If we've learned anything about the Chagrin Falls dining scene, it's that fire-themed restaurant names are bad luck. Blazin' Bills, Timberfire, Firefly — all consumed by flames. So somebody knock on wood that Bret Adams' soon-to-open Burntwood Tavern (504 E. Washington St.) is free of fiery misfortune. Truth is, it's a tinderbox.
After gutting the former Chag-Town down to the studs and rafters, Adams is rebuilding it with the timbers of a 125-year-old barn. The look is decidedly rustic-chic, with rough-hewn wood floors, post-and-beam cathedral ceilings, a barn-siding-clad bar with copper top, and wrought-iron fixtures. French doors, framed by sizeable wooded shutters, connect to a pair of small front patios.
After more than 20 years in the business, much of it as a hard-traveling regional manager for the Bravo/Brio group, Adams decided to plant roots in Northeast Ohio. "I had every intention of taking the summer off," he says. "But then I happened to drive by this building." Burntwood, a town in England, he explains, is home to some of the oldest pubs on the planet. Like those old taverns, Burntwood is all about rustic simplicity — think wood-grilled chops, smoked meats, housemade pickles, and duck-fat fries. Like his former boss, Cameron Mitchell, Adams hopes to duplicate the concept if it proves successful. Look for a mid-September opening.
"Lakewood has plenty of sports bars," explains Joe DeLuca, "but it has very few places for professional men and women." In an attempt to remedy that inequity, DeLuca opened Apothecary (15625 Detroit Ave., theapothecarylounge.com), what he calls a "modern cocktail parlor."
Located adjacent to Niko's, the sharp little lounge has a wine-bar feel. "My intent is to make handcrafted cocktails as approachable as possible," explains DeLuca. "The cocktail renaissance is important, but does it require a curly mustache and arm garter to do it right?" As owner of what he calls a "teaching bar," he hopes to inspire imbibers to venture beyond the tried-and-true. His main spirits rotate monthly, so that Moscow Mule may come with Tito's vodka one visit, Boru the next. Signature concoctions include a fragrant Bouquet & Tonic, made with orange blossom water. There is also a small, well-chosen selection of beer and wine. For those still stuck in a rut, Apothecary sells Budweiser too. It's open Thursday-Saturday from 6 p.m. to midnight.