a melt of crumbled bleu cheese on top. (Trust me, it tastes better than it sounds.) However, it couldn’t compete at zapping the buzz that the beer was happily giving me. As the reunion wrapped up, I felt just like I did many years ago, when I’d walk back to the dorm from the bar: Wasted. But this time, there was no room in Kent to call home, only my trusty Saturn in which I sobered up to make the hourlong drive back to Cleveland. Now that it’s summer break, and you’d like to relive your college years (even if you didn’t go to Kent State), there’s the remarkable Ray’s and its beautiful beer-and-food lineup. It’s open from 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 1 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Sundays at 153 Franklin Avenue in Kent. Call 330-673-2233 for more information. -- Cris Glaser
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